Lone Wolves

20 June 2012 | 2:51 pm | Chris Yates

"Financially it’s a real fucking struggle. It’s fine to release stuff for free, but it costs money to produce. You hope people are gonna return the favour by coming to see you at shows and buying merch."

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Being disconnected from record labels and doing everything by themselves, Joel Byrne says that the usual disadvantages of being independent (ie. no money) are outweighed by the freedom to release their new material on a timeline that suits them.

“We were on Dot Dash and they were an amazing label,” he says genuinely. “But we have a more direct relationship with our fans now. Now, if we wanna put something out, we put it straight out. There's no promotional agenda that you have to work to and you don't have to worry about doing something that's contrary to any release plan. For instance, with these new singles we would have to clear so much. Now we can just put stuff on the Internet and do whatever we want. The flipside of that is that financially it's a real fucking struggle. It's fine to release stuff for free, but it costs money to produce. You hope people are gonna return the favour by coming to see you at shows and buying merch and all that kind of stuff.”

It's a familiar tale these days, but when you have a live show as strong as Wolf & Cub, you're hardly doing the band a favour by seeing them live. Its more like the other way around. Their massive sound is captured beautifully on the new single Shut Me Out; with its rougher edges it's a great representation of what they do onstage. Produced by Tim Whitten, it's one of four new songs and is the heaviest, most menacing of the bunch.

“We were intentionally going for a crunchier sound, or a crunchier vibe than what we had already achieved with the other (new) songs,” Byrne says of Shut Me Out. “The only thing that's different really is the guitars. We've kept a smooth kind of vibe to it that we want to keep going for the rest of the album. Tim brought in some nice little delay units and stuff for the vocals which injects it with that weird, psych kinda element which we try not to stray too far from.”

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The other big new track is See The Light – released a little earlier this year, it signalled that the band were returning with a purpose, raising the bar significantly for what sounds they wanted to create in the studio. That track (as well as the b-sides for See The Light and Shut Me Out) were produced by Burke Reid, the ex-Gerling member who's popping up with a producer credit on more than a few amazing releases of late.

“I hate to even say this, but [Reid] is really becoming a go-to kind of producer. He'd totally hate to hear that as well,” Byrne laughs. “That's the last thing I think he wants to be, but it's no surprise that he's been involved with so many great records. It's not a coincidence. He injected this smooth, easy-listening element into See The Light which has really set a high quality that we want to achieve with the new stuff.”

At this point, Joel explains what he means by easy-listening and confesses to listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Springsteen of late, certainly surprising considering the direction of the new material so far.

“You know, like classic rock, FM Radio can't help but influence what we're doing. We're definitely not trying to create a new sound, that's the furthest thing from my mind. Maybe not something that's easy to listen to, but something that's a pleasure to listen to. That's what that classic sound is all about, it's fucking undeniable!”