The Wombats has had a packed year, thanks to their new album, Beautiful People will Ruin Your Life. They’ve already managed to cross off their bucket list sharing the bill with The Pixies and Weezer. To boot, they’ve nailed their first collaborative effort, with the help of Dagny in the contemplative (and frankly, quite sweet) single, “Turn.” The spunky, longstanding Brit-rockers will be stopping at The Complex on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. For audiences, it will hopefully be a welcome recompense for the band’s cancellation back in January due to inclement weather.
I’d spoken to the guys twice; first, with lead singer Murph (a.k.a. Matthew Murphy), in anticipation for their missed January appearance, then later, with Tord (bass, keys) in looking ahead to next week. Beginning with the most recent conversation, below are some highlights from both chats, which cover everything from I spoke about married life, to the importance of placing “limits” to yield more possibilities on their new album.
Charissa Che: How did the collaboration with Dagny on “Turn” come about?
Tord: We wanted to try out the second verse with female vocals and as a fan of Dagny (I share a label with her on my side-project Imitating Aeroplanes!) and The Wombats being 1/3 Norwegian we got in touch with her management to see if she was up for it. She liked the track and was available, so we recorded her parts in my studio in Oslo. We thought it sounded great and released the version only a few weeks later!
CC: Why did you decide to do two versions of the song (one with just you, and another with Dagny)?
Tord: We’ve never really done a collaboration before so it was a great chance to do that and also potentially reach out to people that have never heard of us. In a live show we do the original version so it made sense to have that on the album.
CC: The decision you guys had made to geographically part ways, to London, L.A., and Oslo, while still making music sounds like a big risk. Was it a tough decision to make?
Tord: Not at all really! Other things in life happens (kids, marriage, family, etc.) so it is as important to make things work at home too. We have lived in separate cities since album two, so we are used to working like that anyway.
CC: What was it like, collaborating on the lyrics for the first time, for Beautiful People will Ruin Your Life?
Tord: Murph usually just comes in with finished lyrics that are really interesting and good, so in the beginning it was a little bit daunting to start suggest things as I’ve never felt that confident with writing lyrics. But it was a really fun process and what we found out was that if we all chip in with lyric ideas as well as musical ideas we were able to finish songs a lot quicker. So for the next album we have definitely found a great template for how to write!
CC: I’ve read that the self-deprecating wit that’s found in many of your songs is perhaps symptomatic of your Northern English roots. How has this humor translated for your American fans? Do they catch on to it?
Tord: I definitely think it works over in America too – we seem to come back to tour over here a lot and we really like it here!
CC: I also read that in making your new album, you’ve placed more “restrictions” on yourselves than with previous albums. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Tord: The longer we are a band and the more music we make – the more restrictions we unwillingly end up putting on ourself (sic). It’s a result of wanting to move on and not repeat what we have creatively done in the past. On this album we wanted to have more guitars again and strip back on the synths and try to avoid many layers in the production.
CC: What “dream” artists do you hope to tour with in the future?
Tord: We just did a tour with Weezer and Pixies, so that was pretty much a dream becoming reality as those two bands have had a massive influence on us. But what about doing a tour with Beck or Foo Fighters? That would be really fun!
Interview with Murph (from last January):
CC: On the new album, you have said that you wanted to make something that “wasn’t punching you in the face every time you listen to it.” Why did you decide on this approach this time around?
Murph: I wanted to make something more self-assured, an album with more confidence than our previous.
CC: What’s the story behind the album title?
Murph: I suppose it’s about all the weird stuff I’ve done in the wake of meeting new people and going to new places. I’m a bit of an empath and tend to submerge myself into others feelings and emotional states. It’s really inspiring but has negative consequences.
CC: Has the newly-married life and relocation to LA influenced how Beautiful People will Ruin Your Life was crafted?
Murph: Yes, definitely. My wife is my best friend, and having her close really calms me down. I feel much more confident and inspired since we tied the knot. LA is a good place for me I think, I’m happier there and a good state of mind is crucial to creativity.
CC: How do you hope to connect with anyone who may similarly be feeling like they are “failing” at adulthood?
Murph: Through the stories that make up the album. I don’t think disdain for the younger generation is a particularly new concept. And I’m pretty sure every ‘adult’ feels as though they are in an episode of ‘faking it’ from time to time.
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