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Wolves at the door
Meet The Wickerwolves
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
I hear a name like The Wickerwolves and you know what comes to mind? A bunch of old men in a rec room weaving baskets as therapy for arthritis when the Glucosamine Chondroitin doesn't kick in. But I'd be sorely mistaken (as I usually am) regarding this name. The Wickerwolves are a band in fact. If you've ever seen them play you'd know that there's no basket weaving going on at a Wickerwolves show. Instead, there is catharsis going on. A psychic bleeding and soul cleansing that takes place on the stage. Their sound is loud, fast, intense and emotional. They play emo, but not that fashionable emo. Real emo. The stuff that truly lives up to the name. But I'll let them tell you, as I have a basket to weave.
The Wickerwolves consist of Grey Gordon, Tate Garringer, Josh Maroney, and Kiah Gerig, and this is how they got together. "Kiah posted a Facebook status or something mentioning a desire to jam with somebody", says Tate. "I replied to him and we ended up hanging out at the place that is now our practice space/hangout area. When I arrived, Josh and Kiah had already collaborated on what became our first song, ‘Tired Mind, Tired Eyes’. I picked up the bass and learned the parts, wrote some scratch lyrics and we ended up demoing that ONE song all night. Literally until 9 a.m."
And when asked to describe The Wickerwolves sound, Grey spoke up. "I would describe the sound as an amalgamation of the classic Midwest emo sound and a lot of the bands that are part of the contemporary emo scene, such as Title Fight, Balance and Composure, etc. My personal influences are mostly that classic 90s crop of emo bands. To name a few favorites; The Jazz June, The Promise Ring, Braid, American Football, Kind of Like Spitting, Hot Water Music, Indian Summer… I dunno, man. There are too many to name for me. That whole scene was sort of my bread and butter for a big chunk of my life. It's funny, because the rest of the dudes in the band are a bit younger than me and didn't listen to any real emo stuff before this band started, so they had no idea what they were really playing. It's amazing they managed to put together such a phenomenal collection of songs with almost no direct influences from that scene. I didn't join the band until last fall, and since then I've just been trying to show them a zillion bands that they sound like but had no idea existed(laughs.)
I was curious (as I am of all the bands I get to talk to), how does the songwriting process go for The Wickerwolves? "I would say that I usually start with some kind of riff or start to the song" says Josh,"then I show everyone what I've got and we all sort of begin throwing in ideas and build on the song from there." Tate adds, "It all depends, really. I have an entire journal full of lyrics, but no melodies necessarily. So sometimes I pull from those to write a song, but placements and finished lyrics always come after the rest of the song. I generally put on some headphones and just write while the rest of the guys play basketball or something, then we all come back and try it out with the vocals."
A huge part of the process of a band is playing live. This is where you separate the men and the boys. It's also where that real connection happens between artist and audience. The Wickerwolves connect of a very deep level with their audience. I wondered how often these guys get out to play and connect with their people. "We play as many shows as possible", says Grey. "Live performance is important to us. It provides us an opportunity to connect with the people who listen to us in a really personal way. At least that's what happens in an ideal situation. As far as what our shows are like, I suppose that would be more accurately answered by someone in the audience. From what I've observed, people tend to react to the music fairly strongly in their own ways. The shows can get pretty emotional. I know I've personally cried while playing, and there have been plenty of audience members doing the same on some occasions. I have face tattoos, but at the core, I'm soft as hell, man."
The Wickerwolves recorded an ep called The Art Of Letting Go at Fort Wayne's Digitracks studios last year. I wondered how that experience went, and how they view the recording process in general. "The recording process at DigiTracks was weird because it was such an unfamiliar environment" says Tate. "None of us had been in a studio to record music before. I never saw myself ending up in a studio as a kid, so I wasn't prepared for it. It was weird being in a booth recording vocals, but hearing the end product after you've only heard demos prior to that is a rewarding experience. It's like sending a kid off to college...or kindergarten. It's interesting to hear how Trevor Clark, the guy who produced it, came through on the EP. As far as demo recording goes, we have Josh's computer and a $50 microphone. We start with drums and go from there. We've picked up a lot watching our friend Matt Riefler record music. We're pseudo DIY, because our friends record our music. Matt Riefler, Robert Lugo and Trevor Clark are coming to our practice space to record our full length for us. So, it's kind of DIY in the sense that we're doing it outside of a studio and with no label backing."
Does the band prefer studio time over playing live? As far as Josh is concerned, "We love both. I love being in the studio. We're always just as excited to go play a show for other people as we are to be in the practice space writing and recording music. I think the reason we started the band was to go out and play shows, but there's nothing about the recording process we don't like." Grey added " I personally love being in the studio. It gives us an opportunity to tweak our songs and see our vision executed in a way that is totally on par with how it appears in our minds. Playing live is a totally different experience, because the energy and everything is just way different. For me, live performance is a necessary emotional catharsis, whereas recording provides me the opportunity to really hone a song and help create something worth being proud of. I think The Wickerwolves are both an effective live and recorded band."
Speaking of a full-length Wickerwolves album, how is that going? "We're 70% done writing for a full length" says Tate. "As far as a set date, we aren't setting a deadline for ourselves. We're working on full band arrangements for Grey Gordon songs, which we're the full band for. We want it to sound exactly how we want it to sound, so we're taking our time with it. We're touring in February, so we've got a lot of different priorities on our plate right now."
So what do we have to look forward to in 2014 with The Wickerwolves? According to Tate, " Hopefully looking at sending some things out to labels, working on the full length, winter and summer tours. I guess just working our asses off, really." Grey added, "My big goal for these guys in 2014 is to make them listen to as many classic emo records as possible on tour and drill the riffs into their skulls until they start writing song that sound like Christie Front Drive." But Josh has the simplest goal of all for The Wickerwolves in 2014. "More hot women in our fan base, hopefully."
With any luck, The Wickewolves will reach those goals. Go check them out at wickerwolves.bandcamp.com and facebook.com/TheWickerwolves