Dan Haggis from The Wombats explains to Hannah Story why they seem to always be touring Australia.
It’s a running joke in the Aussie music industry that The Wombats are on at least one major festival line-up a year – and no one can figure out how the Liverpudlians can tour Down Under almost as much, if not more, than some local acts.
It could be that the band tour everywhere pretty much constantly – The Wombats’ drummer Dan Haggis picks up our call from on the road on their US tour, where they’ve just seen Metallica headline Austin City Limits. When asked directly why they’re always over here, this year playing a couple headline slots in wine country at Grapevine, Haggis can’t help but laugh.
“If someone calls you up and says, 'Do you wanna come and play some shows on a winery in Australia?' we just jump at the chance. We love wine, we love playing music. We do European tours, and we do UK tours and American tours way more often than we do Australian tours - I think it's just 'cause it's so far away maybe Australians aren't used to bands doing that many tours, so they're a bit like, 'What's going on with these guys?'
"As long as we get asked to come and play, we say yes, basically. Sorry if you're sick of us.”
“We love coming down there and, like, of all the countries in the world it's one place that people seem to really get the music, and the atmosphere at the gigs are always so amazing. It's obviously a big deal for us as well. As long as we get asked to come and play, we say yes, basically. Sorry if you're sick of us.”
The Wombats released their debut, A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation way back in 2007, posting a tribute to Instagram last month to one of their first singles, Let’s Dance To Joy Division, 11 years on. He says there’s no song from their four records so far that he dreads playing live, saying even if there was it’s only three and a half minutes.
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“Obviously we still play some songs we've probably played like 500 times or a thousand times. It's almost like a comfort zone you go into, and you don't have to think about anything, your body just knows the songs so well, it's like muscle memory, and the crowd is singing, and you don't have to think about anything apart from all the good feelings you're getting. “
Considering many of their British indie-pop contemporaries are out of the business by now, it’s worth asking what Haggis reckons is the secret to their long-standing success.
“I think it is just that thing of, like, sing about what means something to you, and play the music that you feel something for, and just hope there's other souls who connect with it in some way. Always 100% give everything and hopefully you'll get something back. I think it's just keep going and keep making music.”
Haggis can remember the first time The Wombats came down to Australia in March 2008. By that point, they’d played every tiny venue around the UK, but didn’t know what to expect from Aussie audiences.
“When we went to Australia and played to... I don't know what it was, but like a thousand people in Melbourne, everyone knew all the words and was singing along, and we were just like, 'What the hell!' And ever since then it hasn't really changed much and every album that comes out the fans are so supportive and they've got our backs. It's awesome.”
They returned to Australia within months for Splendour In The Grass. Haggis isn’t willing to share any specific memories of that tour, saying it was all “good memories and ridiculous situations that shouldn’t be repeated”. He sums it up as “partying all the time, basically”.
“I remember watching Sigur Rós, and we played just before Wolfmother. That whole trip, to be honest, we were 23 or something and the amount of new experiences going on with all the crowds and the way it all was, it was such a blurry whirlwind of emotions and feelings.”
What Haggis really loves about coming to Australia are the audiences at their shows. He picks out Australia, the UK and Germany as the “wildest”.
“People find it easier I feel like to let their hair down in Australia, just like go wild and make loads of noise and dance and sing their heads off… People leave the real world behind them for an hour and a half and just lose their shit.”