A return to Planet Murph

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HISTORY is littered with hastily made and unfulfilling second albums – so The Wombats wisely took their time making a sequel.

And then a bit more time...

But finally, a handful of delays, four producers and a rescheduled tour later the Liverpool trio are about to unleash The Wombats Proudly Present... This Modern Glitch (2010-Present).

“It’s changed release date four times now, to my knowledge, and I can see how that’s frustrating,” says writer/singer Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy.

“I’d like to think there’s a bit of mystery surrounding it. Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait for everyone.”

But there’s a good case of absence makes the heart grow fonder where The Wombats are concerned. Not least after the worldwide impact made with life-affirming début A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation.

Propelled by contagious singles Moving To New York, Backfire At The Disco, Let’s Dance To Joy Division and Kill The Director they circled the planet a couple of times, playing the Royal Albert Hall and to 10,000 at their hometown arena in the process, as well as every festival you could shake an over-priced hotdog at.

Murph admits the adventure had an effect on them. “Yeah, totally bonkers,” he recalls of the hurricane of popularity that carried the Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts veterans.

“It doesn’t feel like that while you’re doing it, but that’s essentially what it is. You feel like you’re in the eye of the storm and it’s just about manageable but it’s extremely draining and exhausting.

“Every day you live for this one hour of extreme adrenaline on stage in front of however many people.

“If you don’t have that one hour your entire day is built around, this one thing which is playing a show, when that gets taken away, you really don’t know what to do.

“So it took a long time for us to get back to normality after three years of rushing around and not really having much time to ourselves.

“It took at least five months to kind of come back down to earth and find inspiration.”

With every success story though comes pressure to repeat. Luckily, the band’s record label didn’t demand an instant sequel and Murph was left to find inspiration for the likes of taster singles Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves), Jump Into The Fog and new one Anti-D.

“Our label definitely pushed us and we pushed ourselves to be the best that we can. There were a couple of conversations where they said ‘We’d like it out before the summer’ but they were really good and encouraged us, beat us up when we needed to be battered and gave us as much time as we wanted, which is brilliant.

“Most labels would give you six months to write your second album.

“I wrote 34 songs and we played around with them together and toured with them so we have been fairly productive.

“We’ve got a few b-sides anyway and probably a few c and d-sides.”

Another aspect that helped as much as hindered, it seems, was the involvement of four producers.

In Los Angeles they used Rich Costey (Muse, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand) who mixed their first album, having already collaborated with Jacknife Lee (U2, Snow Patrol, R.E.M.) and Eric Valentine (Queens Of The Stone Age, Lostprophets). They finished with Butch Walker’s ‘plug in and play’ approach.

While that enabled them to can more trademark infectious punky hooks they also got to meddle with more leftfield ideas and darker lyrics, such as one prompted by a brief visit to a techno club.

“I would never normally do that, it’s not really my scene, and I initially said no about five times. Then I thought I would go.

“I only stayed there an hour but it was enough of a strange departure in my usual lifestyle to spark probably one of the best songs on the album.

“Other songs that people have heard are quite indicative but also our newest single is by far and away our biggest departure.

“The whole album is pretty much like eight singles. It seems we only write album tracks by default these days.

“We’ve spent a long time on each one of them whereas the first was essentially a punk album. They’re still Wombats songs, still pop songs essentially, we’ve just dressed them up differently, maybe spent a bit more time choosing their outfits.

“The album is very diverse, little adventures, it’s not ‘bang, bang, bang’ like the first album. Half of it’s quite up tempo but I’d like to think it’s a bit weightier – lyrically it definitely is. There are various layers and people can delve into it as much as they want – which you probably couldn’t on the first.”

First major glance comes next Friday when The Wombats finally return to The Leadmill for the show re-scheduled from January. So is Murph facing that with keen anticipation or trepidation?

“I’m extremely nervous and extremely excited,” he says.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do to sort out the live show, visuals and slightly bigger production now, but as soon as the first couple of gigs get out of the way I’ll be relaxed and really enjoying it.”