For We’reWolves, the time was right for a proper recording. All that frontman Riley Knight, guitarist Rob Hine, drummer Austin Adams, and keyboardist Colin Cashman had to their name was a nine-song demo recorded last summer, not long after they had become a band. “You’re not really a band until you have a product to push,” said Knight over beers recently with Hine and Cashman.
Music, he said, “is a business.”
A recording is also a document of a band at a certain period in time. And with We’reWolves’ eponymous debut album, listeners are presented with a hazy image of four young twentysomethings slinging gritty, muddy, unhyphenated rock ’n’ roll that simultaneously reaches back to the classic-rock canon (the Stones, CCR) and forward to contemporary rock songcraft (The Strokes, The Shins) for inspiration.
The album was recorded in March at The Swamp in Justin with co-producers Jordan Richardson (Son of Stan, EPIC RUINS) and Steve Steward (Oil Boom, EPIC RUINS, Kevin Aldridge & The Appraisers), the duo responsible most recently for Skeleton Coast’s sumptuous self-titled debut album and The Longshots’ forthcoming slab of raucous proto-punk. The co-producers and the band came together via Blackbox Presents, a Fort Worth-based booking agency and management company (Burning Hotels, Holy Moly, The Phuss). Riley Knight and Blackbox’s co-owners, Aaron Knight (no relation) and Jamie Kinser, were discussing We’reWolves’ recording plans several months ago at a TCU bar. Aaron texted Steward, who texted Riley the next morning, eager to get started recording. “It was cool that [Richardson and Steward] wanted to work with us,” Knight said.
A chief selling point, Cashman said, was Skeleton Coast, a band that he feels improved tremendously not long after working with Richardson and Steward. “We kind of wanted [Richardson and Steward] to do the same thing for us,” he said, noting that We’reWolves and Skeleton Coast were at the same points in their careers when they began working with the co-producers. “We were about a year old, we were writing all these songs, and we never really had any input” from veteran producers, he said.
The recording process took about eight days, Knight said, and Steward played bass on all of the tracks. (We’reWolves are currently working on a “rotating group” of bass players.) Richardson and Steward also helped We’reWolves put out an album, not just a collection of songs unrelated musically or lyrically. “We want [We’reWolves] to be something you can pop in and go all the way through,” Cashman said. “It’s kind of an experience.”
One of the best tracks is “Find My Way,” a slow-burner that’s got a hippy-dippy feel, with lots of shimmering textures and sturdy yet subtle melodies –– after a guitar solo of pure squalling feedback, a semi-funky stomp appears briefly. The song even finishes with some sax (compliments of Jeff Dazey from Gunga Galunga and EPIC RUINS), which points up an important fact about the album: The more you listen to it, the deeper and more dynamic it seems to get. All sorts of odd sonic references pop out, from angry yacht rock (“Stargazer”) to punk on codeine (“Black Suit Politician”) to (!) sitar blues (the twinkling, melancholy guitarwork on “Kindly Left Behind”), while never straying too far from good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll. “That’s why we feel the album as a whole is so important,” Hine said. “An album as a whole captures a process: who you were, what you were thinking at that time.”
After We’reWolves’ CD release show this weekend, they plan to take a small break to work on promoting the album and also writing new material. A tour is not in the works –– yet. The band will send the album to radio stations and media outlets all over the country and follow up on positive responses in person, instruments in tow. (With the exception of Knight, who just graduated from TCU and is unemployed, all of the Wolves have part-time jobs.) The band recently got a taste of life outside of the Fort, playing relatively successful shows in Tulsa and Denton. Now the guys want more. “I love Fort Worth to death,” Knight said, “but you shouldn’t give a fuck only about Fort Worth. There’s a huge, bigger picture.”
The long-term goal, Knight said, is to be able to pay the bills purely through music. “I don’t want a job,” Knight said. “I want to play music, and if that takes doing four tours a year, that’s what we’ll do.”
To get there, he continued, as many people as possible need to hear the album. “I’ll e-mail Pitchfork every day until they tell me to shut the fuck up,” Knight said. “I have no shame.”
And if nothing becomes of the record? “I’m gonna be satisfied because we will have done everything we could, and that’s just the way the world works,” Knight said. “Move on. Record another album. Whatever. But I wanna push this thing. I believe 100 percent if the right person hears it, you can at least make a living making music. That’s the dream.”
We’reWolves CD release
9pm Sat w/We the Sea Lions, Un Chien, and Frisky Volcanic at Lola’s Saloon, 2736 W 6th St, FW. $10 (includes free digital copy of We’reWolves). 817-877-0666.