TICKLED PINK: English indie-pop band The Wombats are massive fans of n music fans and wine.ROCK’N’ROLL isn’t always jet-setting, champagne-drinking and limousine-riding. English indie-pop stars The Wombats know this all too well.
When Weekender catches up with Wombats drummer Dan Haggis he’s backstage in Denver, Colorado, a few days removed from a tour bus breakdown that left the three-piece perilously close to missing their gig in San Francisco.
“We had a few bus problems, but I think we’re getting a new bus sent out today,” Haggis says in that unmistakablyLiverpudlian accent.
“This bus made it from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and then last night it made it from Salt Lake City over the Rockies to Denver, so I think maybe we’re gotten through the worst of it.”
Did Haggis, lead vocalist and guitaristMatthew Murphy or bassistTord Øverland Knudsen pop their headunder the bonnet to investigate what the problem was with the tour bus?
“We’re three very useless individuals when it comes to practical things like cars,” he laughs.“I don’t even own a car, so I haven’t got a clue.”
Next month The Wombats tour bus returns to the familiar surroundsof , which includes a headline appearance at Roche Estate’s new music festival Grapevine Gathering.
Ever since The Wombat’sbreakthrough single Let’s Dance To Joy Division cracked No.12 on the triple j Hottest 100 in 2007, hasbeen among their favourite tour destinations.
The band already played Splendour In The Grass in July and traveled through Maitland for Groovin’ The Moo last year.
Maybe it’s because their name is taken from our own burrowing marsupials or maybe it’s because they’ve constantly pumped out energetic indie-pop singles like Moving To New York, Lemon To A Knife Fight and Greek Tragedy?
The Wombats – Bee StringEither way, loves them too.
“We absolutely love coming to ,” Haggis says.“There’s so many good festivals and always such a good ambience and atmosphere at the shows.
“I think Aussie crowds are very similar to the UK, they just want to let themselves go and enjoy themselves. That’s what we love about music as well, or one of the things we love, it puts a smile on ours and other people’s faces and they can forget about real life for a bit.”
Haggis admits the band were particularly excited when they spotted Grapevine Gathering on the band’s forthcoming itinerary.
The self-confessed winos have never performed at a vineyard, but already have plenty of experience of nshiraz and semillon.
“I had a friend who was working at Penfolds and we went there and saw it being made and got to taste the Grange, the No.1 bottle in the world,” he says.
“Another time we took all the crew from Sydneyon a day off to the Hunter Valley and did some wine tasting.
“We ended up buying some of the wines we liked and thought we’d drink them over a few days of touring and maybe bring some home for the family and we pretty much drank all the wine we bought in the three-hour drive back in the van, singing our heads off. It was awesome.
“As soon as we found out about the winery we were very excited we were going to play there.”
Besidesmaybe Manchester, no British city possesses a richer musical pedigree comparative to its size than Liverpool. The post-industrial port city will forever befamous for giving the world The Beatles, the most popular and influential band in pop music history.
The Merseyside flag has been flown by acts like Echo & The Bunnymen, Flock Of Seagulls andLadytron since, but today The Wombats are undoubtedly the city’s most successful musical export.
The Wombats’ global popularity has almost run parallelwith Liverpool’s own transformation from dirty industrial city to being named the European Capital Of Culture in 2008. Much of the revitalisation has occurred in the harbourside Baltic Triangle precinct.
It was there that The Wombats first rehearsed as a band in 2003. Haggis says Liverpool has always proudly supported live music.
“I guess when four people from the city you’re in have managed to transcend pop culture and they’re one of the biggest bands ever in the whole world and have influenced so many other bands, it does make you think, ‘if these guys are from this town and managed to do it, then why not’?” he says.
“There’s so many venues and as a young band starting out there were so many places you could go and play with the three or four chords that you’d learnt and smash it and sound like a dishwasher falling down the stairs, but still get friends and family coming out to see you.
“Without that infrastructure in place, I don’t see how you could become a band.”
The Wombats perform at Roche Estate’s Grapevine Gathering on December 1.