Interview: The Wombats chat new music and touring

We chat to drummer Dan Haggis about their new album and 2018 UK headline tour.

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Liverpool indie-rock trio The Wombats have announced a UK tour for March 2018 in support of their forthcoming new record Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, set for release on 9 February 2018. The tour will include a headline show at London’s Alexandra Palace.

New single Lemon to a Knife Fight, which premiered as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record of the Week on BBC Radio 1, is only a taster of what The Wombats have in store for next year. Speaking of the track, frontman Matthew “Murph” Murphy adds, “Lemon to a Knife Fight came around after my wife and I had a huge argument on Mulholland Drive. I’d been watching tons of David Lynch too, the song just kind of fell out of me.”


With tickets for their new tour going on sale this Friday, we had a chat to drummer Dan Haggis about the new record, the new dates and what it’s like being in The Wombats.

How are you feeling about your 2018 headline tour?

So excited. Like every band you spend so long in the studio and writing and recording and stuff, and it’s just your little baby when it’s finally finished. And then you still have to wait a few months before it’s actually released and you can actually play them live. We’re just so excited to get back on the road again, it’s been quite a while since we played this summer. We love touring as well, it’ll be good for the fans to hear the new music. It’s always nice seeing people’s reactions rather than just our reactions.

You’re headlining Alexandra Palace as part of it, that must be exciting?

Yeah we’ve only played there once before. It’s such an insane venue in an amazing location in London. Have you been up there?

Yeah, it’s amazing!

It’s mad, isn’t it? Such an amazing view. I haven’t been there until a few years ago and I was like “Whoa, how did I never know about this place?!” But yeah, it’s stunning. And obviously it’s quite a big deal for us playing in a place as big as that. And hopefully a few people will come and see us.

How do you gear up for a tour at this stage?

We’re just starting the prep side of things, making the keyboard sounds that we’re gonna be playing on stage, because we run everything from a laptop. So it’s just the behind the scenes, kind of boring stuff in a way. And enjoying the last little remnants of normal life for the next few months and hopefully have a nice Christmas. And then we’re going straight to America in early January, and I think next year by the looks of things it’s gonna be pretty full on.

It’s in support of your new album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. What can fans expect from that?

Oof! We sort of approached this one a little bit differently. When we were making a few of the songs we were like maybe let’s not try and use synthesisers in the same way that we have done for the last two albums – it became a little bit of a go-to thing. A) because we’re synth-geeks and we love playing around with the different sounds on there, so it was quite good to try and not use anything like that and just go back a little bit more to, like, drums, bass, guitar and vocals. But it’s exciting as well because you have to discover new ways to make these sounds. It’s kind of hard to describe the full album. I think I played it to some of my friends and family, and they’re all really excited and have their own favourites which is always a relief when you play it for other people and they like it. But then they are our friends and family and they’re probably not gonna say they think it’s crap. *laughs* We’re really proud of it, it’s got some real good festival moments with things like big energy songs, and I feel like there’s quite a few ’90s vibes to it. In a few places, that brings back the music a little bit that we grew up on. We’ll see what people think.

Is there a message behind the album title?

We had sent over a few options and we went over all of them, and that one was just one that really popped out. For different people it probably means different things which is always quite interesting with titles of songs as well. I think it’s kind of the idea that the people you end up falling in love with or whether it’s in your family or actually a boyfriend or girlfriend, they can end up having such a hold and such power over you that can end up messing things up for you in a way. I guess it’s that double-edged sword of love, maybe something like that.

How do you think it builds on what has come before?

Again I think with every album we’ve tried to do something a little bit different and take things in a different direction. I’d like to think we’ve done that again with this one. A few of the songs that we made over in Oslo as we were writing was actually the first time that we’ve come into a room with absolutely nothing at all to start with and started messing around with stuff until we actually finished the song three days later. So doing that was also really fun. We did that on the last album a little bit – try to work in different ways, find inspiration and create new things. We produced it with the same guy as the last album, Mark Crew, and it’s also the first time we worked with two producers at the same time. So Catherine Marks, she came in and again it was just the idea to have something kind of familiar there. Just trying to see where we could go with somebody else’s brain as well and what it brings and how it would change things a little bit. It feels really fresh to us.

Did you think back when you started that you’d still be touring the world more than 10 years later?

*laughs* Didn’t even know we’d be touring the world in the first year! We’ve spent the first three years in tiny venues around the UK, occasionally in Oslo and Paris and a few other places, and China as well, so before we were signed we were just trying to make it work, driving around in my granny’s old car and getting handouts from our parents. We never imagined it would get to this, which is actually really cool with these 10-year anniversary shows back in June/July time this summer and it was mad doing them. It’s like looking at an old photograph when you feel transported to that time and it’s like “Whoa, do you remember that time?” and “How has it been 10 years?” and this is our job, this is what we do – it’s crazy. We’re really happy with our new album, and to still be making music, the three of us, and still loving what we’re doing and still getting excited about that is kind of the main thing and everything that comes around it, whether it’s touring the world or whatever, is just a bonus.

What do you think has kept you going?

Coffee! I think having that solid friendship basis from the start when there was only the three of us, no crew, no nothing. There was no complications in a way, there was just three friends playing in a band. I think having that foundation to a band is really important and healthy. And helps you through times when things might get a little bit more complicated, I think that’s really important. Because I can imagine some bands who only just start and they get massive success really early on, must be quite hard, you haven’t been at the bottom in a way. You’ve never experienced that. I reckon that’s something to do with it.

What can fans expect from the 2018 live shows?

We haven’t actually fully put them together yet, hopefully a brand spanking new looking light show with as many things that could bang as possible. Playing loads of the new songs, we can’t really help playing the greatest hits, that’s what we always end up doing. Greatest hits in inverted commas, with a bit of irony thrown behind it. Obviously we want to play a lot from the new album. It’d be a good mix.

Tickets for The Wombats 2018 headline tour go on sale at 09:00 on Friday 17 November 2017 via