Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 59 - Interview with BlackWolf

BLACKWOLF launch 'The Hunt'


Whenever you go to meet a new band, there’s always the hope that you might get “lucky”. Like the guy who interviewed the Quarrymen and got them to sign a ticket from their first gig, or the shopkeeper who allows a penniless artist to pay with a sketch, realizing thirty years later it was Salvador Dali. Okay, so I’m not likely to get that sort of luck, but you do hope that you’ve stumbled in at the beginning of something big, a band that is playing a pub today but will swagger onto the stage at Wembley in a few years. Well, you never know, and I’ve a hunch that Bristol rockers BlackWolf (one word, two capitals) won’t stay in pubs for long.

The pub in question is The Louisiana in central Bristol, where the band are playing a special gig for their local fans. Although their album “The Hunt” isn’t out until January, they’ve decided to reward the loyal locals with a full preview of it, which is a pretty neat idea. The Louisiana is legendary for hosting early gigs from bands that went on to be big, like The Kings Of Leon, and posters reminding you of this are dotted around and framed. 

The last time I was here was to see a little Australian band called Airbourne, who totally rocked the shit out of the shoe-box sized upstairs room reserved for live stuff. BlackWolf, I am sure, will be quite happy to follow that particular band’s career trajectory.


“We've had a lot of joking diva-like moments with press in the past regarding how they print the name,” admits vocalist Scott Sharp. “It was Jason (rhythm guitar) who came up with the name BlackWolf originally. It was something he had seen on 'A Question Of Sport' a long time ago and had promised himself that it would be the name of his future band.
Jason was the one that formed the band. We all came along in various stages afterwards; mainly through band dating sites such as 'joinmyband.com'. With the line-up as it is, we've been together since January 2012 and the name has always just felt right to us.”



I suggest that the band take the “Wolf” motif a little further and have an album cover that features them naked and covered in blood, with a pack of wild wolves licking it off. It’s a joke, but it seems I’m not the only one with such a suggestion!

“Not at all,” laughs Scott. “We're just waiting to have enough money aside to make all the current ideas a reality. So, by all means, send your suggestions in on a postcard. The current leading idea is to have wild wolves tied up at the front of the stage with everyone in the front row teasing them with bits of raw steak; possibly with some smoke machines behind them and a few high powered fans in front to get their fur doing that epic superstar windswept look. We're still working out the kinks, but we're open to suggestions.”



Every band has to start somewhere, and I wonder what sort of gigs BlackWolf started out with before reaching the heady heights of The Louisiana.

“The early gigs were… strange,” he admits with a smile. “No one knew who we were or what to expect from us and we were still really feeling our way around. This lead to quite a few interesting gigs early on, one being a main support to a covers band playing songs by the likes of The Killers and so on. It was a bit odd at first but by a few songs in to our set the crowd were really on our side and it actually turned out to be a great little show!”



From what I’ve heard, the band has a pretty deep, groove ridden style, and I ask Scott what sort of music BlackWolf would describe themselves as playing.

“Soulful, blues-drenched, hip-swingin', boot-stomping, hard rock'n'roll!” he says confidently.



I hint that I like the band’s logo, asking innocently which artistic genius designed it. Scott looks a little uncomfortable until I let him off the hook by admitting that I already know it was him from one of the band’s girlfriends I met downstairs. I ask if he is planning to design the cover for the debut album and he nods enthusiastically.

“I will be,” he confirms. “I do all the design and artwork for the band including the EP cover and the recent single artwork for ‘Mr. Maker’. I've had a long love affair with fine art and design ever since I was a kid when my mum used to buy me rolls of lining paper, you know the stuff you paper walls with, because I went through sketch books too quickly! I've always loved album cover art and used to love looking at the images on my parents old LP vinyl sleeves. I'm also a big fan of the 70s through to the early 90s gig poster artwork. So, alongside saving us some serious cash paying artists and designers to do it, it makes sense for me as it's something I've always wanted to do. I'm currently in the first stages of putting together our debut album cover.”



I ask what the album is to be called, which is when the title ‘The Hunt’ is revealed. I am sworn to secrecy, as it will only become official later from the stage. Scott explains how it came to be chosen.

“Thanks to all the amazing people that pledged for the album we didn't have to navigate this minefield too much. We gave them a list of suggested names and the one they liked the most was 'The Hunt', so we've gone with that. It fits really well for us. Alongside the obvious reference to wolves and our name, it provides the idea of progression from our EP title 'Taking Root' and really does say what this album is all about for us. We're going for it with this record. The EP was a small introduction to us, most of which was written in the first few weeks we'd gotten together and started writing, and although we understand that this will by no means be easy, with the album we're looking to make a big impression that will last. A title like 'The Hunt' fits what we're aiming to do well.”



Mention of Pledge Music reminds me of FM, who did so well with the scheme they released two albums. I ask how quickly BlackWolf hit their target, and if there was any left over for bonus stuff.

“We hit our total target in just a few weeks, hitting the 50% mark after only 9 days which was great for us. It also showed us just how much support is out there for us at the moment. We will be recording two extra bonus tracks that won't be on the album and will only be available to our pledge folk. Anything raised outside of that will be put towards all those wonderful costs incurred by PR agents, music videos and so on. We'll be refraining from random impulse buys at unholy places such as Ikea, we'll make sure the extra money is used wisely.”



Outside the venue, basking in the sun, there are plenty of bodies with BlackWolf shirts and expectant looks on their faces. I am told by several how bloody good this band are, and I ask Scott to elaborate a little on the gig itself.

“We've had such amazing support from all our fans these last 14 months, and alongside the incredible response we've had through our pledge campaign, we just wanted to give everyone something special back to say thank you,” he says. “So we decided to do a full preview show of the album before we hit the studio in a couple of weeks. We felt this would be a great way to give our followers something extra, and it's also a great way to test out all the songs before we lay them down on a record.”



BlackWolf have certainly been paying their dues in the last 12 months, supporting The Union on a tour, plus a one off support of up and coming superstars The Temperance Movement. I suggest there must be a few happy memories from these times.

“There's so many really,” he admits. “All the bands we've played with and supported have been surprisingly humble and really down to earth, so we've felt at home with them all right away. As far as memories go, I think my favourite was walking into the main room at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. We've not been together that long and this was the biggest stage we'd played at the time. I walked through the doors with Jason, all our gear being pushed in front of us, and the first thing we saw were the big loading ramps leading up onto the stage. I just remember turning round to Jason and saying, "Frickin' hell it's like that Bon Jovi video!". We knew from that point on it was going to be a great night. I think we must have lapped that big stage about a hundred times before our set was over!”



In addition, there’s nothing to keep you grounded like meeting genuine stars who are not assholes, and Scott has a special twinkle in his eye for a certain Welshman.

“Nev MacDonald from SKIN in particular surprised me the most,” he says unsurprisingly (everyone loves Nev). “He's such a nice guy and he was really supportive to us. When we played with him, he stood at the side of the stage our entire set rocking out and chanting along with the crowd, it was brilliant. Honestly though, we've been amazed at how little ego has been in the camps of the bands we've supported. The Union were fantastic and we learned a lot from them on the road. I think Dave McClusky their drummer and Chris Childs came out to watch us almost every night on that tour, which was really encouraging. We recently played with The Temperance Movement and they were another really good band that just came across as really nice down to earth guys. We haven't got time for the whole ego thing ourselves. The industry is hard enough as it is these days without shooting yourself in the foot, so it's been really refreshing to see so many of the bands we're inspired by having the same type of attitude.”



So it’s been a good twelve months for BlackWolf, and the next twelve promise even more with the release of the album and all that comes with it. Scott is both optimistic and cautious about the future.

“Well the next thing up will be the release of our first single 'Mr. Maker' which we have a video coming out for soon. Then we'll be heading into the studio to record the album. We have our first London headline show coming up on the 30th August at the 100 Club, which you can buy tickets for from our website. We'll also be supporting White Wizzard for a one off show in Cardiff on the 5th October at Bogiez Rock Club. Other than that we're currently in talks regarding possible tours around November through to January time, so there's a lot going on behind the scenes at the moment. Just keep watching our facebook and twitter feeds. We'll have lots of good news coming soon.”



I’ve finished my cider by now, and it’s getting close to gig time, so we part company and I am feeling optimistic myself about BlackWolf and what I’m about to see. A beer or two later and I’m in the shoe-box watching Scott and company go through their routine. Although there are a few sound issues the music is loud and proud, reminding me of The Answer with added balls. Scott himself barrels through a few tracks before chatting to the crowd, but it seems they have all seen the band enough times not to worry about things like what the tracks are called! Lead guitarist John Greenhill pulls off some very impressive but not at all over the top solos, whilst founder member Jason Cronin manages to sweat out a hairstyle that looks like it’s been stolen from Garth out of ‘Wayne’s World’. 

Rhythm is very important with this sort of music, and BlackWolf are well served by the pounding drums of Tom Lennox-Brown and Ben Webb’s creative bass-work. ‘Mr Maker’ sounds amazing, and there’s also a great reaction for ‘Ophelia’, a track tested out on The Union tour and added to the album because of the response. They close with ‘Seeds’, a humongous track that can be found on YouTube, and the reason for me wanting to check the band out. There are a few crowd surfers, lots of smiles and plenty of nodding heads, and it makes me want to see BlackWolf at a bigger venue with a better sound. For now though, it’s a good introduction to a band that, come January, you will certainly be hearing more from.



After the gig I blag a t-shirt (designed by Scott, natch) and throw a few bonus questions at him, starting with the rhythm guitarist’s haircut.

“Ha-ha,” he laughs. “This question comes up every now and then and we all seem to have a different response. Jason, the guy you're talking about, will say it's just a result of his clean cut style and a healthy amount of 'Head 'n' Shoulders'. John, our lead guitar guy, reckons it actually is Garth's real hair and that Jason had to pay a lot of money and do some pretty unmentionable things to get it. Tom our drummer says he got electrocuted when he was young and no matter what Jason tries to do it just stays that way. Me and Ben just say it's the result of too many air-guitar sessions in front of his Dad's oscillating house fan when he was growing up.”



From my vantage point, the gig went well, and from the look on the band’s faces they agree.

“We felt the show tonight went really well. The crowd reacted to the new album brilliantly and there were a lot of smiling faces in the room. The crowd stayed nice and loud throughout the night which was great to hear. We did notice a few early favourites as well which is what we were hoping to see. We always have a lot of fun on stage and that seems to flow through to the energy of the crowd.”



One thing I did notice was a look of alarm as people surfed the crowd. Have there been any incidents in the past?

“ It's always great to see people in the crowd really cut loose and get crazy in that way, but there's always a part of me as a frontman that feels responsible for everyone in the crowd, so I always try to keep a close eye on things to make sure no one is getting hurt. I've not seen anything too bad but I was told the air conditioning unit was kicked down tonight!”



I also notice that the merchandise area is manned by the band’s girlfriends, something that has happened since the first rocker plugged in his first guitar. I ask whether this will still be the case when they play Wembley.

“Ha-ha, yeah they all get roped in from time to time. Of course, we have to keep true to our roots and keep our selves grounded!”



Before I head off, I feel it’s only fair to ask the standard closing question for any interview, and ask Scott for a message to all the fans and potential fans out in MusicLand…

“As always we really do want to say a huge thank you to everyone that supports us. We can't do this without you and we, just as every band out there whether they’re Iron Maiden or your local pub covers band, are absolutely nothing without you, so thank you for everything. If you've not heard us yet, check us out on facebook at www.facebook.com/ukblackwolf or on our main website at www.ukblackwolf.com. Come join us and the rest of the pack, stalk us, we'll stalk you, and we promise it'll be the start of something beautiful. Other than that, we hope to see you at a show soon!”
 

Remember the name BlackWolf, folks - you heard it here first.

Alan Holloway

Blackwolf-Interview

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