Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Interview - The Republic of Wolves

The Republic of Wolves are a band from Long Island, New York. Their previous two EPs were met with impressive reviews from the likes of AbsolutePunk and, amongst others. With the release of their very first full-length album due later this month, we caught up with the band to see how things are going and what we can expect from the album.

How are things going right now?

Things are going really great! We're very excited about the album release, especially since people have been responding so well to what they've heard so far. We're just playing some local shows and finishing up bonus material for the release.

You've just finished recording Varuna, your first full-length album. How did that go?

It went very well. We started writing for the album right after we released our EP (His Old Branches), and spent about three months recording it (from May to August). We're extremely happy with the end result and we all feel like we created an album that we can be proud of.

Do you enjoy the recording process?

We love the recording process, especially since we have our own home studio. Gregg (who sings and plays guitar) has a mini-studio right in his basement, and he's an amazing producer and engineer. So really we're doing everything ourselves and we have complete control over the whole process. We can come and go as we please, and it's a very relaxed and friendly environment. There are no time constraints so we can do whatever we want and spend as much time as we need to try stuff out and record our ideas. We'd probably still be doing it even if no one was listening.

How does the album's sound differ from His Old Branches?

The sound is definitely more varied, and incorporates more musical experimentation than the EP did. There are stronger extremes involved; some moments are much darker and some moments are much lighter, and overall there's just a wider range of moods and emotions. Lyrically it's more cohesive, following a loose conceptual narrative which circles back to the same themes, but at the same time we explore a lot of new and different metaphors and elements.

Are there any main themes to the album?

In terms of imagery there's definitely a focus on the sea, and the ideas of mystery and danger that go with it. In a more abstract sense there are recurring questions of God, free will, and death, among other things. Essentially it's an album that asks a lot of questions but doesn't do much to answer them.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn't heard you before?

That's especially hard for us, since it's really hard to view our music objectively after experiencing the whole creative process. But I guess we would describe our music as ambient, melodic and emotional with a strong contrast between soft and heavy moments and an abstract lyrical style.

How did you get together as a band?

Most of us have been friends since pretty early on in high school. Mason and Christian got together in 9th grade and formed Tigers on Trains, an acoustic folk project which is still kind of going on. In 2009 they started recording with Gregg (who had worked with Christian) in his home studio, while simultaneously working on some demos for a new project with Billy, a long-time friend. By the end of the summer the four of them had gotten together, bringing in drummer Chris Wall and forming a new project called The Republic of Wolves.

What's the music scene like in Long Island?

There's a really big music scene on Long Island which unfortunately is embodied by a multitude of bands that all sound very similar. We've never really been a part of the local scene, since we gained our popularity almost exclusively through the internet, so we can't say much about how it operates. However there are definitely some select bands that stand out above the crowd of generic Long Island acts, and those are usually the ones that manage to move forward. We've been able to play with a few of these bands and we have a lot of respect for them and the music they make.

Where does the inspiration for lyrics come from?

We get lyrical inspiration from a lot of different sources, some that most people wouldn't really expect. There's obviously some influence from other lyricists from Bob Dylan to Conor Oberst (and many others), but a lot of different things contribute to the stuff we write. We're all very interested in things like literature, mythology and history, and we certainly draw ideas from all of that. Anything that intrigues us usually ends up permeating the art we create, and fortunately we're all very curious people.

How about musical inspiration? Any collective favourites?

Musically we have a pretty wide range of interests between us, but there are definitely some influences that we all share. For the most part we're all fans of Bright Eyes, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Brand New and Death Cab for Cutie, among a lot of newer acts.
Are you ever compared to any other artists and do you find it flattering or a bit of a pain?

Well obviously we've been compared to Brand New pretty consistently ever since the whole YouTube fiasco (when our anonymous demos were put up by a friend of a friend and mistaken for leaks from their upcoming album). It's definitely flattering to a certain extent, since we are fans of the band, but at the same time it's unfortunate that some people have defined us by that. The good thing is that the more material we put out, the more people realize that we do have our own unique sound. So we're kind of slowly getting past that comparison.

How does the song writing process work for you guys? Does one person come up with an idea or do you all sit down and write together?

Most of the time someone comes in with a basic song idea and we all kind of pitch in a bit and work together to develop it. Sometimes the songs are fully formed by the time they're shared with everyone, but in those cases everyone still gets to share their input and whatnot. Every once in a while songs are written in a truly collaborative way, lyrics and all, and those are usually the most interesting to us.

Are there any new bands or artists you'd like to tell our readers about?

There are definitely a lot of great newer bands that we've had the pleasure to play with in the past few months; Gabriel The Marine, Hotel of The Laughing Tree, Robbers, and The Felix Culpa are all awesome and certainly worth checking out. There are so many others but we unfortunately can't list them all.

Do you have any tour plans, specifically to come over to the UK?

We're working on booking a short winter tour at the moment, and there will definitely be some more wide-spread touring in the summer. Unfortunately we can't say just yet whether we'll make it to the UK any time soon but we'd love to make it happen at some point. We'll be keeping people posted about upcoming shows.

What are your plans for next year?

Well we're definitely going to focus on playing more shows than we have in the past, but aside from that we're not totally sure. We'll definitely be doing some kind of recording again before long, whether it be for our next full-length or for some other type of release. A lot depends on how well our album does!

Thanks again for talking to us and good luck with the album; we're looking forward to it.

No, thank you! We appreciate you interviewing us and we'd like to sincerely thank anyone who took the time to read it. Your support means a lot to us!

You can check out The Republic of Wolves here.

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