U.K. indie rock trio The Wombats were running on fumes by the time they arrived at Outside Lands last Saturday. The previous day, singer-guitarist Matthew Murphy, drummer Dan Haggis and bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen performed in Santa Ana. Then they piled into a car, along with Murphy’s pup Daisy, and drove north for three hours before sleep began to overtake them at 2 a.m. They found a motel on the side of the road, Knudsen recalled.
“I tried to sleep a bit in the car, but you know what that’s like; neck’s hurting,” he said. “(The hotel) was terrible. The bed was comfy enough, but 3 hours (of sleep) definitely was not.”
As soon as they woke up, they piled back into their car and drove another three hours before pulling into Golden Gate Park. The glamorous rock and roll lifestyle.
Shortly after an electric set that pulled thousands to the Lands End Stage in the Polo Field, a performance that concluded with Daisy walking onto the stage and getting her own round of applause, Knudsen spoke to RIFF about the band’s goals at Outside Lands, selecting the teams for which they root, and when they plan to begin work on the follow-up to their third album, 2015’s Glitterbug.
RIFF: The three of you live in different cities now. You moved to Oslo. Dan is in London and Murph (Matthew Murphy) moved to Los Angeles. How did that affect writing and recording Glitterbug?
Knudsen: We … started an idea separately. Maybe Murph will start on the song and then bring that. Essentially, we had to meet up and finish them off. But he can start on songs that we then work on together, or I can start on something or Dan could start on something. Or me and Dan, because we were in Liverpool a lot of the time. Murph was between L.A. and London (at the time). It was a very different way of working to what we’d been doing in the past, but I think we embraced that. I think it’s interesting to work in different ways, and because of the technology these days, it’s easier. You don’t have to be in the same room (but) I think the process is a lot quicker when you’re all there in the same room. The good thing about it is me and Dan, we can come to L.A., hang out for a couple of weeks and make some songs. The guys can come to Oslo; I’ve got a studio there now. You never feel like you’re stuck to a place. You can get inspired by going to other places as well, so it’s a good thing.
I heard you guys are big football/soccer fans, but you don’t root for the home Liverpool team. You prefer Manchester United. Why is that?
Manchester United, yeah. Because I’m Norwegian and I just picked the best team at the time. They were winning so I’ll support the winning team. I was very young. Why else would you choose a team? I liked (former Manchester United star) Eric Cantona. I met Eric Cantona as well. I met him. He was a very cool dude. Dan is a “Blue;” so he supports Everton (Football Club). Murphy doesn’t like football. He likes golf.
Who’s on your must-watch list at Outside Lands today?
Air, Air, Air. Seriously, I’ve never seen Air. They’re one of my favorite bands. The fact that they’re playing here, I cannot believe that, because they don’t really do that many live shows, and I was wondering, “Am I ever going to be able to see them live?” I think they are probably on the top of my list of bands that I need to see live. Obviously I love Radiohead as well, but I’m more excited for Air today because I’ve never seen them. I’m obsessed with their albums, like Talkie Walkie, obsessed with Moon Safari, 10,000 Hz Legend. Love it.
When will you be back in Northern California, or in the U.S., next?
I think this is pretty much coming towards the end of the cycle of this album. It’s a year-and-a-half since the album came out so we need to start writing some new songs. That’s the priority. We started working on some ideas, but there’s no songs yet. Nothing finished. But as soon as we get back home, we’ll get into that.