To paraphrase Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, London’s Duke Of Wolves are increasingly adding to their ‘Wolfpack’ with their engaging, hard-hitting rock. Like the movie they are four in number and, while their wolfpack may not be ‘running around the desert together in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine’ they are increasingly winning over UK audiences with a sound that they describe to us as “heavy hooky boomboom.”
The quartet, who we discovered when they supported Dorja a couple of weeks ago, began life back in January 2016 and “sort of found each other.” Frontman Jim Lawton explains he met bassist Sara while sailing on a barge she captained (who knows if that’s true or not), while guitarist Orlando met drummer Tom, who completed the lineup at the end of last year, through a book club.
Since then, things have really gone from strength to strength, releasing five singles to date, playing a host of exciting shows including playing at the Moto GP race at Silverstone, Camden Rocks Festival and the Big Top stage at the Isle of Wight Festival earlier this year, and now in the midst of recording their debut album.
Ahead of that, the band releases its sixth single Without A Name in a couple of weeks, which they tell us reveals a ‘poppier’ side to their sound. As Jim explains: “Without A Name was recorded at Whitehouse Studios with the beautiful James Billinge and, not too different to songs like Terry, it treads down the line of fantasy in its subject matter. We have all had a dream at one point or another which has frightened and enticed us all in the same breath, so Without A Name is a songified recollection if you will.
“You could also argue that it’s about how much more comfortable it is to live in a dream world instead of the real world (wherever that is?!). But what do I know?! The poppier approach wasn’t necessarily intentional, but I think it’s very important for bands to not become genre bound; why limit yourself?”
It opens up with atmospheric high-pitched vocals over a light, fast-paced guitar riff before bass and drums kick in as the vocals become heavier. It flows into a winding, engaging singalong chorus: “Don’t stop your staring it’s making me perspire, Feeling my bones I feel love and desire, Don’t know where it was or when you came, You are the girl without a home without a name.” A second vocal-led verse is this time supported by palm-muted guitars and builds into another singalong chorus, which gives way to a cool little bridge then everything drops out bar chilled out vocals repeating the chorus lyrics supported by low guitars. That leads into one final chorus, which ends with repeats of “When you call, you call my name” supported by big guitar chords.
It’s a slight step away from the usual Duke Of Wolves sound, which is perhaps best portrayed by the excellent It’s Real. A funky guitar riff opens up and is soon joined by Jim’s laid-back vocals “Sometimes I think that I’m dreaming then I found it’s real, Nowhere to push out the screaming when I find out it’s real” that pick up in intensity and end on a big hit of guitar chords. A big chorus of high-pitched, drawn-out vocals follows, then drops back down into a verse that this time is faster with heavier guitar and drum support. A fun high-pitched, stabby guitar solo follows and flows into a big final chorus before ending on a big rock out.
There’s much of the same on Hollow Eyes, which opens up with a fun heavy guitar chord intro that drops into croony vocals “Tell me what you want to hear, do you even want me near?” over stabbing guitar chords, then a cool guitar riff leads into a chorus of high-pitched vocal-led chorus. The second verse sees fun call and answer vocals and leads into a repeated chorus, which ends on a big high note followed by a big smash of guitars and cymbals. Check it out in the video below:
Without A Name, and potentially the previous singles, is a first step towards the new album, which is incoming in 2018. Jim tells us: “The album seems to be organically morphing, evolving, and even breathing (too much?)! It’s going to be a mixture of old and new. We still love playing the singles we have released so it almost seems rude not to invite them to the party, but they will be glorious icing to the tender and juicy chunks of brand new stuff.
“The direction is definitely sailing as close to originality as possible, so we’re excited to unleash new material that will make members of our Wolfpack and new blood alike sit back and try to catch up with what just happened – a couple of the songs could arguably be called ‘dancey.’ While we can’t say too much about the actual process or with whom at the moment, just believe us when we say it’s going to be good.”
And in terms of what inspires them to write music, Jim explains: “Everything! Love, hate, depression, rage, politics (in a non-eye-rolling manner), the state of the world, and sometimes absolute fiction! The most recent batch of songs have had social and political undertones, always searching for some way out / a way to fix the vast amount that’s wrong with our world. I’m lucky enough to be in a band with 3 incredible musicians and they are (ooh where are me tissues?!) the biggest inspiration for me.”
If new music is your thing – if it’s not, what are you doing here? – then you should also check out the band’s #DukeLikes that they run on their Twitter and Instagram feeds, on which they promote new bands they like and add them to their Spotify playlist every Tuesday.
Without A Name is out a week on Saturday (2 December) and there’ll be a self-penned, filmed and released video for it starring actress Violet Verigo (she’s on IMDB and everything). The single will be celebrated with a release day launch party at Hoxton Square Bar And Kitchen with support from The Wholls and White Eskimo. Tickets are available here.