As we fast approach the worldwide release date for the bands fourth studio album (Friday 19th Feb), we manage to grab hold of Mr. Stockdale in L.A. where he is putting the final touches to live rehearsals before they venture over to Europe.
OD – First off, lets talk about this new album, tell me what how this all came together from when you were done with touring “New Crown”, as I believe that you hit the studio just two weeks after you were done touring? How long had you been writing for “Victorious”?
ANDREW – The whole thing took about 13 days. I remember going in to the studio on New Years Day and just getting stuck straight into it. “Remove Your Mask”, was one of the first tracks that came together really quick during the recording. It was a great experience to just work very quickly and get all of the “first time” feelings and emotions of each new song captured on tape. There’s a very real and live energy there that I can now hear back when I listen to the recordings.
OD – I understand that you recorded all the guitars, bass and obviously the vocals, was it a case of you just knew exactly what you wanted and therefore felt you were the best man for the job?
ANDREW – Yea, well I thought about some of the older songs like “Joker and the Thief” and how I presented those songs to the band when we were starting out, as I had pretty much all of it lay down rough on a tape, which I recorded myself. I haven’t done that in a while and I was really drawn to that process this time around. I really feel that it helped the structure of the album and shaped the hooks. Also, it’s more time and more work in the studio for me, but it was a great experience and exercise for me. It really made me dig deep into my creative side, which was cool and very challenging.
OD – Joey (Waronker – Beck) and Josh (Freese – Slash) both laid down drum tracks on the album, will you be taking one of those guys out on tour and will Ian (Peres – Keys) be joining you also, basically, do you have your tour line up sorted now?
ANDREW – Yes, we are about to go and have a rehearsal now, as we are doing the Jimmy Kimmel show here in L.A. We have Alex Carapetis (Juliette Lewis and The Licks, Phoenix, Perry Farrel, The Dead Daisies) playing drums with us now and we already have completed a few live dates in Australia at the “Groovin’ the Moo” festival and he’s just a fantastic drummer. Alex has played with Julian Casablancas and a whole host of other great bands and he’s just such a great guy and a killer drummer. So yea, Alex will be on the road with us through America, Europe and the rest of the year’s shows.
OD – The album title “Victorious”, can you let me know a little about the choice of this title, as I know it’s track 2 on the album, was it a case of picking the name based on the strongest song that represents the album as a whole, or is there another meaning behind it?
ANDREW – Well I just thought, that it just had a certain ring to it and had a sort of timeless quality, you know? For a little while, I was contemplating calling the album “Gypsy Caravan” but I just didn’t want to get caught up with all of that kind of “Caravan” stuff (laughs), so I finally decided on “Victorious” and I couldn’t be happier. It just feels so right to have that as the title. Releasing any album these days is a challenge and I just feel that “Victorious” is not only a statement of that, but for me personally, it’s a victory to write, record and release music. Releasing an album is almost like giving birth to something (laughs), without the physical pain.
OD – Although the album has ten tracks, the running time is just under 36 minutes making it the shortest Wolfmother album to date. Did you set out to make an album that was to the point, focusing on the true essence of each song, all the while keeping a simple, catchy structure?
ANDREW – That was the M.O. for this album. People have a short attention span as it is these days and we felt that we had to make every moment of every song count and mean something. We kept that in mind for sure when I was writing and in particular has left an impact on my writing in general. It seems like a lot of writers are thinking like that now and are totally aware of the lack of attention from people these days.
It would seem that there is a trend of this style of writing, with material just being hammered out at a fast rate and not too complicated. This certainly had me thinking prior to the writing of the album and I just felt that I needed to be a part of it. To be honest, it sounds better too! You never really know if people are really going to like the songs or not and I just do the best that I can based on my personal sensibility and taste. The best part of the job, is hearing people digging the music and really enjoying it. It’s the ultimate pay back for the creative process and it just reminds me of why I do this and why I got into certain bands when I was growing up. Good songs are just timeless and have the ability to take you back to a time and place that can be very intimate for someone. It’s very powerful stuff and I’m just so grateful that I can do this for a living and if my music provides a soundtrack to a special moment in someone’s life, then that’s even more special for me.
OD – Can you talk a little about the process of recording with Brendan (O’Brien – Soundgarden) in L.A, as I believe that it all happened quiet fast?
ANDREW – The way that “Victorious” came together, was mainly based on the art of trying to catch lightning in a bottle. We really wanted to capture the magic and the feel of each song, the first time around. I remember saying to Brendan (O’Brien), “are we going to have everything mic’d up and ready to go all the time?” and Brendan just knew what I was looking for and made sure that everything was just right. I wanted to be able to grasp that real emotion of a first idea / first feeling. When an idea begins to take shape, it’s always that particular version which is loaded with the most excitement and emotion when performed for the fist time.
As a musician, you should be comfortable playing music and I just loved the fact that I would walk into the studio and go “hey do you want to play that song” and just pick up the instruments and away we go. It was just a really refreshing and a very enjoyable experience overall.
OD – Wolfmother have always had that wonderful classic sound, do you find that you spend most of your time listening to the music if the 60’s / 70’s era, as a source of inspiration, rather than the contemporary rock stuff that’s around today?
ANDREW – Yes, totally! I actually think that the guitar playing from that 70’s era was if a very high level. The fact of the matter is that people seemed to be better musicians back then. Of course there were mistakes when recording and they had to chop up the tape to edit the final mixes, but overall there was just another level of musicianship and songwriting. A lot of the great riffs, guitar tones and amp’s are all from that era, which is a statement in it’s own right! I do go back to the masters for inspiration every now and again, whether it be a sound I’m looking for, or an idea that needs a little coaxing to come to fruition.
There are a lot of really great bands now that are continuing to push the sound from where the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, MC5 etc , left off and are putting their own contemporary twist on it and that’s just fantastic. The influence is most definitely from that “classic” era in Rock music, however there is a really fresh sound to it.
OD -The last time Overdrive saw you was at the Black Sabbath “British Summer Time Festival” in Hyde Park. That was a great day with a fantastic line up which included Soundgarden, Faith No More and Motorhead among others across the arena stages. Do you have any memories from that day?
ANDREW – I remember standing on the side of the stage watching Black Sabbath and seeing Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) on one side of the stage and Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) was on the other side and I was standing next to Zak Starkey (The Who, Oasis) just hanging out and talking about his Godfather, Ringo (Star, The Beatles) and other cool stuff. I really remember just looking out across the crowd, because it had been a really fantastic sunny hot day and all of a sudden, there was these big black clouds with lightning sparking inside them. It was that moment when it’s just about to rain and there is a certain energy in the air and with Black Sabbath in front of you providing the soundtrack, it just makes for a really surreal memory.
OD -We are huge vinyl geeks / collectors here in Overdrive and wanted to ask you if you’re a collector yourself and if so, can you tell me some of your most treasured records?
ANDREW – I do have a vinyl collection and love to rummage though it from time to time. It’s just so personal to the digital format. It almost forces you to listen to the whole record and immerse yourself in the fantasy of the music. Just being hypnotized by the combination of the artwork and music together as a unit, is pretty powerful stuff.
Well, just off the top of my head, The Beatles ‘White Album” would be up there as a pretty special part of my collection. Tracks like “Blackbird” and “Dear Prudence”, are just spectacular making that album just beyond fantastic.
OD -Who do you think is the most underrated band from the early classic rock era?
ANDREW – I can’t really think of anything at this moment. Everybody wants to champion some kind of an unknown band that never made it, but the truth is that the bands that did make it are clearly the best of the best and that’s why they made it to where they are. (laughs) Let me think, well I guess there is that band from back in day, called Mountain. I don’t know a whole lot about this band and I am currently discovering them at my own pace, but I believe that they were quite a successful band. I think at one point they were huge but I’m not really sure. I like the stuff that I’ve heard from them, which at the end of the day is what it’s all about really.
OD – If you could step in for any band at all, either still going or now over, who would it be and at what period of their career?
ANDREW – Well, I would have to say Joe Cocker at Woodstock back in 1969. I can just see myself there with platform boots, wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and having a beer (laughs). Just hanging out with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell (session musician for The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra), now that would be epic!
OD – So, you’re going to be embarking on this European tour in April and will be taking to the stage in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on April 8th, (Get tickets here). For anyone that has never seen you before, what can we expect from Wolfmother live?
ANDREW – Well, I’m just hoping that everyone really enjoys the record and can’t wait to get out on the road again and play some of the new stuff from “Victorious”. I’m really looking forward to playing in the Olympia. We have played there before and really enjoyed the show. Great people, great city and great beer! (laughs)
Wolfmother “Victorious” will be released on Friday 19th February via Universal. To order your copy, just click on the graphic link below.
In celebration of “VICTORIOUS” being released on February 19th, Overdrive has teamed up with Universal Music Ireland and MCD to give some lucky Overdrive readers a chance to win a selection of vinyl and C.D copies of the album and all you have to do is the following:
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For more information on Wolfmother, just click on one of the links provided below:
Words – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Stock Images © WOLFMOTHER 2016