The Wombat’s Dan The Man discusses all things Scotland, touring and the new album.
The Wombats are one of the few early 2000’s indie bands who are still around making music today with their original line-up. Their longevity is a testament to their drive and creativity, and to their loyal fanbase which is still growing 18 years on.
In November the lads released a brand-new EP called ‘Everything I Love Is Going To Die’ which is the first four tracks off the upcoming album set for release in January. We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to chat with drummer Dan Haggis about new music, playing in Scotland and TikTok.
How would you describe the writing and recording process this time around? How has it changed since you started out in 2003?
We recorded the whole album during lockdown which wasn’t our choice, but we figured we could be waiting around forever so we cracked on and it went really well. That influenced the process a bit, and in the writing of the album half of it was done before the pandemic hit. Me and Tord went over to LA to write and record and we had some really good batches of songs. The demos were pretty tight, we knew the parts, and we tried to push ourselves and have real scene changes in songs. If we felt like a song would go in a certain direction we often just went for the opposite and tried to change things up so we’d end up with different sections in the same songs just totally changing, and we tried to keep that going throughout the album to make it as much of a journey as possible. When it came to recording it because we had this template and a solid idea of what we wanted it was easy (ish) to achieve everything. We worked with Mark Crew who did our last two albums, so we’ve got such a good working relationship with him we kind of know what each other thinks before we’ve even spoken. It was easy enough to achieve what we wanted to, even though we weren’t in the same room.
How did you overcome the challenges of recording remotely over three different cities?
Fortunately, the technology is now so impressive, and the internet is so fast that you can send huge amounts of data and files back and forth, and we just made sure that the engineer who was working in the studio with Murph in L.A was using the same software so that everything would be getting uploaded because of the time difference. When they got into the studio in the morning all the stuff we’d done the day before would be waiting for them, so the engineer would just put everything into the song sessions, listen to what we’d done and write down some of their thoughts, then Murph would just start recording on top of what we’d done and send it back. Then Mark would put it into the session in London and we’d listen to it all together, check that its all working and maybe make a few suggestions and we just did it like that really. It was just back and forth building up like a jigsaw slowly. It took us like 6 or 7 weeks, and it was a mad process but its just a case of being really organised. It gave us a chance to really focus in on each of our parts without me being sat there whilst Murph was playing guitar for like 5 hours and trying to find the right sound, and Murph wasn’t there whilst I was playing drums or Tord was playing bass for 5 hours. There’s a lot of time where you’re waiting around in the studio as a band, but we didn’t have that. There wasn’t much waiting around and we were constantly recording stuff. It was a 24/7 Wombats recording, basically.
You’ve recently announced an arena tour as well as a string of intimate UK gigs, which venue are you most excited to play?
I suppose the o2 would be the obvious one, but I honestly can’t wait to play that first out store on January 6th in Kingston. It’s a really weird little venue but just to play the whole album from start to finish is the main focus at the minute: first gig, out the park, see you later. We want to try and live in the moment a bit more like don’t look forward too much to anything in particular but just wait for the first thing we’re doing and take it a day at a time.
And you’re playing two Glasgow dates, are you looking forward to gracing the stage at the historic Barrowlands?
Oh yeah! We’ve played there several times and it’s just one of the most fun venues to play in the world. Every venue kind of comes down to the fans and the people who are there, and the energy in Scotland in general but especially Glasgow is just off the charts. At the Barrowlands I just remember pints constantly flying across the room, its so sweaty and intense and vibrant. On stage for us we just feel that energy so much and it pushes us on and then that pushes the crowd on more. I think coming from Liverpool as well there’s kind of a kindred spirit thing, so it always feels like a it of a homecoming. My surname is Haggis as well, so it fits.
Speaking of Scotland, who are some of your favourite Scottish bands or artists?
It’s not current but Jesus and Mary Chain, they’re unbelievable. If you’ve seen the film Lost in Translation the song ‘Just Like Honey’, that’s them! All their music is like white noise, really heavy feedback and reverb and stuff. Kind of like My Bloody Valentine. They formed outside of Glasgow in 1984 so I’ll go for them.
Do you have any standout moments from playing in Scotland over the span of your career?
As with everything in life its often those first experiences that really stay with you even though they aren’t necessarily the most crazy experience. Playing RockNess up near Inverness on the banks of the loch was just magical, its such a beautiful country. There’s another one that was in these grounds of this old castle with beautiful trees everywhere and it was so cool. I’m going to pick the first ever gig we did in Scotland which was Glasgow at King Tuts, driving up from Liverpool in my little granny’s old car. We drove up there and did this gig in like 2005 maybe, there were probably 30 people in the room, and we thought it was unbelievable. I had work the next morning so we drove straight back after the gig for hours in the worst fog ever. Going back down the M6 you had to drive at like 40 miles per hour on the motorway it was ridiculous.
You headlined TRNSMT in 2019, can you see yourself ever playing the festival again?
I hope so, put a good word in word in with the promoters for us! I really hope we get to play next year. I think the thing with a lot of the festivals is because loads of them were cancelled due to coronavirus the festivals are keeping the same line-ups again for the bands who were supposed to play last year but didn’t get to play. I don’t know whether many slots for thus summer are available but I do hope so because we absolutely love festivals, especially up in Scotland.
What do you attribute The Wombat’s longevity to?
It’s kind of hard for us in the band to put our finger on it but I feel like from the beginning we’ve always been three friends making music together, and our aim has always been to make music that we love. We’ve stayed as true as we possibly can to that, that honesty comes through in Murph’s lyrics and the energy with the music has somehow just kept finding new fans. Honestly, we don’t really know but it’s accepting each other for who we are, it’s like a family or a friendship. The Wombats is bigger than us as individuals, that’s the main focus and we’re all committed to keeping going and getting the songs out there to as many people as possible. We try to make those connections and hope that out music can bring people some kind of therapy or joy or emotion of some sort, that’s why we do it. Long may it continue.
You have also had some fame on TikTok as a remix of one of your tracks went viral, how did you find that experience?
TikTok helped this year with that remix of ‘Greek Tragedy’ going viral and our manager was telling us to check it out. They set up a Wombats account and we’ve done some stuff, its interesting to try out the duet functions, I did a random duet with Tom Felton who played Draco Malfoy because he was playing ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ on the guitar so I just joined him on the piano. As a social media platform it’s got its unique quirks and I know a lot of people use it to discover music so we were just lucky that remix got used by people. We’re novices at this thing because we didn’t grow up with social media so it’s not in out bones but its so exciting.
What’s next for The Wombats?
We’re going to have a nice, chilled Christmas and then we start rehearsals and everything. The Wombat’s ball is going to be rolling pretty hard from about the 3rd of January so we’re just getting ready for the hype!
Thanks Dan for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us here at DM! Don’t forget to check out the album when its released later on this month.