INTERVIEW: Albi & The Wolves

Pic by David Robertson

Hi Albi, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I am good! I’m currently on tour in Europe with another project called Zarek & Albi so I’m a little worn as that’s been going for about seven weeks but as the release is going nicely so I am very happy!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “This Is War”?

Firstly we are overjoyed to say that it’s the first single from an album that will be released next month and as it’s been nearly three years since our last big release so this is all rather exciting. To describe our sound we think it’s a combination of folk and americana that has a little bit of soul in it too. The song itself is rebellious in nature we wanted it to be uplifting but with a little grit mixed into it as well so you’ll hear a slightly demonic electric violin, sweeping rhythms from Tom Broome who drummed on the track, and harmonies as we all belt out the chorus. This sound is a new direction for us but we think it’s uniquely ours… If you want to find out more than you might just have to have a listen yourself.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The song came from a not so happy place sadly as I was on tour with I guy I really came to hate.. I don’t say that lightly ether as every person has redeeming qualities but this particular person was truly awful to everyone around him and this made me feel the way I did at the time. We spent about three weeks together driving up and down the country playing around 12 shows. I wish I could go into details about what went down but as it was only a couple of years ago I think I’d better be discreet. To try and explain things a little though the venues played at, friends who’s houses we were staying in, and even some fans came away with a bad impression of the guy. It’s actually kind of impressive. Anyway afterward this song came out quickly and with a few lyrical tweaks the band made it their own. The story ended up being about a cheating lover escaping a toxic relationship but now you know the backstory you can see that it is still largly about that experience.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Sadly not for this song…We do have a video in the works for another song from the album but we can’t say which track yet.

Why naming the record after this song in particular?

Everything just fell into place really as photo for the album cover, which is similar to the single artwork, came out very strong and the boldest song on the album happened to be called “This Is War” it all just made sense. I mean just look at Fuzzy Pop, that’s the name of the pup on my lap, man you don’t want to mess with him.

How was the recording and writing process?

We took our time recording one day a week for about three months. Part of the reason we took so long to do this was the introduction of a producer to help us make our sound bigger than ever. Scott Seabright, the producer and engineer we choose, worked with us from the very start to combine our various influences then worked through every performance on the album to get the track where it is today. Working with a third party like this was new to us and in the end we are so happy to have had him there with us. From the start we tracked the rhythm tracks live in Micheals’ house and studio, Micheal plays bass and also sings in the band, which brought a rough lively feel to our music which we knew was going to be hard to recreate live. Our writing process usually starts with an idea that I have and then we hash the song out over a couple of rehearsals until it has been fully converted into a Wolves track. This can mean complete revamps but in this situation it was a matter of finding the groove and harmonies. Once we had those the song was basically completed.

What role does New Zealand play in your music?

It affects us in a subconscious way I think… We don’t set out to make a sound that is definitively “New Zealand”ish.. Instead we just make music that we want and roll with it when we’ve finished a new song. I think just living in a country that overall has a great culture for music is awesome and the fact that we are on an island that is so cut off from the rest of the world means that we do things differently to bigger countries. There is a freedom here to make what you want and there is less competition as we don’t have a huge population of people all fighting for the same space. New Zealand is renowned for its innovations and we hope that what we are doing is a new take on americana or folk… Do we sound like Kiwi’s? Maybe you can tell us.

What aspect of relationships did you get to explore on this record?

Love, loss, friendship and moving on are four aspects that we looked at over the album. We lost a band member between the release of our first album and now and there’s a song about him and the mess of feelings that were left behind after we parted ways. Story and Oh Father really are break up songs but each one has a slightly different take on that idea. Story is about that moment when you know you have been broken up with by someone who really made you and your life better.. That love ending is tragic but the relationship really only brought good things aside from the sadness afterward. Oh Father is about having a wicked family that has your back when a relationship goes sour. Canyon is about my best friend who is also a musician.. He works harder than anyone I know and as I pursue my dreams of touring the world he is charing his too. It’s nice to know someone walking the same path and it’s even better to know that they are a friend. The album covers a few feelings really but you can see the theme.. It’s about people and the ups and downs of being close to them.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I sort of answered that question above but each one came from a thought or feeling about someone that was close to us. It’s easy to write a song about a break up but there are so many elements to look at there.. Why did you break up? How do you feel now? Which stage of moving on are you at now? So on and so forth. For me the song lyrics typically write themselves as I work through a process or idea and in many ways this can be therapeutic. Have you ever had a thought you just couldn’t escape? Try writing a song about it. To give the story an end you have to have a resolution so inevitably you’ll find an answer for whatever is bothering you.. Sometimes that isn’t what you want it to be but there can be closure there too. Does that answer your question? I hope so.

Any plans to hit the road?

We are! We’ll be touring New Zealand, Australia, Rarotonga and the US a little too. We have three shows in Nashville ad the AmericanaFest, in Asheville at the Isis Music Hall and in Chattanooga at Charles and Myrtle’s Coffeehouse. These three dates will be the 12th, 13th and 14th of September!

What else is happening next in Albi & The Wolves’ world?

Well a lot really. We have the album launch next month and a single to release before then.. A tour that lasts three months and hits four countries… a video to release and some songs to write along the way. Once we’ve finished that I guess it’s time to look at the next album. Hopefully it won’t take us three years to finish and release the next one.  We want to tour the States but for much longer next time and we hope to return to Canada too next year. We will see. It all starts when we meet folks like you guys so let’s see where the music takes us next.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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