Wolf & Cub

Can you imagine waking up one morning and your band have become the coolest kids on the block, from Melbourne to London you were viewed as the saviors of psych-rock, achieving that illusive tenure of 'doing something original'? Well that's what happened to Joel Byrne and his band mates from proto-psych band Wolf & Cub, who are originally from the sleepy South Australian town of Port Augusta.

Nine years and three albums on it is a wary and insightful Byrne that helms Wolf & Cub, the current incarnation that only includes two original members in Byrne on vocals/guitar and drummer percussionist Joel Carey.


Byrne, now a Sydney resident, is doing this interview ahead of Wolf & Cub's headline slot at warehouse party Fifth Floor that is held at a secret location. He begins the interview by acknowledging a few missteps made by his band in the heady days of their early success.


"There were a couple of times when we were doing live recordings on XFM and the BBC where we were choosing really long tracks to play, like we did Vessels once on the radio. It was cool for us at the time to do a seven-minute track but in context to a radio show it doesn't come across that well," reflects an insightful Byrne on his band's decisions back when Wolf & Cub were the toast of the indie scene in Australia, England and the USA.


The aforementioned Vessels was the tittle track from Wolf & Cub's 2006 six debut album that was released on UK taste-making label 4AD. Then in 2009 Wolf & Cub released the outwardly proggy and experimental Science & Sorcery. Unlike Vessels this album received a relatively lukewarm reception with many a critic and fan alike unable to process the grossly intellectual psych rock of Wolf & Cub especially with it juxtaposed beside contemporaries like the pop-psychedelia of world killers MGMT.


The period after the release of Science & Sorcery spelled much change for Wolf & Cub with it shedding three members – drummer Adam Edwards, bass player Tom Mayhew and multi-instrumentalist Marvin Hammond. In 2011 Wolf & Cub welcomed former The Scare members Wade Keighran and Brock Fitzgerald on bass and drums respectively and then in September 2013 this incarnation of Wolf & Cub released the album Heavy Weight.


"Wade and Brock's main influence on the writing and recording process of Heavy Weight is that they might have bought a bit of musicality to it. I am a little bit more of an instinctual musician. I wrote a lot of the record with Wade the bass player, he's an engineer and does a lot of producing as well, he can do things that I can't and I can do things he can't so it was very much a two fingers from the same hand scenario," discloses Byrne on what the new cubs brought to the band. Now, as Byrne moves onto discussing the working relationship of he and longterm bandmate Carey, an undeniable warmth enters his voice.


"Joel and I have been in a band together for pretty much ten years and the working relationship on this album was a lot better because JC's got his own band now [Peak Twins] that started between the time we started making this record and when we finished the last one. I feel as though he has grown – he knows what it's like to come up with melodies and come up with lyrics. So he cut me more slack but was more supportive than he ever used to be."


Aurally, Heavy Weight is Wolf & Cub’s most compelling release to date. Gone are the indulgent four-minute outros of a dripping tap and instead Heavy Weight is 11 tracks that pick and choose from the best moments of Wolf & Cub's past. The album's first single Salao captures fuzz and drive of 1970s rock acts such as Gary Glitter whereas the latest single I Need More spouts the attitude of early ‘90s punk.


"Salao is a Portuguese or Spanish word, I am not too sure, and it comes from the Hemingway book The Old Man And The Sea. It is in the opening paragraph where it talks about how the man never had worst luck, he had salao – it's a fisherman's term and it means having the worst kind of luck and it kind of resonated with Wolf & Cub's past," explains Byrne with a droll chuckle.



This Saturday November 23, WOLF & CUB are headlining Melbourne's second Fifth Floor party, joined by Damn Terran, Hollow Everdaze, I, A Man and many more. Tickets are $18 and available from Oztix. Beat can exclusively reveal the party will be at Rubix Warhouse in Brunswick.