After a decade of yelling along in skewed accents to the likes of Let’s Dance to Joy Division, the debut album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation from Liverpudlian trio The Wombats has been spotlighted for an anniversary. Set to traverse the country next month for Groovin’ the Moo on May 13, the band will also perform at Metro City on May 11 to pour affection over some old favourites. STEPH PAYTON quizzed bassist and keyboardist Tord Øverland Knudsen over The Wombats’ long running success, and what to expect from the shows.
There’s been comments in the industry that DJs and dance music are replacing people playing guitars. What’s your opinion given the Wombats have always pushed for music to dance to?
Every time the mainstream focuses on a certain style or genre, there’s always lots of other great things going on in the underground. There is still great guitar music being made! Personally I am not stuck to any genre – I can find electronic music as inspiring as guitar music, pop as inspiring as alternative and so on. As you point out, with The Wombats you get a bit of both!
The band have mentioned there is new music coming this year, any chance a few fresh tunes will be making a sneaky debut at Groovin’ the Moo?
We’ve just started working on album four, so it is a little bit too early for new songs. But as we are doing this 10 year anniversary sideshows for our first album, we will potentially wipe the dust of some really old songs we haven’t played in a long time.
The Wombats never seem to stay away from the Australian festival scene very long, and always play their fans some sideshows, how do those gigs compare to the festival itself?
Festivals are fun not just because you get to play to a much bigger crowd, but also people that aren’t necessarily fans of the band. It’s a fun challenge trying to win people over. When we do a headline show, we know that people are there to see us and that the crowd know the songs, so [it’s] not as nerve-wracking, and we get to play the full set!
I think the last time you played GTM you had the signature white suits on, will they be making a reappearance?
It’s been ten years since A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, do you ever have any worries about trying to be as good as the last time? Or do you treat it as only being able to learn and keep getting better?
I think we always try to push the band forward trying not just to be better, but to approach things differently and not repeat a formula exactly.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of your discography? Do you see a clear path for how the band will keep building your sound?
I like the idea of being a little bit spontaneous and see how things progress organically without overthinking and planning too much of what’s ahead. But I like to think we always try to challenge ourselves and our fans a little bit more for every album and maybe by 2030 we’ll be ready to release our first prog concept album.
What are the Wombats listening to; you’ve mentioned previously a love of genres from black metal to pop, to keep inspired?
Recently I’ve been discovering old prog records from Genesis, Yes and the likes. Bands and albums I know about, but never spent time on getting properly into. I’ve also been revisiting Beck’s albums a lot recently – he’s had such a varied and interesting career. Daft Punk’s Discovery I’ve been going back to as well. Of newer releases I like the new Justice album, the new Flaming Lips and some of the songs on The xx’s new album.
There are so many hooks in every Wombats track, opening guitar strums, random chorus and bridge lyrics that get whole venues screaming along, do you ever anticipate the impact of some of these elements when writing?
We rarely think about how things will be working live, we just go from what we like and we seem to be liking hooks!
It’s something a lot of musicians love to do, slipping melancholy and dark lyrics under a bouncy melody, what do you think the appeal is?
Maybe because it will leave you with a sense of hope or a positive feeling? If the music was melancholy and dark too, it could end up a little bit too dark.
Every interview I’ve read you have always emphasised having control, having the final say on decisions, do you think that was important from the get go for the Wombats success?
Definitely. Without us being stubborn about having that control, we could have lost our identity and quickly been moulded into something we would not have felt comfortable with. There have been some battles, but we have always fought back to make sure we can be the version of The Wombats we want to be.