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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Wet Heave harness urgent garage rock energy

Alex Molica, frontman of garage punk band Wet Heave, practices their set list Tuesday. Wet Heave will perform 8 p.m. Thursday at the Artifex Guild.

Wet Heave frontman Alex Molica said he has realized all of his garage rock band’s songs are about one of two things: people or food.

He said there’s no grand design to that, no master plan involving a song about how raw tomatoes are awful but tomatoes as an ingredient are delicious. It’s just in the spirit of capturing raw energy and originality, he said.

“Within one practice, that song should be figured out,” Molica, 29, said. “If you spend too long on perfection, it turns into progressive rock. ... If you spend too much time in the spotlight, you wind up trying to concoct what you originally did out of originality.”

Molica said Wet Heave applied that philosophy of urgency to “Warm Shrimp,” its debut album, which releases Dec. 15. The band will play an album release show at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Artifex Guild, located at 1017 S. Walnut St.

That mindset is crucial to making the genre’s best music, he said. If you take the Strokes as an example, it’s the difference between their debut, “Is This It” — an album he loves — and their later work, which he doesn’t care for, he said.

“Warm Shrimp” also sees Wet Heave combining Molica’s primary influences — the Gories, the Cramps, the Oblivions — with 1920s-style country blues, a genre he said he became enamored with when he took a class on the history of the blues.

Molica said he describes himself as a “forever senior” — he was almost ready to graduate two years ago, but when he received a Cox Legacy Scholarship he decided to pursue more academics. But he said that means he’s had to put certain aspects of his life on the backburner.

“You have time for two of three (things) — work, social life, school — but not all three,” he said.

For him, though, music isn’t necessarily a social activity. Beyond Wet Heave, he’s also the co-founder of Crush Grove Records, for which “Warm Shrimp” will be the second release. He said that makes music fit under the category of work — or, by virtue of its learning experiences, school.

He said he founded the label after another musician, the Grayces’ Patrick Ward, suggested marketing his music would be easier if he did it under the guise of a label. Crush Grove’s first release, an album called “Jimmy” by Molica’s now-defunct band the Brown Bottle Flu, found its way to a handful of media outlets via the label publicity.

Crush Grove is releasing “Warm Shrimp” on cassette tape, a medium Molica has seen make a comeback in 
recent years.

“That was not something I saw coming back in ’08 or ’09,” he said. “But I saw the kids (in other bands) doing the tapes, and I said, ‘We have to do that.’”

Wet Heave is set to play a short record release tour in January, but the band might be near the end of its lifespan, Molica said. He said he’s thinking about moving north next year — maybe to a music hub like Detroit or Philadelphia, maybe to his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan — and though Wet Heave’s end isn’t certain, he can’t expect the band’s other members to move with him.

Plus, his bands have lasted only two to three years on 
average, he said.

“I can’t let something like this (band) keep me from moving away,” he said.

If he does move, he hopes to keep Crush Grove operational, he said. The label is already considering its first releases by bands he isn’t in, plus a potential release by his longest-running project, KP & Me, he said.

But wherever he does end up, he said he’s sure he’ll find people to play with — he considers himself pretty outgoing,. He just has to stay in his “Is This It” phase.

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