Not many alternative rock bands of the 2000s have been able to maintain the success they gained, let alone do so while staying true to themselves as artists as The Wombats have. Formed in 2003, The Wombats released their debut album A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation in 2003. Featuring chart-topping singles like “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” and “Kill the Director,” the album launched the band to the forefront of the indie rock scene. Their witty—and often absurd—lyricism and catchy hooks garnered fan and critic support alike. After two more successful albums, This Modern Glitch and Glitterbug, which debuted at number five on the UK charts, The Wombats are back with two new singles in advance of their fourth album, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE. We got to talk with Dan Haggis about the album and the upcoming tour. Check it out below and be sure to catch them at Paradise Rock Club on Saturday, January 13.
You’ve released two singles, “Lemon to a Knife Fight” and “Turn” in advance of your album. What made you choose these two?
Well actually they were kind of the first two that we recorded for the album, and so they were the ones that were 100% ready, but also we were just really, really excited to get any new music out, and our label was very excited, as well, so they were like “Oh yeah, we’ll put these ones out first.” Obviously when it comes to choosing which songs get out, it’s sort of a collective decision between ourselves and the label and our manager, and it seemed like they felt like these were good ones to give fans a taste of what the new album is going to be like. They’re not necessarily out favorites or anything, but yeah.
The album was written with you all in different parts of the world. How did that affect the process and ultimately the outcome of the album?
We did that quite a bit on the last album, the third album, in a sort of similar way, I guess, with us all living in different places, but at the time for the last album, myself and Tord were in Liverpool, so at least a couple of us were in the same place. We just had to be a bit more flexible, and we met up in Norway, where Tord moved to to do a lot of the writing for this one because he had a little baby, so we felt like it was fair for him so he could stay near the baby and stuff, and we got to spend time with her. While we were writing we would have little visits from a little six-month old baby who would come in and headbang along to some of our ideas, which was really nice. We recorded the album in London, and Murph did quite a bit of writing over in LA. I think after being in a band for whatever it is now, 14 years, we’re used to working together, and the distance is not a major problem, really, to be honest.
If you had to pick a color to describe the album, what would it be?
Maybe… a light purple, like a neon sky almost, a sunset of some sort.
From the singles, it seems like you’re continuing to move in a more electronic direction, notably on “Turn.” Was that a conscious decision?
Not really, actually. For this album we kind of wanted to take it back to like organic, whatever that means, but these two songs that came out, you know “Lemon to a Knife Fight” has got more of a Gorillaz vibe and electronic drums, and “Turn” is definitely the most synth-heavy song on the whole album, so I don’t think they’re going to be a fair representation, like people might expect a different album than the one that they’ll hear, but we’re releasing another song in a couple of weeks called “Cheetah Tongue,” which is definitely more guitar-based and groovy, so it’s not a more electronic album. If anything, it’s got way less synths than the last two albums have had. Yeah, the first two definitely don’t represent it.
The tour kicks off next week but the album won’t be out until February. Will you be playing the new songs?
Yeah, we’re rehearsing at the moment in Washington. We’re trying to figure out how many new songs to play. We’ll probably do like four or five because, I mean, we all know as fans going to see a band and if they play too many songs that you’ve never heard before, it’s cool to hear a few new songs, but in an hour and a half set, we’ve got three albums of stuff we want to play as well, so we’ll be playing four or five, and then once the album’s out obviously we’ll be able to play more that people hopefully know and embrace.
When you’re on tour in the US, what do you miss most about the UK?
Not loads really. We love coming to the US and we’re excited to be over here playing for the US fans… I think being a touring band, you need to love new places and different experiences and stuff, so I don’t really miss much, just friends and family. Actually one thing I do miss, I miss cooking, because when you’re on tour, you don’t get to cook much because you’re in hotels and on the tour bus, so I miss making that simple pasta pesto even. When I get home that’s the first thing I always make, something that easy, like comfort food.
After your headline tours in the US and UK, you’ll be supporting Weezer and the Pixies this summer. What do you expect that will be like?
We couldn’t believe it. We’ve never really done a proper big support tour. We did like two dates with the Chili Peppers two years ago and we’ve done a dew little things, but never like a proper big tour, and when we found out we could do that we were like “Oh my God.” If we had told our 15-year-old selves that we would be playing with Weezer and The Pixies, we would never have believed it. We’re going to be probably having a few little fanboy moments in the crowd after we play.
Does the band have any plans between tours?
Not massively. I guess Tord will be going and spending time with his little daughter, and we’ll be doing interviews around Europe and radio sessions and all the rest of it, and maybe a bit more recording and writing as well, we’ll see.
If you could tour with any three artists in the world, who would you pick?
I’d probably go for Bon Iver, Neil Young—Neil Young would headline probably—and then, who next? We’ve got something quite rock, something a bit more chill. What do we need now? Maybe the Foo Fighters. That would be a pretty weird lineup.