— by Brandee J. Tecson, with reporting by Kelly Marino
There are two types of musicians: those who try to stifle the wild beast inside of them in the interest of fitting in, and those who choose to set that sucker free with reckless abandon.
From a band with a name like Wolfmother, you'd be right to expect the latter.
With their wild Afros, raging guitar riffs, psychedelic lyrics and epic tunes, the Australian threesome are a throwback to the raunch of '60s and '70s rock.
"It is about love," Wolfmother's singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale said of their often sold-out live shows. "It's a joyful celebration of rock. I think a lot of bands aren't jamming anymore. We've played at festivals with metal bands that are very aggressive, and we do play relentlessly when we play, [but we enjoy] the feeling of it. "
The curly-haired trio — Stockdale, keyboardist/bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett — have acquired a wicked fanbase since their emergence three years ago, and they've been compared to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the MC5.
"The first time [someone told us] that, we were like, 'Yes! Wow, are you serious?' " Stockdale recalled. "We thought it was flattering because we love those bands, but then there were these journalists who saw us as just another rip-off band.
"My response to that was, 'Show me any kind of music that doesn't sound like something else,' " he continued, adding that their influences range from Ozzy to Billy Joel. "That's the nature of ideas, the evolution of everything in art."
A chance meeting in a rehearsal hall in 2000 spurred a random jam session and spawned the rocking metal outfit, named after Tom Robbins' book "Skinny Legs and All,"
"I [had] experimented with playing with some other people and saw how difficult it was," Stockdale admitted. "I'd thought the three of us could play pretty well together, but it's like when you're in a relationship, you don't realize what you got."
"Basically, [he] cheated on us," Heskett teased.
Thankfully for fans, the guys got through that rough patch, and soon the retro rockers were breathing life into a humdrum musical landscape with their refreshing, no-holds-barred act.
The band launched its own buzz-making campaign, playing local hangouts, passing out flyers and slipping its EP under the doors of major Aussie radio stations.
Wolfmother's breakthrough came two years ago, when they performed at a televised festival for MTV Australia — the gig landed them a deal with Modular Recordings. The indie label shipped the boys to Los Angeles to start working on their debut LP with producer Dave Sardy (Oasis, Jet); they recorded in the same studios where Pink Floyd created their 1979 masterpiece The Wall and where Nirvana shaped Nevermind.
Their own self-titled debut — a journey filled with "simple philosophies for complex times," as Ross describes it — was released in their homeland in October. It has already spawned two hit singles and legions of loyal followers.
"People would come up and say, 'My girlfriend just loves making out to your music,' " Ross said, amused.
"What can we say? We are very sexual people when it comes to our music," added Heskett. "We can't stop that."
Wolfmother have their sights set on conquering America next, and the band has already given folks a little taste of what to expect, dropping its new EP, Dimensions, last month. Wolfmother's self-titled full-length will hit stores May 2, but not before they tackle the monster music festivals of South by Southwest on March 18 and Coachella on April 29.
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