The cover art of The Wolfs’ soon-to-be-released third and fourth minidisc singles (creatively titled 3 and 4) is a definite contender in the Most Patently Offensive Cover category. 3 depicts a salivating lupine creature subjecting a curvaceous woman to impalement. 4 shows a chicken head on a woman’s body—also curvaceous, but disgustingly so, in a manner best left out of this family-oriented publication. But the task at hand—discussing, sigh, The Music—beckons.
“Fuck the music, man,” jokes the alpha Wolf, vocalist Eli Morrison. “The cover art says it all.” Artist Sri Wheeler’s iconography represents the feral band as purveyors of lusty, sinewy, sweat-drenched rock & roll basted with a taste of Stax soul. The chicken? That’s for strut.
Different takes on the 90-second “Wolfs Theme” open each single (and, usually, their live shows). “When you hear the theme song,” says Morrison, “you know Wolfs is about to start.” Accordingly, what follows is an explosion of Jeremy Smith’s growling guitar, Carri Wakefield’s sultry, thumping bass, Daniel Whitesides’ rolling drums, Jesse Winters’ psychotic keys and Morrison’s talk-to-squawk vox. It’s typical Wolfs but darker, with ambient noise (backward voices, sound effects, industrial-strength blips and bleeps) sprinkled throughout.
“The new singles show some change from our previous stuff,” explains Morrison. “It’s been almost a year since [inaugural single] White Pills and now we’re doing stuff that sounds like what you’d make if you didn’t look first.”
The performances are reckless, focused, confident—everything The Wolfs, now enjoying their fourth year on the scene, embody. Most of the tracks were cut live, to harness the energy, with vocals added later. The result, when coupled with songs that concern vice versus indulgence (“Oh Cigarette”), living circa now (“Cool Times”) and matters of attraction (“Can’t Get Your Words,” “Dog Girl”), is a boundless good time.
“In general,” says Smith, “this is what Wolfs have always gone for. What we are always going for is music that makes you feel good.”
Held up to the neo-garage class of ’03 as seen on MTV, the cover of the Rolling Stone and in beer commercials, the Wolfs are the most genuine article. Their abandon is deficient among by-the-numbers bands. The thing is, they don’t care to compare or compete.
People’s Exhibit A: these 3-inch, four-to-five song CDs. They’re meant as a compromise, sating the band’s vinyl junki-tude and fans’ preference for a more convenient format. Nevertheless, they’re just not conducive to sales. Who, besides music nerds will seek out a format that may or may not require purchasing a new player? How is anyone gonna hear the music?
As it happens, they don’t really care. Unsurprisingly, Morrison cops to self-indulgence. The Wolfs continue the practice because he’s attracted to the single/EP format. “My attention span is pretty short, so I would rather get a small dose and still want more than be forced to sit through an epic, 74-minute CD.” That, and The Wolfs are a bunch of friends who get together and rock just because they can. “We have other interests [and] we’re not commercially motivated at all. We’re more comfortable playing around town for our friends.”
Yes, it seems The Wolfs are only in it for themselves. They will, however, enter the studio this summer to record their first full-length album, to be pressed on the conventional 5-inch compact disc and released by up-and-coming local indie label Pseudo Records. It’ll hit this fall, but not before they toss out another minidisc single. As for promoting either release, they’ll play around town and call it good.
“I’m really disenchanted with the showbiz fantasy-world thing,” says Morrison. “It seems like some weird alien planet. I just can’t relate. I guess I think of success as ‘still getting away with it.’”