Interview: Alpha Wolf
The Melbourne 5 piece have worked tirelessly to create something inherently familiar, yet at the same time unashamedly different. Taking the heavy riffs of their downbeat and deathcore contemporaries, mixing that with the groove of the current wave of nu-metal bands, and adding a melody that completely their own; Alpha Wolf are carving out their own place in the Australian heavy scene. We spoke with founding member and guitarist, Sabian Lynch, about the new album 'Mono' as well as touring, getting signed and much more.
Busy times for Alpha Wolf right now with a bunch of tour announcements, a new album due out shortly and plenty to keep you all busy. Are you guys keeping on top of everything?
It has proved a little bit difficult with all of the touring as well as the album stuff, like we know people aren't made of money and we're trying to sell tickets and promote our album. We feel a bit needy on social media I guess.
The new album is, Mono, is absolutely awesome by the way. Very heavy, very brutal, hard-hitting. How much effort did you guys put into this album and how long did it take to get the finished product?
Thanks for that man, I'm glad you enjoyed it. We spent roughly around 18 months on it. When Scottie joined the band back around that time, he was writing as well as myself and we didn't really have a plan in mind, we didn't know that we were going to do an album, we just wanted to write. So we ended up demo-ing about 16 to 20 new tracks and we had this huge folder of these demo tracks. At that point we thought that we might as well bang out an album, as it kind of solidifies the band in a way to have a debut full length under out. We culled that list down to what we thought were 13 good tracks, we ended up scrapping one song in the studio and it became 12 songs which is what we've ended up with now for Mono.
Was the album pretty much done by the time you guys signed to Greyscale Records?
Yeah, we sent Greyscale the album once it was fully done. We did everything off our own back last year in October I believe, we had a plan in mind to do more music videos with friends, and we had an idea in mind to send them a complete package along with the new album so that they knew we were serious about our product.
Speaking of Greyscale, how long did it take for you guys to work the relationship out. Was signing to them an easy move for you guys?
Originally they did say no to us, not because they thought we were necessarily bad but because they don't want to be just a heavy label and currently they've only got heavy bands. It took a bit of persuading, we just had to go ahead off our own backs and do the record, and I spoke to Lochlan Watt from triple j who premiered #104 on the radio, and he asked if he could listen to the album, so I sent it to him, and he thought it was weird that we weren't getting signed because he really enjoyed the record so he ended up messaging Greyscale on his own to let them know they should definitely sign. Within 5 minutes of him messaging Greyscale, they hit us up for a contract.
There seem to be a lot of shows popping up with Alpha Wolfs name on the tour poster, are you guys stoked that you're getting your name out there and are getting so many gigs as of late?
Yeah, all of the opportunities we're getting given we are grateful we've been given them at all. We always look up to other bands getting these sort of opportunities. We've been kicking a lot of goals and now being one of those bands who are touring constantly is what we've always wanted to do. Especially with a lot of venues on these tours being on a bucket list for us, so it'll be cool to cross those off and we're extremely excited to make some new friends and play a lot of shows and meet a lot of new fans.
Not to play favourites or anything, but is their a particular tour that you're most excited about playing?
I don't know, it's pretty tough. We've been big fans and sweaters for Thy Art Is Murder for a long time. When we got offered that slot we did get pretty excited, I remember when I first saw the email I kind of froze for a few seconds after I read it. Then we got told that'd we'd be the main support for it which we are absolutely stoked about. We've know the guys in Thy Art for a while now and we toured with them down in Tassie back in 2012 as a part of the Hate tour, and as a band we were still relatively new and now we've got a lot to show for I think since then.
Is there a certain concept or subject matter for the new album when it came to writing it?
We aim to be as honest as possible. Previously with Alpha Wolf we never really spent much time and effort on the lyrics, but this time around both myself and Aidan wrote a lot of the lyrics for Mono. We wrote probably a total of around 2 or 3 albums worth of lyrics actually, they involve personal stories from our own perspective and people that we know also. We just wanted to be as honest as we could on the record with the lyrics and I guess that's the general theme, honesty.
Who would your ultimate dream band be to share the stage with Alpha Wolf one day?
I'd have to personally say Emmure. They're definitely one to tick off the bucket list for sure. When I saw them play in Australia the last time they were here that's what really kind of made us want to become a heavier band, before that we were more of a straight up hardcore band. So to share the stage with them at some point would be an absolute dream.
Didn't the vocalist (Frankie Palmeri) of Emmure tweet about your latest single recently on Twitter?
Yeah, I think with the whole social media thing these days it allows you to connect with your idols a bit more. But off his own back without us mentioning him or anything he shared the new song and said it was pretty cool, so that was pretty awesome.
Your music is quite clearing aggressive and pissed-off sounding, so what motivated Alpha Wolf to play this particular style of music?
I guess it's just a vessel for us to dig into our emotions, but not necessarily cry and instead use the music as an emotive outlet as a band. But we do enjoy it and it is a lot of fun, so we make the most of it.
Is it hard to stand out right now with so many bands all doing a certain style of heavy music? What do you think Alpha Wolf have that separates you guys from the rest?
I'm really not sure to be honest. The response we got from our most recent single is something that I did not expect at all. I personally think there are a lot of better bands out there right now in Australia, and even for us to be getting these tours it keeps surprising me that we are getting this recognition and support over other bands. I'm not really sure what makes us stand out as opposed to anyone else but I do know that we are working as hard as we can behind the scenes for these opportunities. I'm sure every other band that we know are doing the same thing to try and get to that next level. I guess, the thing that we did which I recommend other bands try that worked for us was that took the time off to bring out the best new material that we possibly could. We didn't rush anything, we didn't try and get a song out as soon as we could so that our fans had something to listen to. We made sure that we took as much time as possible to refine everything and to rewrite the songs again and again if need be and just make sure that we felt it was as good as it could possibly be before we showed the public.
Definitely. I know that you guys do have your own style and it's unique in the sense that it does sound different to other heavy hardcore bands out there, but do you all have your own individual styles and influences in terms of what you listen to?
Yeah, we vary all over the place. I know myself I'm more of a 90's grunge listener, as well as modern day metalcore and stuff like that. Our drummer is pretty much a pop-punk kid, that's all he listens to. Everyone else has their own tastes and we all put our own input in to the bands sound.
Did you have anything that you wanted to say or get out there so that your fans are in the loop with everything that's been going on lately? Yeah, I did want to put out there that when we recorded the album, one thing we really wanted to base around the album was to make it a more, not so much DIY sort of record, but more of friend collaboration. Everything to do with the album, from engineering it, to the final pressing, the artwork, every minor detail, it was a friend that did it for us. We didn't pay someone from America that we've never met before to do everything for us. It's really quite a good feeling knowing that everything that went into this album was with the help of a friend, and I just think that's a really good aspect to have. It's not like we payed someone to do whatever for us, it was all our doing and we had help from people that know us. Also to record it, we hired a holiday home for a week, we thought that would be better than to go into a recording studio. So, we all took a week off work and headed down to the holiday home on the beach and we took all of our recording gear with us and we lived together for the week. That was a really good experience to be able to do that as well.
That's awesome, good to know. It's great to see bands like yourself and Justice For The Damned making music with a certain raw intensity about it, which isn't really common anymore. A lot of heavy music is so over-produced and very clean sounding. But you guys do this sound that seems really gritty and real, which is great to hear.
Yeah, Aidan our vocalist manages to pull that off really well I think. Instead of perfect and consistent takes, he brings a certain emotional vocal that sounds very honest and real. As you said, our friends Justice For The Damned are doing the same, and they pull that off really well also. We want to be able to put everything we can into our live performance and one thing that I've been known for it do be as crazy and tough sounding on stage as possible. I really do think that this new album will come across very well in a live atmosphere and I'm excited to play the new material.
Thanks so much Sabian for taking the time to chat today. All the best for the upcoming shows that you'll be playing and of course the big album launch on July 14th. All the best!
It was a pleasure, thanks for all the support and we'll see everyone out at a show very soon hopefully.
Mono is out July 14th via Greyscale Records. Pre-order here.
Written by Steve Jenkins
Alpha Wolf will be supporting Thy Art Is Murder nationally this July/August Thursday 27th July - Perth - Badlands Bar Friday 28th July - Adelaide - Enigma Bar Saturday 29th July - Melbourne - Max Watts Wednesday 2nd August - Canberra - The Basement Thursday 3rd August - Wollongong - Uni Bar Friday 4th August - Sydney - Oxford Arts Factory Saturday 5th August - Newcastle - The Cambridge Hotel Thursday 10th August - Brisbane - Crowbar Friday 11th August - Noosa - Villa Noosa Saturday 12th August - Gold Coast - Miami Tavern