Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers each wear a small gold necklace made by Hester: one that says Wet, and one that says Leg. They only released their debut single, Chaise Longue, in June 2021, but its dry wit, Mean Girls nod and thumping indie-disco beat turned it into a runaway hit. They were on the radio every time you turned it on. They did Jools Holland & Seth Meyers, supported everyone from CHVRCHES to Inhaler, sold out their entire 2022 tour despite only having two songs out in the world (Wet Dream followed in September, another absolute corker) and now have all the makings of the pop stars you’ve been waiting years to discover. Would you like them to assign someone to worry your mother? By the time festivals resumed last year, everyone who saw them had an answer: yes please.
“It all seems so long ago now,” says Rhian, still a little stunned by the rapid pace of it all. It has only been five months.
“There have been so many firsts for us since then,” decides Hester, “that it makes it feel like time has moved... differently.”
The next first will be their debut album Wet Leg, an instant classic that peels back the layers of the band to reveal the smart, dark heart at the centre of it. Wet Leg was mostly recorded in London, in April 2021, meaning they had a finished album before the world had even heard Chaise Longue. “I guess how it happened was unconventional,” says Hester. They knew they were onto something special, and wanted to strike while the iron was hot. “We thought, we’ve got to record this stuff so it’s locked in. Let’s not waste time. And we weren’t able to gig either, so it was a good use of time, before we could get out to play the songs.”
The duo chose Dan Carey (Squid, Fontaines DC) to produce the bulk of it. They liked his style. “Dan said it was important to keep things moving, if we get in a cycle of takes, to stop and go on to something else, so you don’t freak out. It really works,” says Hester. In part, they picked him because they liked his set-up. His studio was an open space, with no glass between them, no one wearing headphones or doing their part separately, behind glass. That wouldn’t have suited them. “This was a different experience from the get-go. We just trusted in him,” says Rhian. They had recorded a lot of their demos at home, on Garageband, and a lot of audio from those sessions was reused, rather than rerecorded. “They were super scrappy, but they already had an identity to them,” Rhian explains.
From the paintings by Hester for the artwork of both Chaise Longue and Wet Dream, and the accompanying videos been directed by Rhian, Wet Leg’s identity is ever-evolving, but distinct. “Like, surrealist prairie, but with lobster claws. It’s very dreamy,” says Hester. If you pick up a sinister vibe from their countryside children-of-the-corn setting, that might not be accidental. Rhian researched cults and baptisms, and they have taken the concept through to the video for current single Too Late Now. But for the album artwork, they’ve kept it simple. “It’s a photo of me and Hester, just after we’d come off stage. I’ve got my arm around her waist, and she’s got her arm over my shoulder, and we’re hunched over...” says Rhian, before Hester finishes her sentence: “Like we’re telling each other a secret.” The image is a perfect visual representation of their friendship and all things Wet Leg.
Rhian and Hester first met at college, on the Isle of Wight where they both grew up, when they were 17. They didn’t move in the same circles, then, exactly, but as they got older, they started playing in the same bands and hanging out with the same people. One of Rhian’s projects was a solo act that she felt had come to the end of the line, and she was on the verge of giving up music completely. But first, to do some festival dates that she had already agreed to, she asked Hester to play guitar with her. “I thought, if we could do them together, we could have fun with it,” says Rhian. “And it was really, really fun.”
What happened was a revelation. “We’d played in other bands before, but always with boys, and my experience of that was that boys always know what they want. Playing with Hester was different. We just gave each other so much space,” Rhian explains.
“I liked that it wasn’t someone telling me what to do,” says Hester. “I got to use more of my brain power and voice.”
They spent the summer playing those festivals, watching every band they could. They both remember Idles at End of the Road festival, “and they just looked like they were having a great time. That was like a real lightbulb moment.” Hester says they weren’t sure, until that point, what would happen next, whether they’d even carry on. “But being at a festival and being a bit inebriated helps you come up with good ideas. You get drunken clarity on things,” says Rhian.
Wet Leg was born. They wrote enough songs for a festival set -- Wet Dream, Chaise Longue and Oh No came from that hectic early time -- in the hope that they’d get booked to do a few more festivals. “So we didn’t have to pay for our tickets,” says Rhian.
Chaise Longue announced their arrival emphatically, demanding attention like its bratty narrator: “Mummy, daddy, look at me...” “It’s just so dumb,” says Rhian, embracing the Ramones tradition of proud simplicity. “We wanted to introduce ourselves like, we’re not going to be like other bands, we’re not indulging that ‘struggling artist’ thing. We are silly, we have a sense of humour, and start as you mean to go on. Also Hester, your guitar part is just so cool.”
“Thanks dude,” says Hester.
“That’s the other thing about our band,” says Rhian. “We’re not virtuoso guitar players, but we were at school with all these boys, practising their scales, and it made guitar feel really inaccessible. But being in this band with Hester, there’s no competition for who is most technically accurate. It’s just like: does it sound good?”
The main focus for the band, right from the start, was fun, and a dry sense of humour ripples through the album, whether that’s eviscerating a pretentious ex-boyfriend who sends unwanted texts (Wet Dream) or being sucked into the 3am doom scroll on the magnificent glam-stomp Oh No. “You know when you’re having dinner with someone, and they check their phone, and just... go?” says Rhian. It’s an 80s sci-fi film distilled into two minutes and 29 seconds.
“I wanted to write fun songs, I didn’t want to indulge sad feelings too much, I wanted to write stuff that’s fun to listen to and fun to play.” But then, Rhian adds, “the sad seeps through, as well.”
Wet Leg is cathartic and joyful and punk and scuzzy and above all, it’s fun. “Wet Leg was just supposed to be funny,” says Rhian. More and more people are now in on the joke with the two of them, but that spirit remains at the centre of what they do. “As a woman, there’s so much put on you, in that your only value is how pretty or cool or sexy you look. But we want to be goofy and a little bit rude. We want to write songs that people can dance to. And we want people to have a good time, even if that might not possible all of the time.”