Interview: Wet Leg on their unexpected fame, debut album
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers don’t take themselves too seriously – even the name of their group, Wet Leg, was born from the combination of random emojis on a keyboard. “It’s a great way to find band names,” confirms Chambers, 27.
Teasdale and Chambers are sitting at the Ace Hotel in Brooklyn in early December, fresh from a goofy session inside the lobby photo booth. This is the British duo’s first time in New York, and so far the experience has exceeded their expectations of a place they’ve only seen on sex in the city. “We just want to take a big step,” says Teasdale, 28. “Pretend we’re in the movies.”
They are shocked by many aspects of the city, from the astronomical portions of breakfast at a restaurant (Teasdale: “It was so intense”) to SantaCon, the annual Christmas mayhem convention dreaded by city dwellers (Chambers: “ I want to see this in action!”). But more than anything, they’re still trying to deal with their sudden success. When we meet, they talk about their recent US TV debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “I feel like it’s not me,” Teasdale says. “Especially since my hair is so beautiful.”
It’s the sardonic, English charm of Wet Leg – a band that’s captured everyone’s attention since Iggy Pop for Dave Grohl for Michel Gandolfini. With singles like “Chaise Longue” and “Wet Dream” dripping with post-punk riffs and witty sexual innuendo, they went from unknowns to highly anticipated rookie artists within weeks. And they’re just as surprised as you are.
At the mere mention of the band signing with Domino in November 2020, they interpret what could easily be a bit, but it’s really just how they communicate with each other. “Because there were no concerts, we couldn’t show up, which is very strange,” Chambers says. “I was always worried — like, oh my god, when they see I can’t really play guitar, they’re going to be like, ‘Excuse me. We need to …'”
“…’Take back the contracts,'” Teasdale interjects, pretending to tear up a piece of paper. They burst out laughing, Chambers’ fingers – most adorned with rings – playing with her braids.
During a recent show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, fans screamed with every word of “Chaise Longue,” which the duo wrote at home during the 2019 Christmas break. Chambers was cooking dinner and Teasdale was eating cookies while they combed their hair freely, packing in mean girls references (“Do you want us to love someone to butter your muffin?”) and a call and response of “Excuse me” and “What?”
The video for “Chaise Longue” – which features Teasdale and Chambers in long white peasant dresses and straw hats – has more than three million views on YouTube. “We weren’t making a conscious effort to write anything,” Teasdale says. “He came out of that 13-year-old girl’s slumber party headspace.”
It’s headspace that got Wet Leg this far – and their cool, nonchalant attitude about it all. “It takes a lot of effort to sound this carefree and laid back,” Teasdale says with a smile, a line as sarcastic as one of their songs.
Grow on the Isle of Wight, Teasdale and Chambers spent their youth attending festivals and hanging out with friends on the beach. “We’re crammed into this tiny little island,” Teasdale said. “Lots of barbecues, lots of camping with your friends, lots of teenage drinking.”
Chambers grew up in a musical family, learning to play the piano at a young age as his mother passed on her musical tastes to him: the Moody Blues, the Velvet Underground, Nick Drake, Aretha Franklin and lots of David Bowie.
Teasdale and Chambers each have three siblings, and Teasdale credits her with musical knowledge. “I was able to access their iTunes when iTunes was a thing,” she says. “Stealing my sister’s music, I discovered Björk, Radiohead, Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart.”
Teasdale and Chambers met at Isle of Wight College, where both were studying the music industry for their BTEC, an extended performing arts degree. “We didn’t really hang out much when we first met,” Chambers says, turning to face Teasdale. “You were quite intimidating because you were very cool, and I was very much in my shell.”
“I was in Group B, you were in Group A,” Teasdale replies. “You were in the cool group.
It’s safe to say that both members of Wet Leg are pretty cool, which they didn’t set out to be when they formed. “When we started Wet Leg, there was a firm, solid decision that it wasn’t a serious band,” Teasdale says, noting that she couldn’t even play guitar when they started. “The object of the game was just to have fun. It doesn’t matter if people judge us. We’re just gonna do it, ’cause why not? It took us so long to get here. »
“It was scary for sure,” Chambers adds. “Be in [our] in your mid-20s and as you get older, you think to yourself, ‘Are people going to laugh at me? Is this allowed?’ But in fact, it is, and you just have to do it.
That of the group The self-titled debut album, out April 8, also includes single “Wet Dream,” a cheeky pop stunner where the dreamer in question is challenged with defiant frankness: “What makes you think you’re enough good/To think of me when you touch?
Teasdale says “Wet Dream” came together as spontaneously as “Chaise Longue,” including the line on a movie she saw when she was 14: “You said, ‘Baby, you wanna come to the home with me? / I got Buffalo ’66 on DVD.'” “I think I just wanted to put ‘DVD’ in a song, because it’s so funny that nobody watches it anymore,” she said.
There are a lot of never-before-seen gems on wet legalso, from the triumphant opener, “Being in Love”, to “Supermarket”, inspired by a friend’s drug dealer during the pandemic (the chorus: “We got too highhhhhhh“).
“It was obviously a dry spell, because nobody goes to parties or anything,” Teasdale says. “They were sending really lovely text messages with all the specials: ‘Fabulous Fridays! Buy one get one free!'”
Several songs were not included in the 12-track album, such as “I Want to Be Abducted (By a UFO)”. “We’re thinking about bringing it back, resurrecting it,” Chambers said. (The punctuation in the title is a point of contention: “Perhaps brackets, because otherwise it could have quite dark connotations,” adds Teasdale.)
South by southwest this month, Wet Leg were by far the liveliest band to catch – the subject of long queues outside venues and frantic social media posts throughout the week. The duo themselves had a relatively cold time in Texas. “Favorite people I saw were Sasami and self-esteem,” Teasdale wrote in an email afterwards. “I think we all forgot to eat a little bit, but we had a few good visits to Torchy’s Tacos.”
Wet Leg’s ever-growing fanbase compelled them to upgrade their venues on their first full North American tour. Instead of playing at the 650-seat Williamsburg Music Hall in New York, they recently performed a sold-out show to an almost three times larger crowd at Brooklyn Steel, and this week they will be heading to the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. .
Teasdale takes it all in the same loose, light stride that got us listening to Wet Leg in the first place. “The improvements were like putting on shoes that were too big for you and learning to hobble in them,” she says, “and hopefully no one notices that you’re walking weird.”