Wolfpack. For The Chaos. Not For Profit.
"Punk Rock is food for life." The motivation surging through the phone is infectious. Tom of the almighty Wolfpack has a lot to say. Speaking from the heart - with comedy - and a love for his fellow beasts and punk comrades, we open the floor to straight talking and some seriously good advice.
"With NOFX, you can go out and see Brisbane's Flangipanis instead, they're just as good. If not better!" - Tom Wolfpack
"When we first started, it it was solely gong to be animal welfare just because I don't know most people suck. Furry friends are unreal. I love them. Like my dog Riot, I genuinely believe that when I look in her eyes like she loves me more than she loves herself and thats just something amazing.
"I believe as people we should be striving to be as selfless as that - and it's something I try to strive for that in my life and give more and truly treat everyone as equal. No one is any better that anyone else, we just all have different circumstances going on."
Not stopping at the four legged kind, Tom continues, "But you can't just help one area, you want to support them all! We helped out autistic kids through the charity Amaze.... We also helped the 20th man fund who do an amazing job supporting the homeless and helping them feel attachment.
"I know from my past, that to become disassociated and the anger that comes with it so we decided to branch out and help other charities."
Connections and community is something we could all strive to create in a world where entitlement and agendas maybe more common than we'd like to think, as Tom casts his more positive outlook, "We're just trying to promote those connections, lend a helping hand at the end of the day. We are not doing anything inspirational man... It's those volunteers, they're doing the hard yards - We still get to go out on tour and everything, there is nothing special about what we do."
100% Not for profit and smashing it around the country, the Melbourne 3 piece travel farther in 1 tour than most international acts cruising through Australia. My own random recent Christmas outings, turning into discussions and exclamations of 'Have you seen those guys?!' from the most unlikely characters. It seems that every major city has witnessed the raw integrity of Wolfpack, "We're very lucky that we've toured with amazing artists both locally and internationally that have influenced us."
Music is Not A Sport
Triple J's Short, Fast, Loud recognised Wolfpack's latest recording Seen and Not Heard in a recent poll to determine the punk release of 2014, something that has surprised the drummer/vocalist, "It's really weird actually, I don't know, I'm a bit outspoken and I hate the whole idea of a music industry, I find it counter productive and an oxymoron-- so it's kinda weird they play us (Triple J) cos I pay them out in the album and stuff - but that's good, it makes me eat my words a bit.
"But I will say one thing, you can't put a monetary value on artistic expression and there is no such thing as a BEST BAND, that's bollox - we're not in competition with each other. I hate the thought you can judge someone and that there's a comparative --- music is not a sport."
The positivity coming from this type of recognition outweighing the cons, "We aim with Wolfpack to have a lot of integrity and a lot of honesty, and if that speaks to someone than thats very humbling man. Its an amazing thing. I know music has the biggest impact on my life so if we can do justice to punk rock and sort of pay it back, that's what we're here for."
Getting Shit Done
It's puzzling when established bands come to Australia play 3 or maybe 4 shows and head home barely hitting all the major cities. Yet bands including Wolfpack can play 5/10/15/30 date tours and make it to every corner of our beloved dust bowl. Tom explains how local bands make this possible, "The scene that has inspired me the most is the 1981-1984 American hardcore scene, people were sleeping on each others floor and it really was a community - and that still exists till this day.
"A lot of the local bands we know still do that, like the guys from The Bennies are all about that, finding ways to make it work.
"If you're lucky enough to play, that means you're going to have to travel - cool that means you will eat like shit... maybe one week you are going to be a bit short but the next week you'l have a bit of extra money, and you're just brothers and you help each other out.
"If Goon on the Rocks fly in from Brisbane, we''ll pick them up from the airport y'know. I'd rather help guys who have helped us out and miss a shift at work. When it comes to logistics, we work with other bands and try to help that scene and give them favours in the bag that they can call on when they want to keep costs down doing a Melbourne tour and stuff."
Citing that this is no chore Tom adds, "You're getting to express your art and be surrounded by the beauty that is punk rock, they're small sacrifices but they are so worth it."
The Highlights of 2014
Adolescents, Dwarves, Morning Glory, Corrosion of Conformity, Torche and so many others have landed for their first time in more than a decade or were quite simply virgins to Australia. The DRI tour without a doubt being one of the highlights of 2014, "We were asked to play the Melbourne show originally and then the promoter came to us and asked if we wanted to drive and we were like 'Yes! We'll drive and play all the shows - sure!'
"We drove 20 hours from Melbourne to Brisbane with all the backline and beat them there with all the gear and loaded it in and set the stage up for them and stuff like that. DRI are amazing dudes, fully switched on, they turned it on every night. They were great. They would finish and we would load up the van and drive over night to the next gig and do it all again. They were spun out that we were happy to do that. They are genuine artists."
Tom's gig of 2014 taking place on the NSW leg of the tour, "The gig in Sydney was one of the coolest gigs I have ever seen. DRI were meant to finish 20 minutes before curfew but didn't finish till 10 minutes after because the crowd wouldn't let them off that stage. Sydney came alive that night.
"They got DRI --- and the crowd wouldn't let them go! We we were so sweaty and we knew had to drive 10 hours after the show but we were like 'We don't fucking care!'"
Paying homage to the people responsible for keeping the punk scene alive, Tom hits up two music crews in particular, "There are a lot of bands in Sydney doing a lot of work like The FUCK OUTS and ebolagoldfish have been working really hard to get the Sydney scene pumping again, and the DRI tour happened at a really good time."
The Party and The Bands in Your Backyard
Giving Tom the opportunity to talk about anyone but himself and Wolfpack is something he finds far more interesting. Please tell us about the bands in our backyards? "The list is massive!... And I got in trouble at 4ZZZ the other day as they wanted to talk about us and I can't be bothered talking about us, I wanted to talk about Scalphunter from Perth - those dudes are so good.... And Crooked Face from Brisbane and the The Bob Gordons -- Party Vibez are phenomenal, The Bennies obviously. Clowns. We saw this punked up acoustic band called The Alamo.
The sold out NOFX tour was memorable in more ways than one this year. Mainly on the crowd side, people came out of the woodwork as we discuss the reasons why we didn't recognise the majority of people at a few of the shows, "I'm probably going to sound like a jerk when I say this but I felt like a lot of people who were at the NOFX show - and it was a big crowd, I hadn't see them at local shows at all." This realisation more than a bit disappointing, "It really got my goat. The talent that is in our own backyard is just as good. Honestly, you could see it that night, The Bennies were the best band of the night."
Something we could both agree on Tom puts words too, "The best gig of the year is the one you are going to on a Friday, it doesn't have to be an international band, it doesn't have to be someone you have waited here to see....
"It's awesome when promoters bring out amazing ands like Adolescents and stuff like that. But at the same time, just because there isn't an international in town doesn't mean there is not a good gig on. Chances are, it will mean that there is a better gig on.
"With NOFX, you can go out and see Brisbane's Flangipanis instead, they're just as good. If not better!"
He goes on to list many bands in our discussion but I suggest you hit up the Wolfpack Facebook page and stalk the bands they are following for more awesome music than your Spotify can handle.
Forming strong opinions is something Tom isn't shy over if their new debut record Seen Not Heard is anything to go by, and rightly so, "I try to cover stuff I can relate to. It's more issues I think need to be raised, sexism, fascism...
"I set up the WA office of Anti-facist Action when I was 17 years old - that's stuff speaks to me and I genuinely believe that they are the issues that addressing.
"It's ridiculous when you hear people insulting the older generation, they've just written someone off for being old y'know - it's bollox. That generation have survived through World Wars and famine. They have a pool of knowledge that we need to know about if we are going to leave this world a better place than we found it...
"...Which is really the ultimate goal but Yes! Lets have a shit load of fun in the process."
Words by Kenada Quinlan
CATCH WOLFPACK LIVE IN VIC AND ACT
Wednesday December 31 - The Basement, Canberra ACT w/ Inhuman Remnants, Acid Nymph, Immorium, Local Horror, Second Sun & more.
Friday January 2 - The Retreat, Brunswick VIC w/ Party Vibez & Dead City Ruins