Folk-rock band Wolftown always get the crowd howling with delight like there is a full moon out when they perform. The band spoke to Helen Herimbi over pastries about passion and production.
We’re’ sitting at Charly’s Bakery, marvelling at a cookie that has Rafiki and grown Simba on it.
This might be the closest thing to sugar-coated that Sarah Pope (vocals and guitar), Kyle Sanders (percussion) and Damian Upton (bass) come across.
Led by Pope’s raw yet restrained voice that commands a crowd, the three of them have chosen to present their brutally honest lyrics (mostly written by Pope) on a bed of blues and folk rock on their first album, Soul On Fire.
“I’m going to let Damian answer this one,” Pope says when I ask about the title. We laugh about how Upton – who designed the album artwork – is always thrown the technical questions because he’s the oldest of the three and, Sanders quips, “he’s like our dad”.
They pack up laughing and Upton, definitely the quiet one of the lot, smiles then explains: “The concept of the album is something we talked about for a long time. The sketches of the matches get darker at the end because they are about what we wanted to say visually.
“Soul On Fire is about having a burning passion for the things you spend your time doing. It’s about not holding anything back. It’s about burning your embers to your last breath.”
It’s clear Wolftown are passionate about their art. You see it when they’re putting on an acoustic performance at their single launch and it was even more evident when they went all-out for their performance at the Soul On Fire album launch last week.
In addition to Wolftown mounting the stage and shutting it down with two back-up singers, percussion aides who wore golden wolf masks and each band member flexing on drums at some point or other, our attention was captured by a snake charmer, burlesque dancers and a belly dancer.
“We went for a carnival type of theme for the mysterious element,” Pope said. “Wolftown has that element of mystery and that’s why the theme worked for us.”
The name of the band is the first point of mystery. “We just chose that name because it was something that represented our headspace in the music industry,” says Pope.
Adds Sanders: “Like wolves, we have that dominant approach in representing what we do and we’re fiercely focused on it.” Upton notes, “There’s actually a Wolftown in Virginia in the ’States”, before Sanders laughs, “We’ll be making a turn there soon.”
I can believe it. The band have generated quite a buzz, thanks to getting Kevin Metcalfe (who has worked on music by David Bowie, The White Stripes, and U2) to master their single, Settle Down.
Their infectious new single, Don’t You Know, has not only been playlisted all over the country, but has been picked up by an Austrian publishing house for a fashion campaign.
“Sound Masters is a mastering studio in London that’s open to whoever wants music mastered and we picked Kevin, an engineer we really respected,” says Upton.
The rest of the album was mastered by Rogan Kelsey, who has worked with Isochronous, Farryl Purkiss and The Sick Leaves.