The formula is simple: Add Sabbath to Zeppelin and multiply by Hendrix. The result -- as every snooty writer from Vice to NME to Rolling Stone has concluded -- is Wolfmother, an Australian band three decades too late. But really, the math doesn't add up. Wolfmother is much too cheery for the dark brooding of Ozzy, while the psychedelic guitar work of frontman Andrew Stockdale is far removed from the country-blues sensibilities of Jimmy Page. And as for the Hendrix fuck-all spirit, there's only been one man to truly embody that, and, unfortunately, he's dead.
You won't find what makes Stockdale and pals -- bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett -- the group that they are on a cheater's checklist of other bands. Wolfmother is Wolfmother, to put it simply.
"I'd hate to hear that we sounded like a direct copy of a song," says Ross. "That's not what we want to do at all. It's not even what we intended to do. We just got in a room and played what felt right to us. But sometimes people write descriptions and just name one or two bands. That's the way they write."
"You've got to have a balance," he continues. "I think it's all right to let things influence you. We're all of the same mindset, where we just kind of want to see stuff and absorb it and let it inspire us."
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Plenty of things have inspired the Aussie trio. Prior to joining the Wolf pack, each member dabbled in the arts, specifically graphics and photography. But as Heskett emphasizes, it was more of a struggling venture than an established gig, "We were trying to do that before the band. But art is a really hard field to break into."
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Music, on the other hand, came a lot easier. The act's veracious on-stage energy quickly caught the attention of the movers and shakers at Australia's Modular Records; shortly after (as Heskett recalls, "I think it was our fourth or fifth show"), Wolfmother signed a deal and began its whirlwind tour of every major festival, from L.A.'s Arthur Fest to Austin's week-long SXSW party to, most recently, the desert-valley landscape of Coachella. Somewhere in the haste of all those frequent-flyer miles, the band even acquired some holiday time to record its much anticipated self-titled full-length debut. The album, which was released stateside by Interscope, features artwork from noted sci-fi visual artist Frank Frazetta. And like the snake-wrapped woman on the cover, Wolfmother comes with a few silent partners -- namely, the team of label reps, bookings agents and public-relations worker bees that keep the Wolfmother machine cranking.
"We just thought, like, you get a manager and you sign a record deal and that's it," Heskett explains. "But there's actually so many people that you have on board, and you have to know how to trust them. It's a big pain. We're kind of used to it now, but at first it was pretty weird -- all these people doing stuff for you."
It ain't easy to be the next big thing. And it's even harder to find the spotlight under the shadow of rock and roll's giants. But Ross has a more pragmatic perspective. "We see things, and we let things do whatever they want to do. Give things a chance," he says with a laugh. "That'll be the next version of 'Give Peace a Chance.'"