Warpaint returns, radiating The LA-based group was, naturally, waylaid by the pandemic — just enough to write a new record, Radiate Like This.

Warpaint returns, radiating

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For many of us, the pandemic era has been a time of anxiety. For the band Warpaint, it was also a time of productivity. They weren't able to tour, but they were able to put the finishing touches on their new album. It's called "Radiate Like This."


WARPAINT: (Singing) I'm an ocean. Breathe in, in and out. I'm a million years old. I'm a champion.

MARTIN: Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal are two of the members of the all-women rock quartet. They joined us from Santa Monica, Calif., to talk about how they kept busy during COVID lockdown. As Theresa explains it, it included everything from the mundane to the musical to the maternal.

THERESA WAYMAN: I spent a lot of time with my family and my son - I have a 16-year-old son. And I did, you know, just, like, things that you do living at your home, like gardening and cooking and canning tomatoes and...

MARTIN: Well, I don't normally do those things.

WAYMAN: I know.

MARTIN: But I'm glad that they provided space for you to do them.

WAYMAN: Yeah. There were some worrisome moments where it was, like, supply chain issues - like, I need to have a garden. And a lot of people were feeling this way.


EMILY KOKAL: I had a kid.

MARTIN: Right, you had a kid, Emily.


WARPAINT: (Singing) And here it is, I've got you. And here it is, I'll talk to you.

MARTIN: I read that you gave birth to your daughter on March 16, 2020, is that right?

KOKAL: Yeah.

MARTIN: I mean, that was, like, exactly when the U.S...

KOKAL: So weird.

MARTIN: ...Was coming to grips with the pandemic. That must have just been totally surreal.

KOKAL: Yeah. It was already weird to become a mom, but getting to just have a kid at the beginning - and she's 2 now - it's been pretty great.

WAYMAN: Yeah. She got a lot of time with Mommy and Daddy uninterrupted. That's, like, very nurturing. That's what we all need and probably lack - just, like, being held.

MARTIN: Yeah. Is there one song on the album that you're particularly proud of?

KOKAL: "Hips." "Hips."

WAYMAN: It's like an Earth Mother song.

MARTIN: I mean, there's so much to say about that song.


WARPAINT: (Singing) She's coming through your portal from a very steep climb. She's going to make it.

MARTIN: It is very Earth Mother. And I will admit that I have asked more than one musician - men and women, by the way - about how parenthood has shaped their music. But this is the first time for sure I've interviewed anyone about a song that is literally about giving birth. Or am I reading too much into this song?

KOKAL: No, you're not. She's coming through my portal. I mean, I didn't - when I said she's coming through a portal, I actually didn't think about the literal visual I was giving the entire world. No, no. But it is, yeah. It's stepping into another dimension from the spirit world, which is kind of - we are like spirits having a human experience. And it felt like a triumph song about this superhero child.


WARPAINT: (Singing) Hips to the left, hips to the left, hips to the right, let's go. Hips to the left, hopes to the right, hopes to the right.

WAYMAN: I feel like you were really in that state of motherhood and being with your - this new person. And, like, I definitely see through the lyrics that it's about her and her potential and her - you know, like, the freedom of a new person is just so exciting and inspiring. You're like, what are you going to do with your life? You could rule the world.

KOKAL: Yeah, that song just felt like a little ode. Also she's so inside of the music because I was - you know, she was literally inside me while I was writing it.


WARPAINT: (Singing) I won't forget. I won't forget. I won't forget. I won't forget. I will remember, will remember, will remember this.

MARTIN: So now you take this thing on the road and you perform it, and you do it, Emily, with a baby. Is she coming with?

KOKAL: She's driving the tour bus.

MARTIN: Yes. I mean, she is a superhero.

WAYMAN: I'm scared.

MARTIN: With ancient wisdom of stick shifts.

KOKAL: You guys, these children, I'm telling you.

WAYMAN: (Laughter) Of stick shifts.

MARTIN: Is she staying behind?



MARTIN: She is coming?

KOKAL: She's coming.

MARTIN: Yeah. So you did this, Theresa, right? I mean, you were a mom in the early days of the band. And I think you were doing it by yourself as a single mom. Where did you look for a playbook of some kind? Were there other touring artists who you knew or talked to about how to do parenthood and music at the same time?

WAYMAN: No, not really. I don't think anyone - I didn't encounter a lot of people that had kids at that time were dealing with that. But I took my son with me on tour once with a friend of ours who was the nanny, and it was a bus tour in the U.S. And my kid was like 5 at the time. And I think by the end he was more spun out than I'd seen him in a long time or, like, ever in his life. And so I realized that, you know, kids need structure. And as fun as it might have been, it was just also maybe not so healthy. So, yeah, he stayed home.

MARTIN: I'm sure, Emily, you have lots of people in your life who have been parents, but since the two of you have known each other for so long, so intimately as friends and musical collaborators, I wonder what you have learned from watching Theresa parent.

KOKAL: You trying to make me cry right now? Oh, man. Theresa is a very heavy influence on me in general. And so I think just watching her kind of grace and patience and attention to Sirius - and she's really playful with him. Like, they actually look like brother and sister (laughter).

WAYMAN: Well, thank you.

KOKAL: I think he's kept her, like, really young. They just kind of grew up together in a way, and they have this bond and this closeness that's really inspiring. And I feel so lucky that I feel like I can understand a little bit more what Theresa's been going through for all these years, too, because that's kind of been a really solo - it's a solo journey in our band that she's on.


KOKAL: And so now we have that to relate on and it's been really good for the band. And kids are good grounders and help you - kind of like a pandemic or something. Like, you've got to make food and you've got to - you've just got to, like, tend your home fire, which I think is just always good for, you know, the soul.


WARPAINT: (Singing) We're all the same sun. We're all our own sun, too. We're all the ocean.

MARTIN: Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman of Warpaint, thank you so much for talking with us.

KOKAL: Thank you.

WAYMAN: Thanks for having us.


WARPAINT: (Singing) At you. We're all the same sun.

MARTIN: The new album from Warpaint is called "Radiate Like This." It's out today.

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