Published Jan 11, 2011With new bands, it can be hard to tell if something is immediately appealing because it sounds familiar or if it's compelling on the strength of its merits. With Wolves and the Radio, it's both ― where they succeed is mining their influences for the meaning, not merely the method, balancing it with songwriting that shines through their eager, rapid rawness. The young Boston-via-upstate-NY quartet sound equally Fat Wreck rough and early Lookout! tuneful on their self-titled debut, though it could be the transient musical passages influenced by the Midwestern emo greats that give this album its poignancy. Moments like the pulsing end of "Clouds" sweeping over a sparkling, minor-key intro on "The Other Shoreline" manage to, without any dramatic disruption, extract from Wolves and the Radio's universal coming-of-age perspective ― the quiet, personal formative moments. The progressive mini-soundscapes aren't defining of the album either, as songs like "Foundations" feature a more straightforward Alkaline Trio buoyancy, while "Hey, Stranger" and "Destination Nowhere" ride the tidal wave of rugged new American punk bands. Their voices and stories may be more of the same, but more importantly, it's the same honest sound of someone still giving a shit.
I'm curious if Wolves actually started in NYC or in Boston, and if the move was made for the band? What role does each place play in your music?
Vocalist/guitarist Matt Murphy: We formed in Boston; we moved here mostly for a change of pace from New York.
Vocalist/guitarist Steve Terry: The band formed mostly because Matt and I were doing other projects that weren't really hitting what we wanted to do. We first started playing as just the two of us to get out frustrations from not being satisfied with what else was going on.
Matt: New York brings out our sense of blue collar, run-down mill-town ideas, and the survival of the labour worker trying to pick up the pieces and still make a living.
Steve: Boston has shown us that it doesn't really matter where you are or when you are there, you still have to struggle to put a life together and do what you really want to be doing.
Your songs pretty seamlessly transition back and forth between raucous aggression and almost pretty, progressive structures and melodies. Do you write collaboratively and where do you meet and differ?
Steve: We've always written together, but usually it comes from us writing songs on our own and bringing them to each other for critiquing, for lack of a better term. Usually, we build off the other's ideas and try to keep an open mind to the fact that a song might not be perfect just because it's the way we first wrote it. As far as influences, we both grew up on similar bands like Against Me! and Get Up Kids and so on. I think I differ from Matt when I ruined my punk rock ideals and went to music school. He tends to keep his music pure from the heart and [I] tend to kind of be a snob and analyze everything.
The acoustic tracks stand out, especially with the added instrumentation, like strings. Why the decision to place them back-to-back as album closers? Is this delivery important or influential for the band?
Matt: Neil [Shulman, Anchorless Records] recommended that we add a few acoustic tracks, and since we had already finished recording at the studio, we didn't know if they were going to flow as well with the rest of the songs.
Steve: Matt has been playing his songs acoustically for a long time now, so it's nice to hear how songs originally may have been written before we pull them into the full band. Playing acoustic is always fun too; it's a much rawer way to listen to your songs and hear things that sometimes get lost when you play with a whole band. I know I hate being able to hear myself sing as much as I do when we play acoustic, but it's probably better for everyone in the end that I do hear it.
Matt: Yeah, it's definitely sobering. (Anchorless)