“I was always like ‘I wanna be like Dave Grohl!’. Because I loved Nirvana when I was younger and I was always like ‘I wanna do that!’” – Dan Haggis
We met Dan Haggis, drummer of the British indie rock band The Wombats, on a lovely sunny day in Berlin the other day and had a chat about the bands 4th studio album, time travels, their little Wombat fellow and about fashion of course.
Tord was joining us very spontaneously for our polaroid session at Astra backyard, in case you’re wondering why Tord is on some of our photos as well.
Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us on this lovely and sunny Sunday, Dan! How has Berlin treating you so far?
We’re good, we had a day off yesterday in Berlin, with a hangover from Prague. Berlin is such a nice city, we had a good walk and such nice food. We went to Mitte, to a vegan Vietnamese restaurant, it was really good!
How does it feel to play another show at Astra again? You already played this venue many times before.
Yeah I think it’s maybe 4 times. I mean when we first came here, it’s like obviously the location with the trains, all the graffiti and you’re like ‘is there going to be a gig here?’ and the atmosphere is always o good at this venue.
Is it a bit like coming home then?
Yeah, it’s really nice! I remember one time when we sat on the roof there. When the weather is nice, it’s a very memorable venue!
When you woke up this morning, what was the first thing that came into your mind?
I was thinking about the dream that I had last night. You know when you have a really vivid dream and deep sleep? I was trying to get to that country that doesn’t exist, in my mind it was like a sort of Scandinavia-ish, somewhere over there. But there were no flights to get there and so it was quite a stressful dream. There was a guy who was gonna take me in this really small plane, but I was like ‘No no no I don’t wanna do that across the North-sea!’. There was a train to go and then take a plane. I got on the wrong train and ended up somewhere else. I also ended up walking for like miles and miles and miles and I never got there.. So the whole dream was just like me trying to get there and actually never arriving! Whatever that means (laughs).
What would you say are the best personally traits of Matthew and Tord?
Tord, probably his pragmatism. He’s quite organised, which is good for me and Murph, we’re less organised. It’s a good complementary, personally trait for him to have.
And Murph probably his ridiculousness. His unique way of being, he’s a funny guy (laughs)!
Have you ever wanted to become musicians when you were younger?
Almost as long as I can remember really! I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. I played in an orchestra from when I was 7. And I started playing the violin when I was 5. Then I started playing drums when I was like 11 or 12 and from that on I was always like ‘I wanna be like Dave Grohl!’. Because I loved Nirvana when I was younger and I was always like ‘I wanna do that!’. I think it’s kind of the same for Murph and Tord, really. We were all in bands from when we were 14, 15. Tord was even younger I think. Just that excitement to play music with your friends, like the first time you’re creating something and other people the listen to. And you’ve worked together as a team with your friends and you made something that’s like sounds good – or not, when you’re that age (laughs), but you know..
We think you’re doing well (winking)!
(laughs) Oh yeah we’re getting there now!
After more than 10 years of touring and several places you’ve been to and you’ve played with The Wombats, what was the most impressive experience/country/place or venue you’ve been to?
It obviously kinda changes from year to year, the most recent ones often stay in your mind more, but I keep coming back to when we played the Sydney Opera House. We did two nights there, both nights sold out. Like amazing vibe in there and obviously such a very special and iconic building. It was almost like a stamp of approval that they let us play that venue. None of us could believe that, when our manager said guys we’re gonna do two nights in the Sydney Opera House, we were like ‘fucking hell!’. All our family and friends they were almost like they take you more seriously in a way, it’s like you’re a proper band now (laughs). And his was just such a fun night. There was like a grand piano in the backstage looking out over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and it was just like ‘this is too good to be true!’. We don’t know how we made it here, but yeah (smiles). And we all wore suits, like James Bond kinda style, it was a special day – a special two days!
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Again it changes probably quite a bit and it’s kinda hard to pick a favourite one, but at the moment I think it’s ‘I don’t know why I like you but I do’. It’s the last song on our new album and it’s just a bit more like dreamy and for me rhythmically like in the chorus it kinda goes into that different rhythm and it’s a bit more chill. But also it has a heavy riff in it, it’s so fun to play! So I go for that one!
‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ – have you ever had a worse experience with a ‘handsome’ human being and how did you came up with the idea for the title of your new record?
We had a lot of titles coming back and forth on WhatsApp, between the three of us and that title it just always stuck out. I remember when Murph first sent that I was like ‘uhhh’ and it just always stuck out. It’s kinda confusing, it’s more of a broad thing. Like the people you love the most, that you find beautiful to you, it doesn’t mean physically handsome, but it’s like those people that you admire and find the most beautiful as people they are the ones that could do the most damage. Cause obviously you care more about what they’re saying and what they are doing. Whether you’re having an argument with your girlfriend or someone in your family or whatever.
Do you have any childhood heroes?
Superman! I remember I used to go to bed every night and I was like ‘Please let me able to fly in the morning, please!’ And I used to wake up and be like (sobs).. I had a Superman outfit and I used to ran around the house and be like (imitates an iconic jingle).
Your mascot is a wombat puppet. What’s the name of this lovely little fellow and what was the most funny thing that ever happened on tour with this wombat?
(laughs) We had a Wombats called Cherib, originally and then we lost him, many years ago in an airport in Oslo.
That’s so sad..
Yeah it really did feel like loosing a pet. It was like loosing something that you’ve loved. It was kinda strange for us to feel that attached to a stuffed animal, a cuddly toy. recently we’ve got a new one, he’s called Fred. I think it’s Fred Pomwell Haggismurphyknudsen or something. It was like all our name in there! But he’s gone as well. We did a gig in Paris recently and there was this little 7 year old girl, who was the daughter of the promoter and we were carrying our stuff down the stairs in this venue and she was just there and I said ‘Can you help us with this? You carry Fred for us?’ and she loved strolling around with him. And then later on that night we were like ‘where is Fred gone?’, she’s just taken him home with her. So he’s in good hands! So we have to get another one probably..
If you could be an animal, which one would you go for and why?
I wanna be able to fly, so I probably go for top of the food-chain in bird world, so maybe like a golden eagle. Like a majestic kinda bird! Or an albatross maybe, flaying around at see – I like the idea of that! (smiles)
If you’d be able to do a time travel, would you go back in time or see what the future holds for you?
Can i do both? No?! (laughs) I’d probably go forward. I feel like you can learn a lot about history. You will never know exactly what it’s like, but you got a feeling for what it’s like. I’d like to go to 2300, quite really a few hundred years in the future and just have a little look what it’s gonna be like. I don’t think we can even imagine what it’s actually gonna be like. I mean psy-fi movies, but there are so many different versions of what the future looks like, from so many different people and yeah I’d go forwards!
How would you describe your style in fashion and what influences you in the way you dress?
Well it’s kinda weird ‘cause I sort of don’t really give a shit about clothes. Which sometimes led me to wear pajamas in stage. I like ridiculous things, something that makes me laugh. You know if I look in the mirror and it makes me go (laughs), I like the fact that I get a reaction our of it ‘cause at the moment it’s just practical. Like when it’s warm I just wear shorts, doesn’t really matter what they are. I think when you’re younger, you go through different phases, don’t you? I think everyone does that and it was normally linked to music fo me and probably for lots of people. I got really into more like metal and rock stuff so I was wearing baggier jeans and t-shirts with band names on, that kinda thing. And spiking my hair up and I had a piercing. And then I got more into like folk music, so I started wearing more like cords and checked shirts and things. And then I think now, I’m just like in between, a mixture of whatever. I don’t really have necessarily a set style, probably just not a very fashion conscious person and I hate shopping, that’s my biggest problem! I don’t mind shopping in second hand markets, but whenever I’m shopping in shops I get anxious and feel like just another sheep on this thread mill, like buying whatever just for the sake of buying stuff, unless I really need it. I’m not one of those people who just go and buy, but I really admire people who love fashion and find different ways to express themselves. For me it’s music and not really clothes so much, probably.
Well maybe you should go for some tailored stuff then!
Yeah hand made, I love that! Like these shoes (points at his trainers).
They are hand made?
Yeah! They made 604! It was in Vancouver. They had like a shop, that looked like an art gallery. And they had like 7 or 8 different paintings on the wall by local artists and each of the paintings they were giving like 20 percent of the profits to a local charity that the artist chose themselves. And this was like a water colour of Vancouver itself! And they make 604 of each shoe, and the artist gets the money to support local artists and the charity and things like that is amazing, it’s such a good idea!
Do you have an indispensable piece of clothing?
Probably these shoes, yeah! I’ve worn these every day since I got them. But then I play drum in my old Converse, that I’ve had for like literally 7 or 8 years, they’re my drum shoes – very indispensable on tour!
What did you pack in your suitcase – do you have any travel essentials?
My drum shoes, a pair of trainers to go running and do some exercise, a pajama for the bus. I don’t really wear pajamas at home!
Oh why not?
I just sleep naked I guess.. (laughs) But on the bus, ‘cause it’s other people around, you need pajamas
Music is … (try to pick just one word)
Thanks so much for the lovely chat, Dan! If you haven’t heard ‘Beautiful People will Ruin Your Life’ yet, you should definitely do so! Also check out The Wombats website for march and tour dates and email us, when you’ll ever see Cherib or Fred or send us some photos of the little lost fellow!
xx smoke and echoes