We spoke to the Wombats ahead of their Newmarket Nights show this summer
The last time chart-topping indie stars The Wombats played a gig at a racetrack, luck deserted bassist Tord Overland Knudsen and every horse he had a flutter on failed to net him. of earnings. So when he shows up at Newmarket Racecourses with his band this summer, he hopes to arrive early and recoup some of the lost money!
Promoted by The Jockey Club Live, Newmarket Nights combines live horse racing with live music, bringing together a host of big names to perform after betting slips have been torn up in dismay or gleefully exchanged for a wad silver. Among those acts are The Wombats, who appear in Newmarket on Friday, August 5.
Read more: Home of legendary racehorse trainer backing Newmarket Gallops up for sale for £3m
“It’s exciting to do gigs in places that aren’t necessarily a typical gig venue,” Tord said as he looked ahead to the summer show.
“We’ve done a lot of academies and festivals, but it’s really cool to do gigs in other places. We played at Lingfield a few years ago, which is a similar vibe, which was really fun.
“During the day we went to the races. It was really cool to see everyone dress up and bet – I didn’t win. So I don’t know if I’m going to bet on this time – maybe that I will have to do it to see if I have a little better luck this time.
“At Lingfield we spent the whole day there so that’s why we got involved. I’m not quite sure what our schedule will be this time but hopefully we can get involved. This would be good.”
The Wombats – Tord, singer/guitarist Matthew Murphy and drummer Dan Haggis – have surpassed 1.5 billion streams worldwide and latest album Fix Yourself, Not The World has topped the UK charts. Started when everything was normal in the world and completed with the world in the throes of the pandemic, the group had never made a record in this way before – even if the three former students of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts all live in different countries these days.
“I live here in Oslo, Dan is in London and Murph is in LA,” Tord said, “so we’re pretty spread out to be honest. We’ve been working as a band and living in different cities since the second album, which either Murph in London or Dan in Paris.
“There’s always been someone who lived in a different city, so we’re used to that. The difference with the lockdown was that we couldn’t meet in the same place – all the time whether we were writing or recording, we were meeting in London or Los Angeles.
“We went to LA to write a lot of songs. We managed to do three trips and the last trip was in February 2020 and quickly after that we went into lockdown here and then England followed for a few more weeks But we managed to figure out how to get around this problem. We did a lot of sessions on Zoom and we also worked a lot individually.
Lockdown restrictions meant the band had to find new ways to work if they wanted to release the record. – and they did.
“Doing a writing session on Zoom is something I never thought possible in the past,” admitted Tord. We’ve always thought we should travel and be in the same place – which is obviously a better way to do it, but the pandemic has shown there are so many other ways to do things. You will find a way. It taught us a lesson, if you will, that it is possible.
It also meant that, for the first time, the three members of the group were not in the same room for the recording of an album.
“I managed to get to London just before the second lockdown,” Tord recalls, “and then I was in London for four weeks during the second lockdown at a recording studio. Murph never managed to leave LA basically for two years, so it was pretty intense, but it was cool, we made the most of it.
“The jet lag is something that was difficult. You wanna do something together when we’re recording the album but we were doing drums and bass during the day and then when it came around 7 or 8 at night Murph and his engineer would hook up.
“We were talking about what we were doing and sending the files and he was doing the vocals. Then we went back to bed. It was pretty effective because suddenly you had about 20 hours a day that you could record.
All of that effort paid off, however, with the album rising to the coveted No. on more than one occasion.
“We were so thrilled with that,” Tord said. “We never thought we’d be able to reach number 1 so we’re really happy. We’re still hungry and when you say ‘almost 20 years’ I think ‘can it really be that long? ‘
“It’s been a long time, but I still feel like we’re excited to play and make music. We’ve got all this creative energy that’s yet to come out. I feel like we’re just getting started, really. I feel like we have the energy and the creative spark to keep going.
The viral success of 2015’s Greek tragedy on Tik Tok helped propel them to the top, delighting a whole new generation of fans.
“It went viral, which made us reach a different audience,” Tord said, “maybe more a pop audience and a younger generation, of course.”
And Tord expects that to be reflected in the Newmarket audience.
“It feels like it’s been passed on to the next generation, whether it’s older siblings passing it on to younger siblings or even parents passing it on to their children.” , did he declare.
“It’s a very diverse audience when we play shows. We see the older generation at the back and they gradually get younger and younger as they move forward. It’s exciting to connect with all kinds of age groups.
Much of the Wombats’ current success should also be attributed to their constant desire to keep things fresh and never shy away from new ideas.
“I like to think the creative process is very free in the sense that it doesn’t have to be one thing or another,” Tord said. “Every time we start something I feel like it’s completely different from anything we’ve done before. Nothing is too ridiculous.
“Especially on this album, I felt like ‘Let’s do something completely different’, let’s start with a low-fi hip-hop beat that we did on Methods of the Madness. Let’s change halfway through the song, change the beat and go somewhere completely different.
“I feel like we’re constantly evolving and progressing, exploring new horizons and finding new ways to entertain and excite ourselves. It’s definitely a conscious effort to make it fresh and exciting by going to places where we have never been before This is important because if you go straight back to your default it can be a bit the same and boring.
“But we still appreciate pure pop songs, it’s not like we’re bothered by our past. We’re not afraid of something that sounds very Wombatesque. It’s not necessarily a negative thing. But in an album context, you need different types of songs. I think as we got older we got better at finding all these different ways to create an album and make it more exciting as a whole.
Tickets for the Wombats show at Newmarket Racecourses are on sale here.
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