WARGASM’s success is something of a homegrown one. They built their own team: their manager is a friend as much as a manager, who eats food and watches anime with them, while Milkie met their publicist through 5 Seconds Of Summer stan communities on Twitter. And the pair are equally happy to spend time with them away from tour as they are on the road, conveniently helped by the fact they all live within a two-mile radius of each other.
“It’s testament to the strength of the team when everyone wants to spend all their free time together,” smiles Sam. “Nobody in our team comes from a professional background – it’s all waifs and strays and people we found on the way.”
He is very much aware of the ‘industry plant’ accusations thrown around in relation to his band. But the way WARGASM work is nothing if not organic and a graft.
“A lot of people think there’s some sort of big industry fucking conveyor belt mechanism turning in the background,” Sam says. Regardless, he is unfazed. “It’s fine. Sometimes a project has good songs, it’s good live and people like it. Every now and again the time is right and the stars align for an artist, and we’re just one of those artists that got a fluke. There were a lot of bands, especially towards the end of the pandemic, who liked to wave the flag, being like, ‘We’ve done all of this on our own with our fans,’ like it’s some sort of battle standard. But they did have a label and they did have funding, and fans just sucked it up.”
It’s safe to say, then, that Sam and Milkie are doing alright. They’ve got a rider for this tour, although it’s missing milk, candles and an ashtray. They’re eating square meals (“If you can [afford to] eat on the road, you’re one of the lucky bands,” Sam says). There are fewer “shitty sound guys”, in their own words, who patronise Milkie just because she’s a woman playing a guitar – because they know who she is now, it happens less often.
“Don’t touch my shit!” she mock-yells, illustrating her point.
“There was one guy in a venue in Scotland who decided that Milkie had done all of her pedal-boards wrong because she was female,” Sam recalls. “But I believe I’d fiddled with it as well. His thing wasn’t about the pedal-board being wrong; it was about a girl touching it. We argued with him and eventually he saw our point of view, but we really should have smacked the shit out of him.”
There’s plenty of that fighting spirit to be seen when WARGASM arrive onstage a few hours later. Kicking off with the spiky nu-metal of Rage All Over, Milkie catapults herself around with frenzied energy, using every inch of the expansive space she has while Sam stations himself at the front as he roars into his mic. Heads are banging and fists are raised within seconds, and the room fizzes with energy as the duo charge into Salma Hayek, which feels fuller and heavier in a room of this size. It’s easy to imagine how their show could be scaled up into a headline set this venue could very well play host to one day.
“By the end of the set, you’re going to be afraid of how much you love me,” Milkie purrs to the crowd. It’s a brassy statement, but that’s what makes her so compelling to watch. She proceeds to practically charm a mosh-pit out of her audience, flirtatiously asking them, “Who wants a lapdance?” to introduce the N*E*R*D cover that’s become such a live staple for WARGASM. What says it all, perhaps, is a comment made in earshot of the stage by a fan who has clearly never encountered her before.
“She’s awesome,” they murmur. “She’s a breath of fresh air.”