It was a dark, cold day in October when I meet the infamous Wet Nuns, a couple of talented rabble rousers that dabble in the occasional blues death metal barndance. They hail from Sheffield, Alabama and after chatting with their manager/wrangler, we got together for a spot of chat.
I met Terence Trent D’barndance and Wired Earp in the beer garden of the Frog and Parrot. A deputy from South Carolina, with his ten gallon hat and pump action shotgun, is solemnly watching at us. I can feel his stare through his polarised glasses.
Them two good ol’ boys , Trent (voice, growls, guitar) and Wired (drums, growls, perfect torso), are sipping from two clay jugs with “xxx” marked on the outside. The smell of corn-based moonshine pervades the atmosphere and I ask them how they met each other.
“Met in a prison, that’s all you need to know.” says Wired Earp, the tattooed drummer. When I enquire about the nature of their crime, Terence Trent D’barndance (guitar, moshing) chimes in “we’ve been smuggling tobacco products ‘cross the United States and we got taken in for it.”
They didn’t work together, but bonded over the nature of their felonies. Even if they had different methods of delivery for their cargo. Wired used a wheelbarrow, where Terence would use a “a big ol’ hearse and, for smaller loads, I was using a SEGWAY”. Petty trafficking sure wasn’t the main objective on Dean Kamen’s mind when he was slaving away on his designs. I need to talk you about how I met the Wet Nuns: it all started in mid-march, in the White Tent during St. Patrick’s Day. I was reviewing the night and it seemed to be a normal night so far. Then these two denim wearing characters took the stage and talked in a southern drawl.
“People take quite kindly to us most of the time, other times end in beatings but they are kinda friendly beatings, they kinda compliment us while kickin’ our faces in.”
They said “howdy, folks” and proceeded to demolish the place with some heavy fuzz and pounding drums. I would follow them (or stalk them, as their lawyer mentioned in a recent email) for several gigs, from a very intimate gig on The Stockroom (where they took the mick out of Feeder fans queuing for Leadmill), to an amazing gig in Club 60, with a few stops in Tramlines and SOYO. The crowds fluctuated the first times I saw them, but after a while, a few familiar faces appeared constantly. With new friends in tow each and every time. After getting enough cred in Sheffield, they played in other parts of England, like Manchester and London.
“People take quite kindly to us most of the time, other times end in beatings but they are kinda friendly beatings, they kinda compliment us while kickin’ our faces in.” chimes Terence, while slightly caressing the part of his head that met with the floor of Club 60.
So, from this relentless touring and gigging, do they have a favourite night? Doc Wired Earp chews on his Santa Clota cigar and between bellows he gets a nostalgic look. “I gotta say that Tramlines was a great weekend for us. Played three gigs, all which were great in different ways. Very drunk, I lost my voice on the first night, you know? Good times, I’m sure you’ll see it represented in our video we made at Tramlines. All the good times are on it, yep.”
Terence taps the part of his head he was caressing, then knocks on it. It sounds solid and dares me to touch it. I do and it feels like he’s got a titanium plaque grafted in there. He smiles sardonically and it his turn to go down memory lane. “I’d say the recent excursion to club 60, down in the underground was real nice, ‘cept for the incident involving my head and the floor and the amount of alcohol consumed afterwards, which probably did not help my situation, but nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves pretty much”.
They already have an EP out, but their current setlist contains different songs, so I prompt the obvious question: “anything being done, recording wise?”. Terence takes the mic “We’ve got two recordings sessions booked up, so hopefully there will be some. An EP or maybe two EPs, maybe put them together in one thing for the people to consume, ah, but we are sure we are recording, we are not sure how we gonna put it out, what format, whether it’s gonna cost anything , whether it’s gonna be free or what, but there’s more comin’ . Keep your ears peeled. Especially if they are sunburnt.”
“We enjoy every gig we do, I think, these days. It just kinda feel bad to single one out, or any out, they are real good.”
Wired Earp then reminds me that their EP is being given away for free on their blog, so I follow that note and ask about any future recording plans they have. “After our debts with the tobaccy customs and exides we currently have no money to produce cds. So it’s gonna take a lil’ while, but we’ll get there in a few months.”
They offer a swill from their moonshine jugs, but I politely decline. They eye suspiciously, maybe assuming I’m just one of “dem city folk”. I assure them I’m not nor am I one of the strange specimens seen with skinny jeans and wayfarer glasses (male) nor am I one of those girls with black leggings and squishy looking boots. I do ask them about their opinion on people in very tight pants. Relevance? None whatsoever.
“They are a very strange species of people and they should be exterminated , culled if you like.” breathes Terence while playing with a human skull he carries in this guitar case. He then throws the skull to a passer-by. “Like foot and mouth victims. Maybe not foot and mouth, maybe legs and eyeballs, that’s what we call it from where we are: Leg and eyeballs disease. What happens when you wear pants that are too tight and glasses that you don’t need”.
Wire Earp, using his medical training, does explain further. “Eyeballs start to bulge out when your balls are too constricted, that’s why they are wearing glasses, to keep their eyeballs in”.
Never one to let go of having the last word, Terence then adds “And in some cases, people’s heads actually begin to disappear up their own asses. Which costs a lot of money when you need to operate on that. You can either remove the head, which can result in fatality, or you can insert a glass front in your stomach so you can still see while your head is stuck up in your ass. I personally would go with extermination as a solution to this problem, and it is a problem. Although people like that make us look a lot better. It’s kinda nice to have dicks around”.
Then they look at each other and their rather close fitting pants that look like their legs have been lagged in denim. “We do wear tight pants, but I’m a scrawny motherfucker” says Terence.
But, surely, there has to be another way they can make money from fans? I ask them about the possibility of selling merch at their gigs. “We did try and sell some tobacco one time, but they saw right through it. I rode on in my Segway and I got rode out of town with pitchforks. We do have some t-shirts , again, due to lack of funds, they’re kinda holed up, but that should be coming up too”. Finishing this tirade, Terence then reassures me “Keep your eyes peeled for them, particularly if you’ve got sunburn in your eyes. It’s pretty painful, so I’m told.”
But what about action figures? Surely, a couple of bonafide characters like them could work as collectibles. Wired Earp ponders for a few moments and agrees if the doll has “a little trigger on the back, makes your arm go up and down!”.
As all things Wet Nuns, the process is a democratic one. So Terence also chimes in in the doll design of Wired. ”That’d be real cool. I think we should just modify some Buzz Lightyear action figures. He’s got karate chop action, pretty easy to turn that into drumming action.”. Wired requires that a beard is drawn upon it and Terence adds that if they really want to go for realism, they should “amalgamate together” the body of Buzz with Woody, so the cowboy hat is included in the action figure. Their final stroke of design genius? A drawstring that spews their catchphrase “Wanna buy some tobacco?”. A SEGWAY with a cart being pulled would be sold separately. MacFarlane Toys would approve of this.
The policeman with the shotgun is motioning me to leave. I ask them a final question, wondering again what has been their favourite gig of 2010. I do want a straight answer. Terence shoots back. “We enjoy every gig we do, I think, these days. It just kinda feel bad to single one out, or any out, they are real good. We always enjoy ourselves, even if we’re just practicisin’ playing ourselves, we enjoy that too. We wouldn’t bother doin’ it if we didn’t enjoy ourselves”.
Bullseye, sir. Thank you, dear sirs. A couple of weeks later I would see them with The Violet May and Avida Dollars rocking out at The Office pub. I noticed that in their drumkit, the legs of a Buzz Lightyear dangled by idly…