Following the release of 2016’s Heads Up, their third studio album and arguably best yet, Warpaint is looking forward to a huge year on the road in support of it. The L.A.-based indie rockers have been together for over a decade now, but 2017 is shaping up to be one of their biggest years yet. They are hitting the festival circuit hard, with appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and several European festivals yet to come. Following that, they will be hopping on a 30-date run alongside legendary rockers Depeche Mode. I got the chance to chat with Warpaint’s longtime bassist, Jenny Lee Lindberg, while at Shaky Knees Festival. See what she had to say about that tour, her solo work, and what the future may hold for Warpaint.
How many shows does this make it for Warpaint in Atlanta?
Hmmm. I feel like we come here at least once every record cycle, so three times. But we opened for The XX so that’s four. And then we played here with Nick Cave, so five. This will be the sixth.
But first time at Shaky Knees Festival.
Are you going to be here weekend? Do you have any free time to catch any other sets?
We got here yesterday, and watched The XX. They were great. So good, so good.
You mentioned record cycle, so I have to ask about What If. I’ve seen where you’ve stated it wasn’t supposed to happen or you weren’t planning for it to happen. Is that correct?
Usually we’ll put out a record and then we’ll tour it. Then we’ll take a little bit of a break, and then go back in the studio and write. That’s basically what we did. We just didn’t take as much time off, basically. We really didn’t take any time off between records.
Most of you have side projects during those breaks, correct?
Yeah, I put out a record. We’ve always been working on our own music, ever since before the band.
Would you say that those side projects actually help make Warpaint better?
Definitely. I think it’s important to have another perspective. And also, I think it’s important for everybody to exercise their own creativity, their vision. When we come back together, at least personally, it was really easy for me to push the control. Not that I was a tripper or anything, but I was okay relinquishing control, just letting things happen. I don’t have to put my mark on it. The side project has allowed me to do this more than I would have in the past, because it was the only thing I had going on. So, I think it’s important for people to have other things going on because then it’s not your only outlet. Otherwise it can get a little tense.
Heads Up is arguably your best record yet. Plenty of other highly acclaimed publications aren’t afraid to deem it so. You recently played Ellen in support of it, and she personally chose “Whiteout”. How was that experience?
I was very happy about that. I was happy she didn’t want to just go with the single we put out. It was amazing. She’s funny, very sweet, very personable. She’s almost how you would expect her to be. She’s very real. Everyone has their little things, but she’s just who she is. Very sweet.
You then performed your single “New Song” on Jimmy Fallon. Those were your only two late night appearances from what I know. Are you planning on any others?
Well, we did Jools Holland over in the UK. So, just those three.
Coming up in the fall, you’re going on tour with Depeche Mode. That’s a massive tour. You’ve got two nights at Madison Square Garden and three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. Are you looking forward to anything in particular on this tour cycle?
It’s actually four nights at Hollywood Bowl. Yeah, they just added another. That’s the first band to sell out four nights in a row at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s really amazing. I’m looking forward to all of the shows. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to go on that tour. I love Depeche Mode. When I heard that we were even up for it, I was like, “What?” And then when we got it, I was like holy shit!
I’m so excited. It’s so mellow too. Every other day, every other two days for about two months. We have 30 dates with them and it’s really spread out, which is really nice. We play 40 minutes and we’re done by 8:15 pm. It’s a very chill tour. And we’re obviously playing for people who have probably never heard us before, so that’s fun.
You’ve already mentioned playing with Nick Cave and The XX, and now Depeche Mode. I’ve also read where everyone in the band cites different musical influences from rap to R&B to folk. It certainly makes for a unique sound from Warpaint. Can you cite any particular references or influences yourself?
It’s kind of just whatever is going on. It’s just like you said, and maybe the girls could tell me otherwise, but there’s definitely not one band that I would say, “Oh, I love them.” If anything I would say I’m inspired by all kinds of music. It would just be weird to say one band, or two band, or three bands. It’s always changing. One week I’m obsessed with Barbara Streisand and the next I’m listening to Fugazi all week, and the next, well, it’s just all over the board.
What are you listening to right now?
The new Jim James record. I love that record. Hmm, what else was I just listening to? Damn, I’m drawing a blank. I can’t even look at my phone, because it’s not here. This band Gardens & Villa. Do you know them? They’re an L.A. band. They’re pretty great. I’ve been into them a little bit. Nick Cave. I was just listening to his latest record. There’s a few more.
That was actually a tough question. I probably couldn’t answer it on the spot either. I usually just put it on shuffle or a recommended playlist. It’s too difficult to pick just one artist to listen to.
I know, it’s hard. There’s so much music these days. It’s a lot.
What do you prefer, festivals or headlining gigs?
I think festivals are so much more fun. The environment is fun. After a while you’re on tour, and obviously out own shows are great, but it just gets a little bit monotonous. It’s the same thing going on. I like being at festivals because we get to see friends, which is always really fun. Seeing new music, that’s also really cool. It just breaks up the monotony.
Do you have any favorite festivals you look forward to?
Primavera, which is in Spain. I love that festival. This festival is really cool. I like the whole backstage area. It’s really chill. A lot of the festivals overseas seem to be a little better than the ones in the states. I don’t know why but they just are. But, I do love being home in the states. It feels a little bit easier to be home touring in the states. Bonnaroo is fun. It’s a great festival. Coachella is cool because it’s home (in L.A.) but the festival itself, it’s not my favorite. There’s just too many rules, probably because of where it is. So many rules. It feels too strict. It’s nice to be at a festival and just chill out.
So, we’re sitting here again five years from now. What are you/ Warpaint up to?
I want to buy some land at some point, buy a house. Or buy a house then get some land somewhere. I think it would be really amazing to have a studio, like, a really nice studio. I don’t know where it will be but maybe in a house on some land, but who knows. Recording other people, doing some producing. Another record too. So, five years from now, we’ll hopefully have three more records out. Three records in five years, I think that’s doable. Maybe even have our own label. I think that’s a lot. Those are good goals.