the wombats

THE WOMBATS HAVE LANDED AT TERMINAL 5
November 30, 2015 12:22 am

Let’s talk about last Tuesday night. The Wombats played Terminal 5. The honor of being able to make that statement has been a long time coming. The U.K.-based trio has been around since 2007, and has toured the U.S. extensively over the last couple of years, but until this night they hadn’t played a New York venue larger than Webster Hall.

American fans of British bands are often spoiled when it comes to touring stateside; it’s not uncommon for bands with top billing at festivals like Reading and Leeds to perform in New York at places like Mercury Lounge (capacity 250 people) or Baby’s All Right (280 people). In fact, The Wombats did play at Mercury Lounge earlier this year. Being able to see such great bands in such small venues can sometimes make fans wish the bands would stay “small” forever, but as the saying goes, “If you love something, let it go to Terminal 5.” And, for the record, the venue was packed.

wombats

Photo by Sasha Maese

The first to perform on Tuesday was the Brooklyn-based POP ETC. The band has toured throughout the U.S. and Japan, and has performed with bands including Death Cab for Cutie, The Kooks, and X Japan. However, according to Spotify, they are most well known for their song “Speak Up”, from the Twilight film Breaking Dawn – part 2. That’s got to be frustrating. Regardless, their dynamic performance was well received by the audience. They performed songs from their upcoming LP Souvenir, as well as recent singles “Bad Break” and “Running in Circles”.

Royal Teeth was next, a five-piece band from Louisiana. They burst onto the stage dancing, with enough energy for every last person in the audience. If they were feeling celebratory, it’s with good reason; earlier this year, the group signed with Elektra records and are releasing their major-label debut in 2016.

Their set included a cover of the song “Heartbeats,” originally by The Knife, as well as their own songs “Mais La” and “Wild.” A cursory search through Wikipedia revealed that “Wild” has already been featured in ads for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Buick Verano, State Farm, Bose, American Eagle, Metro AG, The Voice, 90210, ESPN, TLC, PBS, Yahoo, and Fox. Not bad for an indie band.

wombats

Photo by Sasha Maese

When “Just Like Heaven” finally begins to play over the venue’s PA system, the audience knows it’s nearly time for The Wombats. They open with “Give Me a Try”, a song that’s in stark contrast to anything performed by the night’s two previous bands; “We could be gigantic/ Everything I need/ Vicodin on Sunday nights/ This could be worth the risk/ Worth the guarantee/ This could be the drug that does’t bite/ Just give me a try,” sings Matthew Murphy. This is followed by songs about one night stands (“Jump Into The Fog”), insomnia (“Moving to New York”) and longing for an adolescence that wasn’t all that great (“1996”).

It’s not that the first two bands to play on Tuesday weren’t great, it’s that they’re just so…clean. Nearly all songs by The Wombats share a feeling of alienation, of trying to fit in to a world that just doesn’t get you. Murphy often writes from his own experiences with depression, and it’s this approach to the creation of their songs that make them so relatable to people that have a hard time relating in general.

About halfway through the set, Murphy shares a story about the song “Pink Lemonade.” The writing of it involved drinking alone in Barcelona, and convincing himself that his girlfriend was sleeping with a random acquaintance. They beauty of it all is that as nuts as their lyrics can be, or the strange evolution of their songs, the audience knew every word. And they danced. And it was awesome.

The show closed the way all Wombats shows close; with “Let’s Dance to Joy Division.” It was the band’s first single, released in 2007, and probably their most beloved song. It remains the perfect encapsulation of the band’s ethos, “Let’s dance to Joy Division/ And raise our glass to the ceiling/ ‘Cause this could all go so wrong/ But we’re so happy.” Even after the band left the stage, that feeling was underscored with “You Can Call Me Al” playing from the PA system, and the audience continuing to dance until Paul Simon sang his last note.

wombats

Photo by Sasha Maese

POP ETC: FAMOUS LAST WORDS
12:02 am

POP ETC has existed in one form or another since 2005 and has performed with bands including Death Cab for Cutie, The Kooks, and X Japan. They were first known as The Morning Benders while based in Berkeley, CA, and then as POP ETC, in Brooklyn, NY. The band, comprised of brothers Chris and Jon Chu, along with Julian Harmon, is currently touring the U.S. with bands Royal Teeth and The Wombats. As if they weren’t busy enough, POP ETC is preparing to release their Souvenir LP in January.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with the band before Tuesday’s show at Terminal 5, and got to pick their brains on touring, recording, and all that good stuff.

pop

Photo by Sasha Maese

You guys go on in 40 minutes. How do you feel about that?

CC: We just had a really quick soundcheck where we got to play half a song.

You’re from California, but you’ve been in Brooklyn for a while. Have you performed at Terminal 5 before?

CC: One of the first times we played in New York was here, with The Kooks.

They just toured again recently, didn’t they?

CC: I think so. We saw them once during the whole tour. They’re doing their own thing. A lot of bands that come from the U.K. go from touring in Europe, and then they come here on no sleep and do 10 shows in a row and leave. So I think they were just tired.

Has that been your experience during this tour with The Wombats?

CC: Our first show of the tour with them was yesterday, but I chatted with them for a second and they were super nice.

JC: It was their first show in the states, too.

CC: They played a show in Berlin the day before. Or maybe they had 1 day in between.

popetc

Photo by Sasha Maese

You’ve performed in Japan as well.

CC: We just got back from Japan, we were there for 2 weeks. We had a few shows, but we mostly did a bunch of promo. It was more of a promotional trip, because the record is coming out there in January. And this band that I’ve produced over there, called Galileo Galilei, we call them GG, we were touring with them and we did a lot of interviews with them about working together and stuff like that. But yeah, it was awesome. We love Japan.

Did you get to meet Yoshiki or any of the X Japan guys?

CC: I knew about them, [gestures to his bandmates] these guys didn’t. They weren’t on our radar. We should’ve, we would’ve known how lucky we were.

You opened for Death Cab for Cutie as well.

CC: A long time ago.

JC: That might’ve been The Kooks tour, actually. It was kind of a festival.

CC: I also played a few shows for Ben Gibbard’s solo tour as well. I guess we played more shows with him than I thought. He was super sweet.

You have an album coming out in January, how are your preparing? Will you tour when it comes out?

CC: Yeah, we actually are pretty amped on touring ’cause we spent a really long time on this record. Longer than we have on any record before. The whole point when we were making this record was we didn’t want to put a deadline on it. So that’s why it took forever.

That’s the best way to do it.

CC: I think so too, but there’s times in the middle of it where you lose sight. Kind of like “When is this going to end?” or “What is this?” When you’re playing songs, and you’re seeing people reacting to them in real time, when we’re not in the studio or in my house writing stuff, it’s just kind of re-energizing after spending so much time inside.

JC: It’s like I forgot people actually listen to it.

CC: Although, as soon as we’re touring for a while, I want to go back to the studio.

When you’re touring it’s like you’re working 100% of the time for weeks. I could see how that gets exhausting.

CC: You are and you aren’t. You’re also only playing like, 1/20th of the time that you’re on the road, if that.

Is it hard for you to sit in a van for that long?

CC: For me it’s hard because I like to write music all the time. I feel best when I’m working on stuff.

popetc

Photo by Sasha Maese

Is that what you do to pass the time?

CC: Yeah, when I’m not on tour. When I’m on tour, I can’t really get into the mindset. I’ll do little ideas of something, but it’s like there’s no quiet place to record. But we get into it. We like going and meeting people, traveling. We really like food, so we like to go to restaurants. We have all our favorite restaurants across the country now, so we like playing our tours around going to eat at them.

What’s been your favorite?

JC: Japan was the best.

CC: Japan’s in a different league. One of our favorite restaurants is Monell’s [in Nashville]. We haven’t been there in a while, but we’re ending this tour in Nashville, so we’ll probably go 2 or 3 times.

Will you be at South by Southwest this year?

CC: Not if we can avoid it.

This coming year will be my first time. Do you have any advice?

CC: The first time is awesome. We’ve played it a bunch, and it actually is really fun to just go. I went one year just as a fan, and it was really fun. It’s really hectic as a band. Like you’re just sitting in traffic, trying to go 2 blocks, and you’re not going to make it [to your gig], so you just throw [the van] next to a hydrant and run your amps across the street. It’s really crazy. It’s too small an area. It’s too big a festival for that small an area at this point. It’s just grown.

JC: You get free Jansport backpacks, which is awesome. I still use mine.

Any last words before you go onstage, in front of thousands of people at Terminal 5?

CC: I’m going to save my last words, because I feel like this is just the beginning.

JC: That’s beautiful.

Life In Film Talks Rituals And Break-Up Prisons
September 9, 2015 8:56 am

After playing their first US tour with The Wombats earlier this year, Life in Film came back for round 2 bringing some British indie rock vibes to NYC. One of Manhattan’s finest venues, Mercury Lounge gave a really laid-back and intimate setting for the guys to play in. The 5 piece band played a good balance of both up-tempo and chill tunes off of their recent debut album Here It Comes, the perfect tunes to listen to after a long day at work.

I got to speak with the band members before their set. Just like their music, they were a tame group of guys who had lot to say about their musical experiences thus far.

So who came up with the name Life In Film?

Edward: I had a dream about watching a film and then becoming part of it. It was kind of a cool dream so when I woke up I thought, “that’d be a cool band name.” We still haven’t agreed on the name. It was basically the best name of a bad bunch.

What were some other potential names you came up with?

Micky: Shoes and Socks.

Dominic: To be honest, that’s still my favorite. It’s still in the hat.

Samuel: I think that’s going to be a solo project!

life in filmm

You toured with The Wombats earlier this year, how was that?

Micky: We know of them, they’ve been around for a long time. I guess we were fans to an extent, and it was an amazing experience. It was our first time being in America, let alone touring.

And what impression has good ol’ America left on you thus far? 

Micky: The audience is pretty different. Things happen that wouldn’t happen at home, and everyone’s pretty enthusiastic.

Edward: Someone bought us a tray of shots last night, which doesn’t happen in England. We were playing in Albany and we were having a meal next door, and the waiter came up to us and were like “these people bought you drinks.” At first we were like “why are they buying us drinks?” and we didn’t connect the dots. And then realized “oh right, they know who we are!” That NEVER happens in Britain.

Dominic: It’s just something you see on the telly, like guys send you a round of drinks at the end of the bar.

Except we were sat at either side of this pane of glass so we were watching each other have dinner, waving at each other. we went over afterwards and had a chat with them.

Is there a particular song you want people to know about?

Micky: Besides from the single, “Anna, Please Don’t Go” which is somewhere on the album.

Edward: I’ve broken up with someone and I was sitting in a depressing room that I just rented out. I have a memory of sitting on the floor in this tiny little boxed room which was in a basement. It was damp and it had bars on the windows. It was the smallest room ever, you could just about fit a bed in it.

Dominic: It was basically in a breakup prison.

Edward: Yeah, and the girl I was living with, she’s called Anna and I just used that name because it was first hand and I thought “I hope this girl doesn’t think its about her” because that would be awkward.

life in filmDo you have any pre-show rituals?

Micky: We drink lots and lots of water.

Edward: And lots of beer [laughs]

We sometimes do this like – we put these little speakers out and do a dance. We invented it, it’s all about the hips.

Micky: It’s unpleasant for anybody else watching.

Samuel: We actually posted it on Instagram the other day, slightly disturbing though.

We do it in a line in that video, but we don’t usually do that and it makes it look really weird. It’s kind of like, me dancing at a wedding sort of you know….moving as little as possible. And badly, without rhythm and groove.

Micky: Yeah, I don’t know if people get it. I don’t think we get it either.