There are plenty of bands around at the moment happy to write songs that have little or no substance, but metal duo Dirty Wolves are not one of them. Their interest lies in telling a story in an album, from start to finish, and actually sending a message with their work. Mixdown sits down with guitarist and vocalist Skuewolf, real name Alex Hermes, for a thoroughly interesting chat on the project.
“Dirty Wolves is a symbol, it represents the bullshit today and what’s going on,” Hermes explains. “Dirty Wolves represent the dirty people, and that’s what Creation And Chaos is about. It’s about good versus evil, and it covers the good and the bad. So we’re quite a political band with quite a big meaning.”
The passion for his music comes through clearly in the interview, and to take on a project like this requires a certain kind of drive, which he clearly possesses. Making a concept album is something that Hermes has wanted to do for a long time, and now with an extended break from his main band Rubikon, he finally had the chance to.
“I loved making an album with Graeme [Young – drummer] that actually means something to us. I’ve [done] stuff before where you’re just putting out tracks and it doesn’t connect – it’s just a bunch of tracks. I just wanted to do something that connects, and actually means something and it’s about something,” he says. “I just love the idea of a concept album, the next one I want to do would be [another] concept album if I can.”
Being a concept album isn’t the only thing that is different about their record, as they actually wrote most of it backwards, by writing the drums first, followed by the guitar and lyrics.
“Usually the guitarist sits down and writes everything, [but] this time the drummer came in with beats and odd times and polyrhythms, and he goes ‘hey man here’s a polyrhythm, write some guitars over it’.” Whilst much more challenging than writing ‘traditionally’, Hermes believed that they were able to pull off writing backwards and ended up with something truly original. “[Though it was much harder], that was the trade off we were looking for to get something unique, something that belongs to us.”
One of the main challenges for this record for Hermes was actually writing the riffs to the drum patterns that Young brought in, some of which were pretty difficult to get his head around. “The riffs were hard man. I actually think Graeme is a great drummer and I really enjoy his stuff, he’ll come in with all this stuff and I’ll just look at it as a massive challenge.”
Such a technical style of writing the album might lead to the creative aspect of writing music being lost, but Hermes insists that the spontaneous moments of inspiration weren’t completely foregone. They weren’t always striving for the most out-there time signature or complicated riff, but instead they were finding what was right for the song.
“There’s a lot of spark in there. There is spark, but the album changes. We do have one or two tracks in [4/4 time] and [3/4 time]. You can’t disrespect [4/4 time], because it thunders, but there’s lots of contrast. We don’t do polyrhythms all through the album, so there is some contrast.”
Talking of polyrhythms and making writing music harder for themselves might lead to one sounding like a pompous prick (to put it nicely), but that isn’t the case when Hermes talks about Dirty Wolves. His evident passion makes the concept easy enough to understand for even the most devoid of theoretical rhythmic knowledge.
“For me anyway this is my impression [of polyrhythms]; whilst you’re out of time it creates this vortex and everything swings around and hits on the one [beat] again, it all falls back into time. You lose time and you fall back in time; for me it’s a real challenge and it’s a lot of fun because you really want to hit back on the one again because you can really lose your sense of timing. There’s no metronome, there’s no hi-hat, there’s nothing, and sometimes Graham wont bring the one back in, and then you’re just in the vortex.”
Following the release of their debut album, Dirty Wolves are hitting the road for a massive headline tour in September and October, highlighted by a performance at the Sydney Opera House. The tour also hits a lot of regional venues, which is something that Hermes sees as important for the band.
“It’s really important to get out there and play as much as possible. It all comes down to playing as many shows as you can, because if you go down there that’s an extra 50 heads you’re pulling to your show, an extra 50 here, an extra 50 there.”
Creation & Chaos is out August 15 through MGM. For more information visit dirtywolves.com.