Isn’t it great making unexpected discoveries during the wee wee hours? Whilst most others are asleep, you’re burning the midnight oil – stumbling upon your new favourite musician, author, actor or recipe for a new breakfast sandwich that you’ll definitely be making the next day.
A few years back, whilst mindlessly scouring the internet (for breakfast sandwich recipes – let’s face it), I came across Glaswegian trio Algernon Doll. Having caught their name popping up again and again on Twitter, I decided to get in on the action. Listening to what would turn out to be their final album, I was captivated from the infectious opening riff of ‘Spilt Milk Perfume’ all the way through to the chilling ‘Pheromone’.
Months on from that initial late-night listening session, Algernon Doll played a show in Manchester. Whilst it suffered from being mid-week and slightly out of the way for some, Algernon Doll still made sure the trip from Glasgow was worthwhile. I even managed to grab a copy of their last record ‘Omphalic’, which I’m happy to report has remained on regular rotation in Birthday Cake For Breakfast HQ ever since.
This discovery came at just the right time, as it wasn’t long before Algernon Doll knocked it on the head. But with Algernon Doll dead in the water, this allowed Ewan Grant, the brains behind the operation, to kickstart a new project – WOMPS. With Owen Wicksted on drums and an assortment of friends filling in on bass duties as and when, their explosive start came in the form of the fantastic ‘Live A Little Less’, out last October on Damnably.
Hitting the ground running, WOMPS were straight in the studio to work on their debut album. A daunting task sure enough, even more so thousands of miles from home at Electrical Audio in Chicago, with legendary singer-songwriter/producer Steve Albini sitting behind the desk.
Their debut album, the hook-laden ‘Our Fertile Forever’, is out next week on June 10th through Displaced Records.To mark the occasion, WOMPS drummer Owen was kind enough to field a handful of questions from Birthday Cake For Breakfast.
BCFB: WOMPS formed “out of the ashes” of Algernon Doll – How have people taken to the name change and new material you’ve been putting out?
Owen: The reaction has been mixed but pretty positive so far. We don’t really place any worth in a name though. Look at Arctic Monkeys: terrible name, great band. Generally, we’re a lot happier with what we’re making and it’s nice to know some people are digging the change.
How has it been to put an end to Algernon Doll and start afresh? Was there any particular motivation to shift to WOMPS?
WOMPS is a completely different thing from Algernon Doll. We did a lot of cool things with AD but that was always just Ewan’s thing. We wanted to start WOMPS as a fresh start with a more focussed and collaborative creative output. This means that as well as songwriting, everything else has changed and opened up discussion wherever discussion is due.
You’ve recently been stateside for SXSW – First time at South By? How were the shows for you boys?
Yeah that was our first time at SXSW but we fully intend to go back next year. The shows were great. Each show was very well attended and the atmosphere was always super welcoming and positive.
Your debut album ‘Our Fertile Forever’ is out this summer. You were in the studio with Steve Albini in Chicago, right? How were those sessions working with Albini?
Working with Albini was surprisingly comfortable and easy. We wanted to work with Steve for a few reasons, but mainly the fact that we could play live in one room and have it compliment our performance. Steve did exactly what we wanted him to do with next to no issues. It’s incredible what he can do with a live band, some old gear and some fart jokes.
Besides the finished product, what did you come away with from that experience?
Besides the actual recording of the LP, we definitely learnt a few lessons from Steve and the team at Electrical Audio. They were all very supportive and reassuring in that what we were doing was right for us if it felt right for us. It’s pretty common to have people reach out with advice and direction etc, and that’s fine. But what the EA team gave us was a bit of confidence to trust ourselves and have our own opinions. They’re all such great people and come from pretty much the same backgrounds as us, so their words and hospitality were really valuable to us.
How did the album come together? What sort of stance did you take with the writing process under this new moniker?
The album was done in different sections. We tracked 10 or 11 songs in Chicago as Algernon Doll. We then formed WOMPS a few months later, wrote a few songs and recorded them with Steve during a separate session. At the end of last year we worked with Glasgow based engineer/producer Chris Marshall. We wrote and recorded 3 new songs and those definitely have a distinctive sound on the LP.
We just try to keep all writing and recording equally organic. If someone gets tired or isn’t into it then we just won’t do it. No point in giving a half-assed performance.
What did you take inspiration from during this period?
Nothing in particular was inspirational during this time. I think we’ve definitely become a lot more confident in our ideas though. We never spend too much time analysing the songs, the performance or the production. If they sound good to us then we’re happy.
The debut 7” you put out through Damnably had a really striking cover and the new album looks to follow very much in the same vein. Who’s behind the art design for WOMPS, and what sort of message are you putting out with ‘Our Fertile Forever’?
Glasgow based graphic designer Steven Hill has done the majority of the artwork for WOMPS, including releases, shirts and stickers.
For photography and a lot of the art direction, we look to Martin D Barker. He’s an immensely talented artist and we work together on a lot of the concepts. The concept was an ancient Greco Roman Goddess of Fertility but modern. The message is open to interpretation but think of “Our Fertile Forever” as a “glass half-full” musing on eternity and go from there maybe.
Apparently it offended some people and I struggle to see how, but it’s a great way of steering unwanted listeners away from our music.