Blitz had a chat to Dan Haggis from The Wombats about the band’s namesake, playing in Sydney, and the changes over the past 10 years.
Listen or read ahead for the full interview.
Groovin the Moo 2017 announced yet another phenomenal line up, from home grown legends Tash Sultana, and All Day to international superstars Milky Chance and The Wombats.
Today we have the privilege of speaking to one of these acts from GTM 2017 and one of the greatest acts to come out of a little town called Liverpool, England since the Beatles: The Wombats. But it’s not only GTM 2017 for these furry British Marsupials, the Band is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album, and have recently announced an Australian tour. On the phone we have non-other than Dan Haggis, their Drummer and all round top bloke is going to tell us a bit more about this marsupial named band.
Dan, thanks so much for joining us on Blitz Radio. Now I’m not going to beat around the bush, you recently made a huge announcement, the band is doing a side show and Sydney is being blessed with a show at one of our most iconic destinations: the opera house. How does it feel to be playing at such an iconic venue?
I don’t think we ever thought we would play that place. It’s one of those images that everyone can recognize straight away. It’s so iconic. And when the opportunity came up, our Australian promoter said: do you guys fancy doing the Opera House. Obviously we laughed about it, we thought it was almost a joke and we were like: Of Course we want to play at the Opera House. Without sounding too clichéd, it’s a dream come true. It’s going to be a night to remember and all our family in the UK are looking at flights to come over.
It’s funny, a lot of artists and they’ve all said that when they say: I’m playing at the opera house, suddenly all their family and friends want to come over to watch
Yes of course! For our parents’ generation, it’s almost a seal of approval. It’s not some little rock venue, and even if you’ve played to loads of people, it doesn’t seem to matter, as soon as you say that you’re playing at the Opera House they all go: OOOOOHHHHH
Now before we really dig into your return to this sun burnt country, let’s talk a bit about the birth of The Wombats. I’m sure you’ve been asked many a time, The Wombats, why the name? Is the name an homage to one of the greatest countries in the world: Australia?
We’ve made up quite a few reasons over the years, but I’ll spare you the random stories we’ve made up with hangover. We just needed a name for our first gig and the guy was pestering me for a name. We hadn’t got a name honestly because it was our first gig, we haven’t looked at the dictionary or plucked a name out of thin air. So I said: Just put the wombats down. He laughed and said that’ll do. But we’ve definitely grew into the name! At first Murph and Todd were like “The Wombats…Really?” I think it’s played some part in how many times we’ve been to Australia. It’s been amazing, it’s led us on such a random adventure. I’m glad that one moment, that spontaneous decision, was a good thing.
It’s been 10 years since: A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, and you’ve released two massive albums since then, how do you think the sound of The Wombats has changed over the years?
When we started it was very much: Guitar, Bass and Drums and three vocals, but as you move on and you start to discover different sounds and work with different producers, introduce different synthesizers to our practice room and having different toys to play with. As people we are quite curious for new sounds and we started messing with different things, the sound just got fuller and a bit more synth driven. We always love the element of the guitars and how they drive a song forward and especially when playing live, so we always wanted to keep that side of it. It’s exciting at the moment as we are starting to record our fourth album, so we will see where we go with this one.
I was just about to ask: What can we expect from this fourth album?
We are at the really early stages, putting demos together, but we have between 5-10 songs in the mix at the moment. We are off to Oslo, for all three of us to start writing together for a couple of weeks. So we will be surrounded by snow and Pine Trees for the next couple of weeks, which will make a change from grizzly rainy England and sunny Los Angeles for Murph. Hopefully there will be inspiration in those snowflakes.
Why did you guys choose Oslo as the place to write music?
It’s where Todd lives, so he can be closer to his family, as he had a little baby before Christmas. So now there is a father in the band now.
That sounds less like a Rock Band vibe to me, now you’ve got a dad who is worried about bed time for the kids…
[Laughs] Yeh I suppose, but it has to happen at some point in your life, hasn’t it? I suppose we are three Peter Pan-esk characters. Todd had been thinking about it for a while and it’s a great thing. A different experience in life and hopefully gives different inspiration. Don’t worry, me and Murph don’t have any kids so we will be tearing it up in Oslo while he is back at home reading story time!
I’m glad you’re still upholding the rock band image. Now, every artist has one of their songs that generally resonates with them more than the others, which song is this for you?
Tricky one, on this last tour and album, it was Greek tragedy. I don’t know why actually, it took us in a different direction and there a couple of moments in it, that live, just get me every time. Obviously for a drummer, seeing the crowd air drumming along to the intro is always nice for me.
The drumming in Greek Tragedy is amazing and I guess you’re to thank for that!
[Laughs] It’s kind of weird, when we record we end up playing various instruments, but I did definitely play the drums in that recording.
Let’s talk GTM 2017, you are of course one of the biggest acts at this festival. What excites you about playing at this Festival all the way down under?
We did it for the first time six years ago and it has a different vibe to the different festivals. For most touring bands in Australia you go to the main four or five cities. The more regional places tend to get left out of the loop. It’s always nice for us to go to new places in Australia and play to people that haven’t seen us yet. It’s always exciting to discover new places. Last time, when we went to Bendigo, and our management said it’s going to be a fairly wild festival and it was! That set the scene for all the other ones. We can’t wait to come back and experience it all over again.
If wombats are your first favourite marsupial what is your second favourite Marsupial?
If you didn’t play drums, what would be your next choice of instrument?
Some would say that your drum intro for Greek Tragedy is akin to Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight”, agree or disagree
Wow, that’s the best compliment I’ve ever heard. [re-enacts the intro to in the Air Tonight], I never noticed the similarities, hopefully no call from Phil Collins later
Do you have any recommendations for bars in Tokyo where vampires and wolves wont sink their teeth in, as it is a fear I have about that
Go to Edge End, it’s near Shabooya and ask for Endo he is the owner and wear Garlic just in case
Have you ever met some that makes you feel sea sick?
Yeh, seen him on the TV, he has orange hair and orange skin and he is the president of America.
Thanks so much for joining us on Blitz Radio, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. You can catch the Wombats at GTM 2017 or at the Sydney Opera house on Monday the 8th and 9th of May. Dan it’s been a pleasure speaking to you and I look forward to seeing you in Australia.
By Harry Rutner
Header image: Giulia Scifoni