The Wombats formed in Liverpool in 2003, and before the decade’s end had cemented themselves as UK indie giants with their standout brand of anthemic and relatable indie pop. They have never rested on their laurels of that initial success, as they have moved with the times and steadily added to their catalogue over the years, getting a great reception throughout. As well as a new album due in 2022, they’re embarking on a Greatest Hits UK tour as a celebration of all that they have achieved. We had the pleasure of catching up with bassist Tord ahead of their show at Leeds Festival.
So, how was Reading festival as your first show back?
It was overwhelming. It was kind of like these two years never happened and we were straight back at it. The crowd was crazy, with mosh pits and people smiling and getting stuck in. It was brilliant to just see people.
I know it’s still quite a while until your hits tour in April. What do you have lined up in between?
It’s basically getting ready for touring again. The album comes out on January 7th. So we’re going to release a few more songs prior to that. The UK tour is announced, but we’ve got even more on the way. Once we start in January, it’s non stop until about this time next year. It’s announced as The Hits Tour, so we’ll be playing all of the songs that we’ve released as singles. But with it being an arena show we’re just gonna play as many as we can.
Your upcoming album was recorded remotely?
Yeah. It was such a crazy way of doing it. Luckily, we had three sessions in L.A where we got to write and make some songs together before the borders closed down. Then we had to work remotely.
Once we started to record it though I actually managed to get over to London – because I live in Oslo – with Dan and the producer, while Murph was in L.A. Basically me, Dan and the producer would start in the morning (UK time) to record drums and bass. That would take us up to seven o’clock in the evening, then Murph would log on to Zoom, ‘cos that was their morning, and then they would continue throughout the night. It was kind of effective because all of a sudden you got like twenty hours. The only thing that didn’t work as well was if we did something that they didn’t wanna use and vice versa.
What’s great when you are in the same room is if we’re not sure about a section of a song, we can jam it and work something out. A song can all of a sudden take a turn and go in a different direction. Whereas when you record remotely you stick to the plan more. You don’t really challenge the song or production. Which sometimes is good, because it stops us from taking a massive detour and ending up back with what you started with in the first place.
But sometimes it’s worth taking that detour because you maybe pick up one or two things that make it worthwhile. So there were pros and cons to recording remotely.
Would you say that the different locations of the members affect the music written?
It’s hard to say, I guess with some of the references in the lyrics, maybe a little bit. But with Dan living in London, me in Oslo and Murph in LA, we’re influenced by a lot of things both musically and by lifestyles.
Since forming in 2003 you’ve adapted with the music industry over time, and you’ve used Tik Tok to your advantage recently.
I haven’t even got the app. It was Dan who started to do a few things. People in media are like ‘You need to be on Tik Tok!’ And I was like ‘What do you mean on the tick tock??’ I don’t know. I guess it was a coincidence. Someone picked up on Kill The Director, it was one or two lines from the verse that went viral and that’s how we found out about it. We were like what the fuck?
Like hundreds of thousands of people recreated it, and then it affected the streams. We were wondering why Kill The Director all of a sudden started getting streamed way more than any other song. It was just completely natural. It would have cost a fortune if you were to pay for that.
And then it happened with the Greek Tragedy remix, now that is our most streamed track. I was talking to someone and told them I was in The Wombats, and he came back and was like yeah it sounds a bit like Steely Dan. I then realised that he meant the remix…
So it’s obviously a wildly different landscape from music in 2003. How did you initially ‘blow up’ as they say?
We don’t really think about these things, we did a lot of touring in the early days before we got signed. We played some shows where it was literally the sound engineer and the bar staff and Murph’s parents. If you can play venues with terrible sound, not hearing any vocals, you can do anything.
We were part of the MySpace generation, I loved it. Maybe like three people came down at first, and then they told their friends and all of a sudden you started to play for maybe 20 people. And then the same happened in Newcastle or in Sheffield. And then all of a sudden we started to play club nights and get in front of a good crowd. So, yeah, it just snowballed. Then once Radio One started playing some of the songs it happened fast.
The weird thing is how it’s kind of just continued. I like how these songs continue to have a life and then reach the younger generation as well, because like yesterday the crowd was really young. I don’t know why but maybe it’s the storytelling and younger people relating to the topics.
Onto bass guitar, what’s your go to bass?
I got Justin Meldal Johnson’s custom Mustang. He plays with Beck and he produced M83 and he’s a really cool dude, and his bass sounds really good. I’ve tried some of the other Mustangs and they don’t sound as good. I used that loads on this new album, and I’m going to play that tonight. There’s also Jack Cassidy from Jefferson Aeroplane, I’ve got his signature bass. It’s like a hollow body star caster. My Precision Bass has always been my comfort zone, but on the new record I didn’t use it as much, I wanted to change it up a little bit.
What about pedals?
I use tube distortion and maybe some octaves to fill the sound up. There’s only three of us so we wanna make sure it sounds almost like the second guitar as well, not just a bass guitar.
You mentioned Jeff Cassidy and Justin Meldal Johnson, are there any other bassists who have been influential to you?
Peter Hook was a big influence because he plays so many melodies. It really influenced a lot of our earlier songs. There’s a lot of basslines with hooks and melodies, and he’s obviously the master of doing that. We actually played with him. He came on stage in The Cluny in Newcastle. I think it was an ITV thing, the Jack Daniels sessions. So he came on for Backfire At The Disco because his wife loves that song. So he came on and he was just making all these New Order sounding melodies. I get goose bumps just talking about it. It was such a cool experience. He’s such a legend and a lovely guy.
Well enjoy your set tonight. What can we expect from it?
Overexcitement, loads of energy and mosh-pits.
The Wombats new single If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You, is out now. It’s taken from their upcoming album Fix Yourself, Not The World out Jan 7th 2022. Pre-order now thewombats.ffm.to/fyntw.ofp