MIDWAY through The Guide’s phone interview with Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, the fire alarm goes off in Argus house.

While staff members file down a cramped stairwell and speculate over the potential inferno (it was a drill), the Australian drummer is a beacon of serenity, not to mention thoughtfulness. “Are you ok, do you need to evacuate? Is everyone alright?”

Her unflappable response seems to speak volumes about the woman. Mozgawa is the reliable yet propulsive force behind the all-female four-piece. Whether she’s underpinning the band’s early psychedelic jams or creating the disco-orientated beats witnessed on latest album Heads Up, the drummer has become a cult figure in alternative music.

Her laid-back mindset is evident today both in her languid voice and the considered way that she talks of Warpaint’s near break-up after their second album. Fatigue had got the better of the four women and a split – or least a lengthy break – seemed the logical course of action.

“It was just the exhausting nature of touring that made us contemplate that decision. Sometimes when you’re stuck in the mindset of a band it’s hard to imagine life outside of that. Some people in the band thought 'this (Warpaint) is what’s causing the trauma in my life, therefore it has to end.'"

The success of the four-piece’s self-titled debut album meant Mozgawa and co were sent on a worldwide tour that took almost two and a half years in total. “It was so long because there were places in the world that started picking up on the record as we were touring,” says the drummer. “Midway through a tour we were asked to go to Brazil or something. We were pretty burnt out after that.”

When it came to making their second record, Warpaint tried a new approach on the road – but it wasn’t a healthy one. “That time around, we decided we wanted to do the same amount of shows in a shorter amount of time; that drove us all a bit mad. We had to totally recalibrate in terms of what was the best way to go, bearing in mind what hadn’t worked in the past. We’re trying not to make the same mistakes again.”

Mozgawa, a “self-proclaimed workaholic”, says she didn’t take much time off after the second album tour: “I was never going to live in a cabin in the woods.” She worked with Kurt Vile and The XX in Warpaint’s short hiatus, while vocalists Jenny Lee Lindberg and Theresa Wayman embarked on solo projects.

The drummer’s dabblings in her own basement studio informed some of the textures heard on Heads Up – “Stella’s shimmering disco beats” as one review put it. She says was merely “writing music for its own sake”, but always had Warpaint tucked away at the back of her mind. “It was important that we were just working without worrying about what the new Warpaint record was going to sound like, though,” she says. “You can get paralysed by the myriad choices you have.”

Mozgawa is modest about the slinky sounds she created for the album: “It’s just a general fascination with disco and groove-based stuff that found its way into the music, I guess.” Armed with a handful of upbeat new songs as well as older fan favourites, Warpaint seem in a good place to continue the progress they’ve made.

And, as Mozgawa points out, the group are popular enough not to have to worry about the burnout of yesteryear.

“We have a bit of room to breathe because of where we are at in our career – there’s not a desperate clamouring for awareness. People who want to find our band have already found it; it’s not as important to crawl around the world anymore.” 

Warpaint, Brighton Dome, Church Street, Wednesday, March 29