Interview: Wellington of The Wombles talks guitar gear and Christmas songs
22nd Dec 2011 | 16:55
Because Wombles are definitely real…
Wellington, pictured second from right.
Last week, we commissioned one of our intrepid writers to go out and get an informative, in-depth interview with one of the musicians in the race to grab this year's Christmas number one slot on Sunday.
What they came back with is an interview with Wellington, the Flying V-wielding guitar player with (fictional) Wimbledon-based recyclers-come-'70s rockstars The Wombles.
Still, for an imaginary furry creature he certainly knows a fair amount about guitar tone…
You're known for rocking a Flying V on stage, this strikes us as a curious choice as we've always thought a 335 would better suit your style of guitar playing. Why do you stick with that guitar?
"If you look closely you will see that it is not actually a genuine Gibson. It was made by Tobermory (with a lot of help and direction from me) using the Gibson shape, one Gibson pick up and one homemade pick up, and the body constructed out of a mixture of firewood and wire coat hangers all deftly shaped to give the famous Flying V shiny look. I think it sounds a bit more like a Telecaster than a Flying V, personally."
What sort of amp and pedal set-up are you using these days? How do you achieve that notorious 'Womble fuzz'?
"The early sessions were played alongside a human being called Chris Spedding and I tried very hard to emulate his sound. He used a Fender Twin without any pedals but just turned up loud. I used to think it was a bit snobbish that he refused to use pedals when Mike Batt asked him, but I came to realise that if you want that chunky damped 5th chug, it is the best way to get it, and so I tend not to use a pedal board unless absolutely necessary."
Given your well-known eco-friendly, proto-recycling roots, what are your opinions on the ongoing debate about the sourcing of wood used in guitar building?
"I didn't know there was a guitar building, where is it?"
You left The Wombles in the '70s for, what turned out to be, a short-lived solo career. In retrospect, would you now admit that this was possibly a rash decision and symptomatic of you betraying your roots? In other words, did you forget to follow your own advice and 'remember you're a Womble?'
"On the contrary I was trying to remember I was A Womble rather than one of THE Wombles. I was searching for my individuality. I believe Orinoco was a little upset when I left and he seemed happy when my single bombed. But all that is behind us now."
Michael Eavis has said he regrets booking The Wombles for Glastonbury this year. Care to comment?
"We drew a bigger crowd on the Avalon stage than they drew at the Pyramid stage that afternoon, and the place was really bursting with joy and happiness, so I can't think that Mr Eavis would have been disappointed, although I don't remember him saying thank you to us. I am sure he just forgot."
As much as we're all excited about the reunion, don't you feel that the traditional Wombles sound lacks a certain 'urban' edge that's very prominent in 2011's sound? Maybe in 2012 you should come back with 'A Dubstep Wombling Christmas'? Or possibly draft in N-Dubz for a collab? Any of those suggestions sound tempting?
"Even in the '70s during Glam rock we achieved success by playing whatever we wanted rather than trying to sound like a poor Wombles version of Marc Bolan or David Bowie. Similarly we think that if we were to do any new recording it would be something that you would be least expecting style-wise!!!"
What are your favourite (non-Womble) Christmas songs?
"Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Bing Crosby's White Christmas, The Pogues' Fairytale In New York."
Are there any other long standing Christmas hits you feel could be improved by inserting the word Womble into the title, like you did with "I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day"?
"Paul McCartney's Simply Having A Wombleful Christmas Time. Walking In A Winter Wombleland (from the Phil Spector Christmas album)."