Wussy is a five-piece rock and roll band comprised of ex-Ass Ponys frontman Chuck Cleaver (guitar, vocals), Lisa Walker (guitar, vocals), Mark Messerly (bass, keys), Joe Klug (drums, keys) and John Erhardt (pedal steel). They formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 2000’s with original drummer Dawn Burman.
Cleaver and Walker began playing together in 2001 as a result of Cleaver’s stage fright when asked to perform a brief run of solo shows. The duo’s first performance was largely unplanned and yet went without incident… so they agreed to continue and expand. Mark Messerly joined in 2002 as bassist and utility man, and Dawn Burman joined on drums shortly thereafter. The four-piece released three full-length albums and one EP on their native Cincinnati’s Shake It label. Klug joined the band shortly after Burman’s departure in early 2009. The new lineup recorded some demos, a single, and an acoustic re-imagining of their debut album Funeral Dress (for Record Store Day 2011) before finally completing their fourth original full length Strawberry. It was recorded (as were their other releases) at Cincinnati’s Ultrasuede Studios under the direction of the Afghan Whigs’ John Curley.
The band is known for its use of “an army of alternately droning and jangling guitars” (Uncut 6/09) to offset the traditional three-minute pop format. Lyrics are typically split evenly between Cleaver and Walker. Their work has met with consistent critical praise from such sources as Rolling Stone, SPIN, Christgau’s Consumer Guide, New York Times, Pop Matters, NPR and Village Voice. Rolling Stone gave the band’s last three albums four stars each, and prominent critic Robert Christgau placed the band’s first two albums (Funeral Dress and Left for Dead) on his Best of the Decade list, while all four Wussy full lengths ranked in his end-of-year “Dean’s Lists”.
Shortly before SXSW 2012, Wussy added Cleaver’s former Ass Ponys bandmate John Erhardt on pedal steel. After a steady string of US dates, the band will do a short tour in the UK to support a best-of compilation coming out on London-based Damnably Records in fall 2012.