Fueled by ecstatic souls and the allure of foreign cities, The Wombats have left their mark throughout the world as they ring in the final leg of their tour.
The British band hit a new level of indie fame with their 2015 album Glitterbug, which was a nickname frontman Matthew Murphy gave to Los Angeles. One of the singles off it was “Greek Tragedy,” which rivaled their 2007 smash hit “Let’s Dance to Joy Division.” Although the third album presents a more composed side of the group, it has the same careless attitude and cheeky lyrics.
I talked to guitarist Dan Haggis before they played in Chicago last week. We touched upon the band’s evolution, the Pokemon Go craze, their fun Firefly Festival set and what dreams the 13-year-old band still hopes to achieve.
Karla: Thank you so much for doing this interview!
Dan: It’s always a pleasure.
K: Awesome. To kick-off, I was wondering if you guys are playing the addictive game Pokemon Go?
D: (laughs) We haven’t. None of us have played it as of yet. Have you played it?
K: No, I have not! I don’t have enough storage on my phone. Anyways, how was the show at Minneapolis last night in First Avenue? It looked really fun.
D: It was amazing, yeah, definitely a milestone. We keep going back there and it was the biggest show we’ve ever done. It’s a legendary venue—I don’t know if you have been in the room, but backstage there are pictures of all the bands that have played there, like history and just being a part of that. There was a lot of people singing along—it was electric and it felt like we were back home in the UK.
K: That’s amazing! You guys have been a band since 2003 and have toured in a lot of places, but is there a city or a venue that you haven’t played yet and want to?
K: That would definitely be really badass. How was Firefly Music Festival and what performances did you go see that you really enjoyed?
D: Firefly was amazing, yeah. We were first on the main stage—it was insane the amount of people that came out and the atmosphere was awesome and that was kind of like our first real big festival experience in the U.S. so it was really fun. I got my arm tattooed with like this weird dye that you could put your hand in.
K: Oh, the one that looks kind of psychedelic?
D: Yeah with weird colors. It kind of made you look like those aliens in Avatar. It was really cool and then we saw Tame Impala and that was just amazing, probably one of the best shows I’ve seen in a festival in a few years. It sounded amazing and it was so cool.
K: What’s your favorite song or album by them?
D: At the moment, maybe I’d go for “Eventually.”
K: Yes, that one is good. What songs or artists are you guys listening to at the moment?
D: Um, well actually we just got back from like a concert, like radio sessions or whatever. They asked us to do a cover of a song and so we did a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.”
K: That’s so nice!
D: Yeah, so we were like “Ooh how are we going to do this?” So yeah that’s the song that’s in my head at the moment because we just played it about 15 times in the last day to rehearse it. None of us have played that song in like 10 years so it took us down memory lane.
K: Almost every artist goes through different eras. For example, Picasso went through his Blue and Rose period. What era do you think the Wombats are in at the moment?
D: Hmm…I guess, it’s kind of the “When things come together.” I don’t really know how to describe it. You know, like the first album was kind of like just throwing all sorts of high-energy shit at the wall and seeing what sticks and running with it. The second one was this slightly over-thinking thing that was a little bit out of our depth, not really knowing what was going on in LA, sort of thing. And I think the third album is coming together and learning some sort of alignment where everything made sense. You know, more in control of what was going on. We made an album that we really, really wanted to make so that doesn’t really answer the question, but—(laughs)
K: No, it makes sense. I remember in an interview Murphy said that “Glitterbug is what defines the Wombats”—so I guess what you’re saying it affirms that. You guys have sort of just connected, more wholesome.
D: Yeah, basically. I can’t really describe it.
K: A lot of things have happened this past year—what has been the most memorable?
D: Um, most memorable thing. It’s always so hard when you get asked questions like that because you can’t really–it’s like you’ve done a 160 or 170 shows and trying to go through it in my head… uh and I haven’t been sleeping well on the bus (laughs)
Yeah, I guess, not in a good way, but we were in a festival in Germany last week and there was a crazy tropical storm and our show ended up getting cancelled. We had to take refuge and the whole backstage got flooded, with like three inches of water. When we were looking out the window upstairs and we could see a lot of stuff getting flooded onstage and there were like lightning strikes and stuff and it was pretty crazy. So that’s the most recent memory that I have.
K: I know that Murphy’s muse city is L.A., but is there a place that you or Tord draw inspiration from as well?
D: Yeah, I guess traveling around to new places, you know, kickstarts inspiration. When you get home from being away you get all of these new things and new people you’ve met and just experiences, I guess.
I moved to London from Liverpool just like three months ago and Tord moved back over to Oslo. So, for the next album, we’re probably going to be working on things individually and then meeting together.
I think L.A. is a really inspiring place because there’s many studios and people there; you know, everyone is trying to do something and it pushes you to try and do things. I think it can get a little bit tiring, though, because you’d probably be beating yourself up a lot if you’re not being successful or writing at all. It’s probably not the best place to be if you have writer’s block with all of these people churning out songs all around you, surrounded by success.
K: Who would you like to co-tour with or be the opening act of?
D: In terms of touring, it would be amazing to, you know, get to tour with a band like Coldplay or Foo Fighters. You know, bands that play like huge stadiums get to do this whole month of touring just because we haven’t really done it before. Just to see what that would be like. We supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the UK at like huge stadium and that was an amazing experience, so it’d be really fun to do that—also just to watch them play.
K: Can you say anything of what you guys have planned for the future?
D: Yeah, so we’re, um, touring until pretty much October in the States. And then we’re going to take a little bit of time off and then work on the new album. You know, when the inspiration starts, just gradually get back into things and work on the new album. That’s the main plan and we’re excited to see what it’s going to sound like; we never know until we actually start doing it, though, so it’s exciting.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Matilda Finn
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.