April 7, 2016 Interview – Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother
Create from the heart and the rest will follow. That is a testament any artist should abide by, and Australian Rock-n-Roll band Wolfmother, who has been a mainstay in the music world for over a decade now. Forging major success upon the release of their 2005 self-titled album, Wolfmother has since sustained internal changes, label changes, while being pressured by high expectations. Thankfully, founding Guitarist/Vocalist Andrew Stockdale has seen through the noise and triumphed to keep Wolfmother alive and well as they continue to create powerful music leading into 2016’s album, Victorious. Charged, proud, and ready to get loud, Wolfmother is lighting up international charts once again. Recently we sat down with Stockdale to talk the history of the band, his creative process, the latest album, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You began Wolfmother nearly fifteen years ago, and the band has really built a strong international name since the self-titled 2005 debut record. Through the ups and downs, first tell us, what has this journey been like for you and Wolfmother?
Andrew Stockdale – It’s been good. I have seen a lot of the world, played the biggest festivals in the world, sold millions of records, met a lot of really interesting people, and met a lot of musical heroes. It’s been an incredible and life-changing experience.
CrypticRock.com – One would imagine so, and those are all extremely positive things. When the band began to attain commercial success, one of the first things that caught listeners’ ears was that Wolfmother was doing something a little different than what other Rock bands were doing at the time. Wolfmother was not going by trends. With that said, how important is it for you to have the definite sound the band does?
Andrew Stockdale – It is one of those things that just happened. Once a band searches for a sound or a style, it either happens or it doesn’t. I remember when we were demoing “Woman” and “Dimension,” it just kind of happened and we had our own sound. You need something to set yourself apart from other bands so you stand out.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, it is clear that the band is more influenced by Classic Rock from the ’60s and ’70s. What is really quite interesting is that since Wolfmother debuted internationally a decade ago, that type of style of raw, emotional Rock has really becoming very popular again. What do you think about that? Are you happy to see this style making such a strong comeback?
Andrew Stockdale – Yeah, I think people like good music, things come around full circle. I think it’s great. If our kind of music is coming back into trend, I think that’s fantastic.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, it is not about really what is trendy, it is about what really strikes a chord. There is nothing like raw, emotional, guitar-driven Rock-n-Roll.
Andrew Stockdale – I do like guitars, there is something special about it. If you plug in an electric and you haven’t played in a couple of months, for me, it reminds me of all the good times I’ve had. It reminds me of all the tours I’ve done. Sometimes it just makes me want to have a beer (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Well there is nothing wrong with that. With Wolfmother, like any band, there has been twists and turns along the way. That is just part of the natural course of a band. Back in 2014, you self-produced and self-released the New Crown record. What was the experience of taking everything into your own hands like that?
Andrew Stockdale – It was awesome because I had been under contract. A lot of artists that had major label success, like massive success, things get very serious and tense. The whole objective is just replicating that again and again, and people don’t get exactly the same results, or better. You’re managing expectations, once you’ve experienced that success, it is just stats. It becomes all about the stats and people don’t really see the music, or their idea of success or failure, and all these kinds of things. Those things get spoken about, and it can be a little bit frustrating. Getting out of that and having no marketing, no record label, no distribution, no anything, but now everyone says, “You have all these main distributions now that are free,” so I just tried it out. I remember within a day, there were something like 300 blogs that were reviewing it. It actually went into the top 10 iTunes Rock charts in something like ten different countries. It was honest, there was no production, no set up. What it was, was what it was, which was cool. Now that I’ve done that, I don’t mind using a facility that a label can offer to promote it. It all just depends what you want as an artist. I a lot of people don’t know what they want (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Right, that is the story of a lot of people’s lives, not realizing what they want out of it.
Andrew Stockdale – Yes, they don’t know what they want, and then, what they want changes. When we started, our contract had maximum sales of $70,000. That had a different royalty from 10, 20, 30, 70,000, the biggest we could ever imagine, but we sold like $126,000,000. You can’t plan it, it’s crazy.
CrypticRock.com – No, you cannot plan that, it is so true. Wolfmother is back in 2016 with another new record, Victorious. This record is really well-composed. There are a lot of dynamic tunes, and the guitarwork is the driving force. What was the writing and recording process this time around like?
Andrew Stockdale – I have a studio in Byron Bay that I use for rehearsals for the band. I used it to record New Crown. This time, I just felt, what if I go in there and record, play everything, do the demos myself, and finish any ideas, whether it is good or bad, but just see it through. I would just go in, pick up a guitar and start playing for half an hour and lay out everything like that. Whenever I have a spare moment, I just always come up with riffs, and then everything just sort of grows around the riffs. The riffs come first, drums come second, vocals come last, lyrics… I just kind of come up with them. I do a stream of conscious stuff. Sometimes I think that’s a lot better than being too literal. Some of my favorite songs are the ones that I don’t even know what they mean. Like “Joker and the Thief,” what the hell is that about? I would not have a clue (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is open to interpretation. Let people decide on their own what it is about.
Andrew Stockdale – That’s it. I think that’s part of the process, letting people in. If you’re a musician, you’ve got to let people in and they own it. They take it and make it their own. If it is a little bit, kind of abstract, it seems the abstract ones, people will own and make it their own. Although, if it too literal, too to the point, people sort of keep it at arm’s length. At least for me, that’s my own experience. There’s so many songs out there about something, how they are the same, the chorus is the same, everything revolves around that. People like that too, it just depends.
CrypticRock.com – Everybody approaches music differently as far as listening. Wolfmother recently returned to North America and are touring Europe through April. What was the return to North America like?
Andrew Stockdale – It’s fantastic. It’s good to reconnect with the fanbase and get new fans in. There are people that came that were here before, there were new people that just heard a new record. It’s continually evolving an audience. It’s good to play, we are doing six shows a week or something like that, so we are doing a lot of playing. I think the band is really tightening up, and the crew, along with everything, is gelling. We have that kind of momentum happening, which is nice.
CrypticRock.com – Well that are all positive things. As you said, you are finding the crowds to be a mix of new and old fans. Are you seeing a positive reaction to the new material being played live?
Andrew Stockdale – Yeah, sometimes I just say to the crowd, “Who was here last time we played?” Sometimes it looks like 20% of the audience. Sometimes it looks like a lot more, it’s bizarre. Being around for 10 years, or for however long it’s been, you get new people, you keep people on board, it’s interesting to see how it all goes.
CrypticRock.com – It is also a very positive thing that the band is still attracting new fans this deep into Wolfmother’s career.
Andrew Stockdale – I guess every record speaks to people in different ways. I made a solo record in 2011-12, which was released in 2013, entitled Keep Moving. There was a lot of Southern influences on it. People come along to these Wolfmother gigs in Nashville and other places and they want to hear songs off my solo record. You can kind of manifest these different audiences. Whatever style you play, you attract that audience.
CrypticRock.com – It is about the dynamics of each record, including your solo record. Those dynamics are what attracts different listeners from different walks of life. My last question is pertaining to films. CrypticRock.com covers music as well as Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Andrew Stockdale – In all honesty, I don’t watch a lot of movies from those genres (laughs). I liked that movie with Ben Stiller, While We’re Young (2014). I thought the film has interesting observations with the current times we live in.