Wolfmother’s career has been anything but plain sailing. Across the 11 years since the band’s widely lauded debut, the Aussie power trio have shed seven members, with main man Andrew Stockdale remaining the only constant.
By the end of the day I’d have a song. I wanted to capture that reckless abandon
The current line-up, featuring Ian Peres (bass, keys) and Vin Steele (drums), has been in place since 2012, but Stockdale took it upon himself to write new fourth record, Victorious.
“I thought I’d return to my roots and just having drums, bass and a guitar in a room and I’d start playing guitar, playing random riffs,” says Stockdale.
“Then I’d lay drums over the top and then I’d arrange the whole thing. By the end of the day I’d have a song. I wanted to capture that reckless abandon. It’s good to have the responsibility, there’s no one to turn to and get an opinion… and I’m my harshest critic.”
The one-man band mentality extended to the studio as well, with Stockdale - under the watchful eye of producer Brendan O’Brien - laying down vocals, guitar and bass.
There’s a bit of Leslie West from Mountain in there, as well as Iommi
He roped in seasoned session vets Joey Waronker and Josh Freese for drums, while Peres contributed an album’s worth of keys.
The result is a typically Wolfmother slab of big-riffed rock. For starters, The Love That You Give sounds like supercharged Sabbath.
“I’ve always liked Tony Iommi’s approach with using big power chords and then leaving space to let it breathe,” Stockdale says. “That works for a lot of rock and blues. There’s a bit of Leslie West from Mountain in there, as well as Iommi, there’s some Small Faces in there too.”
Channeling the Iron Man
There’s a healthy smattering of Iommi’s tone in the mix as well, with the record’s 70s rock vibes dialed right up. It’s a big, simple rock record with a fittingly beastly sound.
You’ve got to be ready to catch the wave when it comes... and I’m ready
“A lot of the tone is just from a Marshall 50-watt Plexi with a 60s SG or a 335. I find it helps to use gear you use live when you’re in the studio. Ever since starting Wolfmother, with everything we do I always think, ‘Will this get us a gig? Will this work on stage?’ Some people go to town in the studio making these huge multi-track records but I want it to work live, so I stick to what I know.”
It doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to suggest that Wolfmother’s revolving line-up has seen their momentum take stall again and again since the buzz of their debut. But, with Victorious, Stockdale and co could be about to finally live up to their initial promise, and if their time is now, the softly-spoken frontman is prepared.
“Music is like the ocean,” he says, almost cryptically. “You’ve got to be ready to catch the wave when it comes...and I’m ready.”
Wolfmother’s new album, Victorious, is out now on Universal Records