Jim Lawton from Duke of Wolves
I spend a lot of my time looking about music for a Rock act...
with genuine grit, power and personality. There are so many groups that go for good old-fashioned grunt: They come off sounding unoriginal and unspectacular. Thankfully, Duke of Wolves are here to add the ‘Rock’ back into “Where the hell are all the decent Rock bands?!” With influences as varied as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Weezer: The London quartet are riff-assassins, intent on putting their footprints on the music world. They may be a new act out of the gates, but don’t let that fool you: They sound completely commanding, controlled and ready!
Hollow Eyes- the band’s debut cut- arrived with a procession of pummel, intention and masculinity. If any doubt lingered- that this band were not The Real Deal- they are preparing to launch their sophomore missile: The hotly-anticipated, It’s Real. Backed by a furious and multi-limbed percussive assault; a swaggering bass-and-guitar combination: Ben, Orlando and Sara are fronted by Jim Lawton: Former lead of (sadly defunct) Crystal Seagulls. Having known Jim since the Crystal Seagulls-days; I was keen to chat- see how his new band was getting on. Jim talks about the forthcoming single: Views of modern Rock- in addition to advice for new bands (coming through)…
Hi, Jim. How has your week been? Get up to anything good?
Pretty great, thanks! Lots of new songs being written and worked on; so looking good.
You (Duke of Wolves) are a relatively new band. How did you guys come together?
Myself and Ben used to be in a band called Crystal Seagulls together. When that broke up we thought we would get something else started. We found Orlando and Sara, and they just seemed to fit in so naturally with what we wanted to do.
There are a lot of bands coming out of London (where Duke of Wolves hails). Do you find there is a lot of support for the band out there?
London is a tough place to get started for new bands (as there is so much going on). I have friends in other bands from smaller cities (or villages) that are able to get more of a local boost. But I wouldn't change London for the world.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/186093717" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
When hearing Hollow Eyes- the band’s debut single- I heard undertones of Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana. Which bands/acts has influenced the Duke of Wolves sound?
Why thank you! Q.O.T.S.A. are a cool band. I personally listen to everything and anything. In fact, right now, I have Ride of the Valkries blasting out! Led Zep., Wolfmother; Rage Against the Machine, Weezer; Muse: All seem to be ones people are hearing as influences. My personal favourite band will always be The Beatles though.
Throughout Hollow Eyes, the band sound so tight and together. Given the (short) time you have been together: How do you guys sound so fully-formed and authoritative?
Cheers! Whenever I write the main idea for a song, it is always on acoustic guitar or piano: As (if a song) can sound complete preliminarily in an acoustic setting, then you're onto a winner. My favourite bit is when the band take what I have presented and give it a whole new surge of vibe, life and power. Three of the best musicians I know: But don't tell them I said that... (the cat bag might have a hole in it, now)
You have a new single on the horizon. Can you tell us about that?
It's a song called It's Real which is coming out on 10th April. It's more on the 'anthem' side of things- and the chorus goes down very well live- and of course, there's a nice, tasty riff for people to sink their teeth into (not to mention Ben's eight-armed drumming!). Very nicely produced by James Billinge.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251346752" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Are there any plans for an E.P. or album this year?
It's still early days, but the material is coming out thick and fast- so there will definitely be more for listeners partial to head-bobbery!
What defines music to you (might be an impossible question, I know)? What does it mean to you? How does it make you feel?
Music is everything, really. I would say that at least 80% of my day is filled with it. If I'm pissed off, I'll listen to Rage (Against the Machine); if I'm in a good mood I'll whack on Abba. If I want to feel like I'm driving down a desert road- somewhere in America- it's got to be Mississippi Queen by Mountain- or something by Credence Clearwater Revival. Without sounding too naff: It's an expression of who you are or what you want.
In terms of albums- that have inspired the band’s sound- which are particularly important?
To be honest: Not much in recent years. It's all the same as the influences, or whatever we stumble on.
For new bands coming through at the moment: What advice would you offer to them?
Ha! I'll have to take my own advice, which would be: Work hard, get a thick skin; try and appreciate things as you're doing them- and if you feel like you've written a hit- don't just sit there grinning (as it might not be). Always shoot high as you can get.
Many people- critics mainly- have claimed Rock is dying. Given the sounds D.o.W play: Do you think Rock is very much alive and well?
I really don't think Rock can ever die necessarily. Even in modern Pop music, there are Rock elements everywhere. Do I think there have been many recent great Rock bands? No. Even if Rock is hiding in the shadows- like an award kid at school- a good song is a good song (end of).
When it comes to writing a new song: Which themes/subjects inspire your process?
Absolutely everything. My life isn't interesting enough to write totally from my own experience. Sometimes, I like to pretend to live someone else's life and write something from their point-of-view. Or, if I am writing from my own experience, there's nothing wrong with a touch of poetic licence. Songs are what listeners interpret them to be about. So, if someone asks: "Is this song about this…?" I like to say: "It is now."
You guys have played some pretty good gigs the last few months. Which rank among the very best?
So far all of them have had their merits and been lots of fun but I think it's fair to say we are really looking forward to Barfly on 22nd April (when we will be on at 1am)!
In terms of exciting 2016 plans- apart from new music- what is on the docket for Duke of Wolves?
There are a few exciting things in the works but nothing we can announce just yet. Keep your eyes on our Facebook page and you will be gradually enlightened!
Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here) - why is it special to you?
Can I go for Hash Pipe by Weezer, please!
Follow Duke of Wolves