Wolfmother’s self-titled debut album accumulated over one million sales worldwide, won multiple ARIAs and even earned the band a Grammy Award.
Then their sophomore release, Cosmic Egg, elevated the group to the pinnacle of Aussie rock — supporting AC/DC on their Black Ice tour. Come 2012 and blues rockers Wolfmother are back, with their third record slated for an early 2013 street date and a new line-up who’s onstage vigour is redefining the quintet's live performances.
And it appears founding member and vocalist / lead guitarist Andrew Stockdale's latest configuration of Wolfmother oozes experience. Joining the flanks of the band's arsenal are former Amy Meredith drummer-cum-keyboardist Elliot Hammond, ex-Vines percussionist Hamish Rosser and Morning Tide guitarist Vin Steele.
“I dunno, what can I say? It's a new line-up,” Andrew laughs. “I just thought to get them on board to add a bit of a vibe. They're cool guys and I liked what they were doing, so I brought them on board to get some new energy.”
However, Andrew explains that the most exciting aspect of the new additions is the dynamics they bring to the group's existing catalogue.
“Elliot plays the bongos, so we've got some bongo-congo stuff happening in certain songs like 'Love Train'. In some of the new songs he also brings in more percussion, we've layered in more harps and there's much more of a blues element in some of the new songs as well. [Together] we're bringing more texture to the band.”
Like a game of musical chairs played on the world stage, revolving line-ups have plagued Wolfmother in recent years; in fact, Andrew is the only one remaining member from 2005’s eponymous album. However, few frontmen retain the positive outlook Andrew holds towards the past and present members of his band.
“I don't want to criticise anyone,” he laughs. “I think everyone's put in their best and it's been great because we've done big things, [but] now what we're doing is an evolution [of the band]. There's now a broader scope; there's more colour on the palette and we're just really switching things up.
“I really like bands where everybody is contributing and doing something different,” Andrew explains before hinting on what to avoid when auditioning for a band: “If the guitarist is playing chords, [another] guitarist is playing the same chords and the bassist is playing the root note of those chords, you may as well get rid of those two other members and just have a drummer. We're in this strange era now where to be in a band, you really have to bring something to the table.”
Mirroring the old school approach of enlisting session musicians to perform on an album, it appears Andrew had a smorgasbord of talent at his disposal while recording Wolfmother's upcoming longplayer.
“In terms of the new record and the new line-up, this is how it works: there are four drummers on this record, there are three bass players on the record and this record has been recorded in three different studios. This is 15 months of continual creative process, so it's not the stereotypical idea of a band of three or four people going to a studio for two months, laying down the drums … and bass, overdubbing it and working with a producer to make a record.
“I'd say that approach is more like a 1990s-mid-2000s band approach, but I've gone for something like, 'okay, we've got four songs from this place, this [one's] stagnant and old, and this one is done, let's get out of here and you can go on holidays for a little while'. This is a travelling record because I've got it all on my hard drive and I go from one place to another.”
However, Andrew is undoubtedly the artist applying the brushstrokes of Wolfmother's creativity. “I don't even know how many songs I've written for this record, maybe 40 songs, and I never say this is what I'm gonna do or this is what this song is going to sound like. It's literally [recording] a voice into a phone or recording a riff into a laptop, and just continually compile all of these ideas and try to make them the best that they can be – see them through to the end point. I don't start songs at the end point … or with an idea in mind.”
While three years between releases, Andrew reveals Wolfmother's third album takes a step back from the vintage heavy metal sound of 2009’s Cosmic Egg.
“In terms of what it sounds like, it's … taken elements from what is on the first record – the blues format of those songs – and [we've] cut it straight back to rock & roll and blues more so. The second record went in more of a metal direction which is great, but in some ways I'd like to make a full-on metal record if I was going in that metal direction. If it's going to be metal, let's just go all out and do metal. I've always tried to find a midway point between blues, rock 'n' roll and metal, and try and fit a groove in there. I think with Wolfmother there's got to be a groove, so that's what I'm trying to do.”
When the band play their only remaining Australian show for 2012 at the Eatons Hill Hotel on New Year’s Eve, fans will get a sneak peak of the group's new material, including the southern rockin', harmonica-laden 'Keep Moving'.
“We'll definitely play 'Keep Moving' and we'll probably throw in a couple more new songs in there. We've been playing three of four new songs in our set for the last year and a half off this next record and it sounds ridiculous, but we've just morphed them into the set and worked around these songs by recording them in different places.”
Wolfmother play the Eatons Hill Hotel on New Year's Eve.