The Wombats’ Murph on Weezer tour, watching Pixies do magic tricks, new album plans and mysterious new side project

The band joined two legends on their joint tour of the US this summer

Some bands get to support one or two of their heroes over the course of their careers, but The Wombats have really lucked out this summer. For their latest stint on the road in the US, they joined Pixies and Weezer on their joint tour, playing the warm-up act to two giants of the game.

“We couldn’t really believe it [when we found out],” frontman Murph says backstage at Syracuse’s Lakeview Amphitheatre. It’s the last night of the three-week run and a prime chance to reflect on the events of the tour before the trio continue their busy summer in Australia and the festival fields of the UK.

“It’s definitely inspiring watch them every night,” the now-LA-based musician offers. “Watching them has confirmed a few ideas I’ve had in my head like you’ve just gotta knuckle down and get on with it, and when things get tough or some shit flares up, you’ve gotta figure out a way to get past it. Keep building up your songs, keep playing, and just keep going.”

Wombats

The Wombats’ Murph

It’s been a long time since you opened for someone. What’s it been like going back to being a support act?

Murph: “We haven’t done a big support tour ever really unless you count Babyshambles in 2007 or whenever. But that’s not quite the same. The first couple of gigs we didn’t really know what was going on, but it’s been good. We’re looking forward to getting back to our own shows, though.”

What do Weezer and Pixies mean to you?

“Well, Weezer is so poppy and hooky and we’ve always wanted to do similar things to that, I guess. Weezer mean so much musically and everything and then Pixies, Charles’ lyrics are just amazing and it helps me realise that there are no rules when it comes to that stuff. Writing lyrics is an extremely liberating thing and you can scream about the devil for four minutes if you want to. That’s pretty cool.” 

Had you met any of either band before starting this tour?

“No, we’d played one show with Weezer a long time ago for a radio station in Philadelphia. We hadn’t met any of them. We still haven’t met Weezer, but we’re getting on really well with Pixies and their crew. They’re such sweet guys and girls. I got on really well with Joey [Santiago, Pixies guitarist] – we’re gonna play golf in LA when we have some time off. I’ve hung out with him the most, I guess.”

Frank has this intimidating presence, but also seems like he could be a big softie. What’s he like?

“Both, actually. He is quite a softie, but he is a big presence. When you talk to him, everything seems quite considered. His mind is engaged at a million miles an hour. He’s awesome.”

What’s been the highlight of the tour?

“Dave [Lovering], the drummer from Pixies, has been doing magic tricks. Card tricks, mainly. When they had a hiatus, he basically became a magician. A ridiculous man. So that was cool. I guess that would be the highlight.”

What are your farewell plans for after tonight’s show?

“Just make sure we say goodbye to the Pixies, really, and wish them bon voyage. Everyone’s gonna get hammered but I don’t drink anymore so I don’t know what I’ll do. I might have an alcohol-free beer and then go back to the bus and finish off JFK or whatever it is. We fly to Melbourne tomorrow so that’s gonna be a shitshow. I don’t know what I wanna be for that – probably not awake.”

You’ve got a summer of festivals coming up, including your first time playing the Reading & Leeds Main Stage. Does that feel like a big moment that’s been a long time coming for you?

“I should say yes, but I felt like we deserved it a while ago, to be honest. But better late than never. We are really looking forward to that show – the last two Reading & Leeds festivals we played were some of our favourite gigs ever so the pressure’s really on them this time.”

After you’re done with festival season, what’s next for you?

“We’ve got another US tour in October, another UK tour, and then we’ve already got some festivals booked for next year. I’m working on a new thing at the moment and then we’ll start work on album five early next year.”

Have you had any ideas for that album yet?

“No, not really. There’s something about the way this new one sounds. I enjoyed making an organic album that wasn’t at the whim of production wizardry or head-fucking yourself with synthesisers for weeks on end. I just liked making great songs and doing them in this guitar-y world, and I feel like that’s the path we should be going down rather than anything else. But I don’t know, it could be a country album for all I know at this moment.”

The new thing you mentioned – what’s that about?

“It would be nice to say it when it’s all finalised and ready, but I’ve got 20 songs and it’s gonna be a new band. I’m just gonna see where it goes. There were some songs left over from this album that we didn’t use and I was like, ‘They’re really good, they should see the light of day somehow.’ But since then there’s been a load more and they’ve been parked, but we’ll see what happens.”