Having recently released their latest single “Tokyo (Vampire and Wolves)”, The Wombats are also preparing for the release of their long-awaited next album. With their current tour underway, I went to meet them at the Nottingham Rescue Rooms before their show later that evening.
CM: So what have you been doing since the last album [A Guide to Love Loss and Desperation]?
Dan (Drums): Well we toured for about two years after the first album and then we’ve been working for the last year and a half on the second album and it’s pretty much finished now: we’re in the mixing stages.
CM: What sort of thing can we expect from the new album? Have you gone for a very different style of music?
Dan: Well have you heard Tokyo… because I think that’s a good example
Tord (Bass): Well that’s even “synth-ier”
Dan: That’s the most “synthy” song on the album
Tord: “It’s more synths, but you’ve still got the guitars there, and still loads of added elements on top of that”
Dan: “It’s very energetic. We spent a lot more time on this album and recording each song. It was a lot about the production side of things, as oppose to the first album where we went in and recorded everything live, more or less no click, just the three of us in a room doing a “gig” almost. Whereas, this album’s been much more…
Tord: “It’s been a more detailed process…”
Dan: “We’ve worked with more producers and different producers: we worked in L.A. It’s been a totally different experience from the first album, but we’re really, really happy. By spending six days on a song rather than one day on a song…
Tord: “Or spending six hours on one guitar line… Things like that to get it right, even though it might not make much of a difference”
Dan: “Well whatever right means!”
CM: Well it’s good if you can experiment with the album
Dan: “Yeah that’s been one of the nicest things. Well, a, working with the different producers we’ve learnt loads from them, and we’ve learnt a lot ourselves, having the time in amazing studios with amazing synths and this that and the next thing… it’s been exciting, but very difficult and drawn out.
CM: Are there any particular songs that you think are really strong off this album, apart from Tokyo which has just been released?
Dan: “The second single’s called “Techno Fan”, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that goes down, as it’s been going down quite well live. That’s one of the most energetic, rocking ones on the album as well I think. Then we’ve got another song called “Jump into the Fog” which is very different to anything we’ve done before; it’s got a slower, heavier sort of groove, with massive backing vocals and chorus – and that’s a lot of fun.
Tord: “And we’ve got our first Wombats ballad, or “Wom-ballad” as we like to call it, which is a song called Anti-D, and we’re going to play that tonight.”
Dan: “Basically, as it gets to the end it gets more and more epic, and we’ve never had a song that goes epic, but we’re all big fans of Sigur Ros and that side of music, which is really intense and builds and builds: and we’ve managed to work it into a Wombats song.
CM: Do you think it will be difficult to follow the success of the first album with your second, especially if you’re trying to experiment?
Dan “Yeah of course it’s difficult. Obviously, when you’ve done the first album no-one’s got any expectations almost, and you haven’t of yourselves. You just make an album that you’re really happy with and hope it does well. But now, there’s lots of people out there who have fallen in love with the first album and they’ve almost got an idea of who we are and what we sound like. I guess we were a bit worried about what people are going to think. I still think we were really confident with the songs and really happy with how it sounded, and we were really excited – which is all a band can ever do. You’ve got to make something that’s true to you, and that you’re excited about.”
Tord: “You’ve got to try and forget about what everybody else thinks. But’s that’s very hard especially with the new songs that we hadn’t played live (well we have now… but at the time when we were recording) we didn’t have an immediate reaction from the crowd, whether they liked “this” track, or “that” one, which they might be a bit more sceptical to. Things like that we had no real feedback from: it was only us and the record label…”
Dan: “And the occasional play to our families…”
CM: “I know what you mean, where at gigs it’s not that new songs get a hostile reaction, just more muted where the fans don’t know the songs that well”
Dan: “Well that’s the thing – it’ll be the same tonight..”
Tord:”It’s a natural reaction. When I go to gigs, I get excited when I hear a song I’ve heard before, and if it’s a song I haven’t heard before, it’s not that I don’t like it, I just listen more to hear what’s going on”
Dan: ”I think we’re confident that there’s a lot on the album that’s hopefully going to be interesting for people, and maybe some old fans might not really like it, but some new fans will like it… You can’t please everyone.
Cm: “So what have you enjoyed about playing live shows and touring: what are the highlights?”
Dan: “It’s a good time to ask that, because we haven’t toured in eleven months or so, and even before that, we did a couple of gigs but it wasn’t a tour. From going from being in the studio for thirteen hours a day, and back to the apartment, having the same day-to-day routine: then all of a sudden going on tour is like going off on an adventure, and we’re going off meeting all new people, and it’s a much more dynamic lifestyle than being in the studio (no that one’s better than the other) and I think going to new places as well. But obviously the gigs are the highlights.”
Tord: “I think we all like that lifestyle – you have to, being in a band – being away from home and constantly moving somewhere “
Dan: “It’s exciting to see where this tour is going to take us, as it’s all unknown at the minute”
CM: “Are there any places you’ve been that you’ve particularly enjoyed touring?”
Dan: “Australia’s always amazing… Germany… Hamburg we played recently and that was awesome. It was a tiny little venue, with lots of crowd surfing! I like going away for a month and touring around Europe – and you can wake up in Belgium or wherever, and go out and walk around sight-seeing.
Tord: “Touring Europe is quite exciting as you don’t have to go far to get a completely different vibe, speaking different languages, different architecture – even in just two hours.
CM: “Do you get time to go and sight-see, or is it straight from one place to another?”
Dan: “It’s normally one place to the other really, although you get to see a bit, and you get the odd day off. On this tour me and Tord are going to get fold-up bikes, and as soon as we wake up try and have healthy lifestyles (although I don’t think it’s going to work). Just wake up in the morning and wherever we are, cycle off and look around the town.
CM: “What do you think of festivals in comparison?”
Dan: “Yeah we’ve done loads of festivals over the last three years, and we’ve pretty much done all the big ones in the UK. I don’t think we’ve got a preference really…”
Tord: “It’s very different as at festivals you play to a lot more people but they aren’t necessarily your fans…”
Dan: “And normally play shorter sets. It’s much more like a conveyor belt of gigs”
Tord: “You haven’t got a sound check, you just go on and try and pull it off”
Dan: “I just love going to festivals, and being “at” a festival, and there are loads of other bands you can see, and soak up the atmosphere which is really nice. But doing your own shows is amazing… actually I probably prefer that!”
Tord: “Well that’s your fans who know the songs, and the atmosphere is just amazing when you’re at small venues indoors – I think I prefer that”.
Dan: “But at the same time, when you do Glastonbury, and all of a sudden you play “Moving to New York” and everyone knows it, and 40,000 people start going mental – there are some memories like that which really stand out.
CM: “Have you ever been at a festival and been in awe of a particular band you would be featuring alongside?”
Dan and Tord: “Radiohead”
Dan: “We played at a festival in France and Radiohead were headlining (it was pretty much Radiohead, SIgur Ros, Vampire Weekend and us), and we were massive Radiohead fans. After “In Rainbows had come out we were all really into that album. We stood onstage and got a photo with the backline of Radiohead – there haven’t been many times like that.
CM: “So what are you planning for the future: obviously the new album will be coming out, but have you thought much beyond that? Or just taking it one step at a time?
Dan: “Yeah just take it as it comes. I think if you split your thoughts up too much and think about the future, you’d rather just give everything to “now”. In the back of our minds we want to do another album and another album and another – just constantly making music, but apart from that my immediate future plans are; tour, put the album out, move to Paris, and probably drink far too much.”
Tord: “You can’t [think about the future], because things change so quickly”
Dan: “I don’t think you can plan for anything.”
Tord: “We know that we will be touring for the next year, and that’s as far as my mind-set’s going. Release album – tour – and then maybe record another album, but we’ll think about that when we’ve finished.”
CM: “At IMPACT, we have a “what we’re listening to” section for contributors, so what are The Wombats listening to?”
Dan: “The latest Band of Horses album, “Infinite Arms”, I listened to that over the summer and it was really good.”
Tord: “The new Yeasayer album – I listened to that quite a lot this summer. And the new album by M83 – I’ve been listening to that as well”