Few bands can really rock out anymore quite like Wolfmother can. Combining all the best elements of classic rock and metal, Wolfmother made it huge in 2005 and 2006 with their debut self-titled album. After a lot of touring, some internal turmoil and a lengthy period of time off, the band is back led by lead singer, guitarist and overall mastermind Andrew Stockdale. Stockdale has recruited a brand new live band to support him on tour behind the group’s latest sophomore release Cosmic Egg. Released just at the end of October, Cosmic Egg has generally been received favourably by fans and critics. The record was produced by none other than Alan Moulder, a production genius who has most notably worked with Nine Inch Nails and The Smashing Pumpkins. Wolfmother is currently on tour through the U.S. and Canada before embarking on a European and Australian tour in January. We were fortunate enough to speak to Stockdale shortly before the release of Cosmic Egg.
Your brand new, long awaited sophomore album Cosmic Egg is done and due out in October. How do you feel about the album now that it’s finished?
Andrew: I feel really good, it’s amazing how complicated it is to get a record out these days. I feel like just to get it out on the shelf is a massive accomplishment.
Comparing Cosmic Egg to your debut album, what would you say is the main difference between the two in terms of sound?
Andrew: Ah, well I’d say that this one is a real album, it feels like a real album, like in the sense that you can sit down and kind of listen with the headphones, it’s that kind of experience. That’s kind of one side of it. I think it’s definitely a more dramatic sort of songwriting and guitars and guitar solos, the whole thing is a little bit more serious than what we’ve done… Some of the songs are more serious and powerful and sort of truck driving kind of songs. It’s not quite as psychedelic as the first record, some of the songs are kind of like experimental, twelve parts, everything is a different part and one part goes to the next, to the next, to the next… So yeah, in comparison to the first record, I think it’s definitely in a similar vein to what Wolfmother is all about, just kind of like exploring the possibilities that were there on the first record and kind of extending them I guess.
Let’s backtrack for a moment. The band went through some internal tensions last year which led to the departure of Chris and Miles from the band. After this occurred, did you ever consider breaking the band up for good?
Andrew: Um, yeah I wasn’t sure about going forward as Wolfmother for a little while, but I kind of looked around, I looked at other bands and I thought you know there are lots of examples where the band continues even when some members leave so that kind of played an influence in my decision. AC/DC lost a singer and lost a drummer, changed bass players and they’re one of the biggest bands of the world. Jimi Hendrix, he had a three piece and then those guys left and he turned it into The Band of Gypsies. Like I think in some ways seeing other bands and seeing that it happened in the past, it gave me a bit of insight that I could continue with this.
Now aside from you, the band features a brand new lineup including Aidan Nemeth on guitar, bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres and drummer Dave Atkins. How did you meet the new guys and how did they end up joining the lineup?
Andrew: Well I met Dave when I was at a cafe in Brisbane and I was doing some demos and he was like “hey if you need a drummer, let me know!” So yeah, I just kind of invited him over and he helped out trying to come up with new ideas with the songs that I had. In some ways I thought his drumming was a really unique style that kind of fit in well with where I was going with Wolfmother so I was like “do you want to join the band?” And he had a friend Ian who lives on the coast and he was like “hey this guy plays a really good bass, you should try him out.” So yeah, he came in and he could play all the old songs and I showed him a few new ideas and he picked it up really quickly, he was all over it. So at that point I was like “I think we have a band.”
Now this new album Cosmic Egg, did you write it all yourself or did any of the new guys help at all with the writing process?
Andrew: Yeah I wrote the whole thing.
Could you see yourself writing with the new guys in the future?
Andrew: Ahh, actually I kind of enjoyed like going off and writing myself.
Well you do a good job of it so I can’t argue with you there. To produce Cosmic Egg, I read that you worked with the very well respected Alan Moulder. How did Alan first become involved in producing the record?
Andrew: Well, I was asked by the label who I’d like to produce the record and for a while I was thinking about doing it myself but then I decided that maybe I should use a producer. I spent like two months recording “Back Round,” “Phoenix” and a few other songs and I felt like if I keep going at this rate it’s going to take me a year to do the whole thing. So yeah, I asked if we could approach Alan Moulder, the label gave him a call and he was interested and then we were up and running.
I heard a rumour that the title of the record Cosmic Egg was inspired from a position in a yoga class. Is this true and if so, are you really into yoga?
Andrew: Um, yeah I went to a yoga class and one of the positions… the instructor was like “this is your cosmic egg.” It kind of jumped out at me and I thought “wow, that’s pretty cool.” So I went into the studio that afternoon and we were doing a song and some other people there were like “what’s the name of the song?” I said “Cosmic Egg.” People kind of laughed, they liked it and then I told the label, told management and they all liked it, the people I was talking about knew the significance of eggs and artwork, cosmic… you know the universe. It seems like, for a lot of people, it means different things for different people so it’s kind of cool, it worked out well.
I also read that you collaborated with Slash for a few songs. Did any of this material wind up on the new album?
Andrew: Yeah, we wrote with Slash, he has a solo record that’s coming out next year, I think we had one day off, like a Sunday from recording for weeks and Slash was like “do you want to meet up and try out some songs?” We met at like 12 o’clock at night on a Sunday night and worked on some songs and I think we jammed probably three times and then we got together with his band and went straight in and recorded it, did the vocals… That was it, it was done, it happened really quickly.
That must have been really cool recording with him; he’s such a legend…
Andrew: Yeah, his record sounds really good, I heard some of the other songs, Ozzy Osbourne is on there so it should be great.
I personally love the sound of the band, from the riffs to the vocals; few bands really rock out like Wolfmother does anymore. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration for the sound and style of the band?
Andrew: Um, well I think there’s a lot of things going on, you know, all the old classics, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Dylan, The Beatles, Hendrix, actually I like Hendrix but I’m not sure he really influences me… Um, maybe Iron Maiden… So yeah I’d say like all that classic rock… The Stones, they would probably be an influence on one song “White Feather.” So yeah, I’d say that would be a few of my personal inspirations.
A lot of Wolfmother’s music, especially from the debut album has been featured in many video games and movies. How do you personally feel about your music being used in this way? Do you condone it?
Andrew: Well you know I guess there’s all kinds of audiences, there’s so many people in the world and once you reach out to people in one sort of area, there’s millions of other people who don’t have a clue that those people exist. Movies and video games kind of align to reach people you might not reach otherwise with your music. If there can be a Wolfmother song in a movie or a game, I kind of feel like it’s a good thing and it can reach people.
What are your touring plans like for the rest of 2009 and in to 2010?
Andrew: Ah, we’re touring Australia in September, we’re going around all of Australia and then in October we’re doing Europe and the UK and then in November, December we’re spending a month and a half going around America and then we’ll go back to Australia and do some festivals. Then in January we’ll do some more festivals and then we’re supporting AC/DC on their tour. So we’re looking at a long time on the road.