Carl Marsh hears the distant call of the Hottest New Band klaxon and springs into action to interview the Isle Of Wight’s most festive viral indie duo Wet Leg, whose debut album follows a Cardiff 6 Music gig in April. One phone call later, he is reduced to a three-word mantra: “awkward and fun”.
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers are the Isle Of Wight-born and bred Wet Leg. In an unusually short time – they formed in 2019, and were introduced to most people around mid-2021 via debut single Chaise Longue – they have generated a substantial following based on a handful of songs and the power of YouTube. All of this means that Wet Leg gigs from this point onwards are being upgraded to bigger venues – domestically, and worldwide. Not bad for a band whose debut album isn’t even out until April.
I am not even allowed to hear this album, reasonably titled Wet Leg, ahead of Buzz’s phone interview slot. An hour before said interview, I’m informed that it won’t just be with Rhian, as originally planned, but with Hester too. I sit and wait for the phone to ring. “Hello Carl, it’s Rhian,” says Rhian. “And Hester,” adds Hester, in her whispery voice. Then, both in tandem, “And we’re from WET LEG!!” The band name is singsong-shouted to me.
“Carl – Buzz Carl – what’s the Buzz about?” asks Rhian. “Why does it say ‘Buzz Carl’ on this piece of paper?” I explain that it’s Buzz magazine in Wales, only for the conversation to proceed off on a surreal tangent. As you might expect it to if you’d seen any Wet Leg videos or listened to their song lyrics.
“I thought for a second it was like an instruction to buzz you. You know, like to call you. ‘Can you give Carl a buzz.’ It’s a bell though, isn’t it? People say a bell.” I laugh along, not for the last time today.
Wet Leg’s musical influences are rarely obvious: for this listener, The Sugarcubes are lodged in my head as a comparison point. Rhian says she’s never listened to them, before reconsidering: “No, that’s not true. I have listened to The Sugarcubes, but not too much. I was obsessed with Björk when I was 15.” Band influences, reckons Hester, “is a bit of this. It’s a bit of that. It’s a big question.”
“I’d say, to generalise, that we like more folky stuff,” says Rhian. “We like Bombay Bicycle Club, PJ Harvey. Then we have rock influences. The White Stripes, The Strokes, Kings of Leon…” I listen to them reel off more bands and genres for a couple of minutes. “So many!” I say, in that “yes I’m still on the line” sort of way. To which comes a chorus in unison: “SO MANY!”
I inform Rhian and Hester that it’s the first time I have interviewed any musicians who have a new album due out – let alone a debut – without being permitted to hear it. Rhian, who does most of the talking, informs me: “Because there actually is no album. It’s all a hoax. We’re just going to take all the preorder money and run.” I laugh again, then after a few seconds of silence, so do they.
I read out a quote from a previous Wet Leg interview, a claim to the effect of “this band wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously”. They both laugh for a short while until Rhian explains, “I don’t think we set out to be funny. We didn’t just want to be a comedy type of band or anything, but… [long pause] we’re still very much of that original kind of ethos – as long as we are having fun, let’s do it!”
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And having fun seems to be the mantra for the duo, as their videos demonstrate. Apart from last November’s Too Late Now, Rhian says, the pair have been in the creative driving seat for “the other three we have out – we filmed, edited and directed ourselves in Chaise Longue and Oh No, and we directed Wet Dream. We really like to have control over our videos, and it’s just really fun.”
With this in mind, I ask about the Komondor dog-esque rope suits worn by both for the Oh No clip. “It’s only the one suit, actually,” Hester says. “It was so heavy that we couldn’t do very much of anything except for sitting down.”
“Yeah, we didn’t have that many takes in us up and moving around,” Rhian adds. “I swear it must have been something like 50 kilos. That’s the weight of a person!” It does indeed look a bit of a challenge, especially at the end of the video where Hester visibly struggles along the Isle Of Wight beach.
“It was heavy. You could really feel the weight of the monster!” says Hester. “And it smelt really bad as it was wet. I’m not going to tell you what it smelt like… but we’re going to make a fragrance. That will be exciting. But we’ll have to keep that top secret.” We all laugh.
I try adding in a few serious questions – about their songwriting process, their imminent appearance in Cardiff for April’s 6 Music Festival, that sort of thing. All I get back is “In a dream” and “Well, I’ve never been,” as the respective answers. The surreal train keeps on moving along the track. OK, how about the video to Chaise Longue, which does not in fact feature a chaise longue at any point. What are we to conclude from this decision?
“We didn’t really make any decisions,” says Rhian. “No, we didn’t really think about it,” Hester adds. It’s too hard. We were flying by the seat of our pants!”
Reaching for a large glass of wine, I seek out Wet Leg’s take on social media, the contents of the proverbial comments box, and whether they ever take any notice of them.
“We try not to read them because it’s like any kind of trolling, and it’s bad for you to be on your phone,” says Rhian, “and then it’s the ultimate bad thing to be looking for what people are saying about you on the internet. Although, when we do accidentally get caught in that trolling, we’re at an age where we don’t take everything on from what a stranger on the internet has written because we have that perspective and self-assurance.”
Just as I think the jovial tide has turned in this interview, I ask about the album and its approximate period of gestation. “Kind of since we began, and right up until we went into the studio,” Hester says. “It feels like an all-encompassing state of being we’ve had since we started in 2018… 2019… 17? Ten… 10 thousand years ago!” Hester and Rhian both sing that last part and we all burst out laughing.
Are you like this all the time?
Rhian: “All the time.”
Hester: “It’s nice to hear you laugh because sometimes people are like, [serious voice] ‘OK, OK…’” [abandons serious voice, then laughs]
Both at once: “We think you’re great.”
I don’t think any interview I’ve ever done has been this simultaneously fun and awkward. Perhaps that’s the best way to sum up Wet Leg: fun and awkward. As time restrictions mean we must bring the interview to a close, I suggest it would be serendipitous for the next interviewer to ask Wet Leg about their musical influences at the start.
“We’ll never tell them. That was an exclusive. If you want to know, then you’ll have to ask Carl. So, is it OK to pass on your number?” Rhian says, and we laugh.
Wet Leg, Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Sun 3 Apr as part of the 6 Music Festival. Tickets: sold out. Info: here
Wet Leg is released on Fri 8 Apr on Domino. Info: wetlegband.com
words CARL MARSH