When you jam out to Solar Wimp, you can’t help but hear the story of underground music unfold before your ears. For Solar Wimp it’s an epic journey that began in 1995 in Peoria, Illinois and extends to—and, sadly, terminates in—modern day Los Angeles.
I wouldn’t trust any other band to be my guide through the tumult.
That’s because Solar Wimp brilliantly builds on the best parts from the Speed and Thrash metal era of the ’80s where they first came up. As the band passed through the searching and experimental ’90s they deviated a lot, finally finding their home in the spazzed-out, bizarro Y2K / early Oughties D.I.Y. Noise Rock scene.
Back in 2008, when Solar Wimp played a Monday Night at Pehrspace, I wrote:
Solar Wimp… Wow. This band had moments of full-on Dazzling Killmen-esque transcendence, with wicked guitar, unrelenting bass and the craziest, tightest drummer I’ve heard in years—the guy was a rager on the kit. Not every song reached such heights, but, hey, even their lesser songs were merely…. incredible?
Solar Wimp’s music is like the chromosomal record of everything great from these scenes and time periods (and more). Many of us are fellow travelers. It’s a familiar journey for hardcore music fans.
Solar Wimp gets it, man.
Of course, there’s a big section of Solar Wimp’s musical DNA that remains extremely, umm, mysterious. It’s their X factor—their particular contributions that elevate Solar Wimp music into the aesthetic stratosphere.
Who knows? Solar Wimp may be what helps our species survive in the future, as we humans continue “Sowing the Seeds of Dumb” (great title, that).
Now, with their musical mission seemingly complete, Solar Wimp is calling it quits with one big bash.
The final lineup of Solar Wimp has been steady since 2016: Jeremy Kerner on guitar and vocals, Justin Brown on bass, and Mark Kimbrell on drums. All three were kind enough to give us a guided tour through their music in advance of the coming singularity: Solar Wimp’s rock implosion on stage at Oracle!
Don’t miss the show. Now, take it away, Wimps…
How would you describe the music you make to someone who’s never heard you before?
Mark: In the phase of our existence, we’re pretty much a metal band, but not quite like other metal bands.
Justin: Metal, with a twist of lemon!
Why is this Solar Wimp’s last show?
Mark: Geography. Jeremy is moving to Northern California. Without proximity, we don’t exist.
When did Solar Wimp start and where?
Jeremy: Solar Wimp formed in 1995 in Peoria, Illinois. The first line up was Cory Flanigan on drums, Brian Gould on bass and vocals, and me on guitar and vocals. We put out a two-song 7” on Silent Film Soundtracks Records around that time under the name Solar Wimp Trio.
What motivated you to make music back then?
Jeremy: We were a bunch of hardcore music nerds who gravitated together in a sleepy town and formed all sorts of odd bands. We would play VFW halls, skate parks, and the occasional backyard kegger.
Were there any particular bands or artists that inspired you?
Jeremy: I formed my first band with drummer Chris Merdian in the late ’80s and it was straight speed metal. I was listening to a ton of thrash and speed at the time; Slayer, Possessed, Sadus, Pestilence, Entombed…
Are these the same ones who inspire you now?
Jeremy: Voivod was one of my faves and they are still putting out badass records. Very inspiring all these years later.
When I started writing for Solar Wimp I was deep into The Residents and they are another band I find incredibly inspiring. I just saw them on the Metal, Meat & Bone tour and they were completely demented. It was an unreal performance.
Is it safe to say that Solar Wimp has gone through a number of stages of development?
Jeremy: Yes, we have gone through drastic changes over the years. You can find all of our music on our Bandcamp. I gathered the earliest stuff into three Archives volumes. Cory Flanigan, drummer for Solar Wimp Trio, had moved here to L.A. and I eventually followed in 1998. We picked back up as a dastardly duo, shortened the name to Solar Wimp, and put out four recordings from 2000-2006.
The first two volumes are comprised of strange instrumental songs with all manner of instrumentation and lots of layered sound effects and samples. I was working as a sound designer at the time and had access to all of these wonderful sound effects libraries which I weaved in and out of all of our stuff. I recall one of the tracks on that first recording had two chained DA-88s worth of strange soundscapes.
And Cory was collecting all of these wonderful instruments—slit drum, djembe, talking drum—it was a very special time of musical exploration and experimentation for the both of us. I learned a ton from Cory around that time.
The third volume is where we started writing more conventional songs, still all instrumental, and began entertaining the idea of playing out. Our favorite venue at the time was Mr. T’s Bowl. Cory would bring a laptop and it would provide all our wacky synths, samples, and sound effects over the top of the guitar and drums.
The album Small Departures is where I started writing songs with vocals. It’s pretty poppy and there are actual vocal melodies, but you can hear elements of the heavier weirdness that came later. We were performing this material when we met Rune Freeman (of Monday Night legends Warm Climate), who was playing bass in a band called Boxing at the time. We loved her playing and asked her to join us and she agreed. Now we were a power trio with these short, spazzy tunes and it was a total blast.
At some point Cory decided to move back to Illinois, which was a real heartbreaker. Rune and I then put out feelers to see if we could find a drummer who would want to play this wacky stuff and by some sweet serendipity we found Mark Kimbrell. He was in a killer band called Head of Destiny at the time. He just clicked with us right away and that’s where the band started getting into heavier territory. We recorded a self-titled EP in 2008 and then a full-length, Struts for the Interior, in 2010. Vocal melodies were a thing of the past by Struts and the music started getting a lot more dissonant and angular.
Eventually Rune moved out of Los Angeles, another heartbreak, and we were joined by Justin Brown on bass, who’s been with the band since 2016. I was playing with Justin in a band called FeatherWolf at the time. He was on drums and I had no idea he was such a shredder on bass and guitar. We just finished basic tracks for our next full length which should come out next year. It’s definitely the heaviest stuff in the Wimp catalog.
Since Solar Wimp began, a lot of bands and musical trends have come and gone—how does it feel to be the last band standing?
Mark: Stubborn, wizened, and gristly? Actually, I think the answer is that it just never occurred to us to stop.
Jeremy: I feel very fortunate to have played with so many great musicians over all these years.
Justin: Bittersweet, exciting. I was in high school when I first heard Solar Wimp with Rune on bass and instantly became a huge fan. It’s a bit surreal now to be here at the end of this journey.
What’s the wackiest shit that’s happened to Solar Wimp as a band over the years?
Jeremy: Here I’d like to give a shout out to Daniel Dismal of Church of the 8th Day. Thanks to him we got to open for Dysrhythmia, Black Cobra, and Vektor. Those shows felt surreal and I will always have a special place in my heart for Dan for hooking those up.
Jeremy: I’ll be up in Northern California waiting for the next Upsilon record to drop and annoying people in coffee shops with my random noodling.
Justin: I’ll be haunting local prog shows in Los Angeles. Otherwise, I’m looking to put together a new project in the near future with myself on guitar instead of my usual drums or bass.
What should the Oracle Tavern audience expect from you on Friday, December 9th?
Mark: Mostly newer material, plus a couple old songs that we haven’t performed in a really long time.
Justin: Our signature blend of aggressively weird metal!
What do you want them to walk away feeling?
Mark: Stoked. We’re stoked that we’re going to play. We’ll be stoked to be playing while we’re doing, and we will be stoked to have just played after we’re finished. Ideally the audience will partake in that as well.
Jeremy: I would love it if we managed to deliver a warm fuzzy or two.
Justin: Sonically fulfilled, and hopefully not tinnitus.
Is there hope for the future?
Mark: As for the band, our current intention is to let it die. We are working on a final album though, so there will be that to look forward to.
Justin: I wish there was a future in which Solar Wimp could continue. I’m so happy and proud to have been a part of what we’ve done together over the years and on this album.
If you had to pick a movie to represent the journey Solar Wimp has taken, what would it be?
Mark: Le Quattro Volte, which is based on Pythagoras’ notion of a soul repeatedly migrating to a new phase of existence upon death. This band has been essentially reincarnated several times over the course of its existence. The sound and approach have undergone big transformations, but there is a strong thread that you can trace all the way to the beginning (i.e. Jeremy).
We have now reached the mineral phase and are ready to become one with the Earth.
And don’t miss the show:
Sean Carnage presents…
Friday, December 9th at Oracle Tavern:
Tricky Youth – Raw & loud, like Three 6 Mafia on a Nü Metal jag
Wryngwyrm – Sumptuous metallic vibes, atmospheric death noise
SAZA (formerly Sauber Zauber) – Black Metal / Prog experimentalism at it’s cutting-edge best
Vitamin Wig C – Monday Night superstar Robbie Hansen back with enthralling keyboard madness
Solar Wimp – Ascendant power trio rock—from a duo! Their final show!
DJ Kyle Mabson – Just added! Pro wrestling superstar & ’90s fanatic internet sensation
The doors open 8pm. Music starts at 8:30. It’s $10 at the door / 21+.