Alpha Wolf is well on the way to becoming a heavyweight for their genre. As the anticipation for their new album A Quiet Place To Die steadily increases, we grabbed band members Mitch and Scott to learn more about the album, the struggles they have faced throughout the current epidemic and everything else that is happening in the world of Alpha Wolf.
Thank you for taking the time to chat today. Is your sophomore record, A Quiet Place To Die a new chapter for the band or has this record seem to follow on from Fault?
Scott: I would say it is a follow on from ‘Fault’, but it is also its own thing. I have said this in the past, but I think ‘Fault’ for us was a test of how everything was going to work with the new line-up. It has always been a constant progression music-wise but after the line-up changes we had and all the things we went through we kind of threw Lochie (vocalist) and Mitch (drummer) in the deep end and that went really well. Since then, it has been a constant progression; it all felt incredibly natural. At the same time though this new record is a brand new thing. It’s the same old Alpha Wolf.
Mitch: Parts of ‘A Quiet Place To Die’ are reminiscent of ‘Fault’. However, every part that sounds like ‘Fault’ sounds better than ‘Fault’, like a heavier ‘Fault’.
Scott: I agree.
In my opinion, the album seems to be a great mix between Fault and Mono, with the strengths of both releases brought together. What sound were you trying to achieve when going into the studio?
Scott: We just write songs that we would want to hear. We never set out to achieve a specific goal, apart from to write songs that we enjoy listening to. We have always had that mindset since the start. We spent around twelve months writing it and took our time to make sure that it is the best version of what we could do, which I think it is.
Mitch: We just kept writing songs until it got to the point where we had too many tracks for an album, so we had a look at it to see what we could do. I definitely feel as if we chose the best songs for the album.
What sort of things does it take to get to the point where you feel that this album is the best release that the band could have possibly released?
Scott: I think the amount of time we got to spend writing the songs, as well as the fact that we do a lot of things ourselves. I recorded all of the vocals on the album; it was produced in my own home studio except for drums which were done elsewhere. We have always maintained the mindset that the more we do ourselves, the more it comes down on us. We don’t have anyone else to blame if it sucks because we produced it, we recorded it. Not many people at all outside of the band could get their hands on any of our unfinished material. Therefore they could not influence the process in any way. To have all that on your mind while writing it, I think it is the best thing you can do. In the moment it can be challenging, you can get super in your head about it all. Knowing the fact that it is all on us if it sucks is the constant thought I had in my mind while we were doing it all.
Mitch: It was nice to have a good variety of songs, we were going for that as well. We just kept writing songs and all the ones that made the best album together are what made it in the end.
Scott: I would listen to the record continuously, every day while throwing around structure ideas or small changes that felt right. In the end, it just came down to the fact that we write songs that we enjoy. If we didn’t like the song, it wouldn’t be on the album.
During the creative period, is having no other influences to maintain creative freedom important to you?
Scott: Definitely! It is something we have always done. We have always worked more or less with the same people. We have found the people we enjoy working with, so we stick with them. It seems hard for us to trust other people in a sense. Giving someone else so much control over something so personal to us is very hard. We like doing as much as we can ourselves, so it is literally what we want it to be.
How are you both feeling about the release on a personal level?
Scott: Apart from all the obstacles that releasing an album during a pandemic presents, I’m feeling very good about it. COVID definitely threw a massive spanner in the works, making things that we had planned impossible. For example, Mitch lives on the other side of the country; we haven’t seen each other since March. Everything else about the release is going as well as it could, we are all thrilled, the singles have been received incredibly well. Significantly our last single ‘Bleed 4 You’, it was a bit of a curveball which we intentionally did, but even that had no negative comments.
‘Bleed 4 You’ is a dramatic change of pace for the band. Did writing a song on a much slower tempo present any challenges of its own?
Mitch: It started as a different idea, then we couldn’t eventuate what we were trying to do with it. It naturally ended up becoming a slow ballad. The way that song turned out seemed to happen on its own; it was an unstrained process.
Scott: In the beginning, it was never intentional to write a song like ‘Bleed 4 You’. It started as this stupid heavy song that Mitch and I wrote together. One day I told him ‘I just don’t like this fucking song’, so we rewrote it, sent to the rest of the band and a day later the song was finished. It all just fell into place surprisingly well. We looked back at the song afterwards and loved how much different it was from when we initially wrote it. It seemed like an Alpha Wolf song.
What obstacles have you faced as a direct result from COVID-19 when it comes to releasing an album?
Scott: Well, Mitch lives in Brisbane, while the rest of us live in Melbourne. So we couldn’t film any music videos, apart from one which will be released soon, we had to film Mitch in Brisbane, then film ourselves in Melbourne. A year’s worth of touring was cancelled overnight; we had such a big year planned and it has all gone to shit.
Mitch: The entire album release was pushed back two or three months as well.
Scott: We were very optimistic at the time, thinking that by the time the album comes out we would be able to tour because at the start of the year this didn’t seem like as big of a deal as it is right now. I don’t recommend to anyone to put an album out during these kinds of situations but if you do it kudos because it’s not very easy.
You guys were on touring the U.S for the first time when the whole pandemic began. What was going through your minds when you played only a handful of shows then having to pack it up early and fly home?
Mitch: (laughs) Not a lot of good things.
Scott: We were all devastated. For most bands from Australia, it is a dream to get over to America. In one sense, I am thrilled that we got there but only to get the chance to play five shows then come home sucked. We had never put so much preparation into a tour, even just to get there with all of the paperwork, visa applications and getting the money together, etc. It was so much work to get there. Then to arrive on tour in the U.S and having to come home only a week later. I laugh about it now because I can, but I wasn’t laughing at the time.
Mitch: It all happened in a very annoying way too. One show was being cancelled at a time, rather than the entire tour until the inevitable happened.
Scott: I think we will be releasing it soon with something we are working on but the moment we found out the tour was cancelled was caught on film. It happened right before going on stage for the second last show. I kind of wish that wasn’t recorded; it’s a reminder of the moment all our hearts were simultaneously broken.
Mitch, you have been in the band for a little over two years now. You have had time to find your place in the group and seem to be flourishing in that position. How was the process of finding your feet in Alpha Wolf and did it create any negativity amongst fans from what you have seen?
Mitch: There is no humble way to say this, but I have not seen any bad feedback about myself joining the band. It has been a great experience overall. Before joining Alpha Wolf, I was playing around Australia a lot, filling in for local bands. I was still very active as a drummer but to jump straight into a band that was going full throttle the second I joined was a bit of a shock. However, it was good, with writing ‘Fault’, I didn’t have a lot of time to find the best version of my drumming capabilities for this band. So over time, the versions of those songs I play live have changed from the recording. This time around, everything seems natural. It was nice to get to be more personal on the drums with this album. From the singles we have released so far, I haven’t seen any negative feedback at all.
Scott: When we were doing ‘Fault’, the songs were already written before Mitch and Lochie joined the band. So we basically told Mitch ‘90% of this is done, just add your shit to it’ so we can start touring excessively. For this album, however, Mitch was the primary songwriter other than myself. We worked on a lot of the instrumentals together, which was very cool. It gave us a fresh outlook on things, which seems to be the main difference between this and ‘Fault’, you can definitely hear it. The drums on ‘A Quiet Place To Die’ are way more skits (laughs).
Was there any pressure to impress a fanbase that is now bigger than ever before with this album?
Scott: I’m not sure if that has added more pressure. I think the most pressure comes from ourselves. Now that people are paying attention to us, we know that there is a standard that we have to meet, in every aspect, whether it be the music itself, performances or our music videos. There is an expectation, and we have smashed it with this album.
Mitch: I find it to be more motivating. If we were both having regular mind blanks throughout the songwriting period, then the pressure would build up. We have managed to create something that we happy with, which drives our motivation.
Has Alpha Wolf been able to spend lockdown creatively?
Scott: I’m lucky enough to have a studio in my house, so I have been writing music here and there. None of it is necessarily for Alpha Wolf; it’s more just to keep my mind busy. Being at the tail-end of the process of releasing a heavy album, the last thing I want to do is write a heavy album (laughs). I’m going fucking crazy being locked up at home right now so messing around on the guitar helps to stimulate my mind. Mitch is lucky because he lives in Brisbane, the rest of the band is in Melbourne, and we are all losing our minds.
Mitch: You guys got the shit end of the stick with this one.
Before the announcement of the album, an Instagram account named ‘aquietplacetodie‘ was created, which caused quite a lot of speculation. What was the thought process behind that?
Scott: Sabian does the majority of the marketing side of things for us, so props to him. It was an idea that we had been throwing around for a while. We didn’t want to do the typical thing by uploading a photo to the bands Instagram and Facebook pages with an announcement date. We racked our brains to think of something we could do to gather some hype while keeping it different from what every other band does. It worked well; I don’t think we put enough energy into it; it had way more potential.
Mitch: Some people thought it was a new Greyscale Records signing.
Scott: Yeah, I did enjoy that.
What would you tell Alpha Wolf fans before they listen to the record?
Scott: Listen to the whole thing because we spent a lot of time making sure that the songs were in a specific order, and it is fucking heavy.
Mitch: I would say, listen to the entire album because there are no two songs that sound the same. If you didn’t like the first four tracks, you might love the last seven. Try the whole thing; there is heaps of different shit on there.
Interview by Adam Rice
Suss out our review of the new album right here
a quiet place to die is out September 25th via Greyscale Records.
Alpha Wolf – A Quiet Place To Die tracklisting:
1. A Quiet Place To Die
3. Golden Fate; Isolate
5. Acid Romance
6. Rot In Pieces
7. Bleed 4 You
8. Ultra-Violent Violence
9. The Mind Bends To A Will Of It’s Own
10. Restricted (18+)
11. Don’t Ask…