Wet Leg make party music for people who want to stay in—interview
“We released our first single six months ago, and now I’m sat in a hotel room in L.A.,” Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale says over the phone. “It’s really bizarre, and it’s really fun.”
Wet Leg are indeed here to have fun. It was a goal from the beginning, when Teasdale and Hester Chambers formed the band. “For Wet Leg, me and Hester did make that conscious decision to be like, ‘OK, we’re gonna make a band that makes music that we enjoy playing and doesn’t take itself too seriously,’” Teasdale says.
That was clear when the Isle of Wight duo dropped their first single, “Chaise Longue,” in June, which introduced the world to Wet Leg’s signature formula: lighthearted melodies, laid-back vocals, laugh-out-loud lyrics, loud guitars and bouncy choruses. In the six months since it came out, Wet Leg have played shows in the U.S. and U.K., appeared on TV and been named the buzziest band of the moment — despite having only released a grand total of four songs. “We feel so lucky to be in the position that we’re in, and it is a lot of luck as well. I think we’re just riding this weird wave and seeing where it takes us,” Teasdale says.
That wave is taking them on tours on both sides of the Atlantic in 2022, with dates already selling out. “When me and Hester are told that something’s sold out quite quickly, it’s just an exchange of looks, and then we start laughing because it’s just so silly,” Teasdale says, showing that their sense of humor isn’t just confined to their music.
You’re releasing your first album April 8. What can you tell me about that?
RHIAN TEASDALE: We recorded it with Dan Carey at his studio in Streatham [South London], and he’s worked with loads of people. I knew about him because of Squid and Fontaines D.C. — he’s done records with them. I think we spent two or three weeks recording it. We’d recorded the whole album before we’d released our first single, so that was probably quite an unconventional way of doing things, but it was nice as well. Also, we hadn’t played any shows when we’d recorded it. We’d literally played like four shows ever with this band. It was quite nerve-wracking because it’s someone that I really, really admired, and I still do. The impostor syndrome hit pretty big time. Everything with this, you just have to feel the fear and do it anyway because I think everyone feels impostor syndrome.
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The first day was so scary, and after recording the album, now he’s a really good friend of ours and this really, really important person in the whole Wet Leg journey. It was super fun, and I think that was something that was really important for us when we chose to work with each other. There was this common ground of it has to be fun. Sometimes when you’re recording music, it can be the driest experience ever. It can be so boring and also really stressful as well if you’re put in a little glass box with headphones and you get counted in for the take. It takes away all of the vibe of playing live.
So something that Dan likes to do is record everyone playing together live to tape so that it keeps that live feel. We would record all the bass and drum parts together in one take, and then me and Hester would do our guitars on top of that to tape. So you had the whole bare bones of the song with that nice live energy on it, and then we’d go in and overdub parts. It was a really lovely process and not anything that I’ve ever experienced before in any previous bands.
Can you tell me anything about what the album sounds like? Or if there are any themes, lyrically, on it?
Someone described it as sad music for party people and party music for sad people. I think that’s such a nice way to put it because there is a lot of humor in it, but then at the same time, there’s this sarcasm to it as well. I think I’m quite a sarcastic person, and I’m certainly quite a sarcastic songwriter in a way — maybe sarcastic isn’t the word. Maybe…dry humor. It’s got lots of fun moments on it, but then I think, despite [how] earlier, I said, “Oh, I’m trying to not write sad, introspective stuff for this band,” some days you just can’t really help it. Some days, those are the kind of topics that come out in your songwriting.
Were there any topics you found yourself particularly drawn to?
There are a few breakup songs on there. I had a breakup. Maybe like two or three [songs] are probably to do with that breakup. Good times. I wonder if he’ll listen to it. Probably not. [Laughs.]
Are there any in the vein of “Too Late Now”?
I can think of one that’s a bit like [it]. It’s called “Angelica,” and it’s about that disenchantment with that kind of party lifestyle that you have when you’re younger. You know when you make plans, and you’re like, “OK, definitely not gonna flake this time,” and then you just flake out? I think I do that quite a lot in life, make plans that I can’t keep because I’m just like, “Oh, I think I’ll just stay in instead.”
Are there any songs on the album that show a different side to Wet Leg that we haven’t seen yet?
Hester sings a song on the album [called “Convincing”]. She’s lead vocals on it, and she just has the most gorgeous voice. So I’m really excited for people to hear that because it’s so great. It’s such a beautiful moment on the album. I think [the album] goes from super silly, pumped up-ness to a bit more subdued and a bit darker and a bit sad, and I think we tried to consider everything in our tracklisting. When we put the tracklisting together, we listened to it in so many different orders, and it had such a different feel to the album. Hopefully some people will listen to it as an album and enjoy it like that. Because it’s [got] lots of ups and downs.
This interview first appeared in issue #402 (22 for ’22), available here.