Interview The Wombats

The boys tell us all about their upcoming album, the origin of their nicknames and how they were inspired by a painting of a goat.

San Francisco is only the second stop on The Wombats’ first American tour but the indie pop trio has been frustratingly forced to cancel tonight’s show due to the loss of singer Matthew Murphy’s voice. However, the band assures DIY that they are still up for a chat and tell us all about their upcoming album, the origin of their nicknames and how they were inspired by a painting of a goat.

How’s the tour going so far?
Dan: We’ve done two shows in LA and it was great. We just came in from Japan, we were at the Fuji Rocks Festival. We got over here not knowing what time it was, we had actually gone back in time.
Matthew: We arrived before we left, slept the same night twice.
Dan: Yeah, so it’s been great, great reaction to the gigs even though quite a few people haven’t heard it obviously.

Is it true that the reason you started gigging was to raise money to buy a painting of a goat?
D: Technically yeah. Basically when we started hanging out we got drunk quite a bit, which we stopped doing (laughs). So we had a few hazy nights and woke up in the same room in a student flat, started messing around with music and stuff and before we knew it we had this unbelievable 5 minute 48 epic about a goat with drug issues that will probably never see the light of day again, but it’s pretty funny, and we played it in The Cavern in Liverpool…
M: People’s faces just dropped and we started laughing halfway through, there’s actually a middle section of Dan rapping and me beat boxing.
D: When I get back I’m gonna put it up somewhere and people can judge for themselves and hopefully when we explain the story people will think ‘it’s a good job you’ve come a long way since then fellas’; but anyway, we were walking down Main St. and we were walking past this art shop and there was this goat in the window, like a picture of a goat with his head in the clouds. We decided we wanted to have it and we had it all worked out like how we were going to share the painting, cause there’s only one painting we can’t chop it in half or anything, Charles wouldn’t want that.
M: We could chop it in half…
D: The goat didn’t have a name to start with and from that painting it was named. So we were gonna try to do some gigs to raise money for the painting but we never did it.
M: It’s probably still at that shop.
Tord: That’s where it was a year ago.

A lot of your songs make a reference to Christmas, what’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten?
M: The best Christmas present I ever got was a Robocop that fired little plungers with bright orange ends. We used to be able to fire that from the top of my roof.
T: I don’t really remember any Christmas presents.
D: Santa must have brought you something good!
T: I got a microscope once.
M: I bought you (Dan) a really good lump of coal.
D: It was wrapped up properly in a shoebox and I was like ‘Oh what’s this?’ and it was a lump of coal.
M: It was a really funny joke, I was really excited. Try it on one of your friends.

I heard you all have animal nicknames, how did you get them?
D: I can show you ‘The Rat’, (Turns to Matthew) I can’t believe you made me do this on stage last night! We were on stage and he said ‘this is Dan ‘The Rat’, oh do your rat face!’ If you could see it from the back it looks shocking. That’s one way to impress the ladies! (Dan does his rat impression) It’s a shame you can’t see me face on there, dear reader! And Murph is ‘The Dog’ because he looks like Droopy the Dog. Basically cause his eyes are popping out of his head.
M: My eyes actually do pop out of my head.
D: Tord’s ‘The Fox’.
T: Cause I have a really sharp pointy nose.
D: We also call Tord ‘Pop and Fresh’ or ‘Pop and Shart’. We can tell you why we call him that. When we have a heavy night out followed by a kebab and bad food it messes up people’s stomachs and basically Tord never farts in public, he’s really good like a girl. He doesn’t really let them out, whereas me and Murph are possibly the two most flatulent people on this planet. It kind of keeps on going on tours, the old pull my finger and what not, obviously silly humor. Anyway Tord saves them all for the toilet, like when we’re in the hotel with tiled walls and stuff, you know real echo chambers.

You’ve had a lot of success in Japan and even put an out album out there first, how did that come about?
M: They just said do want us to put your record out on MySpace.
D: We just did it ourselves. It was more of a collection of demos than an album.

So what’s about to come out in the UK and the US is really different from what you released in Japan?
D: Yeah I guess half the songs are the same and half the songs are new and they sound probably eleven times better.
M: Probably eleven and a half.
T: It sounds different because I think it sounds closer to what we do live.

I heard you took a lot of time before signing to a record label.
D: Yeah, we came over to SXSW and we weren’t in a rush to be honest. We took so long to get to that stage we didn’t want to rush into it and regret it.
M: It’s nice having the record labels buy you drinks.
D: It was nice at times but there were some nights when there were five record labels and all these A and R guys they’d be like ‘what are you having?’ and the other one would be there and they’d know each other and stuff and all jump in.

I also read that you wanted to keep the album fairly DIY?
D: To start with we were totally DIY because we just were on our own, but it can’t stay totally DIY can it?
T: Once you do it for two years pretty much in your car and going round recording everything with friends…
D: We did the recording process and our friend was engineering and we were involved in the whole process, up until SXSW basically.
M: We got a lot of things done, just us four. (four including their manager)
D: I mean we got ourselves a really strong point. I think that’s why the record companies started taking notice cause it was like these guys are doing shows on their own with no promotion behind them, and in terms of recordings we worked with the producer on this album as well, Steve Harris, he’s a great guy. We were still totally involved in the whole process.

What’s coming up next for The Wombats?
D: Hopefully a few vocals for this guy (Matthew).
M: It doesn’t hurt, just when I sing nothing comes out apart from this little whimper.
D: So that’s the next step, then finish off the US tour then back to the UK for quite a few gigs basically up to Christmas. Then joint headline with The Holloways in September then supporting The Enemy for the Rock n Roll Riot Tour. Then we go to Europe in November and then we do our own headline tour in December.

What do you have in common with real Wombats?
D: Brain size.

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