Gather round, gather round and join this preacher and his misfits as this theatrical emo/rock/punk outfit, Wolf & Chain, chat with Chris Symes about their 5-track, debut EP ‘An Honest Mistake.’
Since debuting in March, the band have released ‘Repent’ (released March 13) and the title-track of the EP, ‘An Honest Mistake’ (released May 1).
These two explosive singles explored the horror/ thriller theme about the preacher (the antagonist) and his cult-like followers. They set the scene for the narrative that is told through the EP, but only scratched the surface with what the band had to offer.
Amongst their fast-paced, high-gained emo-rock riffs, they incorporate massive hardcore breakdowns, string arrangements, upbeat stabs on the piano and Spanish acoustic guitar.
The narrative of the EP explores the preacher who wants to mould the world into his vision by any means. He seeks refuge in the arms of a mysterious woman that promises a fix for his broken soul who transforms him into her own undead concubine. Unable to cope in the wake of his new existence the newly undead preacher embarks on a rampage ending himself and what he has become.
Chris: Who designs and comes up with the artwork for your releases? It’s just awesome the artwork really draws you in!
Jack: I came up with the ideas and sketched/designed the layout, I then took those to a very talented and lovely artist called Ben Sullivan (based in melbourne) who does art for Dark Oz comics (a horror comics publisher). He really brought my ideas to life and helped turn my rough sketches into beautiful pieces of art.
Chris: How did you come up with the theme of the preacher for the ep?
Jack: It made sense to me with the story I wanted to tell, which was about these consuming, obsessive feelings and an awakening out of disillusionment that led to a cult of angry, disenchanted people seeking revenge or ‘repentance’. To have this sort of righteous figure who felt that he could lead and bend the world to his will suited that. It felt like a spiritual awakening born out of angst and anger. I felt like preachers could really theatrically sell these ideas of right and wrong, while being charismatic and enticing, which would draw crowds in, despite the dark undertones the message has. The theme as well focuses on being blinded by a ‘higher justice’ (which suits the preacher aesthetic greatly). Obviously murder is bad and murderers should be held accountable for their actions, but if you go and kill every murderer around, you have just become the monster which you sought to destroy, which is kinda what the theme of the EP is, letting these dark and consuming feelings fester into something that changes you into the very thing you felt sick about in the first place.
Chris: Will the Preacher be a continuing character we see pop up throughout your music? Maybe an onstage character?
Jack: The preacher is definitely an onstage character that appears at the shows, as well as each member’s character that is a part of the cult. You may see these characters again in the future…
Chris: Sometimes songwriter’s take liberties with the language or lyrics that they write in order to make a rhythm and rhyme work, the power of lyrics can alter the listeners response to the tune being played… How does this song writing process work for you do you begin with melodies and then write lyrics that fit the emotive quality Or tonality of the sound or do you begin with lyrics and add the melodic content to fit the message or contextual meaning behind the lyrics
Jack: I usually have an idea for what I want the song to be about, whether its a theme, emotion, narrative concept or even just a line that kinda points me in the right direction. My melody Ideas can be a bit seperate to that and I usually work out how I’m gonna say what I wanna say around the melody, but sometimes they can come to me at the same time (almost like a divine message) and I’ll have a melody and lyric in my head that fit together and with the direction of the song.
Chris: You have a horror/thriller theme with the story on the tracks is having a story arc across your music going to be a thing you keep using.
Jack: I think telling a story is important, whether it’s grand, cinematic stories, or smaller more intimate tales, this band will always be telling a story that means something and has a purpose.
Harry: I think we’ll keep strong themes and storytelling in future releases as we feel like it really creates a more engaging experience than just a collection of material.
Chris: How has the covid era of music been for you guys?
Jack: Obviously releasing a debut EP with the inability to play shows or tour is not ideal, however we have made it work for us. We have had more time to work on demos and other things we might not usually have had time for, we have also been able to really focus on our online presence and been able to engage with everyone else who has been cooped up at home.
Chris: I have to wonder is a global pandemic good for emo music? (In terms of inspiration)
Jack: It sure is a sad time and you are definitely more prone to being depressed in bed! I think it’s been good writing-wise though because you can create your own world/story and sort of escape through it, Or use it to write about the craziness that’s been going on.
Chris: Who would you say has been the biggest creative influence on your music?
Jack: It’s hard to pin down just one because everyone in the band has really cool different influences ranging from metalcore to pop, but obvious ones that we all grew up with would be bands like The Used, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and Pierce The Veil. I would say that the theatricality and quirkiness from acts like David Bowie, Queen and The Cure really inspired us as well. I was also personally inspired by lyrics from The Smiths.
Joe: Same as Jack all the classic emo influences like he mentioned, AFI and Rise Against as well for me growing up. And then lots of the heavier, faster, punk and metalcore influences like Beartooth, Every Time I Die, Alexisonfire, In Hearts Wake.
Harry: Definitely similarly influences for me, though I’d also add in prog rock and metal – from the classics like Pink Floyd to the 00’s Australian bands like Karnivool.
Sam: If you asked me to name my biggest influence on the drums, I probably couldn’t. My influences change with what I’m listening to at the time so it’s really difficult to pinpoint where my inspiration comes from. Don’t have the space to list everyone but my style is an amalgamation of every band that I love. As a drummer, it is important to serve the song, but so is playing in your own style. You have to develop your own sound.
Chris: I find the addition of some Piano and Spanish guitar on Murder Song pretty interesting are these instruments something you will continue to use in your songs?
Harry: We will definitely keep using different instruments other than the core guitar/bass/drums, depending on what works with the themes and styles of the songs. We used organ quite a bit on this release for the last three songs (Repent-Interlude-Killer), it just fit perfectly with the story of the preacher and the religious cult.
Jack: Yeah I think it’s just a matter of what fits with the theme or world we are trying to create, like Harry mentioned we used instruments like the organ which really helped bring in those circus vibes from our clown/muscle/drummer character. I don’t think we would restrict ourselves on anything really, it’s just a matter of if it works or has a purpose.
Chris: Is there anything other different instruments you’re hoping to bring to your music in the future? More Cowbell? :p
Harry: Every song should have cowbell!
Personally, I would love to incorporate some more strings and orchestral parts, particularly on some of our more theatrical and dramatic songs.
Jack: Agreed! More cowbell!
I think strings would be really cool, as well as some more piano, I would really like to take our sound to a larger than life place.
Joe: We were just chatting and thinking some brass and woodwind would be pretty sexy. Anything to heighten the drama.
Sam: I would love to have a little more spice in the future. Things like percussion, strings, piano, organs, and other little sounds that really bring polish to the music. Doesn’t have to be anything big, just something
that brings energy to our tracks. Elements like acoustic guitar (6 and 12 string), baritone guitar (think Bass VI) would be sweet. Not necessarily as a prominent sound but more so another layer.
Chris: Can you remember the first time music ever had an emotional affect on you, can you name this song and artist… What affect did it have on you then and does it still influence you now?
Jack: I definitely do, I remember going to see Green Day on their ‘21st Century Breakdown’ Tour with my brother and my dad, It was my first show ever and I was blown away by the showmanship and spectacle of it all. I was really into that album at the time and seeing those songs live in such a large way really cemented some things for me.
Joe: I couldn’t pinpoint a song, mines a show too. The first time I saw I Killed the Prom Queen I was blown away by the stage energy and the acrobatics of their guitarist Kevin Cameron. And later the same thing when I saw the Dillinger Escape Plan at Soundwave. That’s something I strive to bring to our live shows, that energy and intensity.
Harry: I remember being totally captivated when I first listened through Jeff Buckley’s Grace.
Sam: I listened to “Get What You Give” by The Ghost Inside a lot during high school. It was really the first album that I formed a connection with; so much so that I have a TGI tattoo. The album helped me get through some stuff I was dealing with at the time and it has certainly left an impact on me. I don’t really listen to the band now but I am always reminded of what they meant to me when I look at the tattoo. I guess their message remains within myself.
Chris: Are there any current artists you would love to share a stage with?
Jack: I’m a huge fan of The Used’s latest album ‘Heartwork’ and if they get to tour it here I think I could say for a lot of us it would be an absolute dream to open for them and we could all die happy if that ever happened. Also, another dream would be to open for Ice Nine Kills, we love them.
Chris: How did the band form? And is Wolf and Chain the first iteration of the band?
Jack: Me and Joe met at The University of Adelaide, we were both studying music at the time and we started to form a pop punk band with Harry, but decided to end that and go in a different direction creating Wolf & Chain.
Sam: I was recording the other guys’ University band. They asked me to join their band and once I joined, the band restarted as Wolf & Chain.
Chris: Musical tastes develop and progress as time goes by, if you could go back in time and live as a musician during a different era which era would you choose and why? “
Jack: I think it would be cool to be a hard and fast emo band in the 80’s, there was a lot of mainstream pop stuff as well as some really cool weird bands like The Pixies, I think it would be fun to throw that sound into that culture and see what is made of it.
Sam: Too many years to choose from! Although I think being in a heavier rock band like Black Sabbath during the 60s/70s would be incredible. That kind of music back then got such a reaction from people, both good and bad, it would be crazy to be a part of. Either that, or a psych musician from the same era. A lot of experimentation happened during that time. Not only with instrumentation and arrangement, but also with production techniques and experimenting with recording.
Chris: What’s coming up in the future for Wolf & Chain?
Jack: We have a really awesome big music video planned that should be shooting soon hopefully. We also have some really cool shows that we are planning, with some amazing bands. Also, as soon as restrictions allow we will be going on an east coast tour and hopefully touring much further than that in years to come.