Earlier this year, Australian throwback rock act Wolfmother officially threw in the towel. But this wasn’t that shocking. Although the blues metal band has been working on a follow up to the riff-tastic Cosmic Egg since 2009, in early 2012, guitarist Aidan Nemeth and drummer Will Rockwell-Scott suddenly quit the band. Wolfmother founder Andrew Stockdale tried to revamp the lineup, but then on April 26, 2013, he announced that Wolfmother would be ending in a mere two days. Since then, he’s converted some of the unreleased Wolfmother tracks into songs for his new album Keep Moving — a 16-song jolt of classic-rock riffs that continue to showcase Stockdale’s ripping falsetto and knack for writing powerful blues anthems. Hive recently spoke with Stockdale about the dissolution of Wolfmother, breaking out as a solo artist and why he chose the surf over television.
Keep Moving has a song called “Year of the Dragon” and, in fact, you were born in the year of the dragon.
Yeah! And it was the year of the dragon when I wrote that song, so it’s kind of like a full circle theme. I just kind of went with it. I tried to look at what happened this year and tried to tie it back into everything else.
But, not only were you born in the year of the dragon, but you were born in the year of the fire dragon. Andrew, that’s the best dragon!
That’s a trip!
It sure is, because not only is your album called Keep Moving, but the fire dragon represents strength, persistence, and restlessness.
There is a lot of restlessness. But, I am working in it. I’m trying to be more patient. But, restlessness is just the nature of being creative, and when you have momentum, you try to capture it.
Does Keep Moving represent you trying to capture your own momentum?
Well, I wanted to keep the title simple. It had a nice ring to it. It wasn’t too lyrical or too new age. It had a simple message to it, which I guess, after doing Wolfmother and Cosmic Egg, which were not direct, was clearer.
True. Why do you want to be more direct right now?
I think it’s important to say something as a songwriter … and as a human. It’s important to just talk about your dreams, your ideas, your friends and your family, and kind of see how people react to that.
A lot of your music is compared to the classic rockers, like Zeppelin, the Stones, and Sabbath. Is that an honor, or is it annoying to always be compared to other bands?
At the start, it was a massive honor. Those guys just seemed completely out of reach and for any of those bands, for us to be compared to them, we must have done something right. But, I don’t think about that when I’m writing. I literally just pick up a guitar and play the first thing that comes to my mind. If I did try to write like Led Zeppelin, it probably wouldn’t work.
This record does sound very loose. It really swings.
I ordered a banjo two years ago and just started trying to write riffs on it. I just took the riffs from the banjo to the guitar and that was it. Other songs, like “Everyday Drone,” were just formed by buying different instruments and playing them. I got a harmonica and started playing different chords. So, a couple of these songs are from using different instruments and letting the instruments form the song.
Why did you decide to put away the name “Wolfmother?”
Well, it’s just like, I had this voice in the back of my head that said, “I wouldn’t mind putting something out as Andrew Stockdale.” After two or three years, that voice didn’t go away and I started mentioning it to people to see their reaction. I talked to my manager and he was like “cool,” so it was just kind of an easy decision.
“At the last Wolfmother show, I just wanted to keep writing songs and keep doing shows. For me, it’s not like we did a show with no possibility of playing as Wolfmother ever again. I always say ‘never say never.’”
Do you feel that by using your own name instead of a band name you are making a more introspective record?
Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve played with various people over different records. I put everything I’ve got into each one of those records, every story. I feel like I’ve been present in those records just as much as this one. With this one — I need a band without a doubt — but it’s more of a solo project. I’m writing the songs. And I’m putting together the band, as opposed to a band that works consistently as a band.
What emotions were you feeling at the last “Wolfmother” show?
Really, I didn’t feel anything. When the first version of the band finished, the day after the last gig of the first incarnation of the band, I went to a studio in L.A. and looked into starting the recording of the next album. At the last Wolfmother show, I just wanted to keep writing songs and keep doing shows. For me, it’s not like we did a show with no possibility of playing as Wolfmother ever again. I always say “never say never.” I might do another Wolfmother show in six months. I don’t know. I feel that if you are alive, just be grateful for any opportunity that you can get. Don’t mess with destiny and make things definitive.
Guitarist Aidan Nemeth and drummer Will Rockwell-Scott suddenly left the band in 2012, which seemed to be the cause of Wolfmother changing to your solo act. Was there tension in the band?
Well, no, there’s none of that kind of stuff. No tension or fights. Tensions in the band ended about five years ago. With Aidan and Will, it is literally just people doing their own thing. Aidan is more of an engineer than a musician. He always looked uncomfortable on stage. Once we started making this record, he was just so much more comfortable in the studio. I thought, “Everyone has their own path” and said “Maybe you should be more in the studio than playing on the road.” It was more him just following his true interest and passion.
Even so, were you hurt by Aidan or Will leaving the band?
No, not at all. With this band, I just meet random people. Putting this together is a lot different than putting together a football team or other kinds of jobs. Bands are just random people who play instruments, who come in and out.
I heard that for the past year, you lived on a shack on the beach with no TV. What was that like?
It took a lot of the “mind junk” out of my life. I just dropped off the radar and lowered my anxiety. Now, when I go into hotels, I never even turn on the TV. I just moved into another place and it had a TV. I was like “This is the best! This is so cool!” But, after two days, I just realized that I was still searching for something to watch, so I just sort of stopped.
What did you do with all your free time?
I got into surfing. I’d go downstairs and pick up the guitar and do something creative instead of sitting in front of the TV.
What’s the coolest move that you can do on the surfboard?
The cross step, where you cross your feet while walking forward or backwards, probably. I surf long boards, like nine-foot boards. Either the cross step, or the coffin ride. That’s where you lie down on the board and cross your arms.
That sounds bad ass.
Yes, yes it is.
Keep Moving is out June 11th.