Paul Waxman from Radio Monash was privileged enough to interview Matthew “Murph” Murphy of the Wombats to discus The Wombats’ upcoming Australian tour, their debut album’s 10th anniversary and various unknown motivations behind some of the bands work. Catch the entire interview below and on air throughout the first semester.
Paul: Hi Murph, It’s Paul here from Radio Monash, how’re you doing?
Matthew Murphy: Hi Paul, how’re you doing? I’m good thanks.
P: I’m great. How has your day been so far?
M: It’s been good, I’m in Oslo. I think it’s -1 right now.
P: It’s nothing like Australia. It is so hot right now in Australia, even at 8am, it is crazy hot. So we’re basically on polar opposite sides of the world!
M: Yeah It is now, but it’s been raining for the past month. I feel like I could go to the Sahara.
P: It’s basically the Sahara in Australia at the moment, pretty much. So, the last time you guys were in Australia, you guys came for Splendour in the Grass in 2015, and Falls in 2015. How do you guys enjoy your time here?
M: Yeah, it’s incredible. The shows were insane, it is actually truthful when I say this but every time we go back to Australia, people just get more intense. They do the weirdest shit!
P: I was there for your show at Margaret Court arena, and I think that’s where you guys were doing the Rage Against the Machine cover in your set at the end?
M: It’s not a Rage Against the Machine cover, but it definitely sounds like a Rage Against the Machine song.
P: What was that jam all about? Is that sort of a teaser for the new stuff you’re working on at the moment?
M: No, not really.
P: Was it just sort of like a jam?
M: Yeah, we were in Rome once, and we started playing around with this really heavy Smashing Pumpkins riff. It was a really small show and one of our guitar techs at the time, his name was Tom Clu, he came out in a gas mask, completely naked, in a gas mask, and he thought that was great that we were playing, outrageously heavy riffs, and from that point on we decided that that was a good idea for us. The riff has evolved, there’s a few different ones, we’re going to have to come up with a new one as well. We want something disgustingly heavy.
P: Yeah, that confused me so much in your show, because all your stuff, especially the new Glitterbug stuff, is very sort of electronic and dancey and then you just sort of ripped out this amazing heavy cover and you know riff and it was just amazing.
M: Oh great. Well, I’m always trying to do as much of that as possible.
P: Fantastic. Since you guys are coming to Australia soon, are there any Australian bands that you’ve been listening to recently?
M: Any Australian bands? I’m terrible for that question. The most recent Tame Impala album but I mean, apart from other bands they’re probably the biggest band in Australia at the moment. But, I can’t really think right now, I also like Empire of the Sun.
P: I know myself and a lot of people, at first, were a bit confused by your band name when we first heard it because many of my friends and I thought you guys were an Australian band, just because of your band name. Where and how did you come up with the idea of calling yourself the Wombats?
M: It was a name we were kind of bashing around University, it was like the kind of derogatory name to put someone down, as like, “Oh, you stupid Wombat!” We didn’t really have any reference to kind of waste, money or time either. We had our first show and Dan just wrote “The Wombats” on a poster and I was like “oh, God” and I was like “we are going to have to change that!” and we never did. It kind of grows stronger with age and I know everyone’s got terrible band names anyway.
P: Speaking of Wombats and Marsupials, your debut album is turning 10 years old this year, congratulations, that’s very awesome!
M: Thank you.
P: The opening song is “Tales of Girls, Boys and Marsupials”, where did that song come from? I know your debut release was called “Tales of Girls, Boys and Marsupials”, where did that original concept come from?
M: We wanted something really weird and quirky to start the album off. We used to have a guitarist in the band and he left and moved back to Orange County and we replaced all of his guitar parts with harmonies so we started using a lot of harmonies. So we wanted to open the album with that. I don’t really think of it as a song per se, it’s kind of more like a greeting.
P: Yeah! Cause the album is a lot about stories of love and boys and girls so it does sort of make sense, that it sort of introduces the concept of the album.
P: So the official date [for the debut album’s] 10th birthday is the 5th of November, is that right?
M: Yeah, I believe so yeah.
P: So other than the many shows in Australia and England, and now Scotland, are you guys going to do anything to celebrate the anniversary, other than the shows?
M: I have no idea. Might do a couple of things in the US. I don’t really know. It’s more about the next album and where we go from Glitterbug and thinks like that. I mean, I try not to look back too much.
P: Of all the possible places in the world you could’ve picked, why Australia, for the place to celebrate the 10th anniversary?
M: Well, yeah, Australia and the UK, well to be honest, we’ve always wanted to play the Sydney Opera House. So that’s pretty much it. And we kind of thought that people still wanted to see us, we could’ve done a lot more in Australia and the UK, on our last album than we actually did. They did seem like the natural places.
P: With those shows coming up, should we be expecting any new songs or sounds?
M: I don’t know if we’re going to play any new material at the shows. Maybe we will. I don’t know, there’s talk about getting something out pretty soon. I’m not sure if we’re going to be playing it or not but there is a lot of new stuff floating around, it’s sounding good and hopefully we’ll have an album by the end of the year.
P: So, with that, what’s the structure of the show? Because it’s an Anniversary show is there going to be an extra special, homage to the original album?
M: I should probably know the answer to that question. I think that it’s just going to be, we’re just going to try and make it the most fun show possible. I don’t think we’re going to play the whole album but we’re going to be playing a lot songs that we haven’t played for probably five to six years now.
P: The original album, “A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation”, is a pretty sad and gloomy but accurate title, for the album, it sort of sums up everything that’s on it. Were there any album titles left on the cutting room floor?
M: We were driving around Europe and the labels were like “We need a name for this album” and every album subsequently, we’ve always been like the last minute idea, I just remember thinking and I wanted to call it “A Guide To…” cause I liked the idea of that. And then the album came out, and I still thought I liked it.
P: Because the album does have a few tracks on it as well, were there any songs that were left on the cutting room floor or anything you didn’t include on the album?
M: There was a song called “Derail and Crash” that we recorded, which I thought was going to be on the album but it didn’t make it on the album in the end. I have no idea why.
P: There’s one thing I’ve always been curious about in one song, I believe it is “Lost In The Post”, there’s a lyric about the girl wanting “Mary Poppins” but you “took them to King Leer”. What’s that about, what does that mean? Is there a story behind those lyrics?
M: It’s just kind of like a series of foul dating procedures and dating moves that I probably made in my late teens. I mean the lyrics just refer to this person was probably after something light, airy and fun and that wasn’t what she got.
P: You took her to Shakespeare instead and hit her with emotional drama and tragedy?
M: Yeah, some guy on his knees crying for two hours.
P: One little question to finish off, whether it’s a Joy Division song or any other song for that matter, and “celebrate irony” [Let’s Dance to Joy Division] what song would it be? Other than “Love Will Tear Us Apart” any other song?
M: Toto, “Africa”.
P: Why that song?
M: I don’t know if there’s anything particularly ironic about it. But it’s just whenever someone plays it I’m automatically, kind of, elated.
P: When can people expect to see the Wombats here in Australia?
M: Well, we’re coming for “Groovin’ The Moo” and we’re doing various sideshows around it [in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth]. We’re really excited; we haven’t played for a while.
P: The last time you were here was for the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, early last year? And you did a show there with Last Dinosaurs are you a fan of Last Dinosaurs?
M: I’m the wrong person to ask. I didn’t know who was supporting us. I had my fiancée over generally when I came here, and I was, you know, making sure she’s having a nice time and a nice day, and I’d get to the venue like half an hour before I go on so I didn’t really get to listen to them. I’m not dismissive of support bands.
P: Thank you so much for talking to us today Murph, it’s been such an honour.
M: No problem, thank you, thanks for having me.
The Wombats will be coming to Melbourne on the 3rd of May.