INTERVIEW: The Wombats' Dan Haggis spills the tea ahead of Australian/NZ tour
To all the Perth fans of The Wombats, it’s time to emerge from hibernation.
Only a week remains until the much-loved The Wombats head down under to embark on yet another Australia/NZ tour. It seemed like only yesterday that the trio delivered their fiery set at Metro City.
Regardless, if you’ve heard the news, it’s true; it’s just been announced that the boys will be joined by the enchanting Cloud Control as well as the talented Eves Karydas for their upcoming show at Red Hill Auditorium! As it seems, The Wombats just can’t get enough of our nation — and it definitely holds true vice versa.
To celebrate the occasion, we spoke to the band’s joyous drummer Dan Haggis, who was kind enough to share his insights along with some of their plans for the future. (Did someone say a fifth album?)
The 11-year mark is coming up for when you first released your debut record, A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation. What have been your personal highlights from the last decade or so?
DH: There have been so many! I’d say that playing the Royal Albert Hall in London, touring the US with Weezer and the Pixies, getting all muddy at Glastonbury Festival and headlining 2 nights straight at the Sydney Opera House are up there with the best of them!
Now that sounds pretty incredible. It’s no secret that Australia has a soft spot for you — and it’s clear to see that the feeling is mutual! What is the extent of love that our Aussies have given you on your tours?
DH: We really are so lucky and we love coming back as often as you’ll have us! Our Aussie fans are unbelievable. Since we first came down there we were just blown away by the response and reception we got. You guys sing and dance hard! We also got to meet and hold a real life baby wombat in Adelaide which made us fall in love with the country even more…
Which of our cities are you most looking forward to being tourists in (yet again)?
DH: I kind of have gotten favourite spots in each city now so that’s always fun — finding a ‘home away from home’ when you’re on tour. The places usually revolve around where we’re getting brunch! I’m looking forward to playing at wineries for the first time in Hunter and Yarra Valley at Grapevine Festival. I love wine and music, so I can’t see us having a bad time there!
That’s a foolproof combination indeed! When it comes to playing live sold-out shows, it can understandably be quite nerve-wracking. What do you do before a show to help shake those nerves?
DH: Usually I just warm up for 30 to 40 minutes, listen to some music, do some yoga or play drums on a practice pad whilst singing along to whatever I'm listening to. That usually gets me in the zone. Then just before going onstage, the three of us do a group hug and shake hands very formally and say 'Have a good one' or something along those lines!
A good way to get into the spirit of it, for sure! Your Splendour sideshows last year were electrifying to say the least. What should audiences be expecting this time?
DH: Thank you! Yeah, they were some of the best shows we've done in the past year or so. We’d just finished a three-week tour with Weezer and the Pixies in the US where we were opening for them and there were a handful of people who knew our music each night. So when we arrived in Australia and had thousands of people singing their heads off, it was pretty mind blowing! You'll have to come along to the shows to find out...
Any songs that you are dying to play live?
DH: We've never played ‘Flowerball’ live before, so that would be fun to do one day!
What, or who, has inspired and influenced you in the process making Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life? More curiously, what particular experiences that initiated the change in direction from album to album?
I would say you'd be best asking Murph about the inspiration because most of the lyrics stem from his relationship with his wife. Musically, we always try to do something a bit different with each album as it's important to us to feel like we're challenging ourselves as well as learning and exploring new sides of music all the time. On this latest one, we went for a slightly more organic, less synth-driven direction and I feel like more of our 90’s influences maybe came out. The word ‘psychedelic’ was thrown around, too, from time to time!
Would definitely have to agree there. Of course, I have to ask: across all of the wondrous albums, which song title would you say is your favourite?
DH: I’m finding it hard to pick one! I can't really pick one but I'll go for ‘Black Flamingo’.
Now, what are The Wombats’ plans for the future — particularly straight after tour? I don’t suppose you are already brainstorming ideas for that fifth album?
DH: We're having Christmas off, then we play Bali on New Year's Day followed by a UK and European tour in January/February — and then we'll start thinking about album number five!
As a band (and as individuals), you’ve surely grown together over the years. What have been some of the more defining moments of this year?
DH: We all dressed up as cats for Halloween in New York this year, which has never happened before. Pictures can be found on our socials as I'm sure…
(Righteously confirmed as below)
Do you have any resolutions or exciting plans to action for 2019?
DH: I think the main plan is to start the process of compiling album number five. All three of us are working on solo projects too in between Wombat World. So we've got enough, musically, to keep us going!
And last but not least, what do you ultimately hope for listeners to take away from this tour?
DH: To put it simply? Some joy and hopefully 90 minutes of pure escapism from this crazy world we all live in!
So Perth, if you haven’t got your tickets yet, you’d best change that right away. Even better, it’s an all-ages show so bring your uncle, niece or even your grandma.