‘Fixing ourselves can help us to help others’: An Interview with The Wombats’ Dan Haggis

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As I catch Dan Haggis of The Wombats, he’s just finished recording for a baking show – not what he’d expected to do when he became a musician, I’m sure, but he seems to have enjoyed it nevertheless. Perhaps baking was a welcome break after recording The Wombats’ upcoming album, Fix Yourself Not the World. Diving straight in, we get to talking about the abum and what it entails.

Album artwork for Fix Yourself Not The World. Via AWAL.

Though each Wombats album has a running theme, this is their first concept album which follows one longer story. Exploring lead singer Matthew Murphy’s thoughts, feelings and relationships, Fix Yourself Not the World is an introspective look into what makes people tick. Often, we can fill up our lives with other people’s problems, says Dan, neglecting our own issues. Scary though it may be, lockdown turned people’s thoughts within; although spending time on yourself is scary, it can teach you a lot. Fixing ourselves can help us to help others, he reminds me.

Musically, the band wanted to challenge themselves a little more with this album – though they cannot help but sound like ‘The Wombats’ (of course), Dan tells me that the group tried to somewhat resist the temptation to go for normal and take their sound somewhere new. For example, ‘Poke the Bear’ has what Dan describes as a “Scott Walker sixties feel” which plays with contrasts, whereas ‘Wildfire’ “has almost a tron-like sound”, details which create an interesting journey through the album.

‘Method to the Madness’ was chosen as the first release for the album because of the lo-fi, ambient piano feel, which then kicks off into “a prodigy or Rage (ATM)-esque outro, taking you in a really different direction.” It gives a good feel for the album as a whole, showcasing the contrasts which are to come. ‘Flip Me Upside Down’, I tell Dan, is a great choice for an opener with its anxious beat. He agrees that it really pulls the listener into the frantic chaos which is the album’s starting point.

‘Ready for the High’ and its sense of looking forward is up for discussion next. Dan tells me that Murphy wrote it to resonate with a lot of people because everyone has transitions in life, be it school, university, work – big moments. The singer wanted to instil a sense of being ready rather than anxious for your next steps in life – take them in your stride rather than letting them stall you.

via AWAL.

Before the end of the interview, I was also really keen to chat to Dan about the final track on the album; ‘Fix Yourself, Then The World (Reach Beyond your Fingers)’. At only 1 minute and 43 seconds in length, some might expect it to be unremarkable, but I found it to be some of the best music on the album. It has a rough but ethereal feel, with Murphy’s voice in a soundscape singing; “I don’t wanna lose myself in someone else’s game” as he fades out.  Dan explains to me that the name change – from ‘Fix Yourself, not the World’ to ‘Fix Yourself then the World’ is a reminder that hopefully within our life journeys, we all do reach a point of being able to get out there and help others. The song’s short length owes to the fact that it was actually a jam session! It was unexpected, “a happy accident”, and though the band tried to turn it into a full song, Dan says they realised that what they had captured by simply turning on the mics was not something to be tweaked. It was an organic moment which felt right to close the album with.

On their upcoming tour, from the 6th to the 12th of January, the band will be playing the album in full during the intimate shows ahead of the 13th of January release show in their home of Liverpool. Dan hopes audiences will simply watch and enjoy the experience. This endeavour is inspired by that excitement and joy of discovering new music or hearing something for the first time live – it gives us a great memory, something unusual. Dan says he’s trying not to get his hopes up, he knows nothing can be taken from granted at the moment, which after the past two years is so disheartening again. For now, we can all cross our fingers and look forward to the new album: Fix Yourself, Not the World.

Fix Yourself, Not the World will be released on 13 January 2022. You can get tickets to The Wombats’ intimate shows from the 6th-13th January here.

Watch the video for the band’s latest single, ‘Ready For The High’, below.

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A philosophy (and English) student who tries so hard not to buy more books before she's already read the ones she owns... Live Editor 21-22

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