Wet Leg: ‘We invited them to our favourite pub, got them plastered, and they were like, ‘yes, you’re signed!’

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Wet Leg: ‘We invited them to our favourite pub, got them plastered, and they were like, ‘yes, you’re signed!’

Wet Leg
Words by Andrew Handley

Rhian Teasdale joins the video chat from her London home grasping her morning coffee, as birds chirp in the background.

The nine-hour time delay means it’s becoming cold and dark in Melbourne. “So you’re at the end of your day?” she asks waiting for her bandmate to join. Hester Chambers (who Teasdale affectionately calls ‘HC’) is only a minute late but apologises in her delicately soft voice. “I’ve done that thing where I haven’t downloaded Zoom on my phone yet.”

The two are the core members of the band Wet Leg, which formed in their hometown on the Isle of Wight in 2019. It was the release of their first single, the wonderfully fun and catchy ‘Chaise Longue’, in 2021 which began their stratospheric rise (the film clip has over five million views on YouTube.) They’ve since appeared on many of the late-night talk shows in the US and were the buzziest band at South by Southwest. Teasdale and Chambers would be the last two to tell you this though, humble as they are.

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The two met in college and had known each other for a decade by the time they decided to start a band. They were riding a ferris wheel at End of the Road festival, having just seen IDLES perform. “When we started this band, it was literally just so we could go to festivals in the summer and get booked for a few shows,” explains Teasdale. “So we could go to the actual festival and roll around in fields for the weekend.”

Coming full-circle, like a drunken fairground ride, Wet Leg opened for IDLES earlier this year at their massive Brixton Academy show in London. “It was quite a surreal moment because we’d only ever joked about things like that,” says Chambers.

“I’m like, ‘did we really do that?’ But we did, there’s a picture of it.”

The release of singles like ‘Wet Dream’, another provocative, playful earworm, and ‘Too Late Now’, an atmospheric post-punk track, proved the band weren’t just a viral sensation. Teasdale says waiting for their debut album to come out wasn’t the nerve-wracking part. “I didn’t feel pressure before it was coming out, and then when it went to number one in the UK, that was really weird,” she says. “That stressed me out a little bit… you hold yourself to a higher standard, I suppose.” Since their self-titled album came out in April it has reached number one in Australia too, but Teasdale couldn’t say why. “I dunno, man,” she says sheepishly. “It’s very nice.”

Wet Leg’s success is all the more impressive as Teasdale only learnt how to play the guitar for the band. “I’d been playing and writing on piano for a bit, and then I got really sick of that, and in a bit of a rut,” she recalls. “I tried when I was 14 to play guitar, but then it made my hand hurt, and everyone made it look so easy, and I just gave up.” It was the encouragement from her bandmate that kept her going. “If I was like, ‘I can’t do it, I’m shit, this hurts, I don’t think I can get it,’ Hester would always be like ‘no, you can do it, you’ve got this,’” Teasdale says. “Something as simple as that, just having Hester to encourage me, and just a little gentle push back of my own self-doubt really helped.”

The success of the band’s breakout track ‘Chaise Longue’ is no doubt in part thanks to the wonderfully silly lyrics (“I went to school and I got the big D”). “I tried not to spend too much time on the lyrics,” says Teasdale. “Before this band, I was playing more folky stuff, so I wanted the lyrics to feel like poetry, I suppose, and it was very self-serious and introspective.” As the band was originally formed to gain entry to festivals, it made sense to write the songs for a festival environment. “We wanted to get the set made really quickly, so we didn’t spend too long fine-tuning a lot of the lyrics,” she added.

Being signed to Domino was another shock to the band. “We invited them to the Isle of Wight to go to our favourite pub, and then got them plastered, and they were like, ‘yes, you’re signed!’ jokes Chambers. “Everyone [is] so lovely and passionate, and they work quite closely together. It’s a big label, but it’s still an independent label.” Judging by the label’s roster, which includes Arctic Monkeys, John Hopkins and Alex G to name a few, it’s clear they’re doing something right. “There’s a good energy that comes off [Domino], like when you sit on the beach and the sun is shining on your head,” Chambers adds.

It was through Domino that the band met producer Dan Carey, who has produced albums for other post-punks like Fontaines D.C., Squid, Geese and Black Midi. “He’s like way legit, and we are this little baby band,” says Teasdale.

“The imposter syndrome hit pretty hard.”

Carey’s production style suited the band perfectly, recording the bass and drums together, and the two guitars together. “We didn’t want to go into some dry, sterile studio space, where there’s glass between you [and the producer], and his studio is on the first floor of his house, so it instantly had a really homely feel,” explains Teasdale. The relaxed production style shines through on the album, which was recorded in only two and a half weeks. “He just kept it really fun, but there was a process, and he was very methodical,” says Teasdale.

The band continues to find themselves in outrageous scenarios, including playing a short set at a pre-Oscars party. “All of us, apart from Henry (the band’s drummer), went to college together, [so] it’s just so funny to think of us at like 17 in college, and then finding ourselves at this little, star-studded Hollywood party,” chuckles Teasdale. “Yves Saint Laurent dressed us, so we all looked really funny… we were overly chic, we don’t normally look like that.”

Neither Teasdale nor Chambers have visited Australia before, but are excited to perform at Splendour in the Grass in July, as well as opening for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and some smaller sideshows. Teasdale hopes to catch The Chats at Splendour. “Someone showed me their video for Smoko,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen.’” This is high praise from a band with exceptional video clips themselves, several of which the duo directed. The band already have their second trip to Australia booked, opening for Harry Styles early next year. “I’m still waiting for someone to jump out and be like ‘you’ve been Punk’d,’” laughs Teasdale. Fortunately for us, this is no joke and is just the beginning for Wet Leg.

Wet Leg’s eponymous debut album is out now via Domino. They’re supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Margaret Court Arena on July 20.