An Interview with Wolf City!
Late one night in East Texas, No Funeral conspirator El Jefe and I were watching the National Geopraphic Channel's documentary Inside Straight Edge. Reno hardcore band xAFBx was prominently featured in the documentary. Having never heard them before, I went online to get the scoop on xAFBx the very next day. It was at this point when I read on Lambgoat that xAFBx broke up, but a new band named Wolf City! was rising from its ashes.
Wolf City! is an intense, metallic hardcore band with a message. This is very different from being a straightedge scene band. Wolf City! is aware of this difference and this difference is shaping the band's approach. A musically solid band appeals to everyone, edge or not. Wolf City! is here to start the next chapter in the book of Reno Hardcore.
This interview was conducted via e-mail with:
Bryant Sparks (vocals)- BS
Tommy Sage (guitar) - TS
No Funeral: Was Wolf City! chosen as the band name for its symbolic value or is it a reference to something? For me, the name conjures images of both distrust and vigilance at the same time.
BS: Wolf City! was chosen by our drummer Carlos. In Reno, the local college team is the "Nevada Wolf Pack." It's all about having pride in your city. Wolf Pack. Reno = Wolf City. At first, it seemed cheesy but, now, people are really starting to dig it.
No Funeral: The demo posted on the Wolf City! Myspace page sounds like the metallic hardcore I listened to as a kid back in the 90s. I hear bits and pieces of bands like Damnation A.D., Overcast, All Out War and Unbroken; in addition to the legion of Upstate New York bands from back then. Is this influence a conscious decision made as the band develops its sound or is it a natural development; a result of gaining experience and becoming a more accomplished musician?
TS: We all kind of agreed when we started that we wanted to have an older sound. We also play in C standard tuning. We're not dropped down or anything like that. Like I said, the decision was to just have a fast-paced, heavy sound.
No Funeral: Wolf City! counts Earth Crisis and early Throwdown among its influences. In addition to being a fan of both bands, I think both are instrumental in spreading the straightedge philosophy. They toured with more than just other hardcore bands. Hell, both bands played the Ozzfest. My point isn’t the amount of success both bands achieved but, rather, its’ that both bands were willing to reach out beyond the straightedge scene. Is the influence of these bands (and others like them) just a musical influence or does Wolf City! intend to embrace this spirit of cooperation with folks who are not only not straightedge but who have never heard of it?
BS: I think that the influence of these bands is built by the sound and the image. Although we are an all straightedge band we would like to spread the word to anyone who can get into it. We are down to play with anyone, anytime. As long as fans dig it there shouldn't be a problem.
TS: Agreed. Hardcore kids try to shut people out because they appear that they don't belong. This is music for the sake of music. Anyone should be able to be into it just as much as the next kid.
No Funeral: The song “Pound for Pound” sounds like Houston’s late, great Will to Live. How aware are you guys of TXHC and the bands down here? Any plans on touring through Texas this year? Did you ever play here before in your previous band xAFBx? This is the kind of state that’s going to love Wolf City!
BS: We've played Texas many times with xAFBx. Every time we've played there, it's been a great experience. The kids are awesome and the show turnouts are always good. We'd like to head out south as soon as we possibly can once we get the word out.
No Funeral: Speaking of xAFBx, Wolf City! is comprised of four of xAFBx’s former members. The only one not playing in the new band is vocalist Tony Medellin. What were the circumstances surround his departure? On the NatGeo documentary Inside Straight Edge, Medellin came off as abrasive and, at times, self-righteous. Was he not interested in expanding the sound of the band? Was developing the sound of the band not one of his priorities?
BS: Well, first off, it was really hard with xAFBx and Tony because of his egotistical attitude towards everything. Even our own friends and other bands would make comments about the way he treated everyone. That's not really the type of person you want leading a band. I mean, during the high point of xAFBx, we were all good friends but the guy is competing with the sun for the center of the universe.
TS: In January, xAFBx did a little weekend thing in California and, when we returned, Tony told everyone he didn't really want to be around us anymore. We all decided that xAFBx was too stressful and that it wasn't worth all of the drama, but the four of us didn't want to stop playing music for good. That's when we started trying to write and head for a totally different sound. Tony does his own thing now. None of us really talk to him anymore. Plus, writing music for xAFBx was incredibly difficult because we would try to write music that we weren't really into. Our first record came out with a metalcore sound and then after that record, and about 40 line-up changes, we went towards a more mainstream sound that the four of us weren't into.
No Funeral: What are Wolf City!’s plans, as far as releasing any records, in the near future? Are you seeking a label or are you going to self-release it, DIY style? Any plans for any Wolf City! vinyl?
TS: We are going to return to the studio soon to record seven songs and then try to release it as an EP. I wouldn't say we're trying to do it DIY. I mean, if any good opportunities come up for the band then that would be awesome. We talked to our friend Danny at Seventh Dagger (who released all the xAFBx records) and he said that they would release it on vinyl, but we're not sure quite yet.
No Funeral: The NatGeo show mentioned that Bryant (Wolf City! vocalist) went to Reno’s Reed High School. Reed High School reminded me of The Woodlands High School in the Houston suburbs, when I went there. Did any other Wolf City! members attend Reed? If Reed is anything like The Woodlands, it’s a constant tug-of-war between the beer-swilling football jocks, the drug-addicted sloths and the (alleged) weirdoes who exist outside of the typical school dynamic. When I saw that Reed was “cracking down on straightedgers”, I wondered to myself, “Don’t they realize that straightedge, underground music and art, and the entirety of DIY ethic runs counter to everything you do and believe? Don't they see that, in the big picture, they provoked this?” What are your feelings on this subject?
TS: I'm old as shit, man. I didn't go to Reed High but, when I went to high school, straightedge wasn't a big deal at all.
BS: Ha ha. Yeah, I went to Reed a few years back and it was hell. My personal opinion on the whole reed subject is that all these authorities are trying to crack down on a "possible threat to society" but all they are doing is fueling these kids even more. When I went to Reed, before they started cracking down, everyone co-existed fine. I mean, there were fights here and there, but that's high school. Then, the minute they started making a huge deal about all these "punk kids" and "suburban terrorists", other groups of kids would try and challenge our reputation that the cops were making. So kids would start all of these huge feuds and we'd finish them. Of course, [they're] making the authorities think even worse of anyone associated with the movement.
No Funeral: What are your views on downloading and file-sharing? Personally, I don’t see the low-quality, free MP3 as a one-for-one equal of the actual record. Then again, I’m a passionate vinyl collector, so I may be in the minority here. I see downloading as a replacement for rock radio, since Clear Channel now owns all of the radio stations. How do you see this, collectively or individually?
BS: I have no problems at all with downloading bands music. I mean, yeah, if you actually buy the CD it's supporting the band financially but, either way, you're getting the music for the same reason: to listen and enjoy it. So, either way, I think downloading it or buying it kids are spreading the word and supporting us.
Wolf City! - 2009 Demo
(Although no MP3s were available, the entire demo has been posted at the Wolf City! Myspace page. Might as well add them while you're there, you know? If any of you computer psychos can hook up some Wolf City! MP3s, then e-mail me and hook me up so I can post that shit.)
10 months ago