Rhian Teasdale (left) and Hester Chambers Photo: Hollie Fernando
This has been Wet Leg’s year.
The Isle of Wight band delivers a whipsmart take on modern life and modern love, delivered over a super-fresh melodic guitar racket. Songs including Angelica, Wet Dream and Chaise Longue soundtracked the summer and made them indie stars.
We meet Wet Leg in their dressing room at the Kentish Town Forum in London. They are playing two nights at this fine 2,300-capacity venue as part of their final UK and Ireland tour of a very busy 2022, before heading to Nashville to kick off another US jaunt.
The dressing room, up approximately 17 flights of stairs, is more luxurious than some. And the food looks surprisingly healthy. “Oh my god, there’s broccoli on the rider,” says a delighted Rhian Teasdale. After a brief discussion, it is confirmed they will eat this raw, citing both health benefits and lack of cooking facilities.
It’s a sign of their rapid ascent in 2022 that this might be the last time we can see them in a venue of this size for a while. Larger stages await. And, judging by their performance on the Park Stage at Glastonbury in June, and the way they boss the Forum later that evening – their sound more expansive, the humour and warmth and joy as intimate as ever – Wet Leg will transition to the even bigger league with all the insouciance, style, charm and skill they have shown in their short career to date intact.
Singer Teasdale and guitarist Hester Chambers met at music college on the Isle of Wight and have been making music together since 2019. In 2021, their debut single Chaise Longue was released on the indie label Domino (also home to Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand) and hailed as an instant classic.
Their self-titled debut album was only released in April – rewarding all of us who believed the early hype.
The scale of their success is still sinking in.
“When we signed the deal, I think we just imagined ourselves still working our old jobs and getting to play a few festivals in the summer, doing a tour here and there,” says Teasdale. “We definitely didn’t imagine music taking over.”
Chambers worries this makes them sound “a little naive”, but the pace of change caught them both on the hop.
Their longest period off work and at home? “Two weeks, maybe? Although, I don’t think we were off for the whole time,” says Chambers. “And that’s because we did reach burnout, where we had to cancel a couple of gigs.”
“It’s really hard to say no to exciting and good things. So it’s definitely been a learning curve. And a very steep one,” adds Teasdale. The pair check in with each other constantly. Pausing mid-sentence to glance up to receive an unspoken sign of encouragement from the other before continuing. They have each other’s backs.
“I look at how far we’ve come in such a short space of time – not in terms of success and commerce but being able to steer the ship on a stormy sea. It’s a bit of a whirlwind to navigate, but I think we’re getting there.”
Wet Leg have played 145 shows this year, plus countless radio and television appearances and live sessions. So what have been the highlights? Getting to number one with their self-titled debut album is one.
“It feels like my mum bought all of them,” grins Chambers. “No, it’s just very strange that it happened. Especially because that week Jack White released a record, and Father John Misty and, I think, Kae Tempest. I bought all three of those albums.”
“Hester was trying everything she could to stop us from getting to number one! It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s nice, because I can tell my mum that we’ve got a number one album and that sounds quite good,” adds Teasdale. “Because she’s not really into music. And there’s no Top Of The Pops any more, so what are we supposed to do? Bring it back. I would love that.”
Chambers immediately backs her bandmate’s Bring Back Top Of The Pops campaign. “I used to watch it every Friday with my family – was it before or after EastEnders?”
“There was a lot of miming wasn’t there? Which would be great for us because it would be so much less scary,” says Teasdale. “It would be really fun if we could just mime all our live performances. That’s the dream.”
Something we are experiencing for the first time is having a platform and getting the opportunity to use it
Rhian Teasdale, Wet Leg
Festival season included shows at Primavera in Barcelona, Glastonbury and a rare hometown gig at the Isle of Wight Festival. “We could wash our clothes,” says Chambers.
“And we just tried to drink as many cups of tea in porcelain mugs,” Teasdale responds. “That’s what I really love about going home. I have a really horrible tea habit. But a highlight for me – and perhaps, Hester, you feel the same – is when I look around the tour bus at the people we have surrounded ourselves with. That has been key to our survival. It’s not just me and Hester, it is the rest of the band – Henry, Joshua and Ellis, and the crew. We are like this weird travelling family. It is such a blessing to have met so many people that just over a year ago weren’t in our lives. Now I can’t imagine not seeing them every day.”
In 2023, the momentum looks set to continue. Wet Leg are shortlisted for five Grammy Awards in February. They are touring the stadiums and arenas of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Europe with Harry Styles (including a detour to Hobbiton, film set of Lord of the Rings, their obsession), and playing huge outdoor UK shows with Pulp.
A second LP? They’ve been teasing it for a while and, we are assured, time has been set aside in their hectic schedule for songwriting sessions.
In October, Wet Leg made a rare foray into politics, contributing the demo of Loving You to the Good Music to Ensure Safe Abortion Access to All benefit compilation released on Bandcamp.
“Something we are experiencing for the first time is having a platform and getting the opportunity to use it,” says Teasdale.
“It was a no-brainer when they reached out to us to see if we wanted to contribute to that compilation,” adds Chambers. “In the UK, you still have to deal with people outside the clinic telling you that you are going to hell. But it is nothing like in the States where you can literally go to prison now.”
“Putting it up on our socials, most people were fighting the good fight. But you did get a few fans who were very anti it,” Teasdale continues.
“And that has been really interesting. Because we all live in our echo chambers. So it makes you realise when you put something a bit political on your profile you will get a backlash. But it makes me feel proud to be fighting the good fight.
“It’s absolutely something we need to think about. We’ll have more time to do that next year. Everything has happened so suddenly, but we’ve been thinking maybe we should do something. Because I think we could be doing more.”
Chambers reiterates the point – Wet Leg ending the interview, ending a breakthrough year, talking with one voice as they hatch plans to speak out on more big issues in 2023. “Yeah. We could definitely be doing more…”