Interview: Scottie & Mitch of ALPHA WOLF

Interview/Words by Darren Hurford

There’s a new wave of hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners metal coming through the scene at the moment. Spearheading this are Melbourne metalcore 5-piece Alpha Wolf. With three singles already released to massive critical acclaim months before their new album, ‘A Quiet Place To Die’ is released, I got to metaphorically sit down with guitarist Scottie Simpson and drummer Mitch Fogarty. We had a yarn about the new album, whether being Insta-famous is actually really “making it”, as well as their predictions for the state of live-music after this pesky COVID situation settles down.

Scottie and Mitch, congratulations on the success of the 3 singles you’ve launched before the album has even come out! How does it feel to have that amount of positive attention before the album has been released?

Mitch: Thank you. It’s been crazy! Akudama in particular has been welcomed with open arms and it’s been wonderful! The next 2 singles have been great as well for us. We threw out bleed 4 you expecting some negative stuff and we got nothing, so across the board, all pretty good.

Scottie: We were like a bit iffy on Akudama for a bit as it was the first song that was fully finished. But we instantly said “That’s the single!” By the time the album was done we were like “Shit, is that the right choice?” Then we shot the video for it and were like “Shit should we put that out first?” Then it just went crazy!

The film clip for Akudama is very Japanese inspired and the word itself means "villain". Is that the first thing you guys wanted to get across with this album, to launch it out there as a hard hitting “This is where we’re at now” type impression?

Scottie: For us when we picked that as the first single, it was the most Alpha Wolf song we’d ever written. Just everything about Alpha Wolf is in this song. It’s stupid quick, cool breakdown, stupid whammy stuff…this resembles the album in the best way, so it made sense to come first. I wouldn’t say it’s even my favourite song anymore, but at the time it was what represented the album in the sickest way.

The band has been quoted as saying that ‘Fault’ was your way of showing it’s OK to mess up and make mistakes, so long as you learn and move through that. Do you think this album is the result of that? Because it really feels like you’ve taken the lessons from those mistakes and given them a giant kick in the teeth.

Scottie: Yeah I definitely agree with that! Everything from ‘Fault’ was such a learning curve for us. We took so much from that EP and put it all into this album, but just knocked it up by like 10 notches! This is everything we’ve ever wanted to do in an album and it all just happened in the best way. If we were to go back and redo it, I’d probably want to do it the exact same way. We’re super happy with how it all came together.

Regarding the lockdown period, a lot of bands used this to be creative and record new music, but you guys were already tracking the album at the start of the year. Obviously, the plan wasn’t to sit on your hands and hang out for the next 6 months, so how much has it affected the release and touring schedule and everything that comes with it?

Scottie: Like crazy as you could imagine! We had a very big year planned, touring wise especially. We smashed this album out before we went to America this year because we knew we had so much coming up. Then we were there for a week and just came home, so we really didn’t need to rush as much as we did in the end! But we’ve had to cancel pretty much 9 months of touring that we had planned, we couldn’t shoot music videos because Mitch lives in Brisbane and we all live in Melbourne so we can’t fly. It’s affected the album in literally every way possible. But part of being in a band is rolling with the punches so we’ll just accept the slight kick in the face and start doing something else. We’ve made it work and it’s been a punish but everyone’s going through it, every band is in the same position, so you just gotta’ roll with it.

Are you tipping there’s going to be a big swing back the other way towards live music, now that it’s been off the table for what will have been the best part of 12 months, when it all comes back?

Scottie: It’s really hard to tell. I feel like there’s going to be so much on when it can happen again. But at the same time, it’s not going to be the same for quite some time. I don’t think venues will be able to be full for a while and the repercussions of it won’t be known for so long. When this all kicked off and we were in America, my initial thought was, “Tour’s cancelled, so we’ll just stay here and play some shows, somewhere.” But then we realised we needed to go home otherwise we probably couldn’t get home at all. So, looking back at it now, it’s kind of crazy. I think it’s going to take a long time until shows are back to what we know shows as. It’s a long way away.

Mitch: Definitely everything has changed for the future. I can’t even imagine yet….will people even want to go out if this is sorted out by then? What is the actual possible outcome? It’s such a guessing game.

We’re in an age where bands can get a lot of notoriety by being “Insta-famous” via social media. Do you feel the pendulum is swinging back the other way when it comes to bands getting exposure and having to get out there, do the grind and just play hundreds of shows before they get noticed?

Mitch: In this day and age when the internet is our main source of communication every day, it’s totally understandable for a band to blow up just from being on the internet and we’ve seen it happen with heaps of bands, too many to even name. I will say us going to Europe and playing a bunch of shows in a bunch of places where nobody knew us definitely got us a ton of fans, so it’s always a good option to be playing as much as you can. But it can also go the other way, so every option is viable.

Scottie: We’ve always been more about the grind. I think the internet has its place, especially in 2020. You can do so much online and you have to otherwise you get left behind. But I still think touring is, at least for us, the biggest thing that we can do to gain fans. The more we tour and the more we head out of Australia, the bigger the band has gotten. Whenever we leave and come back, we see so much growth. We pushed pretty hard online as well and we’ve really put everything into it. But I think live shows, up until now, have been such a crucial growth point for Alpha Wolf.

What advice would you give to other bands out there who are starting out and aspire to either play shows or tour with bands such as yourself?

Scottie: I think in this day and age you have to be doing something different to stand out. It was hard when Alpha Wolf was starting out to try and do something different. I can’t even imagine what it’s like now to try to start out in a band when everyone’s in a band! One, you have to be doing something different, or two, be doing something everyone else is doing but doing it way fucking better! But you have to stand out in some way, or just have really, really good songs. I think it’ll always come down to the songs. Image and internet personas will always have a big part, but if your songs suck, then your songs just fucken suck.

Mitch: Yeah and just practice heaps!

Do you have a favourite song on the album, or one that you love to play live?

Mitch: I’m pretty excited to play Rot In Pieces.

Scottie: Rot In Pieces live will be fucking chaos! That was actually the last song written for the album, which was like the missing piece, for me at least. We had 12 or 13 songs at the time, then Mitch sent me this drum idea for a song and I just went fucken crazy on it. Then 3 hours later the song was finished and it was just stupid heavy! Easily the heaviest song we’ve ever written.

So where to next for Alpha Wolf? Album release then eventually touring, but are we talking world domination and matching haircuts like The Beatles? Or just looking for enough money for fresh bread and milk when you’re back from touring?

Scottie: Such a thing like this can really change your mindset. When we were touring so much, obviously you get pretty tired. But now it’s like, “Man just give me a show in the middle of nowhere, I just don’t even care anymore! Can we just play a show again!?” But when things finally get back to normal, I think it’ll be a good hard reset for a lot of bands. But yeah, we’re takin’ over the world, we ain’t slowin’ down!

Lastly and arguably the most important question, who’s the most annoying on the tour bus, why, and is that the reason this album is so fucking brutal?

Mitch:……oh shit, it’s probably me.

Scottie: Na you’re alright…..I’d say it’s…

Mitch: Rowan (Donohue, the band’s photographer).

Scottie: Yeah definitely Rowan.

Mitch: One time we were doing B-roll on the USA tour and he was filming for a tour blog. He ended up filming 10 minutes of people’s feet because he thought his camera wasn’t on….stuff like that…..every day.

Scottie: Love you Rowan!

Mitch: Yeah. Rot In Pieces Rowan.

Cheers guys. I’ll get our legal team to clear all this and double check what we can actually put out.

***Interviewer’s note: No Rowans were harmed in the making of this interview.

‘A Quiet Place To Die’ comes out September 25th through Greyscale Records. Pre-order it. Buy it. Smash it in your ear holes and play it fucking loud!

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