Wolfmother Andrew Stockdale Interview

In part two of this week’s Time Out/Modular Records interview series Andrew P Street talks to Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale about new lineups, new challenges and biscuits.

Given that it’s been a pretty frustrating year or so, it must feel like things are finally coming good with the new album, the tours, the AC/DC support slot…Oh yeah. We feel like we’ve got some momentum and we feel like we’re moving along and we’re just doing whatever we can, rather than sitting back and watching everything fall apart. ‘Cos that’s what the last year was. It’s just a relief to be playing music and touring and having a record and moving on and, I guess, that’s what it was all about in the first place.

It must have been very difficult for you personally, having founded the band. Was there ever any moment where you just thought †fuck this, I’m going to knock it on the head?’ Yeah, yeah. It was difficult when we didn’t know what was going happen. Being in limbo was tough, but I think that can happen in any situation, in any job, with people not gelling and where the team isn’t really right. You have a period where you have faith in it and you want it to work, and then you get to a point where it’s like maybe this isn’t going to work, and that’s tough. But you need to accept change. You want something to work, but if it doesn’t work you have to accept it and move on. You know what I mean?

Well, they always say that a band is like a marriage. It’s a weirdly intense emotional connection.
[emphatically] Yeah! There’s a lot of trust, you know? You’re all doing something together so you’ve got to trust that you’re all going to be able to be a band and go on tour and do artwork and do band photos and organise to understand each other and continue on, and that’s difficult. People might like us. They might like that song, or three songs, or that film clip, but there are so many decisions when you’re in a band. It’s challenging to make sure that everyone is happy with where it’s all going.

It must be pretty daunting for the new guys, coming into such a well-known band. That would have to be a big ask for people. I think it takes a certain personality to join the band. You kind of need to have a bit of, either naïvety, or confidence, ‘cos there’s so many elements to it. I was saying to the guys, you’re learning the old record, but you’re also making a new record. You’re replacing someone, but you’re also defining yourself. It is a massive challenge, I think, to the guys who’ve joined the band, and we’ve got to have a bit of determination just to charge through it.

I hope you brought them biscuits when they were recording.Well, of course!

Biscuits make all the difference. You’ve got to keep your blood sugar levels up. I’m glad you’re thinking of the sugar levels in the new men. That’s very thoughtful.

You’re welcome. Speaking of the new guys, you’ve got Aiden Nemeth on board now, so there’s two guitarists in the line up for the first time. Has that changed things, in terms of the way you play live, not having to handle all of the axe work yourself? On the first record I did a bit of multi-tracking on the guitar and live those things weren’t ever played. I just kind of played the rhythm [guitar] and the bass filled in when I did the solo. So now it’s nice to have all those different parts on the first record and second record [when playing live]. I think it just brings a bit of colour and dynamic to the live sound.

Have there been times when you’ve been playing the older material and thought, “Yeah, that’s how it’s meant to sound”? Actually, yeah. When we first did †Vagabond’ and the second guitar riff kicked in on the second verse. It was really good to have that layer complementing the song. And in †Joker and the Thief’ there’s this weird sort of vibrato thing that twangs, and now live we have that as well. There are things which I hadn’t told Aiden to do, but he’s listened to the record and picked up on it and it kind of surprises me when I hear it.

It’s those biscuits, see? It makes all the difference. You’ve got to have those biscuits. You’re going to want those biscuits.

That’s the best comment on rock and roll: you’re gonna want the biscuits, man. Exactly.

You seem like a bit of any outlier on Modular, given the more electronic Cut Copy/Presets/Ladyhawke side of things. Do you feel any kinship with your label mates? I mean, are there secret Modular parties where everyone gets to hang out and eat the aforementioned biscuits? Well, at the start we used to do tours where we supported Cut Copy and we used to have Midnight Juggernauts supporting us, or have the Presets supporting us at Manly Fishos, and all these sorts of things. But then when things get bigger the press sort of interprets who is new and who is old, but really we are all playing together at the same time. I just went to Tame Impala’s gig in Brisbane, actually.

I had this mental image of you on some throne being fanned by members of Van She or something, dressed in loincloths. That may well happen behind closed doors.

And just finally, is there any trepidation about the AC/DC tour? Trepidation? We’re very excited! We just did the Killers in the United States. Some of those shows were amazing, but others… You start off playing to 10 people and you end up playing to 20,000 and you’d have girls wearing Killers T-shirts with fingers in their ears. That’s the challenge. I think doing AC/DC, they’re a rock band and we can go all out and play all our rock’n’roll songs, and I think the fans would probably appreciate it. I hope so, anyway.

Cosmic Egg is out now through Modular/Universal

Check this extra stuff out from our bros at Time Out…
• Buy the Music Issue of Time Out Sydney (on sale in all good newsagents from tomorrow, Wednesday 28 October) and get a free mixtape download album featuring 11 exclusive tracks from Modular artists including Ladyhawke, Tame Impala, Van She, Wolfmother and Cut Copy
• Win tickets to see several of these artists perform live at Modular’s Christmas Party on 12 December
• Sign up to Time Out’s free weekly e-newsletter http://www.timeoutsydney.com.au/Newsletter.aspx
• Get six issues of Time Out delivered to your door for just $6 – and no obligation thereafter here.
• Vote in the Sydney Music Art and Culture awards here.

Title Image via Wolfmother