Perhaps one of the most epic rock tours in recent years will kick off in West Palm Beach June 22. This summer, dual headliners the Pixies and Weezer, on a 30-stop trek across the United States, will thrill generations of music fans.
The bands' combined catalogue includes dozens of classics that inspired hundreds of acts since the early '90s. One of their disciples, English indie-pop outfit the Wombats, will join the festivities for the first leg of the tour.
Although the Wombats are four albums in, they’re relatively unknown to most mainstream listeners in the States. For those who enjoy punchy melodies and catchy, quirky lyrics, the band is a must-listen.
The Wombats' lead singer, Matthew "Murph" Murphy, spoke with New Times ahead of his first visit to Coral Sky Amphitheatre and South Florida in general and discussed landing this dream gig and releasing the band's brilliant new LP, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life.
Once you booked this upcoming summer tour with the Pixies and Weezer, what was running through your head?
Fuck. To be honest, Radiohead, Weezer, the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, those four bands were so influential to us. We’ve gotten to play with 75 percent of them now. I don’t know — "it’s a dream come true" is sort of a cheesy thing to say, but I suppose it is.
Do you have a favorite Pixies track? A favorite Weezer track?
Probably "Pork and Beans.”
Weezer is a great karaoke band. Is that the song you would do for karaoke?
Yeah, probably, although I find that the best band for karaoke is Oasis. It just goes hand-in-hand with being drunk.
The Wombats are often categorized as Britpop. Is it strange to be stacked up against your heroes?
No, not really. It’s an honor, really. I mean, there were some pretty good choruses being written around those times. I think it’s great.
In an interview, you said the title of the new record, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, is a “bit tongue-in-cheek” and a “little bit sarcastic.” Have you had any personal experience with life-ruining beauties?
I guess all it’s saying is that the ones that are closest to you, the ones that you open yourself up to the most, are the ones capable of inflicting the most damage. I think that’s certainly true of monogamous relationships, but the damage is always kind of worth it.
So what else was different or intentional that you wanted to accomplish on this record?
I didn’t want to make another synthy record and I kind of wanted to, not necessarily go back to our roots, but it was more organic and more analog. It was a bit more sure of itself. That was definitely something I was pushing when we were recording and working with our producers. In terms of the writing, it was the same old thing, really: trying to find cool lyrics and ideas and stories that resonated with me.
You’ve said this album has more confidence, more swagger. How do you think that came to be?
Not pushing it too hard, like dialing everything up to 11. We grew up playing in pubs and clubs around the U.K., and one of the things we would do was make sure we were louder and more intense and more energetic than every other band, and maybe that’s one of the things people liked about us. Whereas on this one, we’re not a new band anymore. Let’s sink into our skin a little bit. Maybe not everything has to be turned up to 11. Not every guitar has to be creatively distorted and sound like a lawnmower.
Your lyrics are always clever and literate. Do you ever just come up with a line, fall in love with it, and decide, There’s a song in there?
Yeah, that’s pretty much how every song has worked for me. I’ll think of a lyric or a title or a chorus idea, and if I think it’s cool and interesting and it catches my eye, I’m happy to run with it. If the words or the lyrics aren’t weird or trippy or interesting, I kind of get bored with it quickly.
Are you a big English nerd? As in, are you a voracious reader?
No, not really [laughs]. I guess I’m fairly well-versed in some things, but I’m not a huge reader. I was quite good at English and poetry in school, but I don’t read as much as my lyrics would suggest.
Is it true that the band will be involved in something like four tours this year?
We’re doing like 40,000 miles in two weeks. Yeah, it’s crazy. Our carbon footprint is fucking insane. I’d rather be busy than not.
What’s the toughest part of being away that long from your family?
“I’m married with two kids, but they’re both dogs — no human kids yet. Obviously, I miss the sunshine in L.A. and the lifestyle and how ridiculous it is. I miss my wife and getting to sleep in the same bed and just doing relaxing stuff. I’m also aware that all of this is going to end one day. I’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. I’ve made a deal with myself that I’m going to keep working like a bastard into my 40s.
What would you like people to know about you?
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We’ve been together for nearly 15 years, and it still feels like we’re quite a new band in the U.S.
Does that ever bother you?
No, I like it. I don’t really expect anything from anyone. I like the challenge.
Weezer and the Pixies. With the Wombats. 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach; 561-795-8883; westpalmbeachamphitheatre.com. Tickets cost $17 to $71.50 via livenation.com.