For Milkie, life growing up on the Northern Irish coastline was a far cry from the environment in which WARGASM would eventually form. She picked up the bass at 15, but despite an early desire to join a band, the closed-minded nature of her peers – “They didn’t want a girl in their group, basically,” she sighs – meant that her early musical exploits amounted to little more than those of a “bedroom bassist”. Performing in local musical theatre productions somewhat scratched her creative itch, but her frustrations at her surroundings remained.
“There’s a reason none of the young creatives stay in Ireland,” Milkie explains. “It’s a shame, but there’s no infrastructure to support creatives in those rural places. I just had to get out of there. As soon as I moved to London and started making friends in the fashion and music industries, everything clicked. It was like, ‘This is where I’m meant to be – I’m not supposed to be surrounded by closed-minded people.’”
Initially studying fashion, Milkie dropped out of university and began to make friends at the gigs she’d attend with her disposable camera, in the process becoming known as The Girl In The Pit – a project through which she’d eventually meet Sam. Alongside her photography work, Milkie was modelling in places as far away as Tokyo, while also touring as the bass player for Barns Courtney.
For Sam, the period immediately preceding the formation of WARGASM felt a little bleaker. He’d had a taste of rock star success playing guitar in Dead!, the hotly-tipped UK outfit who’d appeared at Download, Slam Dunk and Reading & Leeds, and who’d also been christened one of the Hottest Bands Of 2018 by Kerrang!. Their debut full-length The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying arrived the same year to a positive reception, but just months later it was all over as the four-piece abruptly announced their split.
“The industry pitched Dead! as an emo band, but I always felt we were a very DIY outfit,” he reflects. “There was a real Soho punk attitude to the whole thing, but then as all good rock’n’roll bands do, you have to implode at a certain point. When that happened, I was absolutely gutted. It was back to the bar job for me, and it felt like I’d lost my passion and love for music for a while, which was a weird feeling because I’d always had those voices in the back of my head telling me to play the guitar and write a song.”