Music / Interview

Conversation Corner: We chat with Scottish pop royalty Wet Wet Wet

We chat with UK pop royalty Wet Wet Wet ahead of their long-awaited return to Australia in May 2020.

It might be a new look Wet Wet Wet but the absolute belters are still all there.

From 1988 to the late ’90s, it was hard to escape the Scottish four-piece. After their first number 1 thanks to a cover version of the Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, the band were set on a path of worldwide domination. The following year they released their third album, Holding Back the River, giving us the single ‘Sweet Surrender’ and showing off a new, more string-focussed sound.

More albums and more hit singles followed, taking Wet Wet Wet around the world. Then in 1994, if they thought things couldn’t get any bigger, Wet Wet Wet released their cover version of The Troggs’ single ‘Love Is All Around’ –putting their stamp on the track and earning their most successful single to date. Just one week shy of becoming the longest-standing number-one single in British chart history, the single is now synonymous with their legacy.

The rest of the ’90s followed much the same, with the band continuing their rise right around the world, but by the end of the decade, Wet Wet Wet were seemingly no more.

Thankfully the break was short-lived, and by 2004 we had a new Wet Wet Wet single, in 2005 there were festival slots, and 2006 headline shows. Wet Wet Wet were well and truly back.

In 2018, Wet Wet Wet revealed their new and refreshed lineup, with former Liberty X member Kevin Simm up front, and now they aren’t looking back.

We sat down with the band’s new frontman and founding member Graeme Clark to get the inside scoop on all things Wet Wet Wet before the band land on our shores next May.

Graeme Clark

What is it like taking the stage nearly three decades on? No one is as surprised as me that we are still doing what we do decades after we started our band. I think there are a few reasons for this, mostly due to the music we created. We always took that part seriously.

Could you ever have expected that generations of music fans would connect with your music? Music has a place in most people’s lives. When we started out, music was integral to everything I did. I woke up and put the radio on, I drove my car and listened to my favourite songs on CD, I went to a pub and a band would be playing. It punctuated and made up a big part of my day. Maybe that has shifted in subsequent generations, but what has remained the same is the connection people have to music in their day to day lives. People have got married to our music, they spent their first year at university or travelled the world listening to our albums. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, combine that with music and it becomes a potent force.

How has the dynamic of the band changed since Kevin joined the lineup? Our new singer Kevin reconfigured our band. We had a few wilderness years where not much happened except a few live shows. It became a bit frustrating at times. Sometimes you need to reset and reboot for the sake of your sanity. Finding Kevin did that for us. We now have a path we can all walk on. A space where we can get together, play our music, and try to get back in touch with the consciousness of our amazing band. With the lungs of Kevin breathing new life into our songs our music is given a new fluidity, boy does it sound and feel good.

In 2007 you released Timeless, are there any plans to release any more new music? And if so, might we hear any new songs at the Australian shows? We missed a few creative beats in the past 20 years. We aim to put that right by writing some new songs soon. We want to be a living, breathing, working band. That means playing, writing and touring. We have taken a few steps and nothing gives me as much pleasure as writing or playing new songs. We can’t deny, it’s a hard line to walk, bringing in new music. Let’s face it, many gig-goers will expect to buy a ticket and come and hear the hits. I like that too, but there’s always room for a new song or two. Don’t worry, we won’t be indulging in playing a set of new songs that no-one knows, we’ll be playing all the hits.

What are you most looking forward to about heading to Australia? The point of starting our band was to go around the world on a song. What’s not to love about that? We are also visiting some places we haven’t been, Perth and Wollongong to name a couple. I remember creating some unforgettable memories when we arrived on the Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Sydney all those years ago. It was so busy back then, but we managed to get vacation time as well and drove up the coast from Brisbane to Cairns. We met a lot of friends, entered and won a talent competition (imagine if we didn’t win), went scuba-diving and snorkelling on the reef and watched baby turtles hatching in Hamilton Island. All these experiences have enriched my life. I’m looking forward to doing more of those things in an amazing country. As well as playing music in some of the most fantastic cities the world has to offer.

Kevin Simm

What were your initial feelings before your first performance? When I was asked to join the band I was really excited.  To be honest, I also knew that coming in as a new lead singer would present its challenges but I don’t really buzz off a straightforward easy job, having some sort of edge gives me more focus, which I really needed to pull off the first few performances.

What has the experience been stepping into a band with such a long history and dedicated fanbase? The experience of joining a band like Wet Wet Wet, who have 30 years of history before I even stepped in, has been great. To be able to perform such a brilliant back catalogue of songs was absolutely the reason I was happy to join the band. I think if you don’t like the songs then there is no point. The fanbase has been brilliant with me, there were always going to be some doubters, as coming in and replacing a singer that has been there for 30 years is hard for some people to get their heads around, but a year since I joined the guys the reaction from the fans that have been to see us has been excellent.

How have the performances been for you? The performances have been brilliant. I have always thought that I am best as part of a band as it gives me a confidence that maybe I lack on my own. I totally buzz off playing with the guys, we have a lot of laughs on and off stage and I think that has been a part of the new lineup that the fans have enjoyed.

What made joining Wet Wet Wet the best next step for your career? I have had a very varied career so far, I have had lots of ups and downs. From number 1’s, Brit awards and travelling the world with Liberty X, to performing in pubs, clubs, holiday parks. Then winning The Voice UK as a solo performer. I could have happily carried on on my own and chickened out of joining Wet Wet Wet through fear of things not working out again, but turning down a challenge is not really something I do (I once ate a steak the size of a small child because someone said I couldn’t). I have been lucky to be asked to join this band. Some guys could only dream of such an opportunity, especially at 39 years of age, so it was a total no brainer.

Wet Wet Wet Australia 2020 tour dates

  • Saturday 2 May – Crown Theatre, Perth
  • Wednesday 6 May – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
  • Friday 8 May – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
  • Saturday 9 May – State Theatre, Sydney
  • Wednesday 13 May – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul

Wet Wet Wet will tour Australia in May 2020. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.

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