It seems like the Wolfe Brothers couldn’t top 2013, when they released their debut album, joined Lee Kernaghan on tour and received four Golden Guitar nominations. But, as I found out when talking to Tom Wolfe recently, 2014 is set to be even bigger. I’ll let Tom tell you what they have planned.
How was your Tamworth? I saw you play at the Fanzone and you had a very large crowd there. So clearly the Wolfe Brothers have definitely arrived.
[Laughs] Yeah, they have I guess. Look, it was great. We had a really good festival. I mean, we were really busy, which is what you can only really hope for. But we had a big turnout there, it was fantastic, and we had a really good show, we did the show with Lee [Kernaghan] in the park. We got to play at the [Golden Guitar] awards, which is also just awesome. So that was the best Tamworth to date really.
You had your own show at Blazes, didn’t you?
We did. We had our own show at Blazes, which was really cool. We had a really good turnout and … Lee Kernaghan came along as well, which was great.
So given that you played at the Golden Guitars, does that mean you don’t quite get to sit back and enjoy the night like everyone else?
Yeah, we did a song at the awards, so we kind of had to be on our game a little bit, a little bit aware of what we’re doing. But no, we had a great time there. We had a very fun time at the after party [laughs]. Well, I did anyway. I think I’m still recovering, but anyway.
Yes, who says country music is staid?
Exactly [laughs]. It was awesome, Tamworth. Couldn’t have been better. It was the best time we’ve had to date really. It was hot – God it was hot – but we loved it.
So you’re heading out on the road with Lee again – you toured with him last year. I was wondering what’s changed for the band over that time, if anything?
A lot has changed. We’ve been busy, we’re been doing a lot of our own shows for the last few months, which has been really a lot of fun. But we love playing out on the road with Lee. It’s always big houses and there’s always lots of people. I’d like to think we’ve got a bit better [laughs]. We’ve been playing a lot, we’ve been working on that a lot. So yeah, really looking forward to the shows with Lee. They’re always fun, just a really good night for the audience. You get a lot of Lee’s catalogue and if you haven’t seen us you get to see what we’re about. So it’s a really good, rounded show.
Fanzone was the first time I’d seen you guys play live and it didn’t at all surprise me that Lee had taken you on because you guys were incredibly tight as a band. I thought, if this is what they’re pulling out every night on tour with Lee he’ll never let them go.
Cool, that’s cool. I was [sick] for the fan zone so I couldn’t really talk. That was a bit of a pain in the bum. But it went really well, so I’m glad you thought it was good. We’ve done a lot of gigs together, we’ve done a lot of shows together and I guess that kind of makes you play a bit better I guess. You play so much together, you you start to get tighter really, don’t you?
Well, some people don’t. I think it depends on the dynamic in the band. Sometimes I think you can play a lot, but if you’re not all in sync then you can still be all over the place.
I think with us we always want to be the best we can be. That’s kind of the rule first up. So it’s good, it’s a good atmosphere in the band, it’s a really good thing. Always trying to make music better, which is awesome.
So has your time on the road with Lee led to any potential songwriting collaborations?
Not with Lee. I mean, we’ve written a lot on the road, but we haven’t actually had a chance to write with Lee. We’ve been so busy. But we’d really like to and we’ve talked about it, we’ve talked about songwriting together. But we’ve found we’ve written a lot on the road, like we’ll have a day off or we might have half a day in town and you get your acoustic [guitar] out. Actually some of these songs are going to be on the next album, which is really cool. So that’s cool, it’s come from the road and come from out there doing it, which is really exciting.
At the moment it must feel like you’re riding a really long, good wave. You’ve been on tour with Lee for a while and there’s been a lot going on for you guys and it must seem a bit hectic, but it does sound like you’ve had time to plan your new album. But I’m also wondering if you’ve had time to plan a holiday?
Well, we had a week off over Chrissy, so that was really good.
Oh, a week? That’s so much.
[Laughs] I think it was, like, 10 days. So that was awesome. It was about the only time we’d had a break where we didn’t have to go and do something else – so we just actually had a proper break. That was a lot of fun. We’ve been really writing a lot. But this month, we’ve only got two shows this month but we’ve been spending every day demo-ing the new album. So we’ve pretty much demoed like 30 to 40 songs for this next album. The songs are good. I think the songs are better. I think we’ve just learnt a lot more over the last couple of years or last year about music, about life and everything and I think that’s coming through in the songs.
Given that you have that many songs, how on earth are you going to choose?
I don’t know yet [laughs]. We’ve been worrying about that. Might do a double album, I don’t know. There’s a lot of songs, yeah. But that’s cool. It’s a good place to be in and I reckon we’ll probably do 14 to 15, I reckon … Yeah, that’s the plan. It’s looking like it’s going to be bigger and better, this album.
Do you road test some of your new songs whether you’re playing your own show or playing shows with Lee?
We haven’t as yet, but I reckon we will in the next couple of months. We’ve been playing a few the last couple of days, only yesterday we played a new one live … and I reckon we’ll probably road test a few out on the road as well. So that’s cool, you kind of getting the reaction of what people think and whether it’s a goer or not, a yes or a no.
So do you think you’ve now got a fairly defined audience? Do you have a sense of who your audience is?
I think we do. I think it’s still growing. I think there’s a lot of people out there that still haven’t really seen us. I think we do our best work I believe when we’re playing live and I think if people are unsure of what we’re about or who we are, once they see us live I think they kind of go, oh yeah, I get it now. So that’s kind of our goal for the next couple of years really, just playing live a lot, just build a really good, solid, live audience. I think that’s what we’ve got to do and I think that’s where we really shine and really do it well and really win them over.
There was a little bit of controversy within country music obviously at the end of last year with John Williamson talking about the Americanisation of the genre and talking a bit about country rock. I feel the genre was originally American, so that’s a moot point. But I also took objection a bit to some of the talk that was around about country rock not really being country music – or not seemingly as valid as other country music – because I think there’s a lot of entertainment coming out of country rock and if audiences are being entertained, that’s really the musician’s job. So you’re doing your jobs properly.
Yeah, it’s an interesting thing, all of that debate. It’s probably something I don’t really get myself involved in. But I look at it like it’s just the next generation and what’s happening. To me it’s a whole new genre. We were brought up listening to Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe as much as we were Slim Dusty, James Blundell and Garth Brooks. So, I mean, what’s going to happen? If you listen to all that stuff when you’re writing songs you’re going very ‘this is who we are’ and nothing is contrite about it, we’re not going out of our way to make songs that are rocky or anything like that. It’s just how we write music. Yeah, I like it. I think it’s a really growing genre and I think there’s also a place for everyone. There’s a place for country, there’s a place for country rock, there’s a place for everything.
Certainly, given there are events like CMC Rocks the Hunter, those big festivals really lend themselves to a big sound.
Absolutely. I think it’s just growing and it’s changing. When Waylon Jennings was in his prime everyone thought he wasn’t country and they were having a crack at him and now he’s considered one of the true originals. I think 10 to 20 years from now we’ll all look back and probably just have a bit of a laugh about it [laughs]. I think what we’re doing now will be tame compared to what will happen in the next 20 years.
I’ve got say just the three songs I saw you guys do, you all looked like you were having a complete ball as well as delivering really good songs. I think it’s fantastic if you can play as often as you do and still love it to that extent. I think regardless of the genre, if you can still deliver that high quality and love it, that’s really the point.
Absolutely. We just try and do the best job with the music we make as we can and we just try and be as positive and happy and nice to people as we can, and we love doing it. So we’re just having a ball doing it. It’s the best job in the world, playing music. I mean, geez, it’s the easiest job I’ve ever had [laughs].
Shhh, you can’t tell people that. You’ve got to pretend you’re really suffering having to meet your fans and rehearse and all that kind of stuff.
Oh no, no. I just think I could be pouring concrete or something at four in the morning, like I used to. So this is a lot easier, let me tell you [laughs].
So over the past year when you’ve had an album out, you’ve been on tour with Lee, you had four Golden Guitar nominations, that’s a pretty big year. I was wondering if the band’s ambitions have changed over the course of that year or did that year kind of exceed anything you could have imagined?
I think it probably didn’t change. It probably lit the fire bit more, if anything. Our big goals are – I mean, we really want to conquer home, we really want to have a big following at home. I’d like to be one of the top players in Australian country. That’s kind of where we are. But also we went up to Nashville last year and we had a good look around there and that’s just lit the fire for that. I think that’s something we’ve got to do, we’ve got to get over there, we’ve got to be a part of it. I think we definitely will do it in the coming years, just try and show them what some Aussie blokes have got [laughs].
Now, Tom, you’re a bass player. So I was wondering if you ever feel that the rhythm section gets the respect it properly deserves?
Maybe not in all cases. Yes and no. Look, I don’t know. When you look at things like The Rolling Stones everyone goes on about Mick, the front man. But I mean, really it’s Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. It’s all about that rhythm section together. Keith Richards, he’s the best rhythm guitarist really ever. Maybe not now but he definitely was. I think they do, yeah. I think everybody gets their moment. I don’t know. I don’t worry about that stuff too much. I jump around enough and carry on like an idiot, so it’s all good [laughs].
So as you’re about to head out on the road again with Lee where are your first shows going to take place?
If people just want to check the website out, which is www.thewolfebrothers.com. It will be the first one that comes up in Google or Lee’s website, which is leekernaghan.com. There’s all our tour dates on there for the year, all Lee’s tour dates for the year. Yeah, we’re travelling around the country. We’re heading over to WA, we’re heading over to South Australia. We’re covering a lot of country this year. Plus we’re going to be announcing a heap more dates at the end of this year as well. So it’s going to be busy, it’s going to be another really busy year.
You mean you’re announcing dates just for you as the Wolfe Brothers rather than with Lee?
Yeah, we’ll get this album done and we’re going to do a tour. We’re going to tour a lot at the end of this year just on our own as well, maybe with another act or something. We’re not 100 per cent sure. But that’s our plan. So yeah, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of gigs. I think we did 100 shows last year. Our goal is to do about 150 to 200 this year.
Well, you need to be drinking your organic wheatgrass juice, I would think.
[Laughs] Yeah. No, I just live on coffee. That’s all I live on. I’m a bit of a caffeine addict.
Well, as long as it doesn’t keep you up too long after a show, I guess – or maybe that’s the point.
No, I’m all good, I’m all good. I have coffees in the day, scotch at night. That works [laughs].
For full tour details for The Wolfe Brothers, visit their website:
It’s On, the debut album from The Wolfe Brothers, is out now.