With a new album set to be released next month, a new single out and two CMC nominations, The Wolfe Brothers have much to smile about. The new single “Ain’t Seen It Yet”, from their upcoming fourth album Country Heart, is a celebration of home and displays a more mature sound for the band. Catching up with one-third and guitarist Brodie Rainbird, we spoke about the evolution of The Wolfe Brothers and connecting with fans.
Earlier this year, the band released the single “Ain’t Seen It Yet”, off the upcoming album Country Heart, sporting a different sound to what people associate with the Wolfe Brothers. How does this new single represent what we can expect of the new album?
This new album, I see it as the next evolution of the Wolfe Brothers. It’s different to what we’ve done before and it’s us pushing our boundaries. Everything we’ve done with this album has been different. The process was turned completely on its head. We wanted to get a little bit uncomfortable. We wanted to sound way more modern than we’ve sounded before. We didn’t want to do just another Wolfe Brothers album; we meant for it to be different.
We gave [producer] Matt Fell the brief and he took it and ran with it and really tested us a few times. He really delved into strange sounds, weird synths and playing piano. We haven’t had a producer that does that. Matt spent hours on each song creating cool sounds, electronic stuff and stuff we’ve never tried before that we’ve always wanted to do. I think that was one of the main things that got us so excited.
When you look back at our influences it’s always very guitar-heavy, 80s rock stuff, but this time we’ve stepped completely away from that. Some tracks only have one main guitar on them. Nick and I were getting a bit tired of the constant thrashing of two guitars at the same time. We decided to do less bashing on the guitars and more on creating little hooks and interesting things in songs using more modern sounds. We wanted to show a lot of restraint and give each song its own identity. Sonically, it creates a lot of space and room for other cool ideas. It’s way more modern than anything we’ve ever done and it’s stuff we’ve wanted to do for so long.
We’re so happy with how it sounds and we’re quite proud of what we’ve created. We’re excited to get it out and show it to people. We’ve never been this happy. If we’re affected by it that much, then the fans will be too. That’s given us a lot of confidence.
Were the songs originally demoed in the same sounding style as your previous songs, or were they originally written and recorded with the new sound in mind?
A lot of them changed. “Ain’t Seen It Yet” was the biggest change from demo to album that was done, [but] they all had a treatment put on them. The song was originally written in the style of Steve Earle, the “Copperhead Road” band vibe. We wrote it with the guy who loves Steve Earle over in the US, so that’s why that came out. That was cool, but when we came to record it, it didn’t suit the rest of the album. It was a great song but that style wasn’t going to fit at all.
Matt said, “Why don’t we do it like this?” And we were like, “We would never do something like that, so let’s do it!” (Laughs) It transformed from a band song to something way more emotional. It was going to be a two guitars, thrashing away, old-school rock song like we used to do [but] Matt really transformed that song, pushed us out of our comfort zone and it paid off. That’s my favourite song on the album now.
The band have been keeping the songs very close to your chest leading up to its release. How many songs off the new album have you sung live?
We’ve done three-or-four of them live. We’re going to go into rehearsals soon, which is something we haven’t really done in a long time. We’re going to spruce up the show and really nail down what we’re going to do with these songs live.
In the past, we’ve made a lot of adjustments to songs because we’ve said, “We can’t do it live” so we had to record it a different way. This time we went into the studio and said, “Let’s forget about what we want to do live. Let’s just make a recording of these songs as good as it can possibly be and we’ll think what happens later.” It’s a complete reverse. It’s good. It means we’re pushing ourselves. Now we’ve got that challenge. They are different to what we’ve done before so they are going to stand out either way.
What’s the reaction been like to the new single?
The best reactions have been from other artists. We’ve had so many messages from other artists saying, “This new song is next level!” We’ve never had that before. Obviously artists support each other, but when we put out “Ain’t Seen It Yet”, every artist we knew was messaging us saying, “That’s something that’s really new, different and cool.” It was really nice to get that support from the industry.
Fans love it [too]. It’s been great. The guy who lives next door, who listens to rap all day long, he loves it! (Laughs) So we might have some crossover potential across genres. It’s been so positive, the whole thing. I can’t wait to get the whole thing out.
Why was this song chosen as the first single?
Personally for me, it was the one with the most emotional reaction. We all ended up agreeing that it was the strongest song for a first single. We thought, “Everything we’re doing is different so, let’s hit them with this new song. Let’s come out strong and show everyone this new thing we’re doing.”
The music video premiered just over a month ago and it has some creative transitions between scenes. It also looks like it would have been very complicated to shoot. What was it like filming the music video?
Actually, it was one of the easiest shoots we’ve done because it had to be so planned out because it was shot chronologically. It wasn’t like we were searching for something and waiting for something to happen. With band shots, you do it over and over again till you think you might have something to put it all together; whereas this was so planned out.
I think editing it was a little difficult. I heard it took longer than expected. Josh [Favaloro] from The Filmery had the whole thing story boarded and knew exactly how he wanted it to look, where he wanted to film it etc. It was all done on the Wolfe Brothers Berry Farm. There’s a lot of history there and we hadn’t taken full advantage of that location in the past.
Around the same time of the single release, the band began doing live Facebook videos (titled ‘Wolfe Pack Weekly’) which sees one or more of you interacting with fans and singing live music. Where did the idea for these weekly videos come from?
We were all Pantera fans, believe it or not. (Laughs) We like our heavy metal and Pantera used to do something cool called the Pantera home videos where they put out an edited thing of their life, they would always have someone filming no matter what they were doing like whether it was a gig, backstage or at Dimebag’s house and drinking piss, shooting fireworks at each other. It was a great look into their lives. If you watched it once or twice you begin to feel like you knew them quite well, so [our] live videos are serving that same purpose. I think if people watch them, hear us talking about our lives and see us on screen enough; they start to feel like they know who we are, which is a great way to connect with people.
It’s interesting watching the videos because you all seem to be trying new things, which one could say is another layer of the current Wolfe Brothers evolution you’re currently going through.
Lead vocalist Nick Wolfe has been gaining confidence in his speaking. We’ve seen bass player, Tom Wolfe playing piano and singing lead vocals. And you’ve also been singing, when you predominately only ever play guitar. Can we expect to see you singing on stage in the near future?
I think we’re going to work that into the new show. Probably a little bit; then maybe a full song later on. That’s exciting for me. It feels great just to sing. It’s something I have wanted to do for so long [but] haven’t had the courage and now that I’m over that part of it, it’s great. You don’t grow as a human unless you get out of your comfort zone, which is something I was taught not that long ago and that’s how this came about. I have a vocal coach and I learn songs. I love it!
I wish I did it when I was in primary school. I’ve been playing guitar since Grade 4. That was my world for so many years, so it was time to take something else on. It’s different too because [when you’re playing guitar] you only have to remember five or six chords for a song and then you’re pretty right, but singing, you’ve got to remember so many words!
As a band we’ve always seen other groups do awesome harmonies and we’ve gone, “Why can’t we do that?” Well, we can we can do that; it just takes a bit of work. I would love to value add to the band by adding another harmony – we can do some crazy stuff with that, which is really cool.
Country Heart is out March 23rd.