Earlier this year Australian rockers Wolfmother celebrated the tenth anniversary of their critically lauded self-titled debut with a deluxe edition featuring bonus tracks and more. The past once again behind them, the Andrew Stockdale-led act are ready to look ahead to 2016. Today (Nov. 19), Wolfmother announces plans for its fourth studio album, Victorious.
Produced by Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam), the album will drop Feb. 19 via Universal. Stockdale, who played guitar and bass, with drums shared by the impressive combo of Josh Freese and Joey Waronker, recorded much of the album in L.A.
Earlier this year, Billboard visited Stockdale at Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood, then recently followed up with a phone conversation while the frontman was back in Byron Bay, Australia.
Billboard: It’s been a few months since we talked. How has the record changed for you with that additional perspective?
Andrew Stockdale: I listened to it yesterday, or a couple of days ago, played it to a friend and just seeing people really freak out over Victorious and seeing the way it hits them — the beat and the chorus — it’s almost like it’s having a second life now, and it’ll have another life as well when it comes out. I’m digging it. I’m cool with it.
I know this album was influenced by revisiting the first album at the same time for the reissue. Are people noticing the similarities between this album and the first record?
I think the similarities go straight over their heads. It’s like they’re listening to a Wolfmother track, they just engage with it and take it on board. I don’t know that registers, people hear my voice, they hear the guitars, and they hear the drums, and they’re just like that’s sort of it. It’s more of a feeling; with rock ‘n’ roll you throw yourself into it. And because there are so many melodic beats, a lot of the reactions I’ve had are like, “Oh, there’s nothing like this about at the moment. No one’s playing guitar, people don’t like guitar anymore.”
I feel like there are people playing guitar though. Who do you admire right now who is playing guitar?
I think the guy from Alabama Shakes has some classy moves, he’s got some traditional blues stuff. Kurt Vile’s taking Donovan’s finger-plucking style that he taught John Lennon, he gets a lot of mileage out of that, which is cool. I love that.
Guitar is out there in all styles, it’s a matter of knowing where to find it.
That’s the beauty of the era we live in, everything’s available. Every subgenre, just get on YouTube, and it’s all available. So everyone’s just sort of listening to what they want to listen to.
What did Brendan bring to the textures and tones of what you did instrumentally on this record?
If I knew what he’d done I’d do it myself. That’s the difficult question because I don’t know what he’s done, but he’s done a lot of sonic wizardry and messed around with stuff. He’s made it sound pretty big. It doesn’t sound like it’s in a cardboard box. Somehow he has that knowledge of spending thirty years in a studio.
How did you approach the recording?
I demoed this record on drums; I did everything on the demos. Before we started one song, myself and Brendan, if it was an electric song we’d both plug into these little practice amps and we’d just play the song and I’d sing it. We’d play it two or three times, record it, and then we’d get the drummer in, the drummer would listen to my demos, listen to it three times, then he would play it. We had Josh Freese and Joey Waronker, so in a sense it’s like they took my parts and played it. The performance they gave was far tighter and bigger sounding. So that was the process and then after that we just kind of multi-tracked everything and we’d do the guitars, I’d play the bass and if you listen to “Victorious,” the grand piano, kind of Who style thing, he played that, which was great just bringing that kind of element into a big riff electric guitar. Brendan has got his whole kit of percussion; there’s a lot of percussion on every song. He adds this mojo percussion thing to every song as well.
What tracks are you most looking forward to playing live in 2016?
“Victorious,” “Love That You Give” — we played that at a festival before we went in to make the record and that riff just caused huge mosh pits so I know that riff works. Also “Best of a Bad Situation” could have a cool little acoustic Small Faces breakdown kind of moment. And then I guess “Pretty Peggy” might work its way into the set towards the second half of the set. I’m actually writing this down cause it’s good to think about this stuff.
How has your writing evolved over the years?
This one’s a bit of a fresh slate cause I’ve had enough time to process the success of the first record and finding your feet after success and all the experiences along the way — not to be embittered — hung up or burnt out from all the touring and enjoy it. I think I’m in a good head space creatively writing these songs. I think that would possibly come through, maybe a bit of maturity. I’ve always tried to steer clear from any finger-pointing songs or anything too angst-y. Whatever the feeling is I’ve tried to keep it optimistic. I would love to be a melancholy artist. I kind of look at the singer/songwriters who can have a glass of wine and swoon all the ladies and talk about broken relationships. But I just can’t pull that off.
What’s the one broken hearted song you wish you had written?
[Laughs] With those kinds of guys you never remember their songs; you just remember the atmosphere. I think that’s the blessing and the curse to that genre. There’s usually too many lyrical themes going on there and there are no hooks. If I play to a lot of people, I can go big. I have the right personality or style of music to go big, but when I play in front of 10 people, pretty much everybody else in that room, if they play guitar, can entertain as well as I could to 10 people.
Wolfmother is also announcing a North American tour for 2016. Check out the dates below:
Feb. 24: Minneapolis, Minn. – First Ave
Feb. 25: Chicago, Ill. – Metro
Feb. 26: Detroit, Mich. – St. Andrews Hall
Feb. 27: Toronto, Ontario – Dansforth Music Hall
Feb. 29: Boston, Mass. – Paradise Rock Club
March 2: Washington, D.C. – 9:30 Club
March 3: New York, N.Y. – Webster Hall
March 4: Philadelphia, Penn. – Trocadero Theatre
March 5: Raleigh, N.C. – The Ritz
March 7: Atlanta, Ga. – Center Stage
March 8: Nashville, Tenn. – Marathon Music Works
March 9: Memphis, Tenn. – Minglewood Hall
March 11: Lawrence, Kan. – Granada Theater
March 12: Oklahoma City, Okla. – Diamond Ballroom
March 14: Dallas, Tex. – Granada Theater
March 15: Houston, Tex. – House of Blues
March 21: El Paso, Tex. – Tricky Falls
March 22: Tempe, Ariz. – The Marquee
March 23: San Diego, Cali. – House of Blues
March 25: Santa Ana, Cali. – The Observatory
March 26: Los Angeles, Cali. – The Fonda Theatre
March 28: San Francisco, Cali. – The Fillmore
March 30: Portland, Ore. – Wonder Ballroom
March 31: Seattle, Wash. – The Showbox
Apri 1: Vancouver, British Columbia – Commodore Ballroom