WC Tank is a poet, rapper, filmmaker, videographer, visual artist and performance artist. He is a prolific writer, impassioned performer, talented visual artist and a genuine soul with a solid sense of humor.
"When you Google ‘WC Tank’ you get a page filled with (images of) toilets. I didn’t know this when I picked the name," says Tank. "I just had to laugh. Roll with it."
Prior to naming himself WC Tank, he was also known as Paper Boy's Honor, Stumblesome and by his "real" name, Wesley Charles Tank. (Most of his friends just call him Wes – or Haimish Gree – but that’s another story.)
As Stumblesome, the productive Tank put out seven albums. He went on to front Antler Antennas and the group released three EPs followed by a WC Tank EP and two full-length albums.
After a couple of years in the works, Tank will release a five-song EP called "Almost Forever" at the Mad Planet, 533 E. Center St. on Saturday, Aug. 30. It will be for sale at the event and also on bandcamp.com.
The event starts at 9 p.m., costs $8 and features openers WebsterX, Riley Lake, Airo Kwil and Nicholas J. There is a pre-show at Imagination Giants, 901 E. Wright St., that will consist of a variety of "almost performances."
"At the end I will lead the crowd on a boombox journey to Mad Planet," says Tank.
Tank will also host a potluck and listening / screening party the night before – on August 29 – at Usable Space Gallery, 1950 S. Hilbert St., at 8 p.m.
"This is the first thing I put out in a little while, musically," says Tank. "I wanted to do something really succinct. I often do things that are big and sprawling and difficult to understand, but this time, I wanted to do something consumable and digestible that maybe left you wanting a little bit more."
"Almost Forever" – which will be the first release on former Milwaukeean Milo’s The Penobscot Expedition label – is more than an album. It’s a culmination of Tank’s many creative outlets – the disc is "sandwiched inside a zine" that’s packed with Tank’s lyrics, poems and illustrations.
"It’s a little droplet of all the things I do," he says. "This feels like my first album. I feel like I found my voice on this in a way that I haven’t before. Then again, I’ll probably look back at this and think I was still searching for my voice."
Tank also works with a "visuals band" called Bread Mothers that utilizes experimental projection methods to create unique imagery. A DVD with the bands’ visual score of "Almost Forever" will be included in the package.
Tank also created videos for each of the five songs. He released "Blend Modes" last month and "Quasiperpetual" today. The reaminder of the videos will be shared online within the next month.
Moving forward, Tank feels himself hiking toward a Truer North. For years, he identified with the rap genre because it was "a really good medium where I was allowed to be wordy and have a lot of range, expression-wise." But lately, Tank says he identifies, for the first time, more with David Byrne than Eminem.
"‘Almost Forever’ is a rap album, but I feel myself gravitating away from that after this album," he says.
Last fall, Tank went on a six-week tour making music videos and tour visuals for the Los Angeles-based Hellfyre Club collective during which time he was immersed in rap / hip-hop culture and was able to better understand why it was never a hand-in-glove fit for him.
"I don’t always feel accepted in the hip-hop community. I don’t know why that is. I won’t speculate. But it’s frustrating sometimes," he says.
Tank says he considered moving to L.A. after the tour – and was encouraged by numerous people to do so – but chose to stay in Milwaukee.
"I’m not afraid of L.A. I’ve been there a bunch. I even almost started to like it. But I actually like living here," he says. "I have collaborators here and I don’t feel like I can give up everything I have going on creatively in Milwaukee. I might not be headlining at Summerfest, but I have a lot of people I really like working with."
Tank is also currently finishing a documentary film about Hellfyre Club collective and a book of poetry called "Increasingly Clear" that he plans to introduce at Zine Fest on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Polish Falcon.
"Writing is the wellspring of it all. Writing is the daily practice, the thing that’s always in motion," says Tank. "Rap / performance is my ego and video is my bread and butter and writing is my soul. They all go together and I can’t have one without the other."
The numerous jobs Tank held over the years had a huge impact on his writing. His first job in Milwaukee, when he moved here to attend UWM where he later received a film degree, was at Sil’s Mini Donuts, a drive-thru stand on North and Oakland Avenues that is now Chubby’s.
"That job really shaped my early work," says Tank, who grew up in Dodgeville. "I just sat and wrote in the donut stand."
Tank went on to take corporate, 9-5 video jobs at numerous places, but eventually decided to free himself of a strict schedule and now solely works freelance.
"When I had the corporate job, I felt like I wasn’t hustling enough. I’m not making as much money now, but I feel like I got my soul back," says Tank.