SOUND: PSYCHEDELIC ROCK
Byrne reflects on the past four years as “a pretty trying time” for the band. The departure of their original bassist, who “just wasn't that into it anymore” began what would be the biggest challenge facing Byrne and today's only other original member, Joel Carey. “There were so many things, if it wasn't that it would be something else.” Following the release of 2009's 'Science & Sorcery' and another departure, a sizeable void had grown that would later be filled by ex-Scare members Wade Keighran and Brock Fitzgerald, whose addition bolstered the thinning wolf pack and brought with them a new energy and second wind for the band.
With a new lineup locked in, the revitalised Wolf & Cub began thinking about a follow-up record during 2011. This was to be a self-financed and self-directed production; a bold road that an increasing amount of bands are choosing to tread these days. It's not easy one as Byrne remarks; “self financing a record forces you to come up with strategies to make an album with no money.” In order to fund the recording, singles that would later appear on the album were drip-fed to fans, with the band making several minor digital releases over 2012 to generate enough revenue to get the LP finished. Thankfully for the fans and all involved, they managed to get there and have ended up delivering one 2013's finest Australian releases and a personal best for the band. Alongside its members' personal resolve, it has been the continued support of fans that has ensured Wolf & Cub remained afloat and the band are keen to maintain a close relationship with their supporters.
The likes of Facebook and Twitter have moved to an increasingly prominent position in the music industry, a fact Byrne resisted at first before giving in, remarking that his band “arrived pretty late to the social media thing. We got on board once we realised how integral Facebook is to music. This was a period where the band was really at a descent.” The newfound ability to bring fans and bands closer than ever, by placing them in an easily contactable forum, had Byrne trying to “think of it from the perspective of the fans” while he worked to actively create “a community for people who just really love the band”. However, for all its advantages, Byrne does lament a certain loss of mystery and romanticism. He recalls a time when his younger self would check At The Drive In's website on a daily basis to see if they had posted something. “We can't have that kind of mystique. Connectivity is awesome and it's not productive to think you're too cool for it.”
Anyone who has taken the time to engage with the band by following them on Facebook may have seen the word “sexy” bandied around a fair bit. “We have a lot of pseudonyms and words for different things,” chuckles Byrne when quizzed over his songs' baby-making potential. “If something is sexy, it's really good. There are multifaceted meanings to that word for us; a lot of our in jokes seep into our publicity.” For example? “Our bassist is nicknamed “Big Sexy”... which has been shortened now to “Sex”... so yeah (laughs).”
This was to be a self-financed and self-directed production; a bold road that an increasing amount of bands are choosing to tread these days.
Being the band's third record and first release in their new incarnation, 'Heavy Weight' carried a lot of expectation. “We wanted it to sound like it was worth the wait, we wanted it to feel solid and to be an accurate measure of the time that it took to make.” With enough material linking it their back catalogue, Byrne is confident that old fans won't be alienated, while plenty of new fans will be attracted to the album's big sound and infectious hooks. From the first listen, it's apparent that there's a wide sonic pallet being mined, with the band adding some classic pop textures to their signature Stones-meets-BRMC grind. “The pop sounds came from me becoming immersed in classic radio. I got pretty into Tom Petty during the making of this record. We wanted to make something like that, something memorable. It's that kind of music that can stand the test of time. What makes a song good is the element of familiarity. When they can just latch onto you. We wanted something that would do that.”
When quizzed about the nautically-themed tour support from Sydney noisemakers Zeahorse and Perth's Doctopus, Byrne suggests that his love of 'The Life Aquatic' might have something to do with it. Either way, it'll be “brutal,” he promises. During our discussion of the tour he confesses that “it's going to be really hard not to just play every track from the new record, from start to finish, because we just love these songs so much.” However old fans need not fear as Byrne assures me that there will be a mix. “You have to remember that at some point it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the people who enjoy it.”
You can catch Wolf & Cub live when they tour nationally in October, tickets are already on sale. 'Heavy Weight' is out now.