Just when you’re starting to think, ‘God, it’s been ages since we last heard from Wolfmother. We hope they’re alright. Maybe they’ve come across a serial killer like Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek and now they’re all chopped up and being eaten by dingos…’, the Sydney, New South Wales vintage rock trio go and drop a new single; ‘Chase The Feeling’, a collaboration with Jet’s Chris Cester that’s out today and sounds a lot like men having an awful lot of fun with guitars. And so much hair.
Now we’re satisfied Wolfmother aren’t dead, we thought it’d be a nice idea to get mainman Andrew Stockdale on the phone to talk about where they’re at – and what comes next…
Bloody hell Andrew, you’ve only gone and released the first new Wolfmother music in ages…
“I know right? It’s good to do a collaboration, to share the creative load. I think it’s a bit different to what Wolfmother normally do. I’ve known the Jet guys for years. I met Chris [Cester, drums] way back when we were making the first album in LA. I think Australian bands do generally gravitate towards each other. Share some kinship.”
You mean because the country is isolated?
“Oh man, back in those days it was completely another world. The idea of playing in, like, America was just… it was beyond our comprehension. I think it is different now, to an extent, because of social media and the internet and the like, but it’s still difficult. To this day, I still don’t know why we made it and other bands didn’t. I mean, I think I know why people like us. I think it’s the riffs. I think riffs are sort of a language of their own. Wherever you are in the world, you know what a riff means. And America bloody loves riffs.”
I’ve often thought this about Wolfmother; do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong era?
“Well… I think music right now, and the music that normally gets popular, is very pop orientated. But for me I grew up listening to The Doors and The Beatles and I just never felt part of that. I guess you could describe my taste in music as ‘legends of rock’. I think sometimes bands can be hindered by loving the greats. It can sometimes stunt progress, but I hope that’s not the case with ourselves. I think it’s a good time for riffs actually. It’ll never be how it was in the 2000’s with the White Stripes and the Strokes and stuff, but I look at bands like Royal Blood and Greta Van Fleet and I think the riff is in safe hands…”
“I look at bands like Royal Blood and Greta Van Fleet and I think the riff is in safe hands…”
– Andrew Stockdale, Wolfmother
What was the moment in your musical journey where you thought, ‘rock ‘n’ roll, it’s for me…’?
“I remember exactly when it was. When I was about 20 I came to London to live for a bit. I wanted to be a photographer and I was getting by doing all these minimum wage jobs like handing out flyers on the street. I was staying at my cousin’s house and one-night Nirvana came on the television, it was probably ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and it… it spoke to me. That sounds like a cliché, but it really did. Instantly I was, like, ‘Maybe I should be doing this…’ There’s just something so truthful about this music. I’m trying really hard to avoid saying ‘authentic’ because that’s a problematic term…”
I’m with you there. Saying one kind of music is authentic is so arrogant and dismissive of all other kinds of music. Also, whenever I heard that term, I instantly imagine the music is made by people who really smell.
“Totally. And the thing is Wolf Mother basically existed before I went to London. We’d all been jamming. It’s just that experience in London made me reconsider my priorities. One of my other jobs in London was working at the Institute of Health & Hygiene, and two doors down from our building was the BBC. Within two-years I went from picking up mail to doing interviews on the Bruce Dickinson show at the BBC. That blows my mind when I think about it…”
London’s always had that kind of pull for Australian rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t it? AC/DC headed here right out of the gates and so on. What drew you here?
“Well, I’ve got a UK passport. That helped! My dad is from Barrow-In-Furness, in Cumbria…”
That’s amazing. There’s a really dodgy zoo near there that had a tiger that killed a zookeeper a few years back. That’s not amazing, obviously, but this is one of the few times Barrow-In-Furness has been mentioned in NME…
“I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve only been once, when I was about 13. We stayed in a bed & breakfast and visited some family that still live there. I’ve driven through there a few times after we’ve played in Glasgow and Edinburgh, just sort of visiting my history. I think I might have exhausted Barrow-In-Furness though. I get the impression that it’s the kind of place that people try to get out of. My dad met my mum in London. He was in the merchant navy and he was off…”
Let’s stop with the family tree now and talk about music. Where are Wolfmother at with making a new album?
“I’ve got two songs recorded and I’ve got about another ten-songs demoed at home. I’m absolutely ready to record them and get something out. I went to Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 in LA for a few days and laid a few songs down. Obviously he’s got the desk in there that the documentary was made about [2013’s excellent Sound City about the former studio of the same name in the Van Nuys neighbourhood of LA]. We made our first two albums [2005’s ‘Wolfmother’, 2009’s ‘Cosmic Egg’] on that desk when it was in Sound City studios. That was a quirky place! The engineers used to guard that desk like it was The Holy Grail. The engineers would warn you to stay away at any opportunity. Now it’s in Grohl’s place it’s all really casual. Last time I was there Dave was hosting this big BBQ and every so often he’d knock on the door and bring someone in quick. There I am recording and suddenly there’ll be the dudes from Kyuss stood there…”
As an Australian you hold the final say on BBQ. What does Andrew Stockdale make of Dave Grohl’s BBQ?
“An Aussie BBQ is quite different. Here’s the thing about an Aussie BBQ. It’s basically just sausages. Loads and loads of sausages. America have BBQs down to a fine art form. They’re doing their briskets and getting the charcoal right for 12 hours before they even put the meat on. I don’t know anything about that stuff. The only thing I really know anything about is the guitar and riffs. And I know quite a bit about J-pop now because my daughter is really into it.”
Before we go, there’s something that NME readers need to know. How does Andrew Stockdale keep his luscious locks in such good condition when he’s on the road…
“There’s this Moroccan cream I use. It’s amazing. It’s a train wreck until I get that stuff on there.”
I think that’s what they call a scoop…
“Man, I really am thinking maybe I was born in the wrong era now. Maybe I got caught up in the cosmos and spat out into the wrong era, 20 years too late…”