Their first album, appropriately titled A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation, was more basic, with most songs revolving more around guitar, bass and drums. With their second album This Modern Glitch The Wombats changed things up by adding a synth (or four) to most of the tracks, producing a more upbeat, dance sound. Their 2015 release continues that trend, but at the same time Glitterbug represents new territory for The Wombats, with bass, keyboard and guitar player Tord Øverland Knudsen saying that they are more comfortable with their more complex sound.
Murph (The Wombats’ lead singer) has said the album is inspired by LA. To me when I think LA I think Californication. What does LA mean to you?
I love that show too, as well as Entourage. LA to me is probably one of the strangest, weirdest places in the world. It’s the least realistic place in the world. It’s kind of detached from everything else that’s happening, which I didn’t like when I first came to LA, but after spending months and months in LA recording our second album I started to really like it. I started to know where’s good to go for food and nice bars, where you can get to know people. I think it’s a great place to record and spend time. I don’t think I would live there. I like Liverpool. It’s nice being able to walk everywhere.
The Wombats are credited as co-producing Glitterbug. Does that mean you had a real hand in the process?
The producer we worked with was Mark Crew, in a tiny little studio in London. The first time I came in I was like, “really? This is smaller than my hotel room. We’re going to record here?” But it was great. He recorded the whole Bastille album there, so if he did Bastille there it should be OK, that album sounds great. We did most of the stuff there. A lot of it we did in Liverpool doing demos on our own. We spent days making them sound good there. If you listen to the demo versions and the final versions they sound pretty similar. The final version sounds maybe 20% better, so a lot of the production work was done before going into the studio. We’ve been doing it for so many years now we’ve picked up some tricks. There are things we took on board from working in big studios in LA.
Every member of The Wombats is known to be a multi-instrumentalist to some extent. If you were to face the devil in a rock-off, what would be your weapon of choice?
I think the bass, or my baritone guitar. That sounds like the end of the world. When we’re recording we all play whatever part that makes sense. If Merv comes up with a part he plays it. Dan plays all the drums because I’m a terrible drummer and Murph’s even worse than me. I usually do the bass, but apart from that we swap around.
With all the instruments going around, has your gear set-up changed for the new album?
I went to Japan and I bought a Roland Juno 60, so that had a big impact on the sounds on the record. We ran that through an amp and loaded up some pedals. We really played around with sounds more than we’d ever done before on Glitterbug. On This Modern Glitch we ‘found’ synths in a way but we didn’t really know how to use them. But this time around we’ve learnt how to maneuver them properly and gone into more detail on using them and playing around with sounds. On This Modern Glitch we had three or four sounds doubling each other and everything was doubled, tripled. This time around we’ve tried to find the one sound that would do the job instead of having three sounds running at the same time. It’s a bit more stripped back in that sense, a bit more professional.
What about on the bass?
For the bass I always use the same sound, I use an Ampeg SVT Classic with a ‘75 Fender Precision to get the gritty, distorted sound. A classic bass sound with a more distorted, guitar sound. Live I use the same gear. I just got a new bass because the old one was so heavy. This one looks like the old one, but it’s a lot lighter because it’s a different type of wood. I haven’t really changed it though, because I like the identity of the sound. The bass was a lot louder in the mix on the first album because it was more of an honest sound but there are moments on this album where it comes to life a little bit more.