It was late summer 2018 and Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers had spent the weekend at the End of the Road Festival.
The friends, who first met when they were 17 on the Isle of Wight, were now both in their 20s. “It was late at night and there was a Ferris wheel at the festival,” Teasdale recalled. “We had seen it all weekend but never thought to go and now suddenly we were there. Our hands were in the air. The wheel was turning. It was very mystical. We were looking at the night sky. It was as if anything was possible. It was then that the two friends decided to form a group, which they called Wet Leg. Their ambitions were modest: “We were both working full-time and we just wanted to have a way to continue making music alongside our jobs,” Teasdale explains, “and hopefully in the summer we could be reserved for some festivals because festival tickets are quite expensive. We never thought of doing more than that.
Wet Leg has somewhat exceeded initial expectations: their song “Chaise Longue” has been listened to nearly seven million times, they have been lauded by superstars from Florence Welch to Iggy Pop, and have been hailed as the hottest band in Britain right now. So hot in fact that my conversation with them was postponed twice – we were due to speak in person in London late last year and then last month, but their schedules were so packed that the only way to win time was on the end of a phone while they were in a car in Berlin heading to the airport. “We’ve been to Madrid, Lisbon and now we’re in Berlin for a few days,” says Teasdale. “This is a promotional tour that I had no idea even existed.” The trip follows a tour that saw the band play across Europe and the United States – all before their debut album was even released.
Wet Leg’s story begins with Teasdale and Chambers meeting on the first day of college in 2012. They had both grown up on the Isle of Wight although both of their families hail from the mainland. They spent their youth at the beach and indulging in music. “There’s not a lot to do so people get together and make music,” Chambers says. Teasdale and Chambers started music degrees before dropping out. They played in various bands and as solo musicians, but it wasn’t until End of the Road that they decided to form a band together.
I think whatever you do, [imposter syndrome] is integrated. You’ll never feel like you deserved it or deserved it
In previous interviews, they claimed to have named their band Wet Leg after randomly stabbing emoji keyboard keys on a phone. “There’s another reason the band is called Wet Leg,” Teasdale reveals. “That’s Isle of Wight terminology for someone across the water on the mainland. The group remained a side project while Teasdale and Chambers were busy with their jobs – Teasdale worked as a wardrobe assistant and Chambers worked for her family jewelry business. “I was in London and Hester was on the Isle of Wight,” Teasdale says, “we got together when we could, but with my job the hours were crazy – I left my house at 5 a.m. and never didn’t come back until 10 p.m.’ Teasdale returned to the Isle of Wight for Christmas and it was around this time that she and Chambers wrote the song that would launch the band. “I guess it was like a stream of our consciousness,” Teasdale says of the song’s lyrics. “We often stayed up late watching movies and I slept at Hester’s house on her lounge chair. The band recorded the song, which they called ‘Chaise Longue “, and the next day they listened again. “We just laughed, almost squealing with laughter,” Chambers recalled, “because it was so silly but it brought us joy.” And then came the pandemic “I went back to the Isle of Wight,” says Teasdale, “we were able to use our band as a way to distract from everything that was going on.”
It wasn’t until they performed at Latitude Festival in the summer of 2021 that Wet Leg had any inkling of their popularity. “We didn’t think anyone would be there,” says Teasdale. “We were so used to playing in front of crowds of around six people. When we went to Latitude and there were people in the tent to play with. It was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” “Things have continued to be interesting ever since: appearances on the Jools Holland show, signing with Domino and getting on the BBC’s Sound of 2022 list. The apparent speed with which it all happened must be dizzying – have sometimes suffered from impostor syndrome? “It’s not a syndrome”, says Chambers, “it’s real”. What struck me, I tell them, was the contrast between the way which some bands struggle and yearn for success but never achieve it while Wet Leg achieved it without ever absolutely claiming it. ‘I think whatever you do, [imposter syndrome] is integrated,” says Teasdale. “You will never feel like you deserved it or deserved it.”
The album is only a few weeks away and they are unsurprisingly nervous and excited about how it will turn out. Will they fade as quickly as they emerge or will this establish them for the long haul? Only time will tell, but for now Teasdale and Chambers are enjoying the beautiful weirdness of it all. The important thing, they say, is to remember the promise they made on that Ferris wheel in 2018. “We didn’t have any of that as a goal or a plan,” Chambers says. ‘[This is all] 100% unexpected and unintentional. We are very, very lucky. We really wanted to have fun.
Wet Leg’s self-titled album is out April 8