Adelaide’s Wolf and Cub have just embarked on a national tour to promote their new album NIL. I caught up with frontman Joel to chat about the tour and the new album.

It’s been awhile since you toured nationally.

Yeah, probably 2014 was the last time.

Who was that with?

That was our own headline shows. 

You released NIL late last year.

Yeah in November. Probably not an ideal time to be releasing music.

It was and it wasn’t.

I don’t think it stopped the release of music, if anything it was busy with what was coming out. That crucial aspect of promoting it was crippled being that you couldn’t tour it. That’s why we are finding ourselves almost five months later going on tour for a record that came out last year. It’s a bit weird.

It’s been good in one way because bands have had to rethink their approach to releases.

It hasn’t made us less productive if anything it was a reason to get more productive.

I don’t think a lot of bands used social media to it’s full potential, whether due to time or lack of understanding.

The use of social media has always been a bit of an Achilles heel for us. We’ve never really been able to use it properly. Just being reluctant to engage with it, but I guess given the circumstances and not being able to play shows it has probably been the best way to connect with people who have liked the album. It’s made us a little more active with that kind of stuff. It’s been for the better seeing as it is such an essential part of releasing music these days.

Especially when a lot of bands self-produce these days.

This album we self-produced which is great. We have two engineers in the band, which is helpful, they take on the load that you would otherwise be paying someone to do.

I think over lockdown a lot of bands have had the time to really learn their craft or to pick up new skills like production.

Totally. As far as Covid goes, if our record hadn’t of been finished when Covid hit we wouldn’t have been able to do it. We are all split across the country so it would have been impossible. We hadn’t seen each other for 12  months, since the record had been finished, The first time we got to together was last month when we played a show. It’s a bizarre set of circumstances.

NIL is the name of the new album, tell me a bit about it.

It’s self-produced and self-recorded. It had been in the works since about 2014. Stylistically it is probably a little bit harder, faster and louder than previous releases. I’m pretty proud of it, given how long we have been a band. Getting to the point where we can self-finance, self-record and self-release is quite a liberating situation to be in.

How long have you guys actually been together?

The actual band I started in 2003. That original line-up doesn’t exist anymore after 15 years, which is understandable.

It is. You start your national tour this week with Saturday nights gig at The Lab being an Immersive Art Show

Yeah it is. I’m not sure if you are familiar with that venue but it’s a new venue that is decked out with wall-to-wall LED screens. That’s one of their selling points, its an art space as well as a venue. They have made it into an immersive kind of space, I think we are one of the first rock bands that are going to be in there which having played as many shows as we have, is a pretty exciting concept, It will sound like a conventional gig, but it won’t look like one. We have had visual made up to have on the screens while we play. I’m pretty excited about that one.

So it will actually be your visuals that are on the screen, not someone else’s art?

Yes. We have someone who is designing an artistic piece for us which will be matched to the set and the music.   

You also recently played at The Others Festival

Yeah with Cog. It was a bit hit and miss leading up to it with Covid but I’m glad it went ahead; it was a great show. We have been friends with those Cog guys and all their crew for years.  Being back with them was like a family reunion. They have such a solid fan base. I think that’s what any bands wants. That solid loyal fan base.

Your tour is to promote your new album NIL. How has that been received?

Given that it was seven years since the last one I think that fact alone drove a lot of anticipation and enthusiasm for it. In terms of the sound it was probably a little bit harder and faster than what we have done in the past. That was appealing to a lot of our lefter leaning fan base which was great.

I really enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days.

Thank you, its nice when you hear something that you have zero expectation for.

There is an instrumental interlude half way through the album that I loved.

Nil Desperandum.

Yes that’s the one.

That piece of music was actually made for a short film and it didn’t get used in the film. It didn’t really end up fitting the film, so we reworked it for the record. It’s one of those things were you love the piece of music but its not going to see the light of day. You then find a piece for it in this other puzzle, and it fits so nice.

I actually looped it for awhile because I liked it so much.

We have done pieces of music like that before, and some people resonate with it and others aren’t really sure about it. For us we will always have something like that in our records.

Is the record thematically written or just a group of songs?

The record is called NIL and that was actually derived from that phrase Nil Desperandum which is a Latin term for do not despair. There is an element of us relinquishing a bit of that burden or I guess that expectation you have for whenever you put a record out. We’re a little bit older now and we have kind of rid ourselves of that desperation to have success. This is a record of us having that self-realisation of being very comfortable with where we are, and this is a representation of how we feel as a unit.

Doing it for yourselves.

Yeah. And the concept of NIL comes from starting from zero, or a bit of a rebirth. Thematically that runs through the whole record. If there was one theme it would be that feeling of being unburdened.

It’s funny because, even though you said it’s a bit heavier and rockier than your norm, when you listen to the album you get that feeling of calm.

Oh I would hope so. I was speaking to a close friend and she said you sound really angry on this record, but I really didn’t feel angry at all.

I didn’t get that at all. Yes its heavy in places and that usually is associated more with anger but over the whole album I just got that real sense of peace and calm.

It really is for, well me especially being one of the driving creative forces, for feeling very much at peace. There is a quote in the PR which really does pinpoint exactly where I am feeling. My expectations for success are not what they were when I was in my 20’s, they are very different to what they are in my late 30’s.  I think that probably speaks the best as to how I feel about the record.

Talking to a lot of the younger bands, I think Covid has pushed their thought process to that point quicker.

If it didn’t you were missing the fucking point.

They are experimenting with their music and making it for themselves without boundaries. Being a young band with that mindset is so good.

It’s so liberating, and it is so good to get in that frame of mind now. I guess the nature of releasing music, and it being something that you can do autonomously and without the need of a label, there is that freedom to be able to do that. Be bound only by the limitations of the collectives creative juices and abilities.

You get so much better music.

They are not trying to fit into a template that has been designed by a certain radio station. I don’t want to come off as an older person who just hates everything new and can’t relate to anything new, but there is very much a case of not being able to relate to some of the new music.

I think, for me, one of the main things is these new songs on the radio don’t have lyrics with any real meaning or substance to them. I’m a lyrics person and if your not telling me a story that makes sense I’m going to switch off.

Not everyone can be Morrisey but there should be some sort of context.

Some substance.

Yeah, that’s also subjective. I cant say what the lyrics of someone’s song means to them based on what I think they mean. I’ve had the exact same problem with some of our lyrics where someone has said that the lyrics are pointless. The song they were referring to was pretty significant to me.

Absolutely it is each persons take on the song, for me it’s more those songs like WAP. (both laugh)

I was talking about that song with my brother, his son was singing it at school and the teacher was completely unfazed by it.

Last words?

Just promoting the tour. This is the first tour we have done in a while. It will be the first time that you get to hear the record in a live context, well not the first time for some of these songs. Given how hard it is to play shows and tour I cant say when the next tour is going to happen so take advantage of it while you can.

Tour dates:

Friday 26 March – Russell’s Pizza, Willunga SA
Saturday 27 March – The Lab, Adelaide SA
Saturday 10 April – The Lansdowne, Sydney NSW
Thursday 15 April – Retreat Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 16 April – Pelly Bar, Frankston VIC
Saturday 17 April – Barwon Club, Geelong VIC



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