Black Sabbath is truly a great name. Deep Purple, though taken from the title of a wimpy M.O.R. song, actually isn't a bad pun. When everyone was talking about heavy Blues, why not be so heavy that you're Deep Purple? Even Led Zeppelin, a name that started as punch line to a Keith Moon joke, conjures an awesome image. You'd think a band that draws inspiration from on these legends would come up with something spectacular.
So what's up with Wolfmother? What kind of name is that? Sure, they're Aussie's, but still that doesn't completely explain a lapse like this. But that's who they are and here's what happened.
Heralding from Erskineville, Sydney, Australia, Wolfmother formed in '00. Four years later, they (Andrew Stockdale - vocals/guitar; Chris Ross - bass/organ; and Myles Heskett - drums) began recording for the sole purpose of using the material to secure bookings. And it worked. The group made an '04 appearance at Australia's mega annual party, Big Day Out. From there they returned to the studio to re-record their songs which comprised their self-titled debut EP. The effort garnered a lot of radio play and sold well enough to pull them out of the local scene.
The next stop was L.A. where they recorded their full-length debut, another self-titled effort, with producer Dave Sardy (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis). Their double A-side single "Mind's Eye/Woman" managed to crack the Aussie Top 30 (barely) but the album did far better coming dangerously close to the top.
By this time everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Wolfmother won the '05 J Award from the youth radio network Triple J for the best Australian album of the year. Rolling Stone listed Wolfmother as one of their Top 10 Bands to Watch 2006. A second stint on the Big Day Out tour kicked off '06 as the group released follow-up single, "White Unicorn." Then came "Joker & The Thief," which nailed alternative radio airplay in the U.S.
Some bands break-up while others are re-born (only to die again).
In the summer of '08 Wolfmother disbanded. However, Stockdale kept the name and decided to re-launch the group - now a quartet. The new members were formally introduced in January, '09 - Aidan Nemeth (guitar) Ian Peres (bass/keyboards) and Dave Atkis (drums). This line-up went to L.A. to record "Cosmic Egg" with producer Alan Moulder. The album arrived the following October. "It's a bombardment of sound," said Stockdale. "With primitive energy."
So what does the title mean? "I did a yoga class and one of the poses we were doing was called 'cosmic egg', and I thought yeah, that's it," added Stockwell. "It's like the fetal pose."
Just when it looked as though everything was settled there was another glitch. The announcement came in April, '10, that Atkins had left. "Dave has had a great experience touring and recording with the band, though in time, it's proven to be too exhausting and taxing on his home life," said the group's statement. Atkins who had a two-year run was replaced by Will Rockwell-Scott.
In March of '13 Stockdale announced that he had dropped the Wolfmother moniker for his next album "Keep Moving."
"I started off solo, and when I got my two friends to be the band we came up with the name Wolfmother," explained Stockdale. "When it disbanded there was a lot of pressure on me to continue as Wolfmother - people thought it was a good name and a good brand. Now, I would rather call it for what it is. It's a solo project."
Wolfmother (Stockdale and company) then issued their third album, "New Crown," in '14. The set featured bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres and drummer Vin Steele.
Still, Wolfmother was essentially Stockdale and hired talent. "Victorious" arrived in '16 with Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails/A Perfect Circle) and Joey Waronker splitting the drum duties. "The album is a balance of garage-y energy and big production," said Stockdale.
2009 Cosmic Egg
2014 New Crown
Listening to Wolfmother conjures up an image of Deep Purple's Ian Gillan fronting Black Sabbath. Wait. That did happen in the early '80s but it didn't turn out so well. Wolfmother is better than that. They hit their stride when they spit out machine gun, pulsating, riffs but can get ponderous when they veer from that straight-up approach.