Category: wolfe brothers

The Wolfe Brothers hit the road with Angry Anderson

To say that 2014 was a big year for the Wolfe Brothers would be understating the case: they toured themselves, they toured with Lee Kernaghan, they wrote, recorded and released an album … and it’s slightly exhausting even contemplating all of that. They’ve decided they don’t need a rest, though, and they’re kicking off 2015 by touring with Angry Anderson. The whole thing came about by chance, as Tom Wolfe explained when I interviewed him late last year about that and other things.

I’m going to start off by asking you to describe 2014 for the Wolfe Brothers in one word.
In one word … that’s a great question, can I just say that.  That’s a really good question, 2014 for the Wolfe Brothers in one word.  In one word, that’s hard.
[Laughs] I know, that’s why I’ve asked you.
Can I come back to that one?
You can.  You can let that marinate in your brain while I ask you other questions.
’Cause I was going to say something like fantastic – which it has been – but I think I can come up with something better than that.  So just give me a minute and I’ll come back to that one if that’s okay.
All right.  That’s absolutely fine.  So maybe what will help you answer that is if I ask you how the album’s been received?
The album’s been received, look, better than we’d hoped. The last couple of years on the road have made us better musos, it’s made us better songwriters and all of that sort of stuff.  So I think all of that kind of combined is, really – it’s the best stuff we’ve done yet.  The other singles are going great, we’re getting lots of radio play and it was even crossed over in commercial markets, which is really exciting for us and for the genre in general really.  So that’s really cool and it’s just been really good and I’m really looking forward to touring next year. 
And of course sometimes when you’re crossing over into commercial markets if you come from the country music genre, some people within country don’t like that.  If I think of Keith Urban, there’s the whole, ‘Oh well he’s no longer country music’ but I think in Australia that’s kind of okay.  People understand you can be played on Triple M and still be country music.
Look, it’s a line, it’s a blurred line.  It’s not something we set out to do, it’s not something you sit around at home and go, ‘We got to do this’.  The music we make is the music we make – it’s us, it’s not contrived, it’s just who we are and if people dig it and they want to play it and it works in that format, fantastic.
Certainly, having spoken to you and Brodie [Rainbird, guitarist] in the past, it’s clear that your development into the country genre was a completely organic thing to do.  It wasn’t like you set out to say, ‘Oh, we want to have a career in country.’ Country rock was the music you were drawn to and that’s naturally where you landed.  So it hasn’t been a cynical process, if you know what I mean.
No.  It’s just sort of come about as it is and what we do is us and I’m really proud of that.  We don’t sit at home and say, ‘This country rock thing, it’s going to be the next big thing, we need to write songs like this. ‘ This is the music we make and I think that’s why it’s been going really well for us and we’ve taken a lot of leaps in the last few years and really got up a lot of runs, honestly, because we’ve been true to ourselves and I think people see that and they relate to it, and if you’re an artist, as soon as you stop being true to yourself I think you lose them, if you know what I’m saying – like it’s not real, it’s contrived, people see through that.
In that sense, I guess as an observer of you as a band I kind of wonder: you get this momentum going and it’s this really strong momentum, this sense of your music evolving but also maintaining where you come from and also your live presence.  I kind of think the trajectory’s heading up and up and up but also you guys have to work really hard to sustain that.  So how are you feeling at the end of 2014?  Are you tired?
Yeah, we are.  In all honesty we are tired but a good tired – we’re happy tired, but it’s a lot of work and basically what you said, you’re really working hard and with working hard, you just go out and work it hard again.  It’s not the type of job you really get days off, you’re always doing songwriting or you’re working on the computer – there’s always stuff to do, but as you said, I think it’s all going in the right direction.  It’s going up and up, trajectory’s right.  So that’s fantastic and at the end of the day we’re loving doing it and people are enjoying it.  So that’s the main thing.
A lot of people in country music would take January off until they’re playing in Tamworth.  But no, no, the Wolfe Brothers start their tour on the 9th of January. 
Yeah.  We’ve got a Tassie show on the 3rdtoo.  So there’s no point, you’ve just got to work it.  You got to get out there and play live, and I think for us that’s such a big part of what we do and where we win a lot of people over when we play live because people who might be on the fence with us and go ‘I don’t know about these guys, they’re country rock’.  As soon as they see it live, ‘Okay, we get it, okay, that’s right, we fully get it.’  So that’s cool and the music industry’s a funny industry.  It’s changed, it’s always changing, but if you can go out and you can deliver a solid live show night after night then you will win fans.  You’ll definitely win fans and they’ll come back, they’ll definitely come back.
I was won over that way and that was by seeing you play three songs on Peel Street in 2014, because I really liked your music but I guess I wasn’t sure of the difference of the Wolfe Brothers until I saw you play and then I thought, These guys have got something and it’s that indefinable something.  There was some kind of alchemy going on there between the four of you that just made so much sense.
Absolutely and I have always said – and I think it’s one of the things that makes us stand apart – because one, we’re a band.  We’re not an artist with a heap of session musos behind us or we’re not a duo or a vocal group or something with a few guys behind us.  We’re a band, we’re four people and we love bands, and you think of all the greatest bands of all times, they mightn’t be the best players, they mightn’t be the best looking or all that sort of stuff but when the four of them get together, something happens. We’ve done this since high school and I think it’s only in the last probably couple of years we’ve really found our sort of niche and that chemistry and it’s just natural.  We know how to read each other, I know exactly what Casey’s going to play on the drums and Casey always says to me, he goes, ‘I know exactly when Tom’s going to do my drum fiddles on the base.’  So we kind of know how each other’s going to operate and it just makes it fun.  It can go anywhere and the show can go anywhere during the night, it’s great.
That’s a good rhythm section, if you’ve got that communication, that’s the fundament of great band, the rhythm section.
Oh, it is.  Absolutely and I mean like I’ve played drums with Casey since primary school and I think that’s part of it.  I kind of know exactly where he’s going to put the stand and exactly that.  I just know his whole style and his whole groove.
Well, speaking of style and groove, you’re introducing a new groove to the band by having Angry Anderson on board for the tour, but I’d like to ask you about that very first impromptu performance which apparently was at a charity event earlier in 2014.  I was wondering if it happened sort of on the night that you were given the opportunity to play with Angry.
So what happened it was a charity event and we were playing with Lee [Kernaghan], who’s obviously done a lot, then Tania [Kernaghan] got involved and [we were going to play with her]. Then Angry got involved and it’s like, well, don’t bring another band, we’ll just play and at first he was a little bit like, ‘Oh okay, who are these country guys, are they going to be able to do “Bad Boy for Love” justice?’ kind of thing.  He didn’t say that but there was a little sense of [him being] not standoffish but we walked backstage and he said, ‘So you know what you’re doing, you know the songs?’  We said, ‘We got this.’  He was, like, ‘Right, okay.  We won’t rehearse then.’  And he walks out and he’s such a cool guy.  I mean he’s the only guy in Australia who can do a corporate event when they’re having entrées at a black and white dinner, walk out with a bottle in his hand, screams ‘Bad Boys for Love’ at them and then get a standing ovation.
And he did and it was so loud.  It was pure Aussie rock ’n’ roll and he’s just screaming at them and they loved it, and he’s got a big heart and he said on stage that night after the first song he’s like, ‘We’ve got to tour this.’  Our manager was in the audience, he’s going, ‘We’re touring this, Steve, we’re touring this.’  And yeah, we talked about it for a long time, we were so busy we haven’t had the chance, but now’s the chance.  Now’s the opportunity and we’re going to.  Yeah, we can’t wait.  We really can’t wait.
I’ll come back to that tour because I just want to detour on the idea that you guys – and I’ve noted this before about you play with Lee and you also play your own set –  I can’t think of another band that’s got its own career going and its own tour going but also playing with another performer in their field and also saying, ‘Oh yeah, Tania, that’s fine, we can do those songs’.  That’s an incredible workload but also it’s an incredible adaptability of the band.
It is.  We really do try to be the best players we can and sitting in with Angry for us came a lot more naturally then say sitting in with Tania.  That’s something we really had to work at because we grew up listening to stuff from Angry and we were a cover band before any of this ever happened.  So you’d be out playing all that sort of stuff like that.  So sitting there with someone like Angry and rock guys is probably a lot easier than for us than say what it is to sit in with someone like Tania, but it was cool, it was fine.  It was good fun.
I think there’s one more Kernaghan sibling you might have to collect before you’ve got the set.
Well, it’s funny: we’ve done songwriting with Fiona.  So there you go, songwrite with Fiona, we’ve played with Tania and obviously play with Lee.  So there you go.  All we’ve got to do is do something with Ray, Lee’s dad, we’ve got him sussed, I think.
One day it’ll be Lee supporting you guys, but maybe he’d get upset if I said that!
Lee’s such a good man, he would love that, I think.  He’s such a big supporter, that’s the thing, we’re so lucky to work with him because he is so in our corner and with anything like that, he just loves it, really loves us, it’s great.
Oh yeah, but also he’s no fool.  He’d be realising he’s got a great band and you don’t muck with that if that’s what you got.
Look I will say it’s been fun – like I think he really enjoys the fact that we’re a band behind him, like he’s had a lot of session guys come in and out and I think when we come on, we talked about the chemistry that we have, the four of us have.  So when we’re playing with him, we have that also taking a step back.  I think he really, really loves it because it’s just a great energy.  It’s a different energy, I think, than probably what he’s ever had on stage and he really loves it.  The tours he’s done has been so big, it’s been one of the biggest tours he’s done.
It’s been huge.  So long lasting.
Purely because of the fact we’ve all had so much fun.  We’ve finished it and we thought, well, let’s do a bit more and that’s how it’s come about.  It’s been great, that’s been a lot of fun.
So for your fans coming to your shows and probably there’ll be a lot of them at Blazes – what can they expect from the Angry Anderson combination?  Is there going to be a set with Angry, is he going to have the odd song, how’s it going to work?
Honestly, it’s still in planning stages.  I will say it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be different, I think it’ll be probably more of a spot, he’ll come out and do a certain spot in the show and then come back and do an encore or something with us, I don’t know, but we’re working on songs, we’re working on what we’re going to do and I won’t say but Angry suggested some really cool songs that you wouldn’t expect Angry Anderson to suggest, if that makes sense.  Some things he’s suggest, we’ve gone, okay, you want to do that, right, okay, yep, let’s do that.  That’s cool, that’s great.  Really excited.
This could be your last year at Blazes because you’ll probably have to graduate to the TRECC soon.
Well, we hope so.  I love your mindset and the way you think.  So let’s hope it keeps going that way.
You see it often in any kind of artistic endeavour, which is if you’ve got the talent and the application and you’re prepared to keep working at it – and consistency is key, so if you’re prepared to consistently work at what you’re doing, there tends to be an inevitable payoff and you guys you’ve got the talent, you can apply yourselves but for years now you’ve just been consistently working at it, and I can’t imagine the situation where it’s just not going to keep growing and growing.
And that’s it, I really hope so and it’s funny we’re talking just how long we’ve put into it and how many years we’ve been doing it and how much work, and it’s exactly what it’s all about.  I think the time and the effort and it should eventually pay off all going well.  It’s so many factors, it’s like you’ve got to have the songs, you’ve got to have the live show, you’ve got to have the people around you, you’ve got to have the right team and I think you’ve also got to have a little bit of luck in there.  They all line up and it’s all good, you know. So we’re working on it.
You definitely are working on it.  So have you noticed your audience changing at all, age and demographic sort of men, women, that sort of thing; has it changed or has it stayed consistent?
It’s very consistent.  We do notice, though – and this is what I’m looking forward to with the Angry shows as well – we get a lot of people come and say, ‘I’ve never listened to country or anything like you guys before but that’s really good, that’s really fun, you guys are really good, like we get a lot of that’, and I’m thinking it comes back to that old mindset people think country music’s hay bales and bloody guys jumping around in overalls.  It’s not, and I think if people give it a bit of a chance, they realise it’s actually something really cool because it is, it’s a great genre and you listen to some of the quality of Australian stuff I personally think over the last couple of years has gone in leaps and bounds.
Oh, it’s been extraordinary.  The output has just been amazing.
Yeah, and the quality’s getting a lot better, the songs are getting better because we’re seeing things on CMC and the artists think, well, that’s what we’ve got to compete with now.  So I think that’s really good and really exciting and my personal belief is I think something’s going to hit pretty hard in the next couple of years.  Something will hit in the country scene that will crossover to all genres and something will happen.  That’s my belief.  I think it’s about time and I think it definitely will happen and it will help the whole genre.
If I was to be a betting woman, Tom, I’d say it’s you guys that are going to crossover.
I like your thinking.  Let’s keep putting that out to the universe and see what comes back [laughs].
For you guys, looking to 2015, I can only imagine what you’ve got planned tour wise – but then I wouldn’t mind betting you’re also planning a new album.
I remember we were in the studio recording the second one and it was done, we finished it, we said, ‘Oh well, we’d better start writing for the third one’, and in this day and age with the amount of information that’s coming at people, there’s so much more stuff you’ve got to compete with, you can’t muck about.  You can’t have a break really these days, you can’t say, ‘I’m going to have a few months off to do this.’  You’ve got to get the next album out, the next singles out, keep pushing it.  So that’s our mindset and while we’re young and enjoying it, loving it, we’ll keep on going and keep on pushing on.  If you look at any act that’s done really well, anyway that’s where their head space is at too.
I also quite like the idea that you guys go back to Tasmania when you can.  So it’s that idea of having that, touching base with home but also having a place that’s quite different to being on the mainland touring.  It’s a touchstone for you.
Seriously, I love touring, that’s my biggest kick out of the whole thing and playing live, but to come home – like, we’ve had a couple of weeks off now, we’ve only got two shows next month.  Next year’s going to be so crazy and I’ve just been doing so many normal things – I’ve been going out walking the dog and building a dog kennel and I’ve been working on my house and building a veranda and cleaning gutters and doing such normal things and I just really, really enjoy it, like it’s just such a nice change from it all because I know we’re not going to be home in January and every weekend’s gone for the next few months after that.  So yeah, it’s nice to sit at home and do that sort of stuff.
In conclusion I’ll circle back to my opening question.  I don’t know if your brain’s come up with your one word to describe.  You can use more than one if you need.
I think ‘amazing’ is one but I kind of want to use the word ‘extreme’ – but I don’t want people to take it the wrong way.  Because it’s been extreme in an amazing way.  We’ve just done some incredible things.  The album’s just really kicking some goals for us.  The singles are really doing great, as I said, getting some really, really great radio play.  So it’s been – I probably should say it’s been very big, it’s been a big year.
Yeah.  Good, I like that.  Big’s good [laughs].
Let’s go with big.  I kind of answered it as I was talking, there you go.

Friday 9th January 2015
Club Old Bar, OLD BAR NSW
(02) 6552 2094 |
Saturday 10th January 2015
(02) 66521477 |
Sunday 11th January 2015
Bangalow Bowling Club, BANGALOW NSW
(02) 6687 2741 |
Friday 16th January 2015
The Entrance Leagues Club, THE ENTRANCE NSW
1300 762 545 |
Saturday 17th January 2015
Mona Vale Hotel, MONA VALE NSW
1300 762 545 |
Sunday 18th January 2015
Bulli Heritage Hotel, BULLI NSW
(02) 4284 5885 |
Wednesday 21st January 2015
Blazes, Wests Leagues Club, TAMWORTH NSW
(02) 6765 7588 |
Thursday 22nd January 2015
(02) 6722 3066 |

Interview: Tom Wolfe of the Wolfe Brothers

Even though it seems like the Wolfe Brothers have been touring nonstop all year (mostly with Lee Kernaghan) they found the time to record a new album, Nothin’ But Trouble, and then they got straight back on the road. Even if country rock isn’t your thing, the Wolfe Brothers are definitely worth your time – they are  a fantastic live act who have managed to capture that live sound on their new album. Plus they’re great guys. I spoke to one of those great guys, Tom Wolfe, recently.

So, Tom, it’salways a pleasure to support the Wolfe Brothers, I think you guys are terrific. But one thing I don’t think you are is trouble.  And I know the album title is Nothin’ But Trouble, but I don’t buy it because you guys work pretty hard and you’re very professional.  So is it a little bit of smoke and mirrors, that title?
It is a little bit of smoke and mirrors.  No, look, it’s all a bit of tongue in cheek. The song is a true story and it’s just about the first cars we’veowned and some of the girls we’ve met over the years, you know, and it’s just a bit of funk and soul.  And then we’ve thought that’s a great album title, you know, we thought that’ll turn a few heads and get people talking and people will be doing just that [laughter].
Well, exactly, becauseit made me immediately think that doesn’t really fit with anything I know about these guys [laughs].
Exactly, exactly.  No, it’sgreat, we’re really happy with it.
Now, I know that the relationship with [album producer] Luke Wooten goes back a few months before you actually recorded with him, becauseI remember talking to Brodie and he said you’d been in Nashville and met him there. So Luke came out here to record with you?  BecauseI know the first album was done either in your living room or Nick’s living room.
Yeah, we did it in my bedroom.
So how did you find the conventional recording process this time?
Oh, look, they were probably some of the best weeks of my life.  We lived in the house next to the studio, there was a pool next to the other part of the studio and we just recorded music and just focused on it for two weeks.  No-one wanted to leave by the end of it.  And it was just so nice that we could just take the time, really focus on getting good sound and then just go out and just play the songs most of the time, to get it feeling right, you know?  It was just all about capturing that good take, that one song that just feels really good, that just has that sort of energy to it.
So did you record these tracks live or did you do a track-by-track recording?
We do it live, the four of us jammed out the room and recorded all the rhythm and everything together, drums, base and guitars together.  We tracked the whole album in two days, two or three days, so it was relatively quick but we had the time and we didn’t want to rush it.  We just wanted to take the time to get it right in every song.
And the reason why I asked about how you recorded it is that your live energy is so strong and so tight that it would seem, even though I know sometimes albums are recorded drums first, guitars next, whatever, it would’ve made total sense to record you playing together.
Yeah, it did, and I think that’s one thing we just really wanted to focus on with this album is getting that live energy.  I don’t know if we quite got it in the first album so we just really wanted to focus on getting that on the second album.  And I think we’ve captured what we do a lot better on this one.
And given that you are such a tight unit, you work together a lot, you’ve been touring for ages now and playing with Lee Kernaghan, so you have your own way of working things, I would guess.  But then to essentially hand it over to an outsider, was it difficult to have someone else telling you what to do?
Well, it was interesting, you know, Luke became the fifth member and it wasn’t so much him telling us what to do, it was very much like, well, here’s what I think and then it’d be, like, well, here’s what we think.  And then we’d just work out what would be the best way to approach it.  There was no set “he wants to do it like this”, and he basically worked with us, as comfortable as he could get, just to get the best playing that it takes out of us.  And that’s exactly what we wanted to do. I’m really, really happy with it.  I think we approached it really well and it was just a joy to just record it.  Our manager, Steve White, he did all this for 40 years working with Dragon and all Rose Tattoo, Lee Kernaghan, all these different people over the years.  And he was up there for the two weeks while we recorded the album and he said to us, he said, “That was the easiest album I’ve ever had to work on to record” [laughter] so there you go.  He goes, “It’s the easiest project to be a part of ever.”,
Well, I guess you guys, you know, you communicate well with other otherwise you wouldn’t be able to tour as much as you do – for one thing, it would’ve ended in fisticuffs a while ago. 
Yeah, pretty much [laughter].  No, but the great thing about it is we know what we wanted.  You know, the four of us have got the same goals and everyone pushed for them.  So we’re all on the same page with that, which makes it so much easier.
There’s often a failure of imagination to make something big, to make it sound like it’s for a big audience. Listening to this album of yours, I thought this is really stadium-size sound. There’snot an arrogance in the ambition, itactually just sounds like you’re playing to a big crowd and it’s really exciting to hear a local act doing that.
Well, that’s really nice of you to say that [laughs]. That was really what we set out to do.  Well, we had some templates, you know, I suppose you’d say reference albums and songs and sounds and certain drum sounds, and certain guitar sounds that we like.  We love how big this is and I guess, also, we wanted it to not be too dated to a certain period.  I wanted it to be that you don’t want to listen back in five years ago, “oh, that drum sound is so that era” or something, you know?  Just a good live band playing together, not too much production but just a good sound.
And I think, also, that you understand that you are playing to someone.  Sometimes with creative work people are either in the studio or in their room or whatever and they fail to appreciate that there’s an audience.  But I guess your experience, particularly with Lee over the past few months, means that you’re quite aware of who is out there and who you’re playing to.
Absolutely. My biggest kick in playing live is I’m always thinking about what’s going to be the best live, how it’s going to feel live.  I’m always in that headspace which is great, that’s just my role in the whole team.
Given everything you’ve been doing over the last – oh, well over a year now, how on earth did you fit this in?  Because it seems it was like a stealth album recording.  You’re on the road, you’re on the road, maybe you were writing, somewhere there’s an album [laughs].
[Laughs] Yeah. We’ve been demoing this since … we wanted to get it out earlier but we’ve just been so busy on the road we haven’t had a chance.  We were hoping for July this year but it got pushed back to September.  But we’ve pretty much come off the road from about three months of touring and went straight to the studio for two weeks. In the middle of this year we had three weeks off but it wasn’t really three weeks off, it was three weeks at home without touring.  And every day I was in interviews and we were listening to mixes and we were recording, and every day there was stuff happening.  So we never really stopped, but I think in this industry and how fast paced everything is now, you just can’t afford to, you’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing it while we’re young.  And we’re on a bit of a roll and things are going good, we’ve just got to keep going and keep going and keep going.  And it’s funny, you know, I laughed when we were on Australia’s Got Talent and we were standing backstage with the guy who won it, it was the top two and they were about to walk us out and we said to each other, “Oh, well, whatever happens, boys, whether we win or not, we’re not going to have a holiday for 15 years” [laughter].  It’s looking like it’s happening.
Careful what you wish for.
It was 15 years and then we might get a month off [laughter].
Well, maybe by that stage you can afford a better time of a month off, I don’t know.  Because it seems like you’re just going from success to success.
Well, we hope so, you know?  We’re really proud of this new album but we’re getting some great feedback on it so far from it.  Who knows what the future can hold, and hopefully we can, yeah, keep kicking goals and keep kicking some bigger and better goals, that’s the plan for us.
I think, also, the country music audience is definitely shifting or growing to accommodate country rock.  And that hasn’t been a big part of the Australian country sound until guys like McAlister Kemp started getting a bit more attention.  And now, you guys are firmly country rock, and that’s a great thing, because that’s a very entertaining side of country. 
Absolutely.  But I think what we do is not contrived in any way, shape or form. We never sat down and went, “Oh, let’s make a country rock band because it’s not there, it’s not in the market or anything like that.” This is us, this is the songs we write, this is how we play and this is how we perform it.” It’s just us being us and I think that’s the beauty of it.  Nothing is contrived, nothing is forced and that’s maybe why it’s going well for us.  I think people are maybe connecting with it on that sort of level, you know?
I absolutely agree.  The other thing I’m curious about is who organises your time, because you’ve got all this stuff.
Well, our manager is great, he keeps us really busy, and there’s a real team thing, you know?  I’ve been nominated as the main communicator with our manager, just so he doesn’t have to ring and make four phone calls to tell all four of us one thing.  He can just tell me and I try to sort things out from there.  And, yes, we’re just kept really busy, it’s how we like we like to be.  We were so used to touring, now we can be at home for two weeks and, I mean, we’re all ready to go again.  So we’re just in that zone of it now so while we’re there we may as well just keep it going as long as we can.
And I guess you might allow yourselves a week off over Christmas and New Year before you hit Tamworth.
I think we’ve already got a show planned in Tamworth.  We’re looking forward to that and, yeah, Tamworth is always hectic-hectic but it’s always a good fun hectic, you know [laughs]?
Well, if that show is in Blazer, which I presume it is —
Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a Wednesday night at Blazers.
I reckon you guys might have to end up adding another show, just quietly; I’ve just got a feeling [laughs].
Oh, well, good, I hope so, let’s hope we sell it out.  Let’s put that out to the universe right now [laughter].
I do get the sense there’s a certain trajectory going on here and I think it is that.  It never comes from nowhere, this kind of attention and success.  I think if you’ve got the talent there, you’ve got the material, when you work consistently and professionally, the way you guys have, it’s not that it’s inevitable but you can see it happening, and I can certainly see for you guys that the trajectories are a very sharp angle up.
Well, I really hope so [laughter].  But I think everything you’ve said is definitely right.  I think the reality is when you love doing it, you just have that extra level of passion for it.  I think that it’s interesting, just before this album came out we were all a little bit burnt out, we hadn’t stopped for two years.  But now the album is out we all feel completely re-energised.  We’ve got something new to push, we’ve got new songs out.  It’s really good, you know, so we’re all in a really good place now, we’re all feeling really fresh and ready to go.  And, yes, bring on the next two years and who knows what the next couple of years will bring?  Hopefully, pretty exciting stuff.
I don’t know that Australia is going to be big enough to contain you within a couple of years’ time.  And that’s also a consideration that others have gone through – because taking on Nashville is a big consideration, that’s an investment of time and it’s repeated business.
It’s a funny one, our initial goal has always to be Australia’s – we’re always talking about Australia’s number one country rock band.  There’s a lot of rock bands, there’s a lot of country acts but there’s never really been a lot that combined the two. I guess we grow up loving bands.  You know, we loved ACDC, we love the [Rolling] Stones.  And I love the Beatles, they’re four personalities and all their different identities in the band.  And that’s our big goal, to be Australia’s number one country rock band.  And we’d love to go up to the States and take that on and show them that we can keep up with them but, you know, what will be will be. You never know what the future holds.
And I also reckon Troy Kemp might still try to arm wrestle you for some kind of country rock title.  He’s big enough to do it.
[Laughs] He’d probably win though, too, I reckon [laughter].
I’m also having a thought – I reckon a dream kind of country rock/pop tour would be you guys and the McClymonts.
I think that’d be fantastic.  We love the girls. I saw their last Tamworth show last year.  Geez they can sing, they’re just so talented and it just looked so effortless for them, you know?
Well, it looks pretty effortless for you guys as well and, obviously, there’s two of you who are brothers and that helps.  But it seems like you’re all as close as brothers and that free-flowing communication helps.
We’re all very close. We’ve all known each other for 20 years and grown up together.  We always say Brodie and Casey had enough dinners at Mum and Dad’s so they pretty much are brothers anyway [laughter].
Now, in terms of you talking about getting the spark back earlier, and feeling re-energised, I guess that’s to do with the new work.  But also people tend to need something to come from outside to inspire them and fill the well, so to speak.  So are you guys listening to other music, do you have time to keep up with what’s being released?
We’re trying to and it’s always very hard when you’ve got so much going on, but definitely try to.  And there’s been a lot of albums released of late so I’ve bought a heap of stuff but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.  But it’s the great thing about this band, we’re always introducing ourselves to new stuff and it’s not necessarily country, sometimes it can be anything from heavy metal through to pop.  But we recently did a heap of shows – we did a show in WA with Potbelleez, which is a really bizarre team.
I’ll just ask you one last question and it’s just to do with some of the songs.  There seems to be the odd romantic song on the album, so who is the big softie in the Wolfe Brothers?
Honestly, we’re probably all big softies. When you hear the ballads and stuff like that there’s always a bit of truth in them [laughter].  But it wouldn’t be country music without that, I guess. We’re known as a big country rock band and if you take the time to really listen to our album there’s a lot of light and shade in it.  There’s some big rock songs and there’s all sorts of really big country songs, big ballads and stuff like that.  So I guess we’ve got a bit of a hard exterior but we’re all big softies on the inside [laughter].
Nothin’ But Trouble is out now through Universal Music Australia.

A big year ahead for the Wolfe Brothers

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 It will be the first one that comes up in Google or Lee’s website, which is 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.

The Wolfe Brothers set to blaze at Tamworth

Tasmanian band the Wolfe Brothers probably couldn’t have had a bigger 2013 if they’d tried. They released their debut album, It’s On, and not only did they join Lee Kernaghan on tour as his support act but they were also his band for his own set. Then they ended the year with four Golden Guitar nominations. In advance of their headlining show at Blazes at West Tamworth Leagues Club on 23 January 2013, I spoke to guitarist Brodie Rainbird. The band will also play some New South Wales shows before Tamworth -details at the end of the piece.

Congratulations on the four Golden Guitar nominations.  I would think that even though you guys have been having a lot of success, that must always come as a bit of a surprise.
Oh, absolutely.  The good things always do.  When they reeled off the nominations when we were there at the presentation morning, they just kept reeling them off and we kept adding them up, one, two, three, four.  It was like, are you sure it’s us?  Are you sure we deserve this?  We’re so honoured and thankful to be a part of the Golden Guitars this year.  It’s our first year so – to get four noms, yeah, absolutely stoked.
And so I presume you’ll be playing at the show as well?
At the Golden Guitar Awards?  I don’t think so.
Oh, really? I would have thought – – –
I don’t think they’ll let us play this year. I’m not sure if it’s set in stone yet but it looks like a no so far.
One of your nominations is for APRA Song of the Year – is it a surprise to you that that’s the song that was nominated, because there are several great songs on the album?
Mmm, ‘The Girl With All the Memories’, was that the one?
Yes, yes, that’s the one.
I don’t know, we’re just surprised to get anything at all, so [laughs] – so, I guess, ‘yes’ is the answer to that question.  I was over the moon, I’m speechless.
The next question is what are you going to wear? Everyone wants to know what people want to wear [laughs].
 [Laughs] I haven’t even thought about that. Actually, it’s good that you brought that up.  I haven’t thought about it.
The good thing with blokes is that you can kind of get away with wearing either a suit or whatever.  At Tamworth everyone seems to mix it up and it’s bloody hot, apart from anything else.
Yeah, that’s true.  I reckon – well, the only thing I know we’ll be wearing is boots.
Right [laughs].  You played a couple of shows in Tasmania in December to thank your home-town fans.  How much does that support mean to you?
Oh, it’s everything.  It’s  the home-town support is what got us where we are now.  I think when we were on Australia’s Got Talent, most of the people who live in Tasmania were voting and helping us out there and look where they got us now, we got to play with Lee Kernaghan and we’ve gone on tour with him and the Golden Guitars are everything.  We owe it all to the people who voted on that show, and most of that would have been Tasmania, I think.
Tasmania must also have given you an opportunity do a lot of playing live; do you think having that having the support of Tasmanians at your shows as you were developing as a band made you better performers?
Absolutely.  We cut our teeth here in Tassie.  Each of us would finish work on Friday afternoon and we’d drive to the venue and we’d set up all the gear and we’d go and have a shower and then come back and do a gig, pack up the gig, get up the next day, go and do another gig at North Tasmania somewhere; it would be two or three gigs a weekend – for years we did that.  And that’s really where we honed what we do and how we do it.
How did you keep up the momentum all those years doing that?  Because that’s pretty relentless when you’re working full time, and I know you all did have full-time jobs before this took off the way it has. It’s a huge commitment and it takes a lot of belief and dedication to end your working week and do what you’ve just described over the weekend.
Yeah, it does, but it’s really fun [laughs].  So it was easy.  You just – I can’t wait to do gigs.  Gigs are … we all feel the same, it’s the best thing – best part of your life, it’s the fun bit.  It’s the bit where you go and spread joy and you see smiles on people’s faces, and everything from the pub gigs to the rowdy B&Ss and the bull rides we used to do, they were the highlight of our year.  We had one called the Bull Light Dash, which is no longer there, and that was like our biggest gig of the year.  We looked forward to that.  Months out we were getting ready for that and, “Oh, should learn this song.  We’ll take it to Bull Light”, and we get there and [it was a] raucous event where everyone’s drinking Bundy and throwing the food dye around – that’s the highlight of our lives, these gigs.  So I guess in that respect it wasn’t hard, but Tom [Wolfe] used to manage us on his own and he’d be on his phone 24/7 just running this band in Tasmania, so I could see the work in that is quite a lot.  But only one person can do that otherwise it gets confusing, so none of us could really help him but – yeah, like I said, gigs are where it’s at for us.  We love it.
Because you still love it, obviously the dynamic amongst the band must still really strong, but I’m actually really curious about what it’s like for you playing in the band with brothers, whether there’s a sense that sometimes the brothers get to win if there’s a disagreement?
Oh, disagreements, oh, hell, yeah [laughs].  Yeah. Absolutely.  Oh, we’ve got them in spades.  But we’re all close enough and – they can be having an argument, 10 minutes later we’ll all be laughing about it. It’s fine.  We’ve done a lot of that over the years and we’ve worked through a lot of stuff and at the end of the day, like I said, we’ve all got a common goal and even if we weren’t in the band we’d all be hanging out as mates anyway, so it’s a pretty strong bond, and I think we’re really lucky to have that.  And it gets us through just about anything that happens.
It’s a common bond but it’s also a common focus and I guess that would carry through a lot of things.  You all love what you’re doing and you want to keep doing it.
Absolutely. We want to be doing this 40 years later [laughs].  We want to be old and grey and still be able to do gigs.
Well, as The Rolling Stones have proved, you definitely can.
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
So your background as a guitarist – have you been playing since you were a child?
I think I picked up the guitar in about grade 5.  Because my next-door neighbour played guitar and I thought, wow, that looks pretty cool – I reckon I’ll get some attention from some girls. So I picked it up in grade 5 and just really enjoyed it and sort of stuck with it, and, of course ,being mates with the Wolfe brothers, they were out doing gigs before I was and I used to go to gigs with them and help pack up the gear and stuff like that, and just go and support, and eventually I managed to get myself in the band [laughs] and away we went.
How did you manage to get yourself in the band?
There’s been a number of different line-ups and different names for this band, but I think Nick and Tom [Wolfe] had always been there and it’s just been different drummers and then I’ve come in, we had a different drummer and then we got Casey and then the whole line-up formed. But I don’t know, I think they decided they wanted another guitarist and I was there [laughs], so …
[Laughs] Right place, right time.
Yes.  Good mates. You know, I wasn’t the best player back then and still not am now, but I think the fact that we all got along really well and we’re all mates already, like that already meant more than anything else.  So that meant it would work.
Do you all get involved in songwriting?
Yeah, in some form or another.  Nick’s our main songwriter.  He’s the main genius behind it all.  But I’ve co-written a couple of songs with him and so has Tom, and so has Casey, and anyone who sits next to him becomes a good songwriter, so it’s pretty easy once you get in there with him.  And then we all get together and we talk about the song that’s just been written and we talk about what feel we want to put with it and what little things we want to do with it, where we want to take it.  So I guess we all have input in some form or another, especially when it comes to pre-production of it, if they’re deciding which direction that someone wants to be in, we’re all there, so it’s definitely a group effort towards the end.
Listening to you talk just about the various aspects of the band, it is no mystery to me why you’ve had such success because it sounds like you’ve all got incredibly professional attitudes to what you’re doing, you enjoy it and you also all really work well together. But I tend to think a lot of artists make their own luck.  To an extent, there is luck involved, it’s getting on Australia’s Got Talent, but it’s no mystery to me now listening to you why Lee Kernaghan would want to tour with you.
Oh, thanks [laughs].
[Laughs] That’s all right.
That was really good.  I really enjoyed that.
[Laughs] But he’s a professional as well, he can obviously spot it.
The thing we had going with Lee, the chemistry there in that band and when we do those gigs, you know, Lee really enjoys playing with us and we love playing Lee’s songs, we love doing Lee’s gigs. That’s another thing that we couldn’t believe was actually happening as well – we went to our first rehearsal with Lee and we’d never met the guy in person, really, and he came in and said g’day to all of us, shook our hands, and then we played one song and he said, “Well, boys, I like what I hear.  You’ve got the job.” From just one song. And ever since then it’s been a fantastic rollercoaster ride with Lee.  He helps us out any way he possibly can and he’s just a great bloke.  He’s one of our best mates now and, yeah, we love touring with him.
And guys are not only playing the support slot on the tour but you’re also – you’re also Lee’s band.  That’s quite a long night.
Oh, no, it’s fine.  It’s all good.  When we used to do the other gigs, we’d play for three hours anyway. So it’s all good.  We love it.
I think it happens in country music more than other genres where the artists just really love what they’re doing – everyone just seems to be so happy to get up in the morning and play their music.  It’s beautiful.
I don’t think you can be sad and play country music.  I don’t know, it’s just – it’s a really good thing.  I discovered country music through Brad Paisley and I’ve been happy ever since [laughs].
Well, I hope you get the opportunity to meet Brad Paisley and tell him that.
Oh, I would just – I would die [laughs].
I would think that playing with Lee sets you up really well to get spots for touring international artists.  A promoter might be thinking, Oh, well, those guys certainly know what they’re doing.  Get them on Brad Paisley’s bill.
Well we’re going to head over to America [in 2014] and do a bit more in Nashville, hopefully.  And we’re going to record the new album in March and probably take that over there as well and see how we go.  We did have a close encounter with Paisley last time we were there.  We were hanging out with our mate, Luke Wootten, who’s a Nashville producer.  He said he’s going to come over and produce our next album but we actually went to a gun range with Luke, and his phone rang while we were in the range and it came up and Tom was looking over his shoulder, being a bit of a stickybeak, and it came up, the number was Brad Paisley.  And he said, “Oh guys, I’ve got to take this, it’s Brad,” and he walks outside [laughs].  He walked outside and he was on the phone to Brad Paisley.  I couldn’t believe I was that close to that happening.  And Brad – he said he was at the gun range with an Australian band called the Wolfe Brothers.  Brad said to just watch out and make sure we don’t shoot each other’s eyes out or something like that [laughs]. So that was the closest I’ve ever got to him, and I was really happy with that.
It’s only one degree of separation now.  I think you should lean on Luke to set up an introduction.
Oh, absolutely, yeah.  Yeah, I’ll be leaning a lot for that [laughs].
Luke is coming out here to produce your album when you record it. How did you first come across him as a producer?
I think he’s done a lot of work with Lee and we have the same management, Stephen White Management, so Steve hooked us up with Luke. [He was] doing a lot of work with Lee Kernaghan and he’s just one of the best blokes you’ll ever meet.  When we went to Nashville he took a week off for us and just showed us around Nashville and took us to his favourite drinking holes and we did heaps of stuff with him.  Like I said, we went shooting together and  he’s a great bloke.  Definitely want to meet him, you know, he’s good.
Back to the touring: I guess now you’re at the point in your lives where you’re more on the road than off it.  So does it feel a bit strange to just be home?
Oh, no – we’re all getting used to the whole lifestyle now.  I think the most time we’ve spent at home in a straight run is about three or four weeks this whole year, is the longest time [laughs].  But it’s good, we’ve all adjusted to the being on the road lifestyle pretty well I think and we’re all taking it easy.  And personally I don’t have a problem living out of a suitcase in a hotel.  I think it’s great.
You’ve living the rock ‘n’ roll dream, or the country music dream.
[Laughs] Yeah, yeah.  That’s all any of us ever really wanted to do.
And that’s fantastic, because it’s relatively early in your recording career but it’s actually not early in terms of how long you’ve all been playing, so it sounds like you’ve definitely done your time preparing for this lifestyle.
Absolutely.  All the little weekends we’ve done in Tassie and road trips and sleeping on a swag somewhere in a paddock, you know, all that sort of prepared us for this, I think, and now we kind of look at it as if we’ve got it pretty easy.  I mean, we kind of do really.  Like I said, we used to sleep on swags just on the back of a truck somewhere after a gig and now we  get a hotel with a comfy bed [laughs].
So you’re not feeling nostalgic for the old days where you were sleeping in a swag?
Oh, I kind of do to be honest.  I do get a bit nostalgic. 
And now I’ll ask you about your Tamworth show, because of course Tamworth is not that far away.  You’re playing at Blazes which is, of course, the venue to play at and you’re headlining. How did you pick your support band, Lawson Shire?
Well, we heard about them.  I think this is their debut gig and we heard about them and heard a bit about what they do and just thought, yeah, I reckon they’d be right for us.
Well, that’s quite generous of you and perhaps a little bit of a risk giving someone giving someone a debut gig.
Oh, yeah, well that’s the sort of thing that Lee has done for us, so I guess we’re paying it forward.  Yeah, giving someone else a shot.
It’s quite unusual for bands around the time of their first album to get that kind of headlining spot in Blazes because it is often the preserve of artists who have been around quite a bit longer.  In a way it kind of means like you’re moving into the – not older generation, but more established generation of Australian country music.  Does it feel to you guys like you’ve kind of moved on from being newcomers?
Not quite yet, now, I don’t think.  Maybe when we get past this first Golden Guitar round.  If we get one I would quite happily say maybe we’ve moved up a level [laughs] but … maybe, I guess you’re right though looking at it that way, we are moving up, which is kind of scary.  I never thought of it that way.
Well, look, there are many, many acts who would never get to play at Blazes.  That’s all I’m saying [laughs]. It’s a big – I think it’s a big honour.
Oh, absolutely.  I can’t wait – yeah, looking forward to that gig.  It’s going to be different at Tamworth for us. Last year we had an album coming out and we did interviews all day every day, we went from one interview to the next, all – constantly all day.  So I don’t think we’ve got too much going on this time, and this is are only show, this Blazes one on Thursday the 23rd.  That’s our only gig apart from the one in the park with Lee.  So we’re going to have a good time.  We’re going to get out and see some bands and check the scene out for ourselves this year.
Which is always one of the best things about Tamworth – well, there are many great things about it but there is just so much music on offer, so I would think for you guys or for any band really to just have that opportunity to see who’s around and who you might want to put on as your next support act, would be great.
That’s something to think about too, absolutely.  Check out the talent and see who’s up and coming and say hello to them.
Then you’ve got a couple of jobs in Tamworth.  You’ve got to find something to wear to the awards and then check out and see who your new support act might be [laughs].
Absolutely.  I’m glad you reminded me about that actually.  I’ll have to go shopping now.
The Wolfe Brothers play:

17 January 2014 – Lizottes Kincumber
18 January 2014 – Lizottes Newcastle
23 January 2014 – West Tamworth Leagues Club

Interview: Tom Wolfe of The Wolfe Brothers

A show at the TRECC at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival is just the latest in a string of achievements for The Wolfe Brothers, a four-piece band from southern Tasmania, who were also finalists in a little show called Australia’s Got Talent. The Wolfe Brothers have also just released their debut album, It’s On (ABC Music/Universal). I spoke to Tom Wolfe late last year to find out more about the band and how they’re preparing for Tamworth. 

The Wolfe Brothers appear at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre on 24 January 2013 at 12.30 p.m. in a show to benefit bushfire relief efforts in Tasmania. For more information, please visit the Wolfe Brothers’ website.

So January 2013 is going to be a big month for you and the band because you’ve got an album and a Tamworth headlining show.  So I was wondering if you’re getting some rest ahead of this?
Are we getting some rest?
What’s that mean? [Laughs] No, we’ve been flat out.  We’ve been busier than we’ve ever been, mate.  We’ve been working on a new album and since we finished it off we’ve just done a new film clip, which is for the new single.  Of course, we’ve been playing as well.  We’ve been flat out.  We’re just getting ready.  We’re actually out on the road with [Lee] Kernaghan and then Dwight Yoakam.
A lot of people might think that if you’re a band trying to start out in Tasmania that it might difficult, because there’s not a lot of population and it’s a small land mass.  There wouldn’t necessarily be a lot of places to play gigs. But it certainly seems like it might have actually been the opposite for you.  That there’s been this support within the community for you that’s really moved the four of you along.
I think you’re right.  I think we’re really lucky in the fact that it kind of worked in our favour.  Because, I mean, down here, there’s not really much of a country music scene at all.  Even some of the music scenes, just in general.  There’s good live music venues but it’s not as big as anywhere else.  So we’ve kind of had to make our own scene.  I know that sounds stupid.  We’d find a venue and we work it.  We’d find a venue and we pulled our own sort of show on and after about a year, we’d have a really good thing going.  That’s how we’d go to all different parts of the state.  We’d find a pub or a venue that was good and we do our thing there, and we’d start with 50 people and then all of a sudden there’d be a hundred people and then it’d be 200 and then we’d be able to sell them out.  So it’s kind of really worked in our favour in a way.  Also, mate, I think it made us a little bit different.  I think that’s important, you’ve got to be a little bit different to what everyone else is doing.
Have the four of you been doing this on top of your day jobs?
We have.  We’ve been working our guts out for years [laughs].  We all worked full time.  I was a builder; Nick was a postman and a farmer.  Brodie is a refrigeration mechanic, Casey is a dental technician.  So we did all these days jobs but just we’ve been able to pull the reins up on them.  Now, we can do our job now.  So we’re very lucky.
Well, I think to an extent you make your own luck.  What you’ve just described is a lot of years of being really consistent.  Some people would kind of play a gig here, play a gig there and think, oh well, maybe that’s not working for me, I’ll give it away.  But it seems like you guys have turned up, you’ve continued to turn up, you’ve kept playing your music, you’ve stayed together like as a group and so you’ve made your own luck there. 
Well, I guess.  All this stuff that is happening, it’s not that this has happened overnight.  With the TV show [the band appeared on Australia’s Got Talent], it definitely sped things along a bit.  It kicked everything into gear.  But, I mean, we’ve been writing songs and playing gigs and putting on shows for years.  It’s definitely something that’s been happening in a long time.  And I think you’re right: we’ve put the hard yards in as we look at it, we’ve all had day jobs where we’ve had to work extremely hard.  So we know – I mean, if a builder runs his own business and he wants to be successful, he’s got to work really hard.  He’s got to work harder than anyone else.  It’s kind of the same thing really.  If you want to make something of yourself in music, you’ve got to work a bit harder than everyone else.
It seems like the four of you have known each other for a really long time.  And, obviously, two of you are related.  So I was wondering is it a democratic outfit or does someone get to be the boss.
No, I think as a group we work – we’re very lucky how well we work together.  I mean, we all kind of have roles within the band of what we probably do.  I kind of handle a lot of this stuff, like interviews and all that sort of stuff.  Nick is probably the predominant songwriter, I’d say, in the group.  He’s probably the main one at that.  But in saying that, we all write as well.  It’s not just one person’s role.  I think the great thing is we’ve been playing so long. We’ve been doing the Wolfe Brothers for probably six or seven years, but before that I was playing in bands with Casey in school.  I remember the first band I ever had was with Casey and I think he was in Grade 4 and I was in Grade 5 or something like that. We used to play Metallica together.  I played bass, he played drums.  So we’ve doing it for years.  I think it’s really cool that we know what the best decision for the group is, if that makes sense.  We can kind of comment on things and say okay, that’s not working – what you’re doing there is not working.  That sort of worked better for this song or for the band or whatever.  We’re pretty lucky in that respect.
I just love the idea of a kid in primary school getting his hands on a bass guitar.  You are parents must have been very supportive [laughs].
Well, our dad’s a muso.  My dad’s a drummer and he’s been playing for years.  He almost forced a guitar into our hands [laughs].  He wanted us to play.  But we’re so glad he did. And it’s not just me and Nick – because me and Nick are brothers – but the other two guys, we grew up surrounded by music.  Constantly just music going and then being played. I remember I was six years old, I used to watch all the Beatles movies.  I didn’t watch kids’ shows, I’d watch the Beatles movies and all that sort of stuff.  Just constantly surrounded by it, so it was kind of inevitable that this was what we’re going to do.
Given that you were a Metallica fan at primary school, at what point did the transition to country music happen?
Look, it’s always been there.  Some people say how can you like Metallica and Iron Maiden but play country music.  Well, we’ve always listened to country music.  Pop, of course, would have Slim Dusty and all that sort of stuff, like most people did.  Mum was probably the real the country music push.  She liked James Blundell in the early ’90s and Lee Kernaghan stuff as well.  We’ve got a lot of that.  So that was always on.  Garth Brooks, that sort of stuff.  But Dad was always more of a rock ’n’ roller so he had Beatles, the Stones.  He’d have Creedence [Clearwater Revival].  That was all happening but there was always country music happening.  We went to high school, we started playing guitar and you’d want to try to push yourself as a guitarist and a muso.  So we were learning Metallica and Gun N’ Roses, all these heavy metal and metal [bands].  I’m really glad we did because it made us a lot better players and we can play all that sort of stuff.  And I think we started transitioning back [when] we started playing in bands, four of us together again and we started playing – I think one of the first songs we ever learnt was ‘Country Crowd’, Lee Kernaghan.  Keith Urban, Golden Road album – that was a big turning point.  I think that came out about 10 years ago.  I think I was reading something the other day.  So we heard that and that was kind of the turning point – we went, oh, yeah, now, that I like.  It was from that, we all got these records that we’ve had at home for years and we got them all out again and started listening to them.  Yeah, just been in love with it ever since.
So Keith Urban’s Golden Road. Keith wasn’t that well known here – well, I still think he’s only just recently become very widely known because of The Voice.  But Golden Road wasn’t necessarily a hit record here.  So you must have been exploring around the country genre to even pick up on that record at the time.
Yeah, absolutely. We always were. Every time a Lee Kernaghan album would come out, Mum would have it.  We’d always hear it and we’d always have a listen to it.  It probably wasn’t our main listening point, if that makes sense?
But it was always on and we were always being exposed to it.  And then I remember listening to [Golden Road] with my brother and we’re just going, now, that’s cool.  Just had some different elements that I hadn’t heard in country before but still really cool.  So, yeah, it just got us really excited.  And the other thing is when we write songs, we don’t sit down [thinking] we’ve got to write country songs.  We just sit down and write songs.  The songs that come out are what they are … and I think that’s another interesting thing. We were brought up on a farm and all that sort of stuff.  So we’re all country boys.  So when we write songs, it just comes out like that.
Have you played at Tamworth before?
You know what, we’ve gone down for holidays and things like that.  Last year [2011] we drove up together, the four of us.  We drove up – the trip from hell: the car broke, the trailer drawbar snapped off and anything that went wrong could have went wrong.  We went up there and we just took it in.  We did four gigs in a few pubs and we shook as many hands as we could and we just met as many people as we could.  We really took the whole experience in and we really loved it, just loved it.  I could live there.  We absolutely loved it.  It was such our thing to be there.  It was funny, we were having a laugh the other day because our trailer – we bought a trailer to drive to Tamworth to take all our gear up, and I think it broke halfway on the way up there.  So we had to pay to get it fixed.  So when we got to Tamworth, we only had enough money between the four of us to buy one pizza.  We bought one pizza; we sat on the steps of a bank – I think it was the Commonwealth Bank – and just watched everything happen for a few hours.  It’s all the money we had, all we could scramble together. [Laughs]
Well, that’s a good hardship story but, of course, the story will be very different in 2013 because you’ll be headlining a show. –
I know and you’ve got to do those things.  On the way back I think the trailer broke again and we had to get it fixed.  We nearly missed the boat [to Tasmania].  So I’m so glad all that stuff happened because it bonded us so much closer, the band, you know?  It just made us such a tight unit.  If you can get through that, you can get through anything, you know?
And, so, given how long you’ve all been playing together and how bonded it sounds you are, do you still do rehearsals or you just play so often you don’t need to do them?
We’re in rehearsals all the time. We’ve had a lot of rehearsals lately.  It’s actually been great since we had to leave our jobs.  We’ve actually got time to rehearse again.  Just when we were working full time, we had enough time to run the band, do the gigs, do all that stuff, but we didn’t have time to rehearse.  So, now, we can usually get one or two days a week where we can practise.  That’s really great and it’s just making us so much better as a band.  But, yet again, we’re loving it.  We’re loving to be able to sit down and focus on these songs and really analyse them and say what needs to be a bit better there.  We just had to learn a few new songs as well. So that’s been really cool as well because it’s given us a whole new another level of learning songs and this new material.  We’re getting better as a band.
It says on your website that you’re a very successful covers band.  But I would imagine that you’re actually doing original material in Tamworth?
Oh, mate, yeah.  That’s how it all started out.  We coped with covers and we did everything.  We did the weddings, we did the birthdays. And anywhere that anyone would have us, we played there.  I think that’s really important to do that because it just teaches you how to deal with crowds and situations and stuff.  Yeah, mate, we going to be playing a lot of stuff off our new album, It’s On.  We’re really excited for that.  It’s really cool.  We’ve done the cover gigs and we’ve done that but now we can promote our own stuff, we play our own music.  I mean, sure there’ll be a couple of covers there.  There’ll be a couple of songs people will know.  But it’s our music and showing off what we do.
So are there any other people’s songs that you just always love to play because you personally love them, not because you think the crowd will love them?
There’s lots of things.  I mean, it changes from time to time. We’re all kind of, quietly, we’re a little bit of John Farnham fans.  So I do like playing ‘That’s Freedom’ every now and then.  And playing a good Police song.  They’re just songs that have sort of always played, they’ve always been with us.  But, yeah, we’re really excited just to be playing our stuff and getting that out there now.  It’s been a lot of fun.
I’ve seen John Farnham play live and he has one of the most incredible voices.  If you’ve seen him play live, you understand the magic of Farnsey.
Absolutely, mate.  There’s so much power.  We saw his live tours down here in Hobart and he can project.  He’ll stand at the back of the stage, three metres away from the microphone.  He’s still the loudest thing in the room. It’s amazing.  He’s amazing to watch and he’s just an amazing performer and just gives everything he’s got to give.
So do you, personally, like performing and do the other band members like performing – because not everyone loves it?
I love it.  Performing is – personally – my favourite part of it.  I love the buzz you get when you’re on the crowd and the feeling you get from doing nothing else.  It’s just an amazing thing.  But I think we all love it, we love performing.  I think the thing is it’s got a lot of energy, a lot of energy to give and we love jumping around and [laughs] sort of rocking out and all that sort of stuff.  And I think that shows when we play.  We’re honestly just having a ball and we know how lucky we are.  We’ve worked these mundane jobs [laughs] during our lives and had to do that.  So we know how lucky we are now that we get to play our music.  So we never take it for granted.
And you’ve got three other people on the bill with you in Tamworth.  So was it a band choice as to who joined you on that bill or were you told?
Yeah, well, it’s kind of a bit of a collective between us and the management.  But we really like – all them guys are doing some really cool things and they’ve got that sort of energy and stuff that we have and we know Markus [Meier}.  We’ve done a few shows with him, with Lee [Kernaghan] when he plays with Lee.  He’s a great guy and I love to see a bit of Adam’s [Eckersley] stuff and really excited to hear more from him as well.  So it’s going to be a fun show.  It’s going to be a lot of energy and, yeah, I think that’s what it’s all about – new, fresh energy and I hope people really enjoy it.
And this is your only Tamworth show, right?  So if people want to see you, they have to get to the TREC on the 24thof January?
They do.  You have to come along and party with us and have a really good time.  So, yeah, come along, folks, and I’ll guarantee they’ll have a good time.