Wet Leg's Wet Ride: "It’s been like a wild wave that we’re just kind of holding on to"
Less than a year on from dropping their landmark single Chaise Longue, lead vocalist Rhian Teasdale talks unconventional career paths, the weirdness of online comments, dealing with new found fame and their debut album
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, together known as Wet Leg, have been having a bit of a dream start to their band’s career. Childhood friends growing up on the Isle of Wight away from the bustle of mainland England, the duo decided to form a band with a playful, mysterious name and subsequently each get a gold necklace with “Wet” and “Leg” on them, an aesthetic that fits their vibe perfectly.
When the world went into lockdown is when the Wet Leg career twist emerged - the pair went on to record their debut album and subsequently signed to Domino Recording Co. all before ever playing a live show or releasing a single, a testament to the quality of this LP and the work they’ve put in.
Bursting onto the indie radar with the unstoppable earworm that is Chaise Longue in June 2021, a track that went on to take the world and Australia by storm, the Wet Leg hype train has only gathered steam with each successive single and tour announcements, including Australia in July.
After what feels like a longer wait than it’s probably been, Wet Leg’s debut, self-titled album of fun and frantic indie rock, post-punk and power pop is finally out on Friday, April 8, so we caught up with Rhian to find out all about it!
I’m not even going to ask what `Wet Leg “means”, but I know you both have the necklaces so I’m curious how long “Wet Leg” has been a “thing” between you two?
I guess since the very beginning before we even like, had any songs really. You know, when you're like a kid and you're like, “Okay, let's start a band… what are we going to call it?” And then like you think of the name before you've even like, done anything. *laughs*
I can’t help but feel like that is somehow appropriate for the band’s general trajectory so far, in the sense that you had a full album recorded before ever playing a live show or releasing a single? How?
How? Lockdown! Yeah so I guess it was pretty unconventional, but I’m oh so glad that that is the order that we did it in. So we recorded Chaise Longue, and the lockdown happened and I’m like “well, we’re not doing our jobs, so shall we make a music video for like, a few recordings that we’ve got?”. And then kind of made some more demos in that time, and then some more music videos, just kind of like collated a little package of Wet Leg stuff of what our band would be. Then we happened to find management and our management sent our stuff to Domino, and Domino were like “this is very niiiiccceee” and we’re like “you’re very niiiicccee” *laughs*
Yeah they signed us without ever coming to a gig cos like we’d only played four before that anyway, so it kind of worked in our favour, but it left me and Hester feeling a little bit like we tricked them.
Yeah wild, almost like “imposter syndrome”?
Yeah, little bit, little bit…. Completely.
And you pre-empted my next question about landing on Domino for your debut record, so sick!?
Yeah! We’ve just got like a real good manager. I guess we didn’t shop around too much - he sent our stuff to a really small indie label, a big indie label being Domino, and then a major label, and that was enough. There’s no point in kind of shopping around more than that, especially when Domino were interested. They’re just like a label that have been on mine and Hester’s radar since we were growing up and first starting to get into music. So yeah, it’s a no brainer, really.
Absolutely, can’t imagine you on any other label at this point! So you mentioned in conjunction with lockdown and recording more demos, you started work on some music videos, which are all so wacky and cool that I’d love to hear more about - do either of you have a background in film?
Yeah, I was doing wardrobe assistant stuff for TV commercials and sometimes the odd music video, but I think doing that, and seeing stuff being pieced together and seeing that a lot of it is having really great equipment, but also a lot of it is just having an idea and kind of grafting. So I think it made the idea of making a homemade music video a bit more accessible… cos yeah, we didn’t know what we were doing.
Well you could have fooled me! Speaking of your time as a wardrobe assistant, I was hoping you could tell us about the hectic costume featured in the video for “Oh No?”... like how much did it weigh?!
Oh my god, it was sooo heavy! It took like three of us to carry it down the steps to the beach. It’s so heavy. I haven’t weighed it, but it must be about 50 kilograms. It’s a lot. We’re gonna start a workout class *laughs*
And the other big part of the video that caught my attention - I like a lot of people probably was pausing it every split second to try and read all of these YouTube/social media comments people have left Wet Leg that you included - some are hilarious, some are infuriating and some are just plain weird, can you tell us about that?!
Yeah, it’s really funny. Me and my friend put those in kind of towards the end of it. So I’d completed the video and my friend Lava [La Rue] was just gonna like put the graphics on top… and then we were like “wouldn’t it be really funny if we put like loads of comments” - I don’t know how it came about!
And then yeah, we kind of painstakingly went through all of like the good, the bad the just like… I don’t know, I don’t comment on videos or people’s social media. To me it’s so perplexing to think - like one of the comments was “Wet ya Leg!” and so I can’t imagine the though process of someone going like “Ah *fake typing motion* yeeeaaahhh!”
It’s just so funny to me and so I think it was really important to get a good mix of the really kind things, the really harsh things - ouch! - and the just like “what am I even saying?! Who are you?!” *laughs*
Yeah the weird ones were definitely my favourite! So you said that you don’t personally leave comments, and as someone who doesn’t have millions of people leaving comments this might be easy for me to say, do you actually care about any of the comments people leave? All I ever seem to hear is artists saying “don’t read the comments, don’t read the comments”.
Yeah it’s just such a strange thing going from being like, completely anonymous to having some kind of online presence - not massive, but like, we do have one and people can like say whatever they want on our videos, and it's just been quite funny, like quite strange to me.
People do say don't read the comments, but I don't know, sometimes you just can't help it. So I think it was kind of nice to put that in the video for a song that is kind of basically about Doom Scrolling, just to like, “put some Doom Scrolling in there la la la la la” *laughs* It’s kind of quite therapeutic actually.
I can only imagine, and it worked so well for the video. Now I’m just going over the timeline in my head, for some reason it feels like you have been around for a lot longer like 2019 or something - nope, June of last year, so you’ve had to get used to all of this online attention in the space of what, nine months or something?
Yeah, it’s been like a wild wave that we’re just kind of holding on to, not knowing when it’s gonna end, where it’s gonna go… just kind of riding it. It’s so funny, it’s so unexpected - we’ll see, it’ll be nice to have the album out, it might make us feel more kind of at home once we put a few more bits out.
And while this interview will be published the week of album release, we’re chatting a good two months before that, so we’re in that kind of - not limbo period, but you’ve had it mastered and ready for a while now I’m guessing so you must be a bit just like… hurry up?!
Yeah, all of our interviews are kind of like “oh so the album, are you excited for it to come out?”...yeah? *laughs*
You’ll notice I haven’t asked you that specific question *laughs* So you’re coming to Australia later in the year including playing Splendour and then also supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs - how cool?!
Yeah! Me and Hester are gonna be like, awkward foreign girls outside the dressing room probably, like, “sign my boobs! Sign my boobs!” *laughs*
What are you looking forward to about Australia? Have you heard anything about touring?
I haven’t heard stuff about touring around there, around your parts. But - hang on a minute - is it gonna be not really sunny? Because it’s technically your winter in the summer?
Like, yeah, and you’re not coming to Perth which is basically summer all year round… but odds are you’ll get lots of sun, Winter here is basically summer in - actually, I’ve been meaning to ask, where are you based now?
Hester’s on the Isle of Wight still and I’m pretty much in London.
Interesting… So Hester’s kind of keeping it real?
Yeeeaah, I can’t keep it real… it’s like, I’ve tried. It’s just like going back to like childhood, kind of growing up, I just “noooo..”
Yeaahh I had to do that like 5 years ago very briefly, moving home with mum - I was like “oh, this is beautiful… but I’m also only here as long as I need to be!”
Exactly. Beautiful but like, fucking get me out of here *laughs*
What was it like growing up on the Isle of Wight? Was there much of a live music scene growing up? Or could you just kind of hop on a ferry sort of thing?
Well, when you’re fifteen or sixteen and you want to go to a gig, you could get on a ferry, but they are quite expensive, and you just don’t have any money when you’re that age. You’d always miss the last song of a band’s set because like, you’d have to rush for the last ferry . So it was a bit of a mission to go and see any live music, but we did have two festivals - we had Bestival and Isle of Wight Festival.
So that was kind of where we would get our fix of going and seeing music, so that kind of had to do. For me and Hester growing up there weren’t really any music venues, and also it’s really expensive for touring bands to come over, it’s just not worth the trip for them. So yeah, it’s quite isolated in that sense.
You know, you’ve got lots of time to make your own fun and make your own music and get into bands, whereas like I find living in London, a lot of my time is spent going to the pub talking about how I’m in a band rather than actually like doing anything, you know what I mean?
I do *laughs* So it’s almost like, imagine if you two had grown up in London, maybe we wouldn’t have Wet Leg, ya know?
Yeah! There’s something to be said for it, like being born out of just rolling around in fields.
Sounds like heaven to me! So you’ve got the album coming out, tour… what else are you looking forward to for the rest of the year, on a band level, on a personal level?
Personally, I’m moving into a new house with my three gal pals which I’m very, very excited for because I've been doing a bit of sofa surfing for the past few months, so I'm really looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to going back to the states, visiting some of the smaller towns - not smaller towns, but I don't know we went to LA San Fran in New York last time, so it'd be fun to do more exploring. We’re going on a tour bus!
Siiicckk, have you ever done that?
No! I’ve never been on a tour bus!
I just think of getting stopped and searched for drugs on a tour bus - til that’s happened, you haven’t really “made it”, right?
That’s so funny - I just think of all the arguments that are going to break out because someone is definitely going to do a poo and apparently, you’re not allowed to… I can blame someone else *laughs* Yeah, excited for tour bus antics.