The Wombats

99.9 The Buzz welcomes

The Wombats

Life In Film, Cheerleader

Fri, Apr 24, 2015

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Higher Ground Ballroom

$18 advance | $20 day of show

This event is all ages

The Wombats
The Wombats
Within the butterfly-breaking cogs of the music industry, big numbers can bring big problems. And The Wombats' numbers got big, fast. A platinum album with their 2007 debut 'Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation'. Over 300,000 combined sales of their indie dancefloor smashes 'Kill The Director', 'Let's Dance To Joy Division' (winner of the 2008 NME Award for Best Dancefloor Filler), 'Backfire At The... Disco' and 'Moving To New York'. A two year tour during which Liverpool's biggest exports in a decade played to well over a million people, culminating in a massive homecoming Liverpool Arena show for 10,000 ecstatic local fans of their dark yet exuberant and infectious alt.pop.

"It was such a good way to round it off," says drummer Dan Haggis. "We had a two day party after that. Obviously you can't help but go 'bloody hell, remember a couple of years ago in Liverpool, we'd be lucky if we sold out the Academy downstairs to 500 people. How did we get to this?'"

Big numbers, big gigs, but for a band with the intense work ethic of The Wombats (lest we forget, in the build-up to their breakthrough hit 'Kill The Director' in 2007 they played 50 tiny pub and club shows around the UK in almost as many days) they took their toll. Having continued their breakneck schedule for eighteen months solid, they came off a mammoth US tour in 2008 "pretty broken… physically and mentally."

"We did a couple of months too long," says Dan. "I had problems with my arms so every night going up onstage hurt, so it wasn't really that enjoyable. I had a gig where I didn't want anyone to look at me. I sat on the drums at Glasgow and you start feeling guilty because you think you should be having the best night of your life but I didn't know why I was there."

Over the summer of 2008, between festival dates, two more singles were recorded – the stop-gap classic 'My Circuitboard City' and their sardonic (anti-)Christmas song 'Is This Christmas?' before singer Matthew 'Murph' Murphy sat down to begin writing new material for album two. But in his new home in London, Murph found the loneliness, dislocation and routine of being off the road and writing in a big city difficult to cope with. He'd simply become too accustomed to the adulation of the stage.

"My downfall was I got used to it," he admits, "and then when it all stopped it was a bit of a reality bite-back and I had to level myself out. It was my general unhappiness of not being on the road and being in a new city."

"Every night for a couple of years to have always been on your way somewhere," adds Dan, "always about to do a gig or an interview or whatever, always people interested in talking to you about music. Then suddenly stopping and not doing gigs and not having the adrenalin rush every night, it's like hitting a brick wall."

The few gigs that the band did play occasionally ended in near-death experiences. On his way home from a show in Skegness, Murph almost flipped his car on an icy motorway but emerged miraculously unscathed (the incident inspired a new song called 'Motorphobia'). And during a trip to Dubai to play Liverpool Sound City, Dan had his own four-wheeled run-in with the reaper.

"It was fun but me and my girlfriend almost had a pretty serious accident," he says. "We went dune buggy racing with no insurance, no anything. They just went 'have you done this before?' and we went 'no, not really' and they went 'great! Put this on!'. We stuck this helmet on and went off over these dunes having a great time and ended up going too fast over one of them and basically coming off and crashing quite badly."
With so much alienation and vehicular trauma around, it's perhaps no wonder the first batch of songs Murph wrote in London in February 2009 were delivered to the record label and met with some concern. Lyrically they were the bleakest tracks Murph had ever written (he doesn't expand on their subject matter) and musically they were heavier than heaven and louder than war.

"The initial thought was to do things relatively far away from what you'd be known for or what your comfort zone is," he says, "which is maybe a good thing, but the first batch of songs that the label heard, they were like 'who the hell is this?'"
Bassist Tord Øverland-Knudsen chips in. "They were much grungier. More like the 90s grungy thing, for those first four songs. We needed to get the energy back, make heavier music."

Or, more accurately, Murph needed to get his Merseyside Mojo back. "I went back to my mum and dad's house to recapture whatever former glory was once there. It was kind of miserable being locked away in a room for eight hours every day with just a little lampshade and piano. You kind of go round the bend, there was no reality to draw from. So I had to go up to Liverpool and get back to getting slaughtered and doing recreational things in order to find anything to draw on."

Back in Liverpool, The Wombats Mk 2 instantly clicked. They plumped for a synthier sound, Murph's keyboard often replacing the lead guitar, and the tunes poured forth in ever more innovative and colourful guises. Tracks such as 'Perfect Disease' took on the sonorous disco moods of Depeche Mode and Echo & The Bunnymen, lashed to The Killers' arena pop sensibilities. One of the album's "curveballs" 'Jump Into The Fog' came out sounding like nothing more than The Horrors covering Queen. Often only their intense catchiness marked these songs out as traditionally 'Wombats' at all: no matter where the sonics strayed, the tunes were always glint-in-the-sunlight perfect - better even than the dancefloor killers of their first chart onslaught.

"I felt like I was rebelling against what we were as a band," Murph explains. "Somehow we've come back round and amalgamated bits of that into the newer stuff and it'll hopefully make it better. There are elements that are so different from what people will think. There's songs that are akin to the first album but it feels like we've escalated. I'm 100 per cent certain that some of the songs on this album are the best we've ever put out."

First single 'Tokyo (Vampires And Wolves)' certainly fits that category – an instant radio hit that's so insanely catchy it's impossible not to spin again the second it's finished. An ode to the Neon City? "It's just a bit angsty," says Murph. "The new album hasn't got anything to do with touring, it just represents escapism and wanting to run away."

This new batch of songs finds Murph's lyrics developing a depth and personal confessional slant that's rare in modern song-writing: take the blunt and startling theme of 'Anti-D' for starters, in which Murph likens himself to an anti-depressant. But fans of his more story-based writing will find much to enjoy in the synth-rock, disco-destroying brilliance of 'Techno Fan' – the tune where 'Mr Brightside' chats up La Roux in a drug-swamped Hoxton dive bar. Key line: "I'm in debt to you/But don't feed me plant food".

"That's more of a story," Murph says. "I went to a minimal techno rave in Shoreditch with my girlfriend. It was dirty, I didn't stay there for long. I've never seen a longer queue for the toilets in my life. People had their hands up going 'I actually need a wee' and everyone in the queue would go 'go on then'."
The album has been recorded through 2010 over three sessions with separate producers, all in L.A. – first U2 and R.E.M. producer Jacknife Lee brought his precise technological nous to 'Anti-D', then Eric Valentine helped them put together 'Tokyo (Vampires And Wolves)' and 'Techno Fan'. Muse knob-twiddler Rich Costey joined forces with additional creative input from TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek and John Hill (Santogold, M.I.A., Devo) to complete a record that will shock, impress and spin opinion on this most uncompromising of 21st Century pop bands. The resulting album, subsequently titled 'The Wombats proudly present… This Modern Glitch', even finds rooms for a guest appearance courtesy of Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro on 'Girls & Fast Cars'.
"You take the electro and you take the grunge and you put it together with what we used to do on the first album," says Tord, "then that's what the album's going to be."

Dan nods, a sparkle in his eye. "It's gonna be a whirlwind adventure."

Having entered the charts at #3, the album has provided three of the band's biggest airplay hits to date with its first singles 'Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)', 'Jump Into The Fog' and 'Anti-D' as The Wombats subsequently become one of the stand-out names on this summer's festival circuit with headline sets at Lovebox and Wakestock as well as other major events including Glastonbury, V, Radio 1's Big Weekend and Rockness. Always a resolutely popular live band, both of their recent UK tours were entirely sold-out and included major London dates at the Brixton O2 Academy and the HMV Hammersmith Apollo.
Life In Film
Life In Film
Best friends from school and college, Life In Film formed in Hackney, East London when they moved in together and started writing songs. The guys -- Samuel Fry (vocals/guitars), Edward Ibbotson (guitars), Dominic Sennett (bass) and Micky Osment (drums) -- have cemented their status as a rousing live band with a string of sold out dates across the U.K and Europe.

"When we started we thought it'd be like The Beatles in 'Help!' [the 1965 film] when they all lived next door to each other and wrote music," jokes Fry. "And it was similar, just without the success!"

Their highly anticipated debut album looks set to change that. A collection of modern indie-pop songs that fuse a blues sentiment with upbeat melodies, introspective lyrics, bright guitars, and catchy hooks, Life In Film chose legendary producer Stephen Street (The Smiths, Morrissey, Blur, Babyshambles, The Kaiser Chiefs) to helm the record, not just for his credentials but also for his emotional sensibility and musical intuition.

Though they confess they simply "fell together", Life In Film's journey from four friends knocking about musical ideas to slick indie-pop band began when they were just kids. Ibbotson started tinkering on guitar when he was nine years old, as did Sennett, though after snapping a string and fretting he'd broken the instrument, he hid his guitar in a closet for twelve months. Upon realizing strings were replaceable, he rekindled his love, eventually mastering the bass.

Life In Film's early rehearsals saw Fry behind the drum kit, but when Sennett noted that the group needed a singer, Fry took on lead vocal duties (which, according to Sennett, "is a good thing, as he's lousy on the drums"). Osment's skill as a drummer gave Life In Film its strong, rhythmic direction, and has even raised a few eyebrows: a fan's perplexed drum teacher told him the beat Osment plays on "The Idiot" was impossible to play and must have been double tracked. It wasn't.

The friendship between the four is at the heart of Life In Film, and they say their closeness allows them to be completely honest with each other and write songs that they all have an emotional connection to.

Asking them to describe one another prompts raucous laughter, but they agree that Sennett is the band's eccentric and can be incredibly stubborn, while Fry is strong willed, independent and level headed. Osment is unanimously voted the band's "nice guy" whose focus keeps the other three grounded, while Osment describes Ibbotson as "disorganized and slightly away with the fairies but very creative."

"Most of the time we like to make a lot of noise and have a laugh," says Fry, "but we can all be pretty reflective in our own ways."

Though comparisons to other bands have followed Life In Film since their infancy, they say their inspirations are broad and not necessarily limited to other music. Instead, their songs are inspired by what excites them about life and living in a city as culturally and artistically diverse as London, as well as the ups and downs of relationships.

Effortlessly carving a niche in London's musical landscape with their combination of catchy pop songs and earnest ballads, the band's music blurs genres but always sounds inherently like Life In Film, or, as they say, "it always has our Life In Film stamp firmly on it."

When it comes to lyrical content, Fry and Ibbotson wear their hearts on their sleeves without ever becoming too sentimental, explaining that their lyrics relate to relationships and significant events. That is not to say, though, that there are not more melancholic moments on the album; there is the cinematic "Carla" and wistful ballad "Anna (Please Don't Go)", which Ibbotson wrote after a break up and says is about "trying to reassure the protagonist that everything will work itself out."

Life In Film's songwriting process is fluid and collaborative, and while they occasionally present completed songs to one another, they say jamming and bouncing ideas around tends to work best. They cite "Get Closer"- written over the course of a few hours in their flat one summer and evolving from a loose melody Ibbotson was tinkering with -- as one of the best examples of their organic writing style.

Though they've spent countless hours writing, recording and touring together, they're more likely to finish each others sentences than argue, and insist their different personalities are what make them work so well together. And, they all agree, the focus is always on the music.

"A good song will always be about a strong melody and a story worth telling," says Ibbotson.

"As long as we can do that in our own way I think we will fit in anywhere."
Cheerleader began as a bedroom project of longtime friends and roommates Joe Haller and Chris Duran, who recorded a series of demos via GarageBand. The Connecticut natives moved to Philadelphia and completed the full band lineup in 2013. Cheerleader is:

Joe Haller – Vocals/Guitar

Chris Duran – Guitar

Joshua Pannepacker – Keys/Guitar

Paul Impellizeri – Bass

Carl Bahner – Drums


"A charming mix of lo-fi guitar grunge, The Beach Boys' good vibes, and Wavves-inspired nonchalance." – MTV Buzzworthy

"Play if you rate New Order at their early 90s best." – NME

"Gorgeous lo-fi sound" – Line of Best Fit

"Timeless… like all good indie-pop should be." – When the Gramaphone Rings

"Brit-pop siphoned through shoegaze and reflected in a shiny disco ball… pure pop fun." – XPN The Key

"Grand, solid, and rich with complexity… they barrel over you with Ronnie Spector and Beach Boys tones." – Philadelphia Weekly

"With irrepressible guitar jangles and day-shining synths, [Cheerleader] leaves you in a state of pure crush." 4-star review, Orlando Weekly
Venue Information:
Higher Ground Ballroom
1214 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT, 05403