“Before Wet Leg, electric guitars scared me a lot, because they made it sound so loud,” Hester Chambers said almost in a low voice in an interview with The Independent. Despite his almost cheeky and raunchy songs, his bandmate, singer Rhian Teasdale, seems to share this shy or reserved character. Although this reaction could also be due to the fact that the duo from the Isle of Wight, UK, are still unaware of the meteoric rise they have enjoyed since their publication. lounge chair, the single that triggered the alert last year.
Dave Grohl assured that “Wet Leg is about to conquer the United States”, without hiding that he and his friends sometimes stay until the wee hours of the morning listening to his songs. However, when composing lounge chair, what went through their minds did not reach a wide audience. “We were up really late at night, and it was a song that was supposed to be just for us, in a folder called High Jams’.”, said the singer.
“I loved those evenings. Just listen the next morning to everything we had done and say “Oh my God”. We were very happy with something that’s actually pretty dumb,” Chambers added. Although some interviewers tried to ascribe “political agendas” to the song, for Teasdale that’s not the case, “we passed just a good time, and that’s good.”
Their debut album is basically done like that. Much of the material was written before it was signed, so there is a laid back vibe. The lyrics are playful and witty, and the music mixes dream pop, punk and indie rock. Her second single, wet dream, it was called “too obscene” to be played on radio. “That was fun, wasn’t it?” Teasdale asks Chambers. “I think if we were female rappers, they probably wouldn’t even mention it.”
The guitarist agreed, “Yeah, that’s weird. We did something a few months ago where we were asked to censor ‘shave my rat’, in the lyrics of Too late now. I really don’t understand why.” For Teasdale, being asked something like that is “making it embarrassing whether or not to shave your rat.”
A lot of their songs have this edgy, childish, brilliant spirit. Your mom, for example, it was written when Teasdale reflected on a relationship where “you’re always walking behind someone.” It’s fine to be in love and all, but it’s also fine to feel motivated and push yourself and your own goals and aspirations. Sometimes when you’re so focused on trying to get someone to like you, it takes a lot of energy that you could invest in something else.”
The duo have a sisterly dynamic, communicating with looks and smiles, often directing their responses at each other. When the singer finishes a phrase, she turns to the guitarist for his opinion, an invitation her partner constantly declines.
None of Teasdale’s school friends were particularly interested in music, although she barely played a note when she dropped out to pursue this technical career. The decision scared her mother. “She believed that education was the stepping stone to success.” It was in this tenor that she and Chambers met, united by a shared love for Laura Marling, Patrick Watson and Nordic music.
Their first rehearsal together was strange, Teasdale said, because she had never done music in a room without men present. “It was just different to feel like it was all up to us, I guess. I think kids have always felt more confident in those kinds of spaces, and I hadn’t found a place where I had I felt like I was going to blossom.” Frowning, she added, “It’s not that I felt mad about it. It wasn’t like we were in a group with men and we said, ‘we want to do this’, and they said to us, ‘no, we are men’”.
Their main goal when they started writing music was to get free entry to festivals. “The point wasn’t ‘is this song any good?’ but ‘will this count as a 30 minute festival set?’ We wanted the songs to be lively and a bit fun…but really, we’re just emos,” the singer said. The sarcastic, sometimes misanthropic vibe of his music was “accidental”, he insists. “We were trying to write party songs, and then we really wrote songs about how we felt at a party, and we don’t like it.”
While they don’t know what year they started performing at festivals, they have one thing in mind: “At the end of 2020, we signed with Domino,” Teasdale said. But even after the contract, his expectations were low. “In reality, most people who sign on a label will need another job. I always believed there would be more balance between being in a band and a normal life. I don’t think we even thought, ‘Let’s get a good deal and quit our jobs,'” the singer explained.
Despite the fact that now their situation is different, they continue to maintain a certain reserve. “We’re just trying to stay on top of the wave,” Chambers added. This “is going to end, inevitably. We are very aware of this. It’s important to enjoy the journey,” Teasdale concluded.
Wet Leg’s self-titled album is available on platforms from Friday.