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VANDERWOLF

Interview

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Who are your musical inspirations and why?

Well, there are just too many to name. There are some underlying primary influences drawn from the '66-71 era-- the Golden Age of rock music which includes Beatles Pink Floyd Zappa, Velvet Underground, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bowie, The Soft Machine, Funkadelic ,Elton John, Motown, King Crimson, Dylan, Sparks, The Band and Neil Young. The stuff is so deeply rooted in my DNA I dont even listen to those records anymore -- they're on eternal repeat in my head-- sometimes simultaneously. 

 

What's become more interesting to me lately is picking up on those records that came into my life in the 1990's and 2000's in the vast blitzkrieg of releases that came out in this period. Most of my music collection from this period was on CDs-- which I gave away when I moved from London back to the US --  so I've had to assess what I need back in my collection -- and what I need to hear on vinyl. So it's been a few years of  reassessing the great records from this 20 year period. And it turns out  Portishead, Elliott Smith, Air, Super Furry Animals, Flaming Lips, Meat Puppets and Stereolab are really just as essential to me. And then there's a lot of albums by bands that only released one or two really  great records but I'm indebted to them-- The Bees, The Beta Band, Yeasayer, The Rapture, Cardinal, Olivia Tremor Control...all released one incredible, indisposable record. 

 

 

What song of yours best describes you and why?

I think they all describe me on some level and me at different times of my like....Just to run off the track on this album - A'coming Home describes me finding myself living in Laurel Canyon and having an overwhelming sense of place. The 6.09 is a reflection of my life as a worker-drone in late-stage capitalism and what ambition and professionalism means in that context. Sweep Away The Shards was something to do with the loss of a friend and I suppose how my grasp on social-reality is perhaps sturdier than some I have known. And Gaza-- well, that was written back in 2014 and finished before the war started. It's not so much about Gaza-- the specific place-- but its about the inability for us to connect with global crises. Its about my own sense of alienation from these tragically neglected places where  political failure after failure has decimated a population. I find a little self-incrimination keeps a song like this honest. And that all just Side A of the record! There's even more me on Side B....if you haven't had enough! 

 

What has been the best gig you have been to as a fan and can you tell us about it?

I can't really choose one. But as I had a  second career in the live music and cultural industry, I was very lucky to attend some many incredible  events some that would be easy to overlook -- and that aren't really remembered like Gang of Four, or the only reunion of the  full line-up of  the English Beat, or the historic return of  Arthur Lee & Love. . I was so grateful to have a hand in forging these  (for lack of a better term,) reunion concerts. 

 

In 2000 or 2001 I was in Los Angeles when Brian WIlson performed  Pet Sounds at the Hollywood Bowl. 
to London and said, ‘Why isn't this happening in London?’ Because I was very aware that Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson means much more in the UK than
in the U.S. The agent and manager were skeptical,  but I kept coming back to them. And finally, we confirmed a deal.
in January 2002, Brian came to Europe and the UK for his first solo tour. In London, performing Pet Sounds and more every night…seeing this in the
country that had embraced the record in 1966...it was a revelation -- but Brian was so awkward and timid. Public life scared him.  But night after night - McCartney, Elvis Costello, Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, Daniel Miller of Mute Records, Kevin Shields, Richard James, Gruf Rhys and so any others came to see the myth of Brian Wilson 

His vulnerability was so palpable and on display. And this sort of support he’d get from the audience is like church. People really gathered around to sort of support this fragile man. By the end everyone was up on their feet dancing to Surfing USA.”
What could possibly follow that? Well, there's only one way to top the excitement and success of Pet Sounds’’. At the time,  it was
very sensitive to even speak of it. Would Brian run out of the room at the mere mention of his most mythic  creation - SMiLE? 

Despite the difficulties and a new breakdown recreating this music, Brian not only pulled through but over the course of those 6 nights, it was like watching a man rehabilitate himself on stage. His confidence bloomed. He was more natural onstage, cracking jokes and singing really well. 

This was something more than a ''best gig'' -- this was  like a cosmic therapy session between one man, his mythic creation and all those that loved and appreciated his rare genius. 

 

What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Look both ways before  crossing a street. It can't be underestimated. 

 

Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?

Well I've poked both my eyes out with both ends of this double-edged sword. Yes-  we all loved to see the democratization of music distribution. Yes its easier than  ever to make a record and release a record but here's the thing -- there's no way to make money to pay for your record-making habit. The floor has dropped out of the so-called business model. And while live music briefly became the refuge for musicians hoping to make some income from their hard work and creative practice-- even the live music industry is in a collapse -- or perhaps it is a correction. Make no mistake - - things are very bad. 

 

If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?

When I am king of the USA, everyone will get a  government-issued Technics 12000GR turntable, a Marantz 2285 vintage receiver and some KLH Model Nine speakers and a vinyl copy of The Great Bewilderment. We'll codify Roe v. Wade. Make all universities free tuition and move toward a system closer to socialised medicine-- of course everyone who participates in the education and medical system will be made to wear those little footie pajamas at all times. 

 

How would you answer the question "Who is Vanderwolf?" and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music ?

I ask myself the same question. One of  us has a  distinct funky odor but I'm not gonna say which. 

 

What was the first record or song you purchased and why?

The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles. The first cassette was Honky Chateau by Elton John. The first LP Billion Dollar Babies by Alice Cooper. The first CD was the Cheerful Insanity of Giles Giles and Fripp. 

 

What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?

Children - do not do what I have done. Seriously- if you can be a musician without ''getting into the music industry'' you'll be a lot happier and you'll have a lot more time for your music. These days musicians have to spend so much time dealing with social media and visual content. And doing interviews! It's really a terrible distraction for getting with your instrument -- that's what you came into it for and now everything pulls you away from it. Maybe become a film-maker first....see how that goes. 

 

If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?

I guess I'll choose David Bowie this time.....because he was brilliant for about 11 records straight without fail and then sucked through the 80's and 90's until he bounced back with Black Star. I'd have liked to have done the follow up to Black Star. One wonders if his return to form would have extended for another record and I'd like to think I might've helped foster some of that incredible creativity of his and hopefully we'd have a good time doing it. He saved my life twice so it would be good to repay him somehow. 

 

If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?

Wichita Lineman. Why..?  Why not? It's beautiful. It's a story. It's bursting with desire and fatigue and loneliness....It's a masterpiece. 

 

What has the rest of the year got in store for you?

I've got  4 songs in a film called 5lbs of Pressure starring Luke Evans out  next month.  And then there's the live show to put together which will be amazing and features the band performing while riding llamas. Even the drummer -- we've built a special drum kit that can be played while riding a llama. We've just got to train the llamas to remain calm during the pyrotechnic portions of the show.Rehearsals have been a bit of  a disaster with panic-stricken llamas trampling the musicians and shitting all over the place. Bass players in the hospital now with a fractured collarbone. But we'll figure it out. Its gonna be great. 

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