Wolfmother were an Australian hard rock band. Formed in 2000 by vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale, bassist and keyboardist Chris Ross, and drummer Myles Heskett, the band later became a four-piece and most recently a five-piece composed of Stockdale, Ian Peres (bass, keyboards), Elliott Hammond (keyboards, percussion), Vin Steele (rhythm guitar) and Hamish Rosser (drums). Wolfmother released their self-titled debut album in October 2005, which reached number three on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart. The album was also a critical success, winning the 2005 J Award and the 2006 ARIA Awards for Best Breakthrough Album and Best Rock Album. "Woman", a single from the album, won the band a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007.
In August 2008, co-founding members Ross and Heskett left the band due to "irreconcilable personal and musical differences", after which Stockdale decided to continue using the Wolfmother moniker with new musicians. After a brief hiatus, Stockdale returned with a new four-piece band in January 2009 featuring current member Peres, rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth, and drummer Dave Atkins. The new line-up's only album, entitled Cosmic Egg, was released in October 2009 and reached the same Australian chart peak as Wolfmother. Atkins left the band in April 2010 following extensive touring, and was replaced with Will Rockwell-Scott of garage rock band The Mooney Suzuki.
Since 2011 the band were working on the follow-up to Cosmic Egg, although more lineup changes in February 2012 (Steele replacing Nemeth, Rosser taking over from Rockwell-Scott, and Hammond joining the band) delayed recording progress. The resulting album was completed in early 2013, and is set to be released in March under Stockdale's name and not that of Wolfmother. Stockdale has since confirmed that Wolfmother was on indefinite hiatus, and later stated that Wolfmother was gone for good.
2004–2006: Early years and debut album
Wolfmother formed in 2000 and made their way into the public spotlight in 2004 after "years of jamming and anonymity". They were signed to Australian record label Modular Recordings at the beginning of August and throughout the year played a number of dates at various venues (including a tour with Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts), before in September they finished recording and released their debut extended play (EP), Wolfmother. The record was relatively successful for such a new band, reaching number thirty-five in the ARIA Singles Chart.
After "6 months of nonstop Australian and overseas chonging", Wolfmother began work on their first full-length album, for which they enlisted the help of David Sardy, producer of Undisputed Attitude (Slayer), Don't Believe the Truth (Oasis), Get Born (Jet) and Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (The Dandy Warhols). The band moved to Los Angeles in May 2005 and rented Hollywood recording studio Cherokee, recording home of such artists as Aerosmith, Korn and Lenny Kravitz. After six weeks of rehearsals at the studio, work moved to Sound City where the album was recorded in just two weeks. Before the release of the album, the band first released their debut single; double A-side "Mind's Eye/Woman" was released on 16 October 2005 in Australia and managed to reach number twenty-nine in the Singles Chart. On 30 October, Wolfmother saw release in the trio's home country. The album entered the ARIA Albums Chart at its peak of number three and remained in the chart until mid-2007, by which time it had been certified five times platinum.
By the end of the year, Wolfmother had won Triple J's J Award for Australian Album of the Year, and "Woman" had been nominated for Single of the Year and Best Breakthrough Artist (Single) at the ARIA Music Awards.
2006–2008: Touring and international success
The 2005 Triple J Hottest 100, announced on 26 January 2006, featured a record six songs by Wolfmother: "Mind's Eye" (number six), "Joker & the Thief" (number nine), "Apple Tree" (number sixteen), "Dimension" (number thirty-seven), "Colossal" (number thirty-nine) and "White Unicorn" (number eighty-four). On 6 March, Rolling Stone published their Annual Readers' and Critics' Poll results, in which Wolfmother were featured a number of times, namely in the following readers' lists: Top 10 Albums (Wolfmother, number one), Top 10 Singles ("Mind's Eye", number one; "Woman", number nine), Artist of the Year (number two), Best Band (number one), Best Tour (number two), Best Album Cover (number one), Best Hard Rock/Metal Band (number one), Best Rock Artist (number one), Best New Artist (number one), Year's Biggest Hype (number one) and Best Video ("Mind's Eye", number two). Frontman Andrew Stockdale also featured in the poll for Best Dressed (number three).
The band's next single was "White Unicorn", released on 26 February, which charted lower than its predecessor, at number thirty-three. The band also released a second EP, Dimensions, on 2 March. Wolfmother was not released outside of Australia until 24 April in the United Kingdom, 2 May in the United States, and 12 June in Europe. In the UK it peaked at number twenty-five and in the US at number twenty-two.
Thanks to the success of their album and singles, Wolfmother's music has been featured in many video games, films and commercials. "Love Train" featured in an iPod commercial; "Woman" was included on such video games as Guitar Hero II, MotorStorm, Pure, Saints Row 2, Tony Hawk's Project 8 and NHL 07; "Dimension" featured in the film School for Scoundrels, House, and in video games FlatOut 2, and Rugby 06; and "Joker & the Thief" appeared in films Jackass Number Two, Shoot 'Em Up, Shrek the Third and The Hangover and video games Need for Speed: Carbon, Rock Band, and MLB 07: The Show, as well as commercials for both Mitsubishi and Peugeot cars.
The band performed at big-name local and international festivals in 2006, including SXSW, Big Day Out, Sasquatch! Music Festival, Roskilde Festival, Lowlands, Splendour in the Grass, Fuji Rock Festival, Lollapalooza, Reading and Leeds Festivals, V Festival, Download Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival where they were cited as the 'breakout' band of the year. On 25 September, bassist Chris Ross' wife had a baby, which meant the band had to cancel or postpone many of their upcoming tour dates. During this break, Wolfmother released their final single from the self-titled album, "Joker and the Thief", which peaked at No. 8 in Australia, their highest position to date. The band resumed touring on 4 November in the United Kingdom. Wolfmother also won three awards (Best Breakthrough Album, Best Rock Album and Best Group) from five nominations at the 2006 ARIA Music Awards. On 14 November, when Led Zeppelin were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, they asked Wolfmother to appear as their guests. The band covered Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown", a common song on the band's set lists of previous and subsequent.
The 2006 Triple J Hottest 100 was announced on 26 January 2007, in which Wolfmother appeared twice ("Woman (MSTRKRFT Remix)", No. 55; "Love Train", No. 80). At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards held in February, Wolfmother won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Woman". On 30 March it was announced that Wolfmother had written a new song entitled "Pleased to Meet You" especially for upcoming film Spider-Man 3, for which it was featured in the official soundtrack.
On 28 May, the band performed on Pinkpop's main stage. The band played on the first day (8 June) of the Download Festival. On 28 June, the band headlined at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Finishing up their US Tour in Detroit, Michigan on 30 June. On 7 July, they performed on the Australian leg of the Live Earth concerts in Sydney. Stockdale said in an interview "That will be our last show for this album. We will find out what a green note sounds like on the next record."
Wolfmother released their first DVD on 1 September in Australia, 10 September in the UK and 20 November in the US; Please Experience Wolfmother Live features footage from the band's performance at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. Other live shows, music videos and an interview are included in the bonus features.
2008–2009: Departure of Ross and Heskett
On 12 April 2008, Wolfmother played at the Andy Warhol Up Late programme after taking a nine-month break from touring. Four new songs were played: "Back Round", "Violence of the Sun", "Monolith", and "Inside the Mountain".
Despite an earlier article by Rolling Stone magazine which stated that the band was currently recording their new album and that 10 songs had been chosen, it was confirmed on a Wolfmother fan site that the band had not begun proper recording sessions for the album yet.
On 4 August, following the band's performance at Splendour in the Grass, popular Australian radio station Triple J speculated that rumours about the band were true, with a line-up change imminent. An interview was scheduled by the station, though later cancelled by the band's manager, stating "The band is dealing with some internal issues at the moment. They’re hoping to resolve them in the next few weeks but in the meantime it just wouldn't be appropriate for any member to be doing any interviews – even with Triple J." On 5 August, in a statement to Undercover, manager John Watson announced that a change was coming, explaining "Unfortunately I can't make any comment other than to say that as soon as the band has clear future plans they will issue a statement and we hope to be able to do that in the next week or two".
On 7 August, the band's record label, Universal Records, announced that drummer Myles Heskett and bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross had decided to leave the band due to "irreconcilable differences," and that Stockdale planned on searching for a new line up over the coming months as well as continue working on new material. Ross and Heskett played a one-off show as "Doom Buggy". Ross and Heskett are now working on their new band, Palace of Fire, adding the guitar and vocals of Matt Blackman. A new four-piece band featuring Stockdale, a second guitarist Aidan Nemeth and Ian Peres as bassist and keyboardist (in the same mould as Chris Ross) and a drummer, Dave Atkins from the Resin Dogs all performed on 6 February. The band, billed as White Feather performed again, in Sydney, on 8 February. During both performances, the band played four previously unheard songs: "Pilgrim", "Phoenix", "Far Away" and the band's cover name "White Feather". The band booked Brisbane's Valley Studios to complete writing and recording the album.
2009–2010: Lineup change and Cosmic Egg
The session players started officially on 5 January 2009 and were confirmed as guitarist Aidan Nemeth, bassist and keyboardist Ian Peres and drummer Dave Atkins in February. The new line-up began recording the album Cosmic Egg in March. Regarding the album title, Stockdale said, "I did a yoga class and one of the poses we were doing was called 'cosmic egg', and I thought yeah, that's it. It's like the fetal pose". The band performed at two benefit concerts in Melbourne and Sydney on 14 March for Sound Relief, supporting victims of the Victorian bushfires. The reformed group also headlined the Clipsal 500 event in Adelaide in March.
The new Wolfmother played a new song, "Back Round", live at the MTV Australia Awards on 27 March. "Back Round" was released as a free digital download on the Wolfmother official site. The song was the first single off Cosmic Egg. Australia's triple j radio played the worldwide radio exclusive of Wolfmother's first single "New Moon Rising" from Cosmic Egg on Thursday 13 August 2009. The track was then released for streaming on AOL's Spinner site.
On 18 June 2009, Beck announced his second Record Club covers album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Andrew Stockdale will contribute, alongside Devendra Banhart, MGMT and Binki Shapiro of Little Joy. On 4 October 2009, Wolfmother performed at the 2009 NRL Grand Final. Wolfmother will be playing Voodoo Fest 2009 held at City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana over Halloween weekend.
On 25 January 2010 it was confirmed, via the official Download Festival website, that Wolfmother will play at Download Festival in June 2010. However, on 30 May 2010 it was announced that due to illness, Wolfmother would have to cancel their entire European tour, including their performance at Download Festival. In February 2010, the band supported AC/DC on their Australian tour. Following the first show in Melbourne, a fan said to The Border Mail, "Wolfmother supported them and they were excellent, too." In the summer of 2010 the band had to withdraw from a number of festival appearances, including Download Festival, Hard Rock Calling and T in the Park, due to "illness".
In March 2011 it was announced on the band's official website that the third album was being recorded in their home studio. On their European tour, which included three shows in the United Kingdom, Wolfmother debuted some of the new material from the upcoming album. Interviewed in June 2011, Stockdale revealed that approximately "12 or 13 songs" had been completed and that the album is being produced by Stockdale and engineered by Nemeth, and hinted towards a 7 November 2011 release date. The scheduled release date for the album has since been moved to early 2012. Rumored song titles, obtained from live performance videos and set lists, include "The Year of the Dragon", "Meridian" and "Every Day Drone/On the Beach". In October, the band revealed that they had completed the album and it was now being mixed, describing it as "one beastly sounding record".
2012–present: Lineup changes, third album and split
It was revealed in February 2012 that Will Rockwell-Scott and Aidan Nemeth had left the band, replaced by Hamish Rosser and Vin Steele respectively, while new keyboardist Elliott Hammond has also joined the group. The band has re-recorded the album with the new line-up, and it is slated for release in 2013. On 31 December 2012 the band performed their first show in Australia since August that year at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Brisbane. In late 2012 Stockdale broke a longstanding silence to reveal that the album was currently set to be titled Gatherings, and was scheduled for a March 2013 release, with eight of a planned 12 songs completed.
On 6 March 2013, frontman Andrew Stockdale announced that he would be releasing the new album under his own name, not that of the band. He described the album as "a different trip now", putting the future of Wolfmother as a band in doubt. He later confirmed on his new "Andrew Stockdale" Facebook page that Wolfmother was on hiatus, confirming that the current lineup would continue under his own name as a solo project.
On 26 April 2013, Stockdale confirmed that Wolfmother had been axed, and that the band would continue to perform under his own name. Wolfmother played their last show on 28 April in Melbourne, opening for Aerosmith.
Since the release of their first album, the band has gained much success, with reviews being mostly favourable. James Gange of music magazine Maelstrom favourably noted the band to be similar to psychedelic rock group Blue Cheer, that they were "more like Blue Cheer put in ten times the effort and creativity" partly disagreeing with comparisons to blues/hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Chris Nixon of the San Diego Union-Tribune also responded favourably to the band's rock sound comparing it to "the pre-punk angst of MC5 and Steppenwolf's hard-edged psychedelia" and that they add "sparkle with modern recording techniques", comparing them with Kyuss, early Queens of the Stone Age. Allmusic's Eduardo Rivadavia notes the similarities between Wolfmother's original power trio and Blue Cheer's sound. E.C. Gladstone of Rhino Entertainment's The R'Zine thought the Sabbath, Led Zeppelin comparisons were partly vague and "pretty limiting", noting Wolfmother to be influenced by a mix of "bluesrock ooze", including Yes, MC5, The Nice, Blue Cheer, Jethro Tull and Grand Funk, and "the best version of great rock available at the moment." A review by Total Guitar's Phil Ascott calls Wolfmother's music "ruddy marvellous", and Pitchfork Media's Cory Byroum praises them for "how capably they strike a balance between meaty vintage metal and crisp, stoner-rock melodies". Others hold that their music is too derivative of 70s rock; a Stylus Magazine review by Patrick McNally states "everything there is to say about them is best said by immediate reference to another band and Wolfmother always come up short in the comparison". Another Allmusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine is more critical, calling their music "precious, inarticulate, [and] confused" when compared to that of their musical influences, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream and Black Sabbath. During an Interview with ITV at Chicago's lollapalooza in 2007, Mike Patton, frontman of Faith No More was mid-way through the interview when a Wolfmother performance began blaring loudly in the background earning a response from Patton to say "Are you hearing this shit? What year are we in? Forgive me, but Wolfmother you suck!" There was no further immediate comment from the band, but the clip became viral through YouTube. In a later interview with an Australian radio station, Patton stated he was "in a bad mood" when he made his comments and, although he was not a fan, wished Wolfmother well.
Wolfmother has responded to the accusations about the perceived derivative nature of their music, "[We] don't pretend that we're [Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath]… There's similarities in our sound, but we're not trying to emulate them at all." Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke stated in a 2006 interview with Mojo magazine that he is a fan of Wolfmother. In 2007, Alice Cooper described Wolfmother's sound to Guy Blackman of The Sydney Morning Herald, stating that they are "like a teenage Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf kind of band".
In his 'List of the Day', Yahoo! critic Rob O'Connor noted them as number 15 on his list of 'The Greatest Australian Acts'. Furthermore, he compared their sound to be more reminiscent of psychedelic rock bands like Blue Cheer, Toe Fat Revival, Bloodrock and Frijid Pink, rather than comparing them to straightforward hard rock bands like Black Sabbath. Despite previous criticisms of the band, The EG magazine section of The Age newspaper listed Wolfmother's debut album at number 4 on its list of Top 10 Australian Albums, with each of the selections dubbed the best 'highlights of the decade'.
The works of Jimi Hendrix have been influential in the works of Wolfmother, with lyrical references to "Purple Haze" in their song "Dimension." While Wolfmother has been identified as being primarily influenced by '70s rock bands such as Uriah Heep, Budgie, Black Sabbath and fellow Australians AC/DC, their official MySpace profile lists their influences to include mostly '60s groups such as: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Who, as well as newer acts, including The Avalanches, Radiohead, The White Stripes and Kings of Leon.
Andrew Stockdale also lists The Doors as a major influence, stating they were one of his favourite bands growing up. During Stockdale's appearance on ABC's My Favourite Album, Stockdale stated AC/DC's T.N.T. to be a favourite, claiming it gave him "shivers". Andrew Stockdale has described the band's sound as "a mix of the playfulness of Earth Wind and Fire with the intensity of Black Flag".
- Wolfmother (2005)
- Cosmic Egg (2009)
Awards and nominations
Upon its release, Wolfmother's debut album won the 2005 J Award for Best Australian Album. Also in 2005, the song "Woman" was nominated for Single of the Year and Best Breakthrough Artist – Single at the ARIA Awards, eventually losing out to Ben Lee's "Catch My Disease" and End of Fashion's "O Yeah", respectively. In 2006 Wolfmother's Australian success continued – they received nominations for Spankin' New Aussie Artist, Best New Group and Best Rock Video (for "Mind's Eye") at the MTV Australia Awards; and were nominated for the Jack Award for Best Live Band. At the 2006 ARIA Awards, the band won Best Breakthrough Album, Best Rock Album (both for Wolfmother) and Best Group, and received nominations for Album of the Year (for Wolfmother) and Single of the Year (for "Mind's Eye") – a total of three wins from five nominations.
In 2007, Wolfmother received their first award nominations from outside of their home country. At the 2007 BRIT Awards, they were nominated for the award for International Breakthrough Act, ultimately losing out to American band Orson. In the United States, the band won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 2007 ceremony for their song "Woman". Wolfmother were re-nominated for Best Live Band at the 2007 Jack Awards, and this time the trio won it. Several nominations were again received at the MTV Australias, this time for Best Group, Viewer's Choice Award, Best Rock Video and Video of the Year (both for "Joker & the Thief"). In 2008 Wolfmother received one award from one nomination – the APRA Award for Most Played Australian Work Overseas, for their song "Woman".
- APRA Awards
The annual APRA Awards are presented by the Australasian Performing Right Association. Wolfmother has received three awards from three nominations.
- ARIA Music Awards
The annual ARIA Music Awards are presented by the Australian Recording Industry Association. Wolfmother has received three awards from ten nominations.
- BRIT Awards
The annual BRIT Awards are presented by the British Phonographic Industry. Wolfmother has received one nomination.
- Grammy Awards
The annual Grammy Awards are presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Wolfmother has received one award from one nomination.
- J Award
The annual J Award is presented by Australian radio station Triple J. Wolfmother has received one award from one nomination.
- Jack Awards
The annual Jack Awards are presented in Australia and sponsored by American Tennessee whiskey company Jack Daniel's. Wolfmother has received one award from two nominations.
- MTV Australia Awards
The annual MTV Australia Awards are presented by television channel MTV Australia. Wolfmother has received seven nominations.
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Image from Discogs