Rolling Stone Australia


The Smith Street Band's Wil Wagner on Spiders, Cops and Footy Players


The Smith Street Band's Wil Wagner on Spiders, Cops and Footy Players

The Smith Street Band vocalist, Wil Wagner, runs us through his list of lasts, including a reveal of his songwriting practices and stories of South American cops harassing them on tour.

The last time I asked someone for their autograph
I saw a few Collingwood players in the Virgin Lounge a while ago and I asked for some pictures and stuff. I can handle myself in front of musicians but I become like a 13-year-old when I'm talking to footy players, giddy with excitement. I can't talk with nerves.

The last time I was scared
My new house is about an hour out of Melbourne, out in the bush. I'm a fair city slicker, and there were two sizeable spiders in my bedroom the first night we stayed there, which my girlfriend took care of for me. [Laughs] I can't do them! I'm moving to the bush, I have to be able to do this, but I just saw them and was like, fuck no!

The last time I wore fancy dress
Halloween. But I couldn't find a costume cos I went shopping on the day, so I bought a medium sized dog's pumpkin costume from Kmart and just wore that around my neck.

The last thing I do before going to sleep
Watch an episode of Bob's Burgers. It's my favourite thing, it's so soothing. I was talking to a girl I used to date and am now very good friends with, and she said that a few times when she noticed me getting angry during our relationship she would find a way to sit me down in front of Bob's Burgers, like a toddler. And she said it would work every time. I'd be all stroppy and she'd be like, "Let's go sit down in the lounge... Oh look! Why don't we put some Bob's Burgers on?!" And she'd just see me cheer up.

Watch Wagner perform "Laughing (Or Pretending to Laugh)" live at our Sydney office:

The last time I broke the law
Every day by enjoying marijuana. Frequent criminal.

The last time I got stopped by the cops
We've had a few really scary run-ins with the cops driving through the South in America. We had one where we got pulled over and had the van searched at gunpoint, and they trashed the van and kept saying they were going to find drugs. It was in the desert in the middle of the night so it was freezing, and they kept us standing around the van for probably 45 minutes. We couldn't talk to one another, we couldn't put our hands in our pockets or cross our hands cos they'd say we were reaching for concealed weapons. Then they marched us into this little portable office they had and made us all sit against a wall while they ate, and then 15 minutes into that one of them just looked up and said [nonchalantly], "Oh, you can go." Five dudes with automatic rifles. It's pretty terrifying.

The last song I wrote
I try and write a verse and a chorus every day. But the last song I wrote that I think will end up on a Smith Street record is tentatively called "Angel", but I'm not sure what it will end up being called. But if in a year there's a song of ours called "Angel", you'll know it made it!

The last fight I had
The other day. At my [old] house, we've shot some film clips there, so a few people know the exterior of the house. And these three kids came and knocked on the front door, and were like, "Oh, can we have a photo?" I said, "No, I'm at home, you can't do that." And they said, "Oh come on, give us a tour of the house!" And I told them to fuck off. I felt a bit weird afterwards, but then I thought, no, you can't knock on someone's door.

The last time I confronted a serious phobia
I didn't do very well with the spiders. [Laughs] I get quite socially anxious, so basically any time I'm going anywhere, I'm confronting phobias. Last time I went to a show probably.

The last book I read
I really loved John Safran's new book, Depends What You Mean By Extremist. It's like a journey into white supremacists in Australia. Fascinating and depressing.

The last time I listened to one of my own records
We're trying to come up with a film clip idea for one of our songs so I've been listening a little bit recently. But I do listen to us. I know a lot of people don't listen to their own music or would be embarrassed to admit it, but I make music for me, number one, so I'll put on a Smith Street record every now and then.

The last tattoo I got
A few weeks ago. I got the word "life" tattooed across the fingers on my left hand, and I got a little Weakerthans logo tattooed on my elbow. I think they're the perfect band.


Topics: The Smith Street Band


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