Each month we ask an artist to tell us about the 3 artists they think have gone underappreciated, and 3 new names who they hope will avoid a similar fate
Since disbanding lo-fi trio Let’s Wrestle in 2015, Wesley Gonzalez has released two solo albums: 2017’s Excellent Musician and this month’s Appalling Human. Both records have seen him run a mile from his indie rock past; the first purposefully written without guitar, the second leaning even further into an exploration of disco, funk, soul and house music.
Wesley’s lyrics remain at the heart of his songs, making sense of things when he describes Appalling Human as the “post-therapy” accompaniment to the “pre-therapy” coke times of Excellent Musician. It’s a record about reflection, closure, being too hard on yourself and then not being too hard on yourself. Its saddest tracks are often the ones that make you want to dance the most. Then it’s time to pick back over the lyrics and relate to what Gonzalez has been singing about, check that he did just sing that line, and revel in the absurdity of modern life.
His choices for The Rates tell the story of how Appalling Human came to be such a complete body of work.
The story of this is that Lawrence lived with me when I was teenager, when I was starting Let’s Wrestle. He used to drive us around. He’d drive us to Birmingham and give us a tour of where he used to hang out and show us where Swell Maps lived. It was great having him as a resource, but I never really got Felt at that time. The first thing that I heard of Lawrence’s was the second Go-Kart Mozart album, which was his most recent record when he moved in. I loved it. There was a line that just killed me: “I’m going to open your jeans/ I’m going to put myself in/ We’re going to fly off on a cloud of white.” And it was so vile. It’s such a disgusting line, and Denim had that too – this fearlessness of putting in horrific lines. “You suck me off, but I can’t cum in your mouth.” I love that he goes everywhere.
I’ve taken a lot of influence in what I concentrate on in society in my songs. Class issues, drug addiction, the darker side of things.
Your songs have a similar way of deploying double-take lyrics, where you might be listening to a track for the fifth time before you realise what it is that you’ve been singing along to.
I had that on the new record. Cullum who plays key for me, I sent him the demos over to learn the parts and he texted me to say, “Did you just say, ‘this beer costs just £2.99’ in a fucking song!?’ I’ve got so much of that learning from Lawrence. He’s a space cadet, but he’s really together, he knows what he likes, and he’s a true artist. And I feel like during a time of Brit Pop, Denim were the perfect band, because they were so extreme. They’re like the black metal of Brit Pop. You could see them like Pulp, but Pulp were a real band, and Denim were almost this imagined entity. Like, he paid loads of money to have the Glitter Band (pre the Gary Glitter stuff, obviously) as his backing band. I mean, no one would have noticed. It’s fucking hilarious.
But it’s all so thoughts out – the look of it, the fashion, the videos – and that’s another thing I’ve taken from Lawrence. I remember when Let’s Wrestle first got in the NME and he said, “You know you can’t ever go out not dressed proper anymore. You always have to be wearing your best clothes all the time because you never know when there’s a paparazzi from the NME.” I was like, “What on earth are you talking about?”. And he’d say, “Y’know, someone could just come out of a bush and take a photo of you.” I said, “Have you ever had that happen to you?” And he said, “No. One day though… one day.”
Did you ever play music with him?
I don’t think I’ve ever even seen him play music. I lived with him for years, and I remember once going through some keyboard chords with him, because he said he wanted to get better at keyboard, but it lasted for two minutes and he said, “Nah, I can’t be bothered”, and that was that.