Wolfmother is an Australian rock band from Erskineville, Sydney. Formed in 2000, the group was originally a trio composed of vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale, bassist and keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett. Wolfmother released their self-titled debut album in October 2005, which reached number three on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart. The album was also a critical success, winning the 2005 J Award and 2006 ARIA Awards for Best Breakthrough Album and Best Rock Album. “Woman“, a single from the album, won the band their first Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007.
In August 2008, co-founding members Ross and Heskett left the band due to “irreconcilable personal and musical differences”, after which Stockdale decided to continue using the Wolfmother moniker with new musicians. After a brief hiatus, Stockdale returned with a new four-piece band in January 2009 featuring bassist and keyboardist Ian Peres, rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth and drummer Dave Atkins. The new line-up’s first album, entitled Cosmic Egg, was released in October 2009 and reached the same Australian chart peak as Wolfmother. Atkins left the band in April 2010 following extensive touring to be replaced by Will Rockwell-Scott of American garage rock band The Mooney Suzuki, and the follow-up to Cosmic Egg is expected in 2012.
In 2012 it was revealed that both Rockwell-Scott and Nemeth had left the band; they have temporarily been replaced with Hamish Rosser and Vin Steele respectively, and keyboardist Elliott Hammond has also joined the group.
Beginning years and debut album (2000–2006)
Wolfmother formed in 2000 and made their way into the public spotlight in 2004 after “years of jamming and anonymity”. They were signed to Australian record label Modular Recordings at the beginning of August and throughout the year played a number of dates at various venues (including a tour with Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts), before in September they finished recording and released their debut extended play (EP), Wolfmother. The record was relatively successful for such a new band, reaching number thirty-five in the ARIA Singles Chart.
After “6 months of nonstop Australian and overseas chonging”, Wolfmother began work on their first full-length album, for which they enlisted the help of David Sardy, producer of Undisputed Attitude (Slayer), Don’t Believe the Truth (Oasis), Get Born (Jet) and Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (The Dandy Warhols). The band moved to Los Angeles in May 2005 and rented Hollywood recording studio Cherokee, recording home of such artists as Aerosmith, Korn and Lenny Kravitz. After six weeks of rehearsals at the studio, work moved to Sound City where the album was recorded in just two weeks. Before the release of the album, the band first released their debut single; double A-side “Mind’s Eye/Woman” was released on 16 October 2005 in Australia and managed to reach number twenty-nine in the Singles Chart. On 30 October, Wolfmother saw release in the trio’s home country. The album entered the ARIA Albums Chart at its peak of number three and remained in the chart until mid-2007, by which time it had been certified five times platinum.
By the end of the year, Wolfmother had won Triple J‘s J Award for Australian Album of the Year, and “Woman” had been nominated for Single of the Year and Best Breakthrough Artist (Single) at the ARIA Music Awards.
International success (2006–2008)
The original line-up of Wolfmother performing at the Beale Street Music Festival on 5 May 2007.
The 2005 Triple J Hottest 100, announced on 26 January 2006, featured a record six songs by Wolfmother: “Mind’s Eye” (number six), “Joker & the Thief” (number nine), “Apple Tree” (number sixteen), “Dimension” (number thirty-seven), “Colossal” (number thirty-nine) and “White Unicorn” (number eighty-four). On 6 March, Rolling Stone published their Annual Readers’ and Critics’ Poll results, in which Wolfmother were featured a number of times, namely in the following readers’ lists: Top 10 Albums (Wolfmother, number one), Top 10 Singles (“Mind’s Eye”, number one; “Woman”, number nine), Artist of the Year (number two), Best Band (number one), Best Tour (number two), Best Album Cover (number one), Best Hard Rock/Metal Band (number one), Best Rock Artist (number one), Best New Artist (number one), Year’s Biggest Hype (number one) and Best Video (“Mind’s Eye”, number two). Frontman Andrew Stockdale also featured in the poll for Best Dressed (number three).
The band’s next single was “White Unicorn”, released on 26 February, which charted lower than its predecessor, at number thirty-three. The band also released a second EP, Dimensions, on 2 March. Wolfmother was not released outside of Australia until 24 April in the United Kingdom, 2 May in the United States, and 12 June in Europe. In the UK it peaked at number twenty-five and in the US at number twenty-two.
Thanks to the success of their album and singles, Wolfmother’s music has been featured in many video games, films and commercials. “Love Train” featured in an iPod commercial; “Woman” was included on such video games as Guitar Hero II, MotorStorm, Pure, Saints Row 2, Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and NHL 07; “Dimension” featured in the film School for Scoundrels, House, and in video games FlatOut 2, and Rugby 06; and “Joker & the Thief” appeared in films Jackass Number Two, Shoot ‘Em Up, Shrek the Third and The Hangover (2009 film) and video games Need for Speed: Carbon, Rock Band, and MLB 07: The Show, as well as commercials for both Mitsubishi and Peugeot cars.
The band performed at big-name local and international festivals in 2006, including SXSW, Big Day Out, Sasquatch! Music Festival, Roskilde Festival, Lowlands, Splendour in the Grass, Fuji Rock Festival, Lollapalooza, Reading and Leeds Festivals, V Festival, Download Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival where they were cited as the ‘breakout’ band of the year. On 25 September, bassist Chris Ross‘ wife had a baby, which meant the band had to cancel or postpone many of their upcoming tour dates. During this break, Wolfmother released their final single from the self-titled album, “Joker and the Thief“, which peaked at No. 8 in Australia, their highest position to date. The band resumed touring on 4 November in the United Kingdom. Wolfmother also won three awards (Best Breakthrough Album, Best Rock Album and Best Group) from five nominations at the 2006 ARIA Music Awards. On 14 November, when Led Zeppelin were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, they asked Wolfmother to appear as their guests. The band covered Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown“, a common song on the band’s set lists of previous and subsequent.
The 2006 Triple J Hottest 100 was announced on 26 January 2007, in which Wolfmother appeared twice (“Woman (MSTRKRFT Remix)”, No. 55; “Love Train”, No. 80). At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards held in February, Wolfmother won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Woman”. On 30 March it was announced that Wolfmother had written a new song entitled “Pleased to Meet You” especially for upcoming film Spider-Man 3, for which it was featured in the official soundtrack.
On 28 May, the band performed on Pinkpop‘s main stage. The band played on the first day (8 June) of the Download Festival. On 28 June, the band headlined at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Finishing up their US Tour in Detroit, Michigan on 30 June. On 7 July, they performed on the Australian leg of the Live Earthconcerts in Sydney. Stockdale said in an interview “That will be our last show for this album. We will find out what a green note sounds like on the next record.”
Wolfmother released their first DVD on 1 September in Australia, 10 September in the UK and 20 November in the US; Please Experience Wolfmother Live features footage from the band’s performance at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. Other live shows, music videos and an interview are included in the bonus features.