Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.
It's doubtful anyone who ever saw a show by W.O.M.B. (Warriors of Make Believe) would've forgotten it but just to replenish your memory banks, here's an excerpt from my profile on the band in November of 2001 entitled "W.O.M.B. With a View."
When Stanley Kowalski mumbled, "What are you, a bunch of queens or something?" in A Streetcar Named Desire, he wasn't fixing to pay his wife and nutty sister-in-law any compliments. But if he or you or anyone else were to burst in on the very sane women of W.O.M.B. with that highfalutin' assessment, they'd have to agree with you. And they'd be right.
Because in the last five years, sisters Marta and Cristiana Wiley and longtime friend Debbie Lorray have created an artistic musical kingdom over which they alone have dominion. Where else can you see three intelligent, beautiful women with exquisite harmonies who are also accomplished fine artists and who bring their sound paintings to the stage with video representations? And even if you could, what are the chances they'd be singing about Halloween, Zeus, the forces of nature, blood money, food getting cold, witch covens and the politics of freaking people out?
While you folks playing along at home fish around for some pencil and paper to come up with your own new W.O.M.B. categories, here's Marta Wiley with some past winners.
"People who write articles about us say 'Post-punk folk genre,' 'multimedia neo-hippie girl group,'" she laughs. "We had to come up with a new sound for ourselves. I decided I'm just going to make music and let other people talk about it. That's what you do as an artist. You paint the painting and let history decide where it's going to hang."
Cristiana chimes in emphatically, "Our genre is kinetic music. We've decided on that." Debbie agrees before all three burst into giggles.
Today, Cristiana Cole (the only drummer ever to appear on a New Times cover and the only one who ever will unless Dave Grohl starts a feud with Joe Arpaio), describes the band as "a collective dream of three artsy unworldly childhood rockets, flew apart… okay shattered, and then reformed to crown eight female musicians into a unique sisterhood ready to hit the stage and evolve the world.
The flying apart bit occured in the early 2000s when their bassist left and the band had its 07/07/07 rebirth as a seven-piece, which included new bassist and vocalist Jane Joyce, keyboard and vocalist Hillary Tash, violinist and vocalist Miray Cakir, dancer and vocalist Athene NaShea, and lead guitarist and vocalist Brandy Isadora Bevins.
Wait... didn't Cristiana say eight female musicians? OK, there are some photographs with eight women, or seven women with one Photoshopped in. And then there's some sextet shots before they stopped updating their Myspace page and that Tom dude became crestfallen.
Asked for a song that represented the sound and soul of W.O.M.B., Cole doesn't reach back for the kinetic music they made as a power trio but this latter-day lineup of six or eight musicians.
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Says Cristiana, "Once Warriors Of Make Believe reformed on 7/7/07, the band promoted and wrote like crazy. 'Revolutionary' was the first and last song to be professionally recorded before the divorce. As I listen to this song everything that was good, pure and open-minded about W.O.M.B. surfaces. I can't help but think of the theory of timelessness and how W.O.M.B.'s gist and ultimate vision remain viable today."
Produced by Gardner Cole, it's a stirring track with Hillary trading lead vocals with Marta who at one point speak/sings: "I am an artist, a musician, what does that mean? I don't know and I don't give damn / I just want to tell you / I am a revolutionary."
"W.O.M.B. made it a mission to train its members and fans to believe in themselves and the collective dream," says Cristiana. "I feel good about W.O.M.B. now. Oh and I still make believe every day. Reunion anyone?"