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Interview: Of Wolves
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Great question! My mom always had music playing and at a young age got me a decent stereo for my room for a birthday one year and then let me get a 7" at the store when we went shopping (Wolworths, Venture or Zayers) each week.
I was also always an outcast and never really fit in. So I think it was a good way to find happiness somewhere else. Music became almost a form of escapism back then and has been therapy probably ever since. I think no matter what music would have called me? But if not I think some form of art one way or another. But I always thought I'd be great at racing cars!
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Love my family and nature. So I spend as much time with both as possible. Besides that, the band and all it entails keeps me quite busy (I do all our booking, art/concepts, videos on and on)
Honestly, I'm quite consumed by it. But we find influence in everything constantly. I often will stop and write down a note or add it to google drive on my phone. Weed helps me a lot with creativity and getting over any humps. Some of the lyrics on Balance I was having a rough time. All of the songs were recorded and ready and waiting for me to finish them and that kind of pressure always seems to cause bottlenecks doesn't it? Haha anyway, I always knew weed (as a tool) helped me to create great riffs and song ideas but it was over this time when I realized that if I get so fucking high that i'm completely socially inept. That I can barely get off the couch... Suddenly it's flowing out of me faster than I can write or type. Total stream of consciousness. Once I found this method I finished writing them all within a week.
How long has your band been around?
Since the summer of 2007! Time flies and seems to get faster and faster as you go. A lot has changed since then and of course it's constant
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of Chicago and it influences us every day.
It's a great city full of passionate talented people all of which inspire us and raise the bar on a non-stop basis. But it's got a rough edge to it as well. Very harsh dreary grey winters for example and what seems like two actual seasons. Too hot and too cold haha. It's a very hard working and hard partying city and it all helps to make who we are. How and what we create and the therapy needed that this band gives us.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
We named it after my German Shepherd Kaya. I always loved wolves and the balance between their fierceness and beauty. And their pack mentality… in the beginning we just randomly threw out name ideas and one day while taking a joint break my dog walked up to our original bassist and he said From Wolves! I replied Of Wolves sounds better and that was that.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
There are so many. Best and worst hmm, wish I had the guys helping me with this, haha my memory sucks! Honestly most shows rule. Playing with great friends or bands you looked up to or influenced you is always huge for us. Bad shows, we had some mishaps, every once in a while you have an asshole you have to deal with… or lousy sound. Gear crapping out and the like. We beat on our shit and ourselves so shit happens! But nothing really stands out. Almost fainting used to be a constant for us (we used to joke if you are not almost passing out you're not doing it right haha) puking and shitting hasn't happened but there have been some close calls (if you listen to my vocals and imagine going balls out with a stomach bug) Ivan got lost behind a curtain once but he kept playing! Haha so let's just go with memorable. Shortly after my “accident” I had a bad bike accident and shattered my spleen and ended up causing me to bleed out internally and almost die. It was the only time we have ever canceled a show. And only one, while I was still in the hospital. Anyway, there was one more booked shortly after I got home. And just to keep this from being a book I will say it was a brutal accident and what happened to me and my body is as gory as a story as they come. Eight years later and I still feel it almost every day… Needless to say, I was in a ton of pain, I had severe nerve damage from the rush surgery and was in a pretty bad depression (side note, that you don't often hear much about but if you basically die or should have and are brought back. Life is very very different and it's very hard to take the bs of daily life seriously let alone want to go back to work every morning or run a business because you feel like you have been given a second chance. You don't want to waste it. You don't want life to go back to “normal” you want to live it and live your dreams and do everything that you almost didn't get a chance to do… of course money…) Therein lies the depression that sets in. That you want to fight for your life and to live it. Anyway, between the pain, lack of sleep, and this new set of emotions it takes a bit to gain control and learn to navigate this what I call Deathday. (since rebirth and reborn has been ruined by fairytale freaks) so much for short hahaha okay so we had a show coming up and I still had 60 something staples from groin to chest and all my organs were just sloping back and forth in my body. But I needed it, I needed the release. I needed therapy. So I talked to my fam who although they were scared they knew I needed it. And then went to talk to the band. We actually had a talk and they thought I was nuts but were like okay bud you want this. We will do it. So I brought up to them I think I should do it shirtless. Jon (our drummer up until recently) was like wait show it to me again. I showed them and they were both like hell NO! Scotty (our bassist at the time almost fainted haha) I was like it would be Metal as fuck! Nah man it's too far don't do it. They might not even let us play… And we have always been a democracy so that was it. So for the show, I was nowhere near being myself not even close. I had practiced my guitar on my hip off to the side so it didn't bump and rub on the staples and I knew I'd only be able to yell so hard. I also had a ton of fluid in my lungs, not a couple of weeks before as Pneumonia almost took me out again in the hospital a way after the surgeries. So as the show was going. I probably overdid it with a scream and felt one of the staples pop. Turned out it was right above my waistline. So we finished the song and I looked down and could see a little bit of blood and told the room if you got a video camera I'd start filming now. If I faint Ill be fine don't worry but if my body cavity pops open and my guts spill out mid-song it might be the most metal moment ever. Of course, it didn't happen.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
So many great venues. And they are all hurting very very badly right now. So this is the perfect spot to say to everyone. If you are reading this and love music, love live music, love a venue, love a bar, a restaurant all the people who work there are hurting. We all work in the bar/booze industry and I am also a sound/stage guy. We have felt the blow personally from all ends. Every backup plan I had… and none of us are alone here. If we don't stand up and help them now many if not most of them will be gone by the time this shits over. Our governments have failed us. It's time to show what a society is and does. Take care of those who give us so much. Now is the time to give back. So here are some sites that are trying to do just that. Please do check them out and please do what you can.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Gojira, Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation, RTJ, PJ Harvey, Shellac, Wovenhand, & Pegboy<im going to make that last one maybe two happen as soon as this shits over!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Do it for the right reasons! If you don't have passion for it, find something that you do because you are gonna need it. It's hard work and quite expensive. Then, from there just don't give up and try not to suck. Nothing worse than people who are or look bored or even worse don't believe what they are do ing… Lastly do your own thing fuck what's popular or trending.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Hmmm, TOUR TOUR TOUR drop the bong, quit the endless trip parties, get off the fucking couch and live! I'd also say because you think you got all the time in the world and life is a flash. And id pass on one more thing that I wish someone had made me think about. About all that abuse I'm doing to myself and my body. Fights, mosh pits, bike accidents you name it… it all adds up and it's not like a car. You can't sell it and get a new one. You can't trade it in. You have to ride this vehicle we call a body till the end. You will feel it and sooner or later every day.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I have two. The second to last track off our last album Evolve. I did that whole track myself at my home. And there's a ton of hidden sounds buried in there. But I wanted to add the locusts outside so I got out a mic and got to it. Don't remember why now. Think I might have hit the door to get her to do it but it's foggy… anyway our namesake starts barking and you can hear her in the distance. It's haunting and beautiful and my family cannot hear it without making them tear up.
The other one is for the same reasons kinda. It's the title track of our new album Balance. And besides the fact that it has some killer guests on the track. Jim from yakuza added some timpani and Helen Money plays the cello. It is a very emotional song. I wrote it right around the time I lost many close and around me. Including some loved ones and friends. It's weird how as you get older you start seeing it more and more… and in the music and art scenes even more so. Anyway, I lost count of around 20 deaths within a couple of months. And that includes Kaya, my best furry friend and our namesake, my other brother who I never met (both now dead), a buddy who I had just started a new band with… on and on. Anyway, Balance ended up being part of my therapy and release from that dark time. It gave me the concept and to this day screaming those lyrics is total therapy for me.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I think we all have different favorites. But I really love to play Balance as I stated above, Maker, Red Skins/Buffalo Nickels, Mens Rea, Clear Cutting…. Haha, I like most of them!
Fan favorites seem to be RedSkins/Buffalo Nickels, Maker, Mens Rea, and Balance? But they seem to really like our short songs like Shit Sandwich and the Conspiracy EP or Flavor of the Weak on our new album. Short songs are a short fun burst and it always surprises everyone since no one really does it much anymore. I try to put one on everything we release. We have a three-song EP that is just shy of 10 seconds long.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
It used to be all about the jams and putting things together that just happened. Complete stoned ass circumstance! Haha But as our members have changed we have started bringing in riffs to build from. Then we let them flesh themselves out over time. As for vocals. I usually start hearing sounds in my head and they end up becoming words.
The music is a complete therapeutic release. So anything and everything that we need to get out of our systems or is pissing us off end up being a good portion of it. That and things like love and loss seem to be about the heaviest shit you can experience in a lifetime… whether that be a family member or a friend, or a pet that was both. Cancer, Suicide… I died. That had a profound effect and ended up being a couple of songs on the new album as I stated earlier. My childhood… the state of the world and these evil hoarding fucks who seem hellbent on destroying everything in their path. I could go on and on.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I think our album titles speak well to answer that question Evolve & Balance
But I'd add, we never meant to have a message or be “political” but with everything going on in our world and this band and our music actually being a therapy for us of course anything and everything that affects us will end up becoming part of the needed release. With that said, I'll blame it on my ADHD but the number of messages add up quickly and each song has its own. But overall, we believe we are all one and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We want to see a better world for all its inhabitants. Enough of the separation tactics used by the hoarding class to keep us divided so they can continue to rape and pillage everything and for what? And to what end? A change is coming, we are evolving. Enough.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We used to have a lot and used to fight! Not often but it happened a couple times. I almost knocked Jon out in a bar called The Exit once years ago. I remember Pat headbutting him and almost knocked him out at a bar called Champs if I remember correctly as well! Hahaa Forgot about that till just now! I hope Pat reads that! (he was also in a band called I decline and we started this band together) hahaha we really lived up to our name back then! Jon was getting us into fights all the time. Man, I really couldn't stand him back then, now I miss him… With that said, that was a long time ago and we are very different people (two literally) and a very different band. For the most part, we don't argue. Sometimes you just have to move on and come back to shit. Doesn't mean we won't throw down for the right reason or cause just not internally. Sadly it seems necessary to say that these days with so many brainwashed morons running their mouths and putting innocent people in danger, starting shit with people just trying to do their jobs and the like. And either way, anger, and frustration are good things to have in a Punk or Metal band!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We are currently working on releasing a new single for Maker before years end. Then early next year we are going to release the title track and a video for it along with the pre-order for Balance on vinyl! We are stoked as this is how the album was always supposed to be released and what the entire concept logos & art were all designed for. The cover art needs to be enjoyed at its proper scale.
We also plan to do at least one more livestream this winter. From there it's hard to say with Covid-19 but we will release quite a few more videos (anyone want to do a three minute silent black and white slasher movie?) plus getting back into the studio for at least a couple tunes and splits… of course we hope to tour and for a bunch of cool festivals and the like and we know we are not alone.
How big of a fucking party is the whole world going to have when this shits over? We hope to play it
Lets burn all the calendars, start building guillotines and make sure that 2021 is a better year on a better world.