Phoenix friends and colleagues remember the music – and heart – of Andy Warpigs


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Andy Warpigs, the Arizona-born folk-punk icon, died on Sunday, May 30th, 2021 at the age of 32.

Although they were known for their musically grubby, skilful storytelling and their relatable but absurd lyricism on tracks like “Drown My Baby”, “Everybody Likes You Now”, “Bad Faith” and “FOLK-PUNK YOURSELF”, it is Warpigs too ‘Altruistic and compassionate dealings with others that have sparked a wave of condolences in the Phoenix music scene.

Bryan Preston of Dadadoh, a friend and collaborator of Warpigs on projects like Militia Joan Hart, tells Phoenix New Times about their beginnings together:

“They were the biggest live music supporters I have ever met. We got together in the Phoenix music scene and we both started out as journalists trying to document the local music we thought was cool,” says Preston. “When they started making money from their music, they gave me something [the earnings] making physical copies of my first EP. At some point over the years I joined their band and they joined mine.

“We have always loved and respected each other, but we also argued about things and disagreed about people. We became a real family together. You have the strength to always find the light in the darkest people and moments. You were so funny, you were a genius; you were my brother. “

According to longtime bassist Jackson Bollox, Warpigs (who was born Michael Johnson) first presented their adopted nickname at Jesse James Comics in Glendale on Free Comic Book Day in May 2013. Warpigs reworked old punk songs into tunes about cartoon characters at the event they put together played with Bollox ‘band Nerdzerker and Billie Russel from Contradiktion.

Militia Joan Hart’s friend, associate, and bandmate, Scott Mitting, tells the New Times about Warpigs’ relationship with her chosen stage name:

“When I first met her, there was clearly a difference between Mike and her character, Andy Warpigs. But those lines blurred over the years. We talked about it many times. “

Local artist Hotrock Supajoint was a friend of Warpigs who helped record, mix and release their debut album Folk-Punk Yourself on 56th Street Records in 2014.

“Andy wanted to help musicians make music; we did a number of live shows together in 2014 and ’15, and they also helped me start and co-host my SupaShow potcast in April 2017. The last time when I saw Andy perform on February 7th, 2020, “says Supajoint.

“Andy is a fucking rock star and everyone knows it,” he continues. “They turned their attention to people who needed to be noticed and had a sincere desire to help, entertain, and inspire. I miss her, yo. “

A lot has been reported about Warpigs over the years on the culture blog YabYum Music + Arts. YabYum Senior Editors Carly Schorman and Mark Anderson said, “Andy Warpigs, as we called her, was one of the most caring, serious, and supportive musicians we have ever met. Andy was a defining force in the local music scene and you played a defining role in the community. Andy’s talent and charisma stood out on and off the stage, perhaps only overshadowed by his friendliness. ”

Phoenix friends and colleagues remember the music - and heart - of Andy Warpigs

Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen (@ Loganjlr1994)

Bollox describes playing with warpigs as “always an adventure” due to their improvised nature.

“I’ve performed live for over half my life and I’ve never felt the adrenaline rush like playing with them,” he says. “It made me a much better musician, [as I had to learn how] to change how I played the song on the fly, how they would do it; [Andy] would completely change the chord structure during the song or even use a kapo and tell me just before the song that the song would be in a different key that evening. “

Friend and former colleague Jorge Felix repeats this feeling; he tells the New Times that playing with warpigs could feel “shaky”.

“Andy would change the tempo of a song depending on your mood. Although it’s hard to follow, I think that’s the weak point [of their music and performance] attracted people and made them the most real person in the room. Even with a $ 20 faux leather jacket and toy guitar, they were a rock star, “says Felix.

I remember the first time I met her on a show we played together, “Jedidiah Foster tells the New Times.” We were instant friends. It was easy to hang out with Andy – you just had to go to a random show and they probably played it. I was a fan too. Subversive, humorous lyrics in easily digestible melodies, sung by Gordon Gano meets Morrisey. What did not you like?”

Preston describes Warpigs’ songwriting skills as “really unbelievable … you could write something as silly as this or something completely heartbreaking”.

“We were both going to a show at the old Trunk Space location and the guy who was headlining the show told everyone to stand up or he would end his set early. After he had a tantrum and finished his set, Andy got up on the bench of an old piano and played their song ‘Ego Death’, “recalls Preston.

“The lyrics are all about that crybaby / selfish rock star, and it really hit the guy who was headlining it. By the end of his impromptu performance, you could see that it softened this guy up and he was a little ashamed of himself his behavior act. [Andy] no matter who you were. They knew we were all the same and should be treated as such. That’s always stayed with me. “

Although Warpigs’ music made him part of the local scene, his friendliness and empathy made him popular with countless Phoenix musicians.

“I can’t think of anyone who could get me to put seven people in my car at 2am on a Tuesday when I had to be at work at 6am, or someone more supportive and inspiring than Andy “says Mitting. “I wish I could be such a good person.”

Jimmie Lewis of NFOE, who played drums on a number of shows with Warpig, met her on his first Trunk Space show.

“I was about 16 [and] Andy was super friendly and welcoming; It took us about five minutes to become best friends, ”recalls Lewis. “We could just talk about music for hours. They were the closest thing I had to a role model. [Andy Warpigs] was selfless and a saint. “

Local musician Benjamin Fuqua recalls a time when Warpigs, who was just an acquaintance, helped him through a difficult time.

“I was alone in the middle of the street, totally baked like a burnt potato, and [I began] hyperventilate and I freaked out. I started crying and just as I was doing it Andy ran up to me and fucking hugged me, “says Fuqua.” I don’t remember her name. [and] had only met her in passing at a few parties, [but] They were hugging me just as I was about to cry and it just fixed something. They told me the world sucked, but I should just take it out on them instead of falling apart. “

Jeff Schaer-Moses, the manager of Arizona nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, has worked with Warpigs on a number of local music events including It Gets Weirdest, Sharefire Music Festival, and Miami Loco, as well as casting shadows on the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Picture the Firehouse (in which Warpigs played Dr. Frank N. Furter).

“They were an inspiration incarnate, with the unreal ability to encourage everyone around them to follow their passions,” says Schaer-Moses. “I would be nothing with Andy and Mamma Warpigs. I would be a drone who spends my days at a desk waiting for my everyday life. [but] Andy and her mother breathed life into anyone who ever thought that life could be more. Andy believed in me and acted on that belief [and] Everything I’ve done in the music industry I owe in part to Andy Warpigs.

“And the only thing they cared more than creativity was inclusion; they just wanted everyone to have equal rights to participate in the beautiful time and to have the same space to make it a reality. ”

Phoenix filmmaker Josef Rodriguez, who made a 2015 documentary about The Indie 500, a recurring local music marathon at The Trunk Space, recalls Warpigs’ presence during the filming.

“You were one of those people you liked to see because they always had something to say and listened to, which is rare these days,” says Rodriguez. “You were a mythical figure in some ways, even though you were open about who you were. You were always shrouded in a secret that I really loved. You loved your mother more than anything in the world, and hung out with her and us everyone and loved everyone.

“From a distance, they appeared to be that larger-than-life person, but when you spoke to them it was clear that they were the most humble people you have ever met.”

Andy Warpigs is survived by her partner Keyah Hanwi and her mother along with the locals, friends and fans who keep her spirit, memory and music alive.

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