Sometimes even the most talked about indie rock bands need to decompress. Take, for example, British duo Wet Leg—Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers—currently on the second leg of a tour of America.
“Me and Hester did yoga the other day,” Teasdale says Newsweek, laughing. “The bus spans the front lounge, so there’s enough room to do like a diagonal YouTube yoga session.”
In less than a year, the Isle of Wight duo have generated huge buzz with their singles, including the extremely catchy disco/punk/New Wave number “Chaise Longue”, which has garnered over 11 million streams so far. ‘now. on Spotify. Attention drew extensive Wet Leg media coverage, sold-out shows, and US television appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Yet on a recent day after Wet Leg’s performance in front of a packed crowd at New York’s Brooklyn Steel, Teasdale and Chambers seemed taken aback by the attention “We’re so busy,” Teasdale says. “Our schedule is so packed. You just have to take it day by day. It’s quite fun, just having a really good time with our friends.”
With much anticipation, Wet Leg released their self-titled debut album via independent label Domino on April 8. “We are really delighted. [It’s] nice to have all our cards laid out. We’re thrilled,” Teasdale says of the release of the record, which was recorded in London in April 2021. Chambers adds, “We came in with Dan Carey, [who produced most of the album], and we have just spent two weeks guided by his wisdom. He really was the magic man. We were so lucky. I can’t imagine what we would have done [with anyone else].”
With their charming, down-to-earth demeanor and fun-loving relationships, Teasdale and Chambers, longtime friends before they became musical partners, behave more like a comedic duo than your usually serious, brooding indie rock act. They joke, laugh and finish their sentences. The irreverent and sarcastic humor of their lyrics is complemented by their catchy post-punk rock sound. Their music videos have an equally absurd bent reminiscent of Flying Circus and Monty Python’s The Monkees. However, the lyrics of the Wet Leg album sometimes show a serious side, addressing such things as the trials and tribulations of relationships (“Piece of S***”, “Loving You”) and the angst of being a young outsider (“I don’t want to go out”, “Too late now”).
“Looking back, I don’t think we really intended to write with a theme or a common thread,” Teasdale says “because we were like, ‘They’re giving us this opportunity to write an album? ** are we going to make an album?’ So we weren’t very objective about it.” She adds with a laugh, “There happens to be a common theme of disenchantment, like being sad at parties.”
Teasdale acknowledges that Wet Leg’s lyrics are about 99% autobiographical. The single “Wet Dream”, based on an interaction with an ex-boyfriend. “We broke up,” she recalled, “and I was getting messages after the breakup, saying, ‘Oh, I dreamed about you and we were married. So it was like that, but more importantly, it described this kind of character, this kind of person [who]going to try to flirt with girls and say, ‘Oh hey, do you know this band?’ ‘Oh hey, do you know that cult indie movie?’ They kind of use it as a bargaining chip.”
Rocker “Oh No,” a previously released single, captures society’s fixation on scrolling doom “Some of our songs have a lot of jokes in them, and this is one,” Teasdale explains. “When me and Hester were hanging out a lot, we would lay around her flat on the floor with our phones in front of us. One of us would realize that we’ve been [scrolling for]an hour passed, we had not spoken to each other. So to break the spell, you have to be like [shouting], ‘I scroll! I’m marching!'”
Chambers and Teasdale also included their signature hit on Wet Leg. “Chaise Longue” is an impassive look at the boredom and anguish of twenty-somethings. It starts with “Mom, dad, look at me/I went to school and got a diploma/All my friends call it the big D/I went to school and got the big D”, then “Is your muffin buttered? a line from the movie Mean Girls before coming to the chorus: “On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue/All day on the chaise long.”
The track was actually written on a deck chair. “That’s where Rhian sleeps when she comes over for a slumber party,” Chambers explains. “So it’s there. It’s real.”
“‘Chaise Longue’ contains a lot of sarcasm,” she adds. “It’s such a light and funny song. We were asked the other day in an interview if ‘Chaise Longue’ was a political song. We were like, ‘No, it’s just a chaise longue.’ “
Both men admit the viral reaction to the song, the accompanying video of which has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube so far, caught them off guard. “It was a big surprise,” Chambers admits. “It wasn’t what we expected. It doesn’t make sense.”
“It hit about 10 million streams the other day, which is so silly,” Teasdale adds. Chambers and Teasdale are from the Isle of Wight, located off the south coast of England, with a population of just over 140,000. The two first met in 2012 at Isle of Wight College in their late teens, then later dropped out, according to Chambers. “We had musician friends,” she recalls, “so we used to sing here and there together. And then one day Rhian blew up my phone and said, ‘Hester, you have to play guitar with me. !’ And I was like, ‘Of course, I will,’ just to calm her down.”
“I was really blowing up your phone,” Teasdale says. “I was calling and texting you all the time, then calling your boyfriend and asking him to pass the message.”
“You even put notes under my door,” Chambers replies. “And then during that time we were playing together,” Teasdale says, “we were like, ‘Why don’t we make it a band thing? “”
They came up with a name for the group when they started looking for a name that could be conveyed via emoji. Wet Leg made their live debut in 2018 on the local Isle of Wight festival stage. “We played in front of about six people because we were very early in the day,” Chambers explains. “It was our very first gig. So they did us a huge favor by having us participate. We had a great time. It was scary.”
Since then, crowds and venues have certainly grown for Wet Leg after the overwhelming reception of “Chaise Longue” and follow-up single “Wet Dream.” The duo have also been verified by Iggy Pop, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine and Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, who told Sky News in 2021: “Wet Leg is definitely my artist of the year .”
“It’s completely changed our lives,” Teasdale says of the audience reaction, “because we’re never home again. We’re away a lot. So yeah, a big change, especially coming out of lockdown where we were all indoors for 18 months. It’s been great. It’s been such a fun experience.”
They still find it hard to believe that all this attention is getting to them. Teasdale explains, “Everything we do and everywhere we go, we’re like, ‘We’re not supposed to be here. When will we be discovered? They will fire us. Especially the TV stuff, they’re so funny. I’m pretty sure the tour bus we’re on right now isn’t [for]us, but we accidentally commandeered it.”
“Let Weg,” Chambers jokes, to which Teasdale replies, “Let Weg want to get their bus back.”
“None of that really makes sense,” Chambers says. “We just fly by the seat of our pants.” After the US tour, the rest of this year for Wet Leg will include show dates in the UK and parts of Europe.
As for how she’d like people to feel when they listen to their debut album, Teasdale jokingly says “distraught and angry” then adds, “Probably the opposite. I hope they like it if they want to. I hope they’re not disappointed.” “You can’t do everything,” Chambers admits. “I want people to say, ‘I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed,’ when they listen to the album,” Teasdale adds.
David Chiu @newbeats is a Newsweek associate editor who writes frequently on popular music.