Interview :: Wolf Gang [10.13.10]

Max McElligot, front man and mastermind of Wolf Gang traded emails with us last week on the eve of his first two New York shows. With a string of fantastic singles and a stunning full length on the way, Wolf Gang take to Glasslands tonight for McElligot's last show in New York until his tickets are hard to come by and he's playing with a full string quartet. Don't say we didn't warn you.

32feet: Top 5 Desert Island Records?

Wolf Gang:

Paul Simon's 'Graceland'
Joni Mitchell 'Turbulent Indigo'
Jimi Hendrix 'Are You Experienced'
Kate Bush 'Hounds Of Love'
Miles Davis 'Kind Of Blue'

ps this answer would change on a daily basis...

From the beginning the Wolf Gang demos were incredibly ambitious, but "Lions In Cages" has clearly gone to another level after the recording here in the States. What was the journey like, working with Atlantic and moving toward this LP release?

Signing to Atlantic gave me the opportunity to record the album in America, which I could never have afforded to do otherwise, so it was really exciting to be given that chance. I was trying out recordings in London with a couple of producers but wasn't really finding the character and personality that I had sort of unwittingly captured in the bedroom demos. When I listened to the things Dave had produced I got pretty excited by the prospect of going out there and working with him, and by the time he was talking to me on the phone telling me to pack my snow boots I had a strong inkling it was going to sound interesting. Now a few months down the line with it all wrapped up, I'm very excited for people to hear the finished thing.

Was there ever a frustration at the pace from the Spring '09 to now?

There were definitely times when I wanted things to be moving quicker, but I think so many artists have their project rushed by their label, and get sort of spat out only half formed, so I count myself lucky that everyone was patient and willing to wait until I was completely ready.

Let us in your process a bit, how does a Wolf Gang song take shape?

I'll usually have an idea of a melody or chord progression in my head, then it's just a case of sitting down and recording the various parts in my bedroom, guitar, piano, then bass and drums, etc. I'll have some vague notion of what the lyrics might be, but these get refined constantly right up until when I'm laying down the vocals on the final recording. But the whole process is a very natural one, I'm never more happy than when I'm in the middle of writing a song.

What are the influences in your music that no one ever picks up on? (And consider I mixed you in with The Police, Kate Bush and Arcade Fire, so clearly I was grasping at straws)

I think I find quite a lot of influence in classical music actually, the layering up of instruments and chord progressions can be pretty incredible, and so charged with emotion, my mother is a violinist so I've always been exposed to the genre from a really young age. But then I think you can also hear a classical influence on the three artists you mention above too, it is a constant source of inspiration for a lot of musicians of all genres.

What is one thing people don't know about Wolf Gang that they should absolutely never forget?

I much prefer Winter to Summer and have a totally irrational fear that if I swim in a lake I might get eaten by a stray shark.

Wolf Gang - "Lions In Cages" by 32feet

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