Wolfmother: Domesticated And Lovin' It As The Band Prepare For A String Of Aussie Shows

Wolfmother headline Blues On Broadbeach as well as Byron Music Festival. Wolfmother headline Blues On Broadbeach as well as Byron Music Festival.

Forget Byron Baes – the inaugural Byron Music Festival will showcase the best talent Byron and the Northern Rivers has to offer next month, with some of the community's best artists, venues, food vendors and culture being celebrated in a unique two-day event.

The major event, a music festival headlined by Wolfmother, will be held overlooking Main Beach, with a youth music showcase, music industry conference, and satellite gigs at the Great Northern and the Beach Hotel, where Andrew Stockdale and his Wolfmother bandmates dusted off the COVID cobwebs recently.

"We did a free gig at the Beach Hotel two weeks ago and I probably slept like three or four hours, the adrenaline was so high," he says.

"I woke up at six or seven in the morning still high. I haven't had a drink in two and a half years, but just the energy of getting together with like 1,000 people and playing music and right now, after all of this experience, I need that energy!"

Stockdale, who spent time during COVID connecting with other musicians and engineers locally – even at one point going kayaking with Pete Murray – said the thought of playing a festival was a privilege after a year and a half without it.

"That is some of the benefits of COVID, you just bump into more people, like Pete Murray and other musos around Byron," he says.

"Just living in the same area for a year and a half and participating in things and getting to know people better, and actually working with musicians who live in the area and artists who live in the area and engineers who live in the area, I'm like, 'Wow, I'm really investing in where I live'.

"I've always thought big and just gone worldwide, and just thought, 'Well it's great to play here tonight, but tomorrow I'll be somewhere else'. So it's sort of made me have more of a focus on community, I guess."

Andrew jokes there are some other benefits to being home for an extended period. "Well, I know what day is garbage day now, and I know where to put the bowls and the cereal and how to make a coffee at home," he laughs.

"You know, I was just living a hotel life or living on a bus and living in airports, which I love, I love doing that. I love the touring circuit that exists in this day and age. But I’ve really had to be. . . domesticated."

It's no secret some hugely successful artists like Tones And I started their careers busking on the streets of Byron Bay.

Stockdale says seeing performers coming back to the streets in recent months has been great. "Some of those buskers, like, get bigger crowds than the venues, you know what I mean? It's crazy.

"It's good to see; music on every street corner is always a good thing. I think it's a good way to test out your songs and practice with an audience and kind of, build up your chops, and it's like immediate. It's a good way to build up your stage persona. The more time you play in front of people, I think, the better."

Andrew says his philosophy in terms of performing didn't necessarily apply right now, with COVID restrictions, but he was a big believer in playing "all the time". "Just line up 30 shows. Record everything yourself to start off with. Play as much as possible, record as much as possible," he says.

"I think that's the best way to create a good band, you know, a good touring outfit. You know, if you see a band after they've done like, 30 dates or 50 dates, it's amazing.

"I live for that feeling, when a group of people is just on fire and can pre-empt everyone else's moves and you've got a great set list that's in a good order and you've ironed out all the kinks. . . Things like that I think are really powerful."

A photographer in a previous life – "I was more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy" – Stockdale says he didn't start a band until he was 27, and it took him "a long time to have the guts to do a gig".

He says nerves were probably more of an issue now than ever, thanks to COVID. "It's high-risk, you know, you put yourself out there, you wing it, you have a go, and the more you do that the more comfortable you become with that, but when you take a year and a half off you get too much in your head," he says.

"You start kind of intellectualising it and trying to reason and work out all these things and you're like, 'You know what? You're never going to work out all these things, you've just got to get up there and do it.'

"So yeah, I do struggle with it. I guess I'm just comfortable with being uncomfortable, I think that's probably the best way of putting it. I understand the nature of it, and that's what it is. You've just got to embrace the nerves and turn it into a level of excitement, I think."

It wasn't so long ago that Stockdale made headlines for converting nervous tension in the wrong kind of way, when he was escorted out of a Wolfmother gig at the Beach Hotel, intoxicated, at the end of 2017.

"In all honesty, my son was born a week after that. . . At the time I was doing that gig, I'd just been at the hospital doing the final scans, and in all honesty I couldn't get into a rock & roll mindset: I was in a 'having a kid, father in a hospital' mindset, so I just drank to get into a rock & roll mindset. . . and it sort of backfired on me," he says.

"But we re-did the gig and my son came out, and actually when he came out – I'll tell you this, because people need to know – my girlfriend actually almost died.

"She had a haemorrhage while she was giving birth and lost a lot of blood. So yeah, it was a very stressful time but she survived and the hospital did a great job. . . Around that time I was under a lot of stress, and I used alcohol to deal with it, but I don't do that any more."

A familiar face around Bryon and the Northern Rivers for many years, playing everywhere from local music stores to Splendour and Bluesfest, and even charity gigs for YAC, Byron's youth centre, Stockdale was keen to stay true to his own 'play often' philosophy.

"I know some bigger artists don't play locally because they think it de-values their ticket price and their guarantees, but like I said before, I like playing, and I think musicians need to play.

"So I've taken the perspective that I don't really care if it de-values the band, I think the value of playing live is more valuable than the monetary value of not playing to be worth more."

The Byron Music Festival will be the last chance locals will get to see Wolfmother live for some time, if the band's international touring schedule goes to plan – they've recently announced a tentative 39-date US tour supporting Primus.

"It's all speculation," Stockdale says, "if we can make it work we'll do our best to make it work but I think in this current day and age you have to be realistic. If it doesn't happen we won't be surprised."

The band does have a headline slot at Blues On Broadbeach (Gold Coast) later this month, then a four-date east-coast tour planned for June, followed by the KISS End of the Road World Tour supports in Townsville and Brisbane at the end of the year.

In the meantime, Stockdale will be shopping the band's new album, which he's just finished, to potential labels. And yes, new songs are being included in their set list.

"We played two of the songs at the Beach Hotel the other week and it fitted in perfectly into the set, so I'm feeling pretty good about this record," he says.

"It fits in right after 'Woman' and 'White Unicorn' and 'Apple Tree', so it kind of suits that sound."

Wolfmother play Byron Music Festival, which runs 18-20 June, alongside Hayley Mary, Kyle Lionhart, The Sidemen, Tijuana Cartel, Bobby Alu, Drop Legs and much more. Wolfmother also play Blues On Broadbeach (Gold Coast), which runs 20-23 May.

Wolfmother 2021 Tour Dates

Fri 11 Jun - Thebarton Theatre (Adelaide)
Sat 12 Jun - Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Fri 18 Jun - The Tivoli (Brisbane)
Sat 3 Jul - Forum Melbourne



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