Interview: Murph tells all about The Wombats’ upcoming Australian return & bringing an actual lemon to a knife fight

It’s been a wild ride for UK indie-rock band The Wombats, appearing over all parts of the globe and our very own airwaves for quite some time now – about 15 years, to be precise. Luckily enough, the AU review was here to hear all about the band’s plans for the future, a 2018 Australian tour and what it’d be like if you brought a lemon to a knife fight with frontman, Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy.

After the trio of English lads released their third studio album Glitterbug in 2015, fans were thrilled to hear that the boys were back in town for yet another album. Towards the end of 2017, the band announced their fourth studio album titled Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, which was majorly influenced by Murph himself.

With the release of their first single from the record “Lemon to A Knife Fight” in late 2017, the band have left Australian fans with a lasting impression for the upcoming album – after all, it hit number #22 on the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2017. However, Murph says he won’t be too sure if he’d survive in an actual fight with a lemon. “I don’t think I’d last very long, unless I was trying to squeeze lemon into people’s wounds when they’ve been hacked up, I’d just go and put the cherry on the cake by squeezing all of the juice into the open flesh wounds.”

Murph also announced that Australian will be thrilled to know that they’ll be making their way back to Australia in the new year, as plans for a tour are already in the works. “We’ve got plans, I just can’t say anything about it yet. But we are coming. We’ve always had this fondness of Australia – you guys have been with us from day one, so we’re eternally grateful.“

“When I first think of Australia, it’s just like a whirlwind for us. When we get there, there’s just so much travelling, press and the shows are big. We end up getting really giddy and excited so we go out and party afterwards but end up feeling like crap; then we’ve got to be up and it just feels like being in the middle of a tornado. But it’s obviously so much fun.”

Fans were lucky enough to be greeted with new music from the boys replicating what they knew best – the perfect mixture of indie pop and a hint of psychedelic sound. Although thousands of miles separated the boys from making music in one place, Murph explained that the experience was like no other. “I didn’t really have anyone banging on my door. The internet’s a very powerful thing and distance and separation can be sometimes quite good,” said Murph. “We’ve been in a state of arrested development – so you know, 11 years. We’ve been in the band professionally for about 15 years now in total.”

Timing for the band’s production of the new record never came easy – with drummer Dan Haggis based in London, bassist Tord Overland Knudsen in Oslo, and Murph in LA –  the boys  used time to their advantage to write, and meet up on different occasions to work on the album as a group.

“60-70 per cent I wrote in LA – a lot of it was done in my own time in Los Angeles. We’ve never really set up an album in America before its released so it’s been quite an interesting experience. I flew over to Oslo on four occasions to write with the guys and we came up with the final four songs for the album that way.”

“With Spotify and streaming – even though people are more cherry picking the content that they want when they want it, I feel like it’s really rejuvenated everyone and it’s really rejuvenated us, given us more confidence. If people like it, they’ll tell their friends. It’s so black and white, straight in front of everyone.”

With maturity beaconing into what makes up Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, the importance of growing up and dealing with being an adult is described by Murph as a major influence and key step the band as a whole would have to take to travel into the 21st century. “A big proportion of this album is to do with the struggles adulting and of course, getting married and having a kid,” said Murph. “It was really exciting and great when we came out with our first two albums – and just before Glitterbug, we were in a really funky place. We could see how successful Glitterbug was for us worldwide.”

Releasing their second single off the album “Cheetah Tongue” in January this year, Murph describes the track as a hopeful symphony dedicated to “trying to be as much as an adult as I can, but not knowing if I’m actually born to do that.”

“It’s kind of like a psychedelic, weird look at adult life and failing at it. It’s like making a plateau of mistakes and just having the fear of how it’s all going to pan out but also there’s just no point having that anxiety or fear. It’s just better to go, ‘Oh well, I made a mistake. It’s done now, let’s move on.’”

The 80’s themed music video to fit “Cheetah Tongue” was inspired and directed by Finn Keenan, who also directed “Lemon to A Knife Fight as well” as “Greek Tragedy” three years ago. “We just pretty much let him do whatever the hell he wants because we think he’s such a twisted guy, we love it,” said Murph. “God knows what was happening in his mind – I like giving directors free range to do whatever they want. It just makes the song and it gives it its own life, rather than if we were just running down a street wearing cheetah costumes or something.”

Thinking forward, Murph says their fourth studio album could be their last, with more projects along the way. “There’s so much other stuff in the pipework’s before I kind of think about Wombat stuff. I’m toying with the idea of starting another project, writing with and for other people. I think the certain commitments that I’ve made to my wife which I’m going to have to fulfil – so when all of that’s sorted, then we’ll get back in Wombats, or maybe not.”

“I don’t know. Maybe this album will take off so much that we’ll be straight back in the studio before you can say Number Five.”

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life drops February 9.