The Wombats Promise to Leave Their Mark Down Under
It sounds like the start of a bad joke - two Englishmen and a Norwegian walk into a bar to watch a game of soccer - but that's the reality as Oyster talks to Dan Haggis, drummer and vocalist for indie-pop trio The Wombats. Speaking to us from a Liverpool bar that served as a recording studio for The Spice Girls and Coldplay while watching Australia's World Cup match against Serbia, Haggis tells Oyster's Josh Butler that the band will be stocking up on nappies in preparation for their upcoming tour of Australia as part of the PARKLIFE Festival.
Wombats, as a species, may be short, stocky and lethargic, but as a band, The Wombats are a brash, energetic British three-piece who may very well be one of Liverpool's greatest exports. In reference to what is by far Liverpool's biggest musical export, The Beatles, we ask whether Haggis thinks they'll ever have grow such a manic following.
Haggis laughs, and maintains that it's unlikely. "You know, in the Liverpool botanical gardens, there's still a topiary of The Beatles heads - as in, they've shaped the hedges to look just like them."
While they may not have their heads set in hedges, The Wombats still have a strong following. After meeting at a performing arts school established by (who other than) Paul McCartney, the trio rose to prominence as part of the British pop invasion of mid-2000s - a movement that spawned such acts as Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellis and The Kaiser Chiefs. Their last album, A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation, was released in 2007 to critical acclaim.
Haggis says that fans shouldn't have to wait much longer for their next one. "We've written 26 or 27 songs for the next album, and we recorded three of them recently in Los Angeles and it went really well," Haggis explains. "That's the start of a new album. We're hoping its out before Christmas; fingers crossed."
Haggis tells Oyster that "we want to expand the sound from just a guitar, bass and drums. We've been playing a lot more synths, me and Tord (Overland-Knudsen, bassist) are both playing synths this time. There's more variation, and it's been more of a challenge playing live - it feels like we've put more thought into it this time."
A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation was the band's second full-length release, but the first introduction to the group for many fans worldwide. Characterized by simplicity - in lyrics, guitar work and drums - and more focused on filling dance-floors and facilitating sing-a-longs than affecting any musical revolution, their pop-rock formula was always going to be an easy target for music purists.
?People often say that to us, that we don't take ourselves seriously," Haggis says in response to his critics. "But we do, in a way; we are serious about what we do. Our music is our lives. At the same time, you can't take life too seriously, can you? It's a bit of a lottery; you never know what's going to happen. We just like to keep a glint in our eye when we do music."
Australian fans will be happy to learn that they'll be some of the first in the world to hear the trio's "more thoughtful" new material, as the band heads down under for the Parklife festival in October. Renowned for their energetic, jubilant live performances, The Wombats assure Oyster that a 20-hour plane trip (and the resulting jetlag) won't slow them down once they hit the stage.
"Our aim has always been to go on stage and exhaust ourselves as much as we can," Haggis explains. "We give every ounce of energy we've got, try to have as much fun with the crowd as we possibly can, and make sure they have the best night they possibly can. To be in Australia playing festivals is pretty legendary for us."
Finally, Haggis issues a warning to Australian fans who'll be pushing to the front when The Wombats play: you might want to hold your noses and shield your eyes.
"Seriously, I think we'll just generally be so excited to be back on stage; we might have to wear nappies because we'll probably all spontaneously crap ourselves."
The Dandy Warhols are part of the 2010, 10th Anniversary Parklife line-up also featuring Missy Elliot, Groove Armada, and Soulwax, by Fuzzy Events.
Parklife tickets are on-sale now at www.parklife.com.au
Gold Coast - Saturday 25 September - Parklands
Perth - Sunday 26 September - Wellington Square
Melbourne - Saturday 2 October - The Sydney Myer Music Bowl and the King's Domain
Sydney - Sunday 3 October - Kippax Lake, Moore Park
Adelaide - Monday 4 October - Botanic Park, Botanic Gardens of Adelaide