Having been propelled to superstardom with their first album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, The Wombats returned in 2011 with their latest offering This Modern Glitch. The band have spent the last couple of years touring Europe and across America, a gruelling schedule that left the band "pretty broken physically and mentally". Upon their return to the UK they went back to the studio and produced a body of work that shows a band that have developed the maturity of their music and lyrics, whilst still retaining the infectous indie pop sound that made them famous.
Check out the band in action in one of their most recent videos....
We managed to catch five minutes with Dan Haggis from the group to talk about his life as a musican. Here's what he had to say.
Can you give us an insight into how and when you started out making music?
I started playing the flute and piano when I was seven. My mum was in a Saturday morning orchestra and so my sister and I would go along and have lessons. Eventually I ended up in the orchestra but it didn't take long before I started listening to Nirvana and decided that the drums and guitar would be much cooler. I pestered my parents until finally they gave in and on my 15th birthday a red second hand pearl drum kit was waiting in the back room. I started making music with friends, played in a classic rock covers band and started writing songs on my guitar and recording them on a 4 track cassette recorder. I was (and still am) hooked.
How did you make the step from playing for your own pleasure to being a full-time musician?
Music has always been for pleasure as well as therapy for the soul! Us three Wombats have been playing together for 8 years now and it took 3-4 years before we were signed and making enough money not to have to work or study. There was no one clear-cut 'step' as such but lots of tiny shuffles, hops with the odd hiccup thrown in. We just loved playing and making music together and we would do gigs all over the country in small bars for sometimes as few as 3 people, a one-eyed sloth and a dog with no ears or toes. Over the years we just got better and better until eventually 14th Floor Records took a leap of faith and signed us.
What process do you go through when writing a song?
Every song is different both personally and with the band. Sometimes a song can start with a melody, a lyric or a riff. With the Wombats, Murph often comes in with the skeleton of a song and we all play around, add things here and there and generally arrange the song till it resembles a full blooded, fully fleshed out beast ready to go out into the world and conquer some unsuspecting ears.
If you could start playing a new instrument what would you like to be able to play?
I love discovering new instruments and am most certainly a jack of all trades when it comes to music. I would love to be able to play the cello. Tord plays the cello and when done properly I think it's one of the most melancholic and moving instruments ever invented.
What would you say is your most favourite and least favourite part of being a professional musician?
Well I always said that my ultimate goal was to be able to make, play and record music full time without needing to get a 'proper' job so I will say that this is my favourite part. Least favourite part...hmmm, that's a tough one. I'd say if I have to say something then it's probably the waiting around in airports. When we're on tour around the world (which is also one of my favourite things) we take a lot of flights and it can be very tiring and we often have to perform or do interviews immediately after landing, sometimes with some fairly serious jet lag kicking about. It is a very small price to pay and sometimes we have a good laugh in airports. You have to make the most of every situation otherwise you go crazy.
If you could go back in time to when you were just starting out what advice would you give yourself?
I think I had the right mind set from the off but I would advise people wanting a career in music just to enjoy the process and the journey because you may never get 'there', wherever 'there' is. I took things song by song, gig by gig and really do have some of the best memories of my career from the early days and wouldn't change a thing.
What are your thoughts on the Take it away scheme?
I'd never heard of this before now but it seems like an amazing scheme. I've always thought that there wasn't enough focus on music (and the arts) in British schools so to see the Take it away scheme up and running really is good to know. Committing to an instrument is a big decision. Tuition is expensive, the instruments themselves are expensive so to have a fund that encourages and helps people to get started is great. Music has played such a big part in my life. I've met so many people and seen so many places all because I fancied trying my hand at an instrument.
For young people out there wondering whether it's worth the long hours of practice etc..believe me, it is.
Thanks to Dan for a great interview. You can catch the band on tour across the UK over the next couple of months. Check out the band's website for all of the details and tour dates.