Music Vice’s Ngawara Madison recently caught up with Liverpool, UK’s The Wombats‘ Dan Haggis (drums, percussion, backing vocals) for a chat about the bands recent tour of American and the UK; their song “Techno Fan” being used by Easyjet Airlines; Dan’s opinion of the various producers The Wombats have worked with; and what makes him feel like a ROCK GOD!
Jump Into The Fog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpadYhXHgwA
Dan Haggis: “The chorus of ‘Jump into the Fog’ makes me feel like a mini rock god, like some miniature statue you’d find on a shelf in someone’s toilet who you might slip a little prayer out to whilst performing your duties!”
You’re a well travelled band! Its interesting to see the progression of your sound and fanbase because theres a lot to be said about a bands constant evolution, especially when you’re in a position to be influenced by time in different cultures and countries. Over the years you guys have worked with a stack of well reputed international producers. Which of these would you say shared the closest creative vision to your own?
Dan: I think every producer brings their own brand of magic dust to sprinkle on recordings. Working with Steve Harris was great because he understood straight away what kind of band we were at that time and just gave us the freedom to play our songs practically live in the studio and his job was to capture the sound and energy as best he could. We like being fairly ‘hands on’ in the production of our music so this worked brilliantly. On our second album I think it’s a close call between Rich Costey and Eric Valentine, and I think that both producers have such commitment and enthusiasm towards music and their technical expertise is just mind blowing. They both really listened to us, were open to trying all sorts of crazy ideas, pushed us to the limit of our playing and musical capabilities and in the end we were all really happy with the result, which is obviously the most important thing.
Were there any instances where a producer opened your eyes to a new way of approaching your sound and mix? Who was the most ‘far out’ producer you have worked with?
Dan: I think Eric Valentine’s approach to recording works really well for us. He loves live music and tries to capture a live feel from the musicians, then painstakingly maps out tempo changes in the performance so that we can add programming and layer other performances on top easily. His mixing desk is self built and he has buttons you can press that move the microphone position robotically on a guitar amp for example by a couple of cm!
Your song “Techno Fan'”is currently being used in a pretty big sync – it’s part of European airline, Easyjet’s new social media and television ad campaign. How important do you feel it is these days, for bands to look into alternative revenue streams, aside concert tickets and record sales? You’ve been known, like your recent support act, Static Jacks, to actually give away free downloads to some of your music…
Dan: I guess with dwindling record sales in general it’s important for record companies to keep the money coming in so that they have the money to sign new bands and support current bands and pay for top quality studios and producers etc. Without these extra sources of income I think fewer bands would get signed and worse records would get made. It’s a shame that money has to be involved in something that should remain pure but that’s the way the business world works. That’s why being signed to a record company is good, so we (the artist) don’t need to worry about the finance side, we just worry about the music.
So many bands out there would love to support a band like The Wombats on tour. What factors come into play in the organisation of your support bands for tours like the big US/UK just completed?
Dan: It depends on the tour. If we have friends who are in bands we like (such as Team Me, Static Jacks) then we always try to get them out with us. It keeps us sane on tour to have friends along for the ride. Obviously the most important thing is that they are going to give the crowd a good show and get them pumped. Sometimes our manager or booking agent have a band they need help with and we are so happy to be in a position to give bands a chance to win new fans.
Do you feel a growing allegiance to the United States due to your time spent over there, or are you still strongly connected to your Northern roots? Which country are you guys signed to presently?
Dan: We are signed to a UK label, 14th Floor and are also signed to Bright Antenna based in San Fran… The US is a very large place and we are well aware that it will take a lot of touring to ‘break it’ as they say but we love touring there and will be back in April. The last tour we did there was in October 2011 and it really felt like we were starting to see more people at shows and more enthusiasm at shows than ever before so the US feels like an exciting place for us right now. Touring and traveling are in our blood now so apart from missing our family and (girl)friends we feel at home on the road. Musical gypsies!
What are each of your favourite tracks from the new album to perform live?
Dan: It varies from show to show but at the moment the opener of our set “Our Perfect Disease” always gets me going. The chorus of “Jump into the Fog” makes me feel like a mini rock god – like some miniature statue you’d find on a shelf in someone’s toilet who you might slip a little prayer out to whilst performing your duties!!
The Wombats – “Jump Into The Fog”:
Haha, that’s a vision for us! British pop and rock bands are hitting the charts and mainstream media in North America; boy bands like The Wanted are going to number one on the pop charts, One Direction are in the teen magazines, and bands like Coldplay have ruled the roost for a while. What do you think separates the British bands that make it big in the US; and the ones that only seem to work well over here [Kasabian, Robbie Williams]? Is there a cultural difference between the two scenes that pushes out certain English tendencies do you think?
Dan: That’s probably what makes America so interesting for us British bands. as it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re successful in the UK, you have to start over again when you go to the states.
© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice
Exclusive live photo gallery of The Wombats at O2 Brixton Academy, London by Music Vice photographer Lauren Towner:
[click to enlarge each gallery image full-size from attachment page]
Share and discuss using the links below. Follow Music Vice on Twitter at @MusicVice. Long Live Indie.