Technically, WORDS is a Riot Grrrl band.

Cellist Aniela Perry and electric guitarist Marisa DeMeglio, two of L.A.’s most brilliant musicians, had been busy for years in the band Cardoo, using their classical training to improvise beautiful arcing soundscapes and introspective, moody meanderings, each recording the score to a nonexistent film. But they had no plotlines or verbal images to accompany these instrumentals. They needed words.

Meanwhile, writer D. M. Collins was making a name for himself in L.A.’s literary community after years of being a figure in the music scene as a DJ, a critic, TV host (for Time/Warner and BRGR TV) and an editor/reporter at L.A. RECORD. He had started hosting and curating the A Rrose in a Prose literary salon, each month introducing writers and performers such as Charlyne Yi, Matt Sedillo, Nocando, Legs McNeil and Sheree Rose to the stage in a ramshackle, relaxed, almost unprofessional manner that was both funny and loving.

But when D. M. dropped the conviviality act and wrote the poems that cried out from his heart, they were not relaxed, or loving, or humorous. Many were cruel and cryptic, often from the voice of an unreliable narrator, a mere fragment of his id that could not be trusted. Against the backdrop of his public persona, the sweet person he really was, they disturbed people. He needed a sonic counterbalance.

One day at an after party for the Julie Ruin’s first full-length show, Marisa was there because she volunteers at Rock Camp for Girls; D. M. was there because that’s what he does. They met and they decided to get together musically to “see what happens.”

Eventually, it was a formula that worked. Since their full-fledged inception, WORDS have won the stunned support of hundreds of new fans, on bills with rappers and poets, writers and knob-twiddlers, singer-songwriters, filmmakers, and lots and lots of rock bands.

And we think WORDS is a rock band. But where most rockers write songs, with verses, choruses, singing, and a 4/4 rhythm, WORDS create sonic narrative events, and never the same way twice. (And few others have the most talented cellist in Los Angeles, though some do: Aniela Perry also works with the Lemonheads and many other ensembles.)

Marisa and Aniela’s sound is visceral, sometimes mysterious, sometimes dangerous, sometimes throbbing with life, and always unforgettable. And when their notes wrap around D. M.’s stanzas and stories (about sex and death and pain and music and drugs and regret and music and alienation and failure and music, and everything in between) the effect is a cerebral seizure. You won’t come away humming a chorus, but you’ll forever after have images of blood and betrayal lodged in your memory banks.

And white and black and white and black and white! Completing the canvas means more than just the music and the words, it means there is a visual element to complete the canvas: throbbing 8-bit videos that pulse to their irregular beat, paint and pain, ceremonial garb, makeup, lighting, knives, and the sense of danger that comes with a freedom to walk away from the microphone straight to you. WORDS can turn a collective moment personal at the drop of a consonant, or turn the acoustic industrial at the flip of a switch.

WORDS have just released their first cassette EP out on Lolipop Records, and they are working on their first album. They’ve also been playing quite a bit with Stephen Kalinich, the former Beach Boys songwriter who was the only poet ever to have an album produced by Brian Wilson, and a second album is planned with him.

WORDS are coming. Make sure you’re ready.

You can see some of their performances on YouTube here, and hear some of their “songs” on Soundcloud here.

Clack. Clack-clack-clack, clack clack.
Like shook flint rocks.
In a jar.


September 2015

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