Wimps was voted Best Punk Band in the 2015 Best of Seattle Reader Poll. To view the other winners, go here.
Walking into A-list Ballard hot spot Hattie’s Hat, it’s hard not to spot Wimps’ guitarist and frontwoman Rachel Ratner and bassist Matt Nyce. Drinking Rainier tallboys, one of the band’s favorite brews, these elegant punks light up the dim room with their presence. The only thing missing is drummer Dave Ramm, who is away in Brooklyn but graciously joins Seattle Weekly’s exclusive rendezvous with the superstar punk band via text message. It’s been a whirlwind since the secrecy-shrouded trio signed to prestigious Portland label Kill Rock Stars earlier this year, preparing for their upcoming breakout EP, Super Me (set to hit retailers across the U.S. on August 7). You might think the intense national spotlight would’ve gotten to their heads, but somehow these superstars say they still draw inspiration from their humble hometown roots.
“Today I saw someone kind of dry-heaving,” Ratner says thoughtfully. “The guy next to him had this big bowl of oatmeal... like a full soup bowl full of oatmeal that he brought on the light rail.”
Ratner says she watched as the oatmeal splashed onto the floor, a poetic moment most of us without that special artistic spark might miss. But these seemingly mundane episodes fuel Wimps’ singular, enigmatic creativity. In a rare agreement, the band has consented to give Seattle Weekly an unfiltered glimpse into their day-to-day lives so fans can better understand where the inspiration for their timeless tunes comes from.
Ratner’s day typically begins at 7:20 a.m. with an interesting psychic-stamina exercise. When Ratner’s alarm goes off, she hits snooze. At 7:29 a.m. she hits the snooze again. She repeats this unique morning time-endurance ritual once more before moving on to the final step of the intense regimen.
With 10 minutes left to leave for work, she takes five minutes to look at the Internet on her phone.
“Usually I check Instagram first and then Facebook and then my e-mail,” she says. “Then I get out of bed, figure out something to wear real quick, hop on my bike, and rush to the light rail, which I take to work.”
Fans who only see Ratner strumming her guitar and crooning about eating dog pills might not know about her other life as a business mogul—an integral player in the locally owned, universally beloved online retail giant Amazon. As a web developer, she holds up one side of a powerhouse partnership with the man Harvard Business Review named “the best performing CEO alive,” Jeff Bezos. While he runs the company, Ratner crafts code with the elegance of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.
“I just sit there in stark silence in my tiny cubicle, coding as quickly as I can so that I can leave by 5 or 5:30 and get all my work done and not work late,” she says.
Wimps bassist Matt Nyce has a different rhythm to his day. Not one to adhere to 21st-century social norms like “employment,” he eases into each day peacefully.
“I usually sleep in to about 10, then I sit in bed for another half hour and look at my phone,” Nyce says with a coy smile. After that, he lets out his cat (which he says is a rare breed called “Loud”) and makes himself a fresh pot of coffee. From there his day can go in any number of directions, depending on where the muse takes him. He might eat a yogurt. He might shower. He might go swimming at the beach. He’s a wild card, a classic bad-boy rocker.
Currently Nyce spends a lot of his time working on various art projects. He’s busy finishing design work for Wimps’ upcoming album, and just wrapped up the artwork for a friends’ record as well—local punk duo Pony Time’s upcoming album Rumors 2: The Rumors Are True.
Drummer Dave Ramm, who works as a speech therapist in Tacoma, lives an even more outlandish life. Each week he’ll work with more than 60 kids. A selfless, demanding job on its own, Ratner and Nyce are baffled by Ramm’s constantly moving social life. They say he’ll often go out to dinner, and sometimes even reps for the band at various local clubs.
“I’ll go to shows on weekends, but Dave will go to shows on weekdays,” Nyce says, flabbergasted.
Often, though, the three Wimps can be found together at practice or watching Nyce and Ramm’s extensive collection of The Simpsons DVDs, Rainier in hand. On nights they’re not together, Ratner’s typically at home making stir-fry or spaghetti. She says she usually follows it up with a thorough floss, and reads a book before falling asleep.
Like a bottle of ’82 Merlot, the band only gets better with age. They relish their luxuries, living lives most of their contemporaries could only dream of—a topic they aren’t bashful about as our day together comes to a close.
“We’re older and a lot of people our age have families and kids and we love playing music and have jobs so we’re, like, ‘adult’ in that we have adult jobs and stuff, but we’re still doing something that younger people do,” Ratner says of the band’s unique punk lifestyle. “At the same time, I want a good night’s sleep and I want to be in decent shape because I’m getting older.”