Almost 15 years on from their debut album, indie pop icons The Wombats show no signs of slowing down. We’re gearing up for what’s set to be a fantastic new album from the trio, with two songs already released. Method To The Madness gives fans a true twist on what they may have expected, while still maintaining that distinctive sound we all adore. Their latest track, If You Ever Leave I’m Coming With You shares the more familiar sound with storytelling lyrics you have to sing along to.
It’s been a weird year with TikTok viral fame, a new generation of fans, and creating music in three different countries. The Wombats have been a big part of my life for the last 10 years and I was beyond thrilled and lucky to chat to Tord Øverland Knudsen ahead of their Reading Festival main stage set. The passion and care Tord shared for music was overflowing and something that carried through to a phenomenal performance.
It’s coming up to 15 years since the release of your debut album, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, what’s the secret to continually putting out bangers?
That’s a good question! I guess we don’t necessarily think about that when we make them. We don’t set out to create constant bangers. We always liked pop songs, and pop music in general, whether it’s a more indie sound, electronic, or a bit rockier feel to it. A good song is a good song. I think we always stuck to that and immersive story telling is the goal of every song, regardless of how its packed in. Maybe that’s the answer.
With a few viral moments on TikTok you’ve brought in a huge new wave of fans. What’s the weirdest or most surreal thing to come from this new generation of followers?
I mean the whole TikTok thing is hilarious, I don’t even have the app on my phone! So, when we got emails about this it was kinda like, wow how ridiculous. I think it’s also all cross generational. The Greek Tragedy that went viral was a remix, so that had a completely different sound, but the story was the same. With a lot of the lyrics, you can connect. It’s a bit of a lottery to be honest. It’s really cool.
Method To The Madness has quite a different vibe to it, but still holds that distinctive and iconic Wombats sound to it. How did you still manage to pull that in?
It was before the pandemic that we made it actually! We made it in LA, we made a bunch of songs before me and Dan went back. I live in Oslo in Norway and Dan lives in London, and Murph in LA. I’d been listening to a lot of lo-fi/hip-hop and I love listening to that. It’s really instrumental, scruffy and kinda old vinyl and you can hear all the noise. I really like all that. I’d just started to programme something as I’d been making quite a bit of electronic music on the side as well. The guys thought it was cool and we started putting chords around it, then lyrics came, then it was like okay what are we doing with it now. That’s when the time change came, and it completely changed in the storyline with how we wanted to do that. It was an urge to do something a bit different. That’s why we wanted to release it first, it’s the one that’s the least Wombats sounding on the album I’d say, but that’s why it’s interesting you said it still very much sounds like the Wombats, and it does because of the vocals and the story telling. It’s packaged in something new.
“It was an urge to do something a bit different.”
It’s always something daunting to do really, when an artist changes their sound there can be a big risk of backlash, what’s the general feedback been so far?
It’s been really positive and more than what we expected really, you know when you do something that different. We had to back it up with the next song, that was going to be something more familiar, that was the whole plan all along.
What are you most excited about with playing Reading and Leeds Festival 2021?
Just to play. Just to be in front of people and playing songs again. I usually don’t get butterflies, maybe until half an hour before. But now on the bus from London to Reading I had some serious feeling in my stomach like what’s going on. I’m so excited, I’m quite nervous, I don’t get nervous unless it’s like live TV, but I’m nervous in a good way. I just can’t wait to get out there and see how people react to the song. I’m pretty confident that people will be up for it.
It’s always such a difficult question to ask, but do you have a favourite track to play live?
I like playing them all, but it used to be the new songs that turn into favourites because it’s a new feeling. It’s a new reaction, but this time around I wouldn’t say that because they’re so fresh. We haven’t played in front of everyone live yet. I think I’m a bit more on edge about it now. My favourite song will be the one after the last new one and then it’ll be like, I know this I’m on safe grounds with the old songs. It’s all good fun though.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening to be honest, in Norway, everything is cancelled this summer. Only 200 or so people at events. So, seeing 1000s of people at an event is weird. It’s mental. We need human interaction, but it really is a bit weird.”
Are there any exclusives you’re willing to tease fans with?
I don’t want to give away too much, other than there will be some familiar stuff. Method To The Madness is as far left as we’ll go. We’ve got the tour next year and we start in America, then to South America hopefully if everything goes to plan, UK, Europe, Australia, all the usual album campaign stuff. I hope it goes ahead, I couldn’t believe this was happening to be honest, in Norway, everything is cancelled this summer. Only 200 or so people at events. So, seeing 1000s of people at an event is weird. It’s mental. We need human interaction, but it really is a bit weird.
What was it like producing Method To The Madness remotely? It must’ve been so different to anything you guys have been used to.
Yeah, the thing with that song in particular, it had a really good demo. We spent quite a lot of time when we were making the song. It was a bit of programming stuff; we redid the vocals and drums. But we pretty much had a game plan, it was all just about making everything sound really good and polishing it off sound wise, that wasn’t so hard. Of the songs I would record base to the demo, I wouldn’t hear the drums or the vocals, Murph was in LA, so a couple of weeks later I got a version of some of the tracks and all these new bits sounding different. So that took a long time, then there was a lot of loose ends to put into context in a way that we were all happy, so it was interesting to do it this way. It was good fun but also really hard. It’s hard not doing it when you’re in the same room, when you’re all there. You can change something drastically or try something out, you can agree there and then if it works, rather than a lot of back and forth or waiting for them to wake up and someone does like it, and it can get a bit confusing or difficult.
The Wombats put on a show stopping performance at Reading Festival, a hugely energetic and passionate crowd celebrating music returning. Experiencing their music live is something you don’t want to miss out on. The band head out on tour next year, so if you missed out it’s not too late to catch them live! Tickets are on sale now and can be found through The Wombats Website.
Pre order Fix Yourself, Not The World here!