The most interesting bands are always those that are difficult to pin down, and those that defy expectations. We might hear the name Wolves, for example, and assume that this is a group with an aggressive edge. A hardcore punk or perhaps a metal band that unrelentlessly pummel their audience.
In fact, these Wolves do have teeth, but not necessarily in the way you’d assume. Chicago-native frontman Marc Avery describes the sound as like Coldplay, with a singer who's a blend of Michael Jackson and The Weeknd, while throwing out phrases like pop-urban and surf-trap.
But fear not, Coldplay haters. While some might subjectively argue that Chris Martin’s crew peddle soulless, polished indie rock, those elements haven’t transferred to Wolves. Rather, Avery seems to be implying that the roots of his group are emotional, poetic alt-pop, with funk and R&B thrown into the mix. And importantly, it works.
Wolves formed when Avery relocated to L.A. from the Windy City. He was bartending two years ago when he met Rockwell Sands and, through him, Sean Carney.
“[Rocky] was there with some friends, and we struck up a conversation about writing and producing and we began writing some songs,” Avery says. “One day I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been wanting a band for years.’ He said, ‘Me too.’ I said, ‘Well, cool. Let’s put our efforts toward something, an actual band.’ He had another friend, Sean, who is from L.A. by way of Michigan. Rocky plays drums when we play live shows. He also plays guitar and piano. Sean plays lead guitar and background when we perform shows. They got their heads together for some production ideas, and the first idea they presented to me and we worked on as a group was our debut single, ‘Animal,’ which is our best-performing song to date. We all knew the chemistry was undeniable. We get along as brothers, considering we didn’t even know each other that way before that.”
Back to that band name, which Avery says has seen its meaning evolve over time. They travel like a pack of wolves, he says. They move in unison to a common goal and greater good. When we put it to him that it could suggest a heavier style of music, he seems slightly perturbed.
“I guess the grit or the teeth of the wolves is shown in the live show,” he says. “Because our live show is a party, man. It’s nonstop energy. You’re gonna get your money’s worth.”
The three men write and produce all of their music collaboratively — Sands and Carney working on ideas and presenting them to Avery as a group.
“Usually, while that process is going on, we’ll be creating melodic ideas to put on top of it,” Avery says. “Sometimes, I’ll jot a title or phrase down and I’ll hear it in production, and it will invoke these emotions and make me go back to my pad or my phone. There’s been times when a melody or song lyric has come out of a dream.”
While the band have enough material recorded for an album, they’ve chosen to release a string of singles for now, the most recent of which is “You Stay I’ll Go,” released Sept. 14.
“It’s like a modern Marvin Gaye type song,” Avery says. “It’s a break-up song but it has some groove to it, so you can feel boogie and get down to it if you want to.”
While they’re still relatively new to the scene, Avery feels that Wolves have been fully embraced by fellow L.A. musicians.
“In my experience, at a lot of the shows that we’ve been playing, most of the artists that we’ve met and come across are receptive and a little bit more communal,” he says. “In our experience, there’s a lot more camaraderie. That may be because of the way that music is made, and the way it’s distributed. We’re in it together as independent artists in a lot of ways. So there’s a lot of unsaid camaraderie.”
The Los Angeles music scene is, he says, very different to what’s going on back in Chicago.
“The feel of Chicago is a totally different city," he says. "The pace — it’s faster, dealing with a lot more other things. Chicago’s an outstanding city but it’s ailing right now. It needs some help, especially in the urban communities. In terms of music, L.A. is just chill. You get that weather, the beach, and you can hear that in the music. You can hear some of that in our songs, I believe. If we were living in Chicago, I think you would hear a different sound for sure. But I definitely like what they’re doing up there. It’s Chicago — I can’t knock it.”
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This week, Wolves play the Troubadour, and Avery says that they’re determined to outdo their previous gig at the Roxy.
“We know this is going to be an action-packed bill with everyone that’s playing,” he says. “There’s Kid Giant, Eleven Dollar Bills and Kat Meoz. We’re gonna bring some surprises. We’ll perform maybe a song or two that nobody has heard. It’s also Rocky’s birthday, so we’ll be celebrating that. It’s kind of a celebratory show for the new release as well. We’re gonna have our fourth member of the group, which is a lighting display. We think we can really hit it home. There’s a reason we bring up Coldplay, because we definitely look up to them. That’s one component of their shows that’s kind of like the icing on the cake. Birthday cakes, and other things to look forward to.”
After that, it’s all about getting the word out for these three guys. They’re already managed to attract a decent fan base — enough that they can headline at the Troubadour. But they’ve got a lot of work to do. Touring the country and busting their asses — it ain’t easy. But they’re going to have a howling good time trying.
Wolves plays with Eleven Dollar Bills, Kat Meoz and Kid Giant at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Troubadour.