THROW ANOTHER RIFF ON THE BARBIE

By Chris Pacifico

Hailing all the way from the Land Down Under, Wolfmother has been bubbling up the hype cauldron since premiering at 2005's South by Southwest showcase (as well as rocking 2006's) while also leaving their mark (no, not the way wolves leave their mark) at this year's Coachella festival. For a bulk of fans out there in musicland, it's been a relief to see a band gaining momentous buzz that isn't one of the many million neo-New Wave artists sprouting up in this never-ending second tier of the post-punk movement.


Chris Ross, Andrew Stockdale & Myles Heskett
Wolfmother
Having formed in 2000, these three Sydney lads put the power in power trio. Twenty-five years ago, when their native brethren in AC/DC put out the song "For Those About to Rock We Salute You," they must've been looking to the future waiting for Wolfmother to come along. Composed of the fro-headed, puppy-faced Andrew Stockdale (vocals/guitar), Chris Ross (bass/keyboards), and Myles Heskett (drums), their self-titled debut album is one that will be loved by the person inside all of us who wears shirts with the sleeves cut off and loves to throw up the horns while swilling down a 16 oz. can of cheap beer and screaming "Whooooooo! Party!!!"

Recently, Chris Ross was nice enough to shoot the shit with JamBase. Although their sound does have a certain element of a 70's hard rock vibe to it, people are quick to label Wolfmother as "retro, neo-metal" or many other easy pigeonholes. But Ross doesn't quite see it that way. When asked how he sees his bands sound, he sums it up as a "psychedelic sonic and sexual tsunami."


Angus Young & Bon Scott :: AC/DC
"We obviously got a 70's rock kind of vibe to our sound, and while I did grow up listening to AC/DC and a lot of that stuff, we as a band aim to bring a more modern and contemporary type of sonic to it," Ross says. "The type of sonics that you can get out of the studio these days are phenomenal, and bass rumbles can be made that can cause a person to shit in their pants. We really do like capturing a classic rock vibe with loose jamming and lots of grooves, but we like giving it a modern twist without going overboard."

The key words in that quote are "loose jamming."

On numbers such as "Minds Eye" and "Where the Eagles Have Been," Wolfmother goes adrift into an audible vortex that just sweeps up the listener, throttling all the sensory preceptors in one's ears into overdrive. It's an especially stellar feat considering that there are only three people playing.


Andrew Stockdale :: Wolfmother
by Tony Stack
With the hybrid of beefy riffs and Stockdale's high-registered voice capable of bending steel, the comparisons to the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath are never in short supply. "Andrew's vocals stay in the higher range, but lyrically he also has been inspired by all sorts of folk music like Devandra Banhart and stuff like that. That's the way he sings, and that's what works with us. Sometimes the vocals can be the only thing that are apparent to certain people because if you're not a musician, then sometimes the lyrics are the only thing that some can understand. So when one hears certain people's voices, they can only label them as singing in a categorized type of way as opposed to an instrument where you can do and hear all sorts of crazy shit with it."

Stockdale doesn't merely just sit down and write the songs with a pen and paper but instead ad-libs most of their lyrics while jamming with the band during practice. "It works well because he's not like a singer-songwriter who tries to make the words fit in or make the music fit around the words," notes Ross. "He creates the melody and phrasing while we jam."

Folks have also been quick to pull out the Led Zeppelin or Uriah Heep card by claiming that Wolfmother's songs revolve around the themes of elves, gnomes, Hobbits, Middle Earth, etc. "I don't know where people are coming up with this stuff," responds Ross. "It's a totally small aspect of what we're doing and what we've done, but for some reason people seem to like to latch onto it."


Wolfmother
In reality, Wolfmother only makes two references to those types of themes within their song titles with the tracks "Tales from the Forest of Gnomes" on the Australian version of their album and "White Unicorn." As Ross recalls, "Andrew just came up with the title to 'White Unicorn' when he was watching some show on television with a fashion designer who was talking about wanting to put a white unicorn across the shoulder of a woman's shirt. As for 'Tales from the Forest of Gnomes,' Andrew just walked into the studio and said that the track sounded like a forest full of fucking gnomes!"

In the world of the present and at times largely cynical modern day music media, critics and writers have always been quick to use the word "revivalist" when talking about bands such as Wolfmother. But Ross is prompt to fire back with his two cents on the issue. "We're not trying to recreate anything that's been done before," he says. "I grew up with a lot of stoner rock music where Black Sabbath was like the unwritten benchmark, and they are the obvious heroes of stoner rock. That's kind of like where bands in the stoner rock field start off in some way or another. We've obviously been influenced by bands like that, but we're using what they've done as a starting point for us to go forward with our own sense of creativity and originality."

Ross also talks about the individual influences for he and his band mates, citing drummer Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience as one of Heskett's main inspirations with an almost similar drumming style, which is "really loose and organic."


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