Monday, 1 March 2010

Wolfmother Interview

Andrew Stockdale comes out of the closet.

If you could be two animals mixed together, what would you be?

Whhaaaat? I have no idea.

Ok, different tact. If you could be any mystical creature, what would you be?

Mystical creature? I don’t know…who knows. What would you be?

A liger…pretty much my favourite animal. Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite?

Yeah. Do you like that film?

It’s so crap that it’s good.

Do you know what I think of that film? It’s making people who are outsiders or eccentric into a kind of MTV sort of likable…
I do like the film but I remember the first time I saw it I thought is that the American idea of the nerd? Where if you took the nerd and put them in lower east side New York they’d be like the coolest person, the latest fashion parade…

I know what you mean, there are loads of people who model themselves on that image now…like the more quirky, the more eccentric you can be now, on purpose, not because you like it. To be fashionable to not be fashionable to be fashionable…I don’t know. It’s a funny film

It is a funny film; it’s definitely a funny film. I saw it a few times but the first time I saw it I was like ‘I don’t know if I like this’. I thought it was a commercialisation of weird. It’s an MTV film, it’s produced by MTV.

If you think about it, it advertises geekyness as a fashion, but that’s kind of no worse than all the other films that advertise everything else as a fashion.

Oh no, no.

When you first started singing, it wasn’t how you sing now…and I heard that you thought you were doing something wrong. When you sang like you do now, you thought you were making a mistake…but actually what you were doing was really right…do you think that applies elsewhere in life, that you keep doing something and you’re doing something that’s actually wrong for you, and every time you do something wrong for you but its actually the right thing, then you finally find that its right?

Yeah, that could be IT. It’s like whatever comes naturally you know. That’s the key to people in life, to find their path. and the thing is when you’re in somewhere like this university, its like a middle ground , here’s a way of making 60 people a year become average at this, so that they can contribute something of an average.

(Tape ran out here. Oops. Long talk about luck, fate, and life. Wish you’d heard it, it was good.)

Back on track now… we were talking about luck-how it applies everywhere in life. Especially life’s choices.

Yeah, yeah. I think that’s the hardest thing in life for anyone hey, even when your 17 through till 40, 50, 60, just working out what to do with your life, making choices and...yeah.

Do you think that your fame as a musician will effect your daughter later in life?

It’s going to be weird I guess, gonna be weird because up until now I guess that any sort of love that she has for me is just because I’m her dad. She was at the side of the stage the other night like ‘oh yeah, dads singing!’ I thought the last thing I want is for her to hear any rubbish about me. There are just so many things talking about wolfmother and this, that and the other, you know what I mean?

When she grows up she’ll hear so many different things about you that are so separate form the family life, every thing in the media, other people’s perceptions…

It’s like, when I catch up with a friend now they’re like ‘I read in this interview that you said that this happened, and what about this…’just even talking to a friend you’re already having to explain five different interviews that made this stuff up, and it’s all wrong. It kind of gets into your personal life where you have to spend half an hour explaining to your friends what you’ve been doing, that’s a new thing with Wolfmother.

It’s weird, because we’ve come here today and I already know who you are, what you’ve done, what you like doing, but you don’t know me at all.

A lot of it’s made up ey, a lot of it is wrong.

We don’t do that. That’s why I said I couldn’t remember it because it would be wrong...then you’d be angry…

Yeah yeah, (laughs). That’s the harsh thing with my daughter, I just hope she doesn’t read the wrong thing or whatever, or become spoilt or demanding. Hopefully she’ll still have a good perspective on how to treat people.

Would you like to see her go down the music path or are you not really bothered?

I haven’t even thought about it…I think really what I’ll do is just try and support whatever she wants to do and just let it go, let go you know, let her just do what she wants. The dudes that could walk through the door…
I’m just going to have to let go on so many levels and just try and be cool about it you know.

Also if you have this whole perception as a musician, especially in rock n roll, then people might think you’re a bit more easy going, and if she grows up thinking that and she tries to do things…depends how you’re going to react. Sorry, didn’t mean to worry you!

I think as long as you love them, as long as people feel loved, they make the right choices. You don’t have to drill in like ‘do this, don’t do that’.

The more you drum it in the more likely they are to rebel.

The only reason you do self destructive things is because you might go through a phase where you don’t like yourself, and you don’t feel loved. That’s when you start making those kind of mistakes.

As a band, you spent some large amount of time just jamming before you did a pub gig, and then realised you should be a band. Do you think that was quite vital to progression and bonding as a group- working out what your sound was and what you wanted to do?

Umm… that’s a difficult question, I can’t say…
I’d never be good at live TV because I just don’t have answers straight away…

As long as we don’t run over the first part of the tape… hah hah…

One thing that we definitely had was that we could play by ear, I’d start playing something and then Myles and Chris could just match it, so that was one thing that the three of us always had. I think that was the key thing…But that only happened when I started singing and playing guitar and Myles did drums. We worked out what we should do and then it was just like phweeerrrsshhhh!

I heard that prior to that, you weren’t singing, it was the other two singing, and the whole sound was more indie.

It was more like the beastie boys. That was just on demos and stuff that we’d do, we’d never play together. I don’t think the other guys could sing and play an instrument, well even really sing…(laughs)they cant sing! I tried to get them to do backing vocals but they won’t do it…we tried…

If I were them I wouldn’t want to come back singing after hearing you…
Do you think the older technology, Mogue…( we learnt this in music lessons in high school, and just remember one phrase. ‘Mogues modular beasts were studded with knobs and sliders…’)

(Chortle chortle)

Do you think that old equipment is better than the new stuff…On the 40th anniversary of Sgt Peppers there was TV programme about it, they went back into the old Abbey Road studios and did the four track recordings, and there were all these modern bands like the Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight, the Fray- and they found it so hard to make transitions onto such a raw sound. I think the four track produces a much better sound, that’s a main difference between music then and music now.

I totally agree. Hey, this is what I think about all the time. It’s like my favourite topic at the moment. Apart from the what type of half animal would you like to be..(laughs).

Are you mocking our questions?

Nooo, those are good questions, I struggle with the stuff that requires imagination (laughter)

It’s alright.

You know that’s the thing, its like, I think that’s what people realise now, all those recordings are sacred, they’re never going to happen again.

I hate the way that everyone slags off bands now and says all your doing is copying the old legends. Like about Wolfmother- people always compare you to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin…but of course people are going to want to sound like those bands, because they’re brilliant. Modern music’s been going for what 60, 70 years, and in my opinion probably everything good that’s going to happen has already happened. And unless you’re going to use technology or whatever to express it…but as a raw sound, a creation, then obviously sounding like the old bands is a good thing. Why try and change if you like that way of playing…

Yeah, if it’s so easy to sound like Black Sabbath and Led Zepellin go do it, why don’t 5 million other bands do it.

But the thing is no one else is ever going to be such a pioneer as those bands because they were the first people to do it, and it wasn’t necessarily because of how great they were, just because they were there at the time and doing that thing, because it had never happened before. Well, they were great, but do you know what I mean?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re right, there was nothing like it before.

Everything was new, whereas now you’ve got to try really hard to try something that’s properly fresh and can’t be compared to anything else. Do you find now, the popular music scene at the moment is all the emo stuff, hardcore etc, you’re quite a refreshing change, to actually be able to go see a band live now that you enjoy, that you want to dance around to, that isn’t just a recording of dead people.

Sure, sure! It’s like what you’re saying with the Kaiser Chiefs or whatever trying to sound like the Beatles, it all comes down to like the type of wood that the studios are made out of, the type of wood of the guitars, where the mike is placed. Weather, the atmosphere of that era, their personalities, John Lennon being on heroin, or going to performance art with Yoko Ono…all those variables are what made those recordings. That’s why I was saying, now we realise that they are sacred, and it’s never going to happen again, you can never recreate it. Recording these days is just like, ‘I’ll put the best, latest microphone right next to this electronic transistor amplifier, and I’ll just sing through the thing’, and you listen to it, and it sounds so metallic. It’s such a commercial sound, people want it to be cleaner and cleaner and cleaner, they want everything to be edited out, they want no mistakes... I guess why maybe that’s why when you see these emo bands or whatever, your like ‘there’s something missing in this sound’, aside from what they’re saying and the whole image and everything they’re doing-- the SOUND!

It’s been sucked dry of any personality or anything that could occur naturally. The thing I love most when I’m listening to old records is when you hear the bands counting in themselves and you hear the noises in the studio and stuff, and you just don’t get that now.
You did your album in the warehouse where Pink Floyd recorded ‘The wall’ right?

A lot of people ask that, but we rehearsed in a studio that was being closed down, and that was the studio that Pink Floyd recorded in. We didn’t record in there though.

Was that special or was it just like…a building.

Nah it didn’t feel special at all hey. What I enjoyed was playing in my own space. Like I had this space, it was like a studio in the city, wooden floorboards and huge windows. It was a painting studio. I like playing music somewhere that isn’t where you’d make music.
I don’t like going to studios or rehearsals because it just feels like geeks who drink Starbucks and get fat and play with all those buttons and dials…
I’d like to set up the gear on a mountain in a forest. Somewhere to get out, to get away from the music business.

We’ve been talking to Willy Mason; he did a house party tour- which isn’t so wild or organic as a mountain- but kind of the same thinking, making music just for the sake of making music. Nothing commercial or being on tour. You’re going to the fans houses and connecting with them. Playing to them, for people who want to see the music. You should do a house party tour…

A camping tour!

That would be great. In some outback somewhere. You could do it in the Australian outback.

Yeah, yeah!

Talking of the environment, we’ve got a bit of a running theme. We just went to china to raise awareness and etc…
In Australia, what do you think the general views are?

People used to think it was this kind of left wing kind of ideology, you know what I mean, like ‘that’s an idea, a way of life, that doesn’t relate to me’, but now its more obvious and people are seeing that its not some tree hugging, hippy thing- it’s affecting everyone…

It might be because the need to actually do something has become greater as well; people are realising it’s more immediate, more necessary.
Who are you’re main inspirations in music? If you could host a festival with anyone in the world dead or alive, who would be there?

I don’t know, probably The Beatles.

Just The Beatles! Playing for the whole weekend…

Yeah probably just The Beatles, playing every single record.

Have you ever read Lemmy from Motorhead’s autobiography? Basically, he is the man of rock, he’s lived through it all and he’s got all this stuff about how he used to go watch The Beatles in seedy London pubs, and they’d be eating cheese sandwiches halfway through their set…

(laughs)Yeah, yeah, their manager, he was the one who said no more eating on stage. And they tried to dress themselves and they ended up looking really gay, because they’d bought all these leather outfits…I’m gay…
(laugh)I mean the manager’s gay, not me…

(laughter) I was going to say…wife and kid! You’re going to be quoted on that.

The manager was like ‘I’m gay, you look gay to me, don’t wear the leather shit it looks gay…’

Do you have a sign off statement that is better than us quoting you as coming out of the closet?

Sign off message?

Some kind of emblazoned motivation statement that you’d want in neon lights across a big Vegas building…or spelt out in ladybugs in a meadow…

I don’t know…

What about: drink ginger beer.


It doesn’t have to be that deep. If you’re daughter was to read this interview in twenty years time, what would you like her to see you say?

Beware of catholic university girls.


Interview- Ali Hewson & Polly O'shea; Words- Ali Hewson

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