Chicago band Wolf Rd have honed an intriguingly diverse sound that ranges from heavy riffs and brutal breakdowns to anthemic tracks and ‘sadboi’ poppy music. Or, as the band puts it: “We’re the band playing on the patio outside Satan’s Gates while you’re enjoying bottomless mimosas at brunch.”
Wolf Rd is formed of frontman Chris Hoffmann and his brother Nick on drums, alongside guitarist Geoff Duckmann, who grew up living a couple of houses down the road from the brothers, and bassist Devin Stone, who met Geoff at college. As such, the band describe themselves as a band of brothers that feels like a family. They first started up a pop-punk cover band before branching out into writing their own music.
The band has since set out to hone a punky sound that combines anthemic melodies and relatable, introspective lyrics with pop-punk passion and metal and hardcore instrumentals. As a result, their music is pretty genre-inclusive and they’re not afraid to completely mix things up with a sound Chris describes to us as a “Honeymoon in Hell.”
Our first taste of this was their 2019 EP Nowhere Around You, which is packed with heavy pop-punk goodness. It opens up with the short and sweet Comeback, which feeds into the catchy A Twisted World and the heavier Winthrop, and closes in style with the excellent Dogwood.
But – another GigRadar first here – we were first introduced to the band by one of their fans, Emily, around the time they released recent single As Good As It Gets. The track offers a glimpse into another side of the band as an acoustic song with orchestral elements that tells two sides of a failing relationship with guest vocals from Nick’s friend Sylvia Mendez.
It opens up with a lively guitar lick and almost Christmassy-sounding bells, which drops into an engaging opening verse. That feeds into a catchy chorus of “Gone, The way we felt things now, So why prolong? And nothing’s off the table, When you deal with the devil, Should I celebrate or suffer, Or somewhere in between? All alone Nowhere to go, With memories on replay she said: ‘Is this as good as it gets?'”, which introduces Sylvia’s responding vocals. The track builds up to a really well worked fusion of the two vocal lines in a big catchy singalong.
On the track, Chris told us: “The reception to AGAIG has been so sick! It’s been steadily climbing with streams and YouTube views. We’re honestly so stoked on how hard people are vibing this track, especially because it’s so different compared to the heavier pop-punk and metalcore stuff we had on our first release.
“If you haven’t heard it yet, As Good As It Gets is an acoustic song that features my friend Sylvia Mendez on guest vocals. It’s a duet about a crumbling relationship that calls back to the emo sound of early 2000s bands, but it still feels fresh to me. I think all the additional instrumentation helps with that – Nick wrote an entire orchestral accompaniment that comes in and out of the song at different points. And I can’t thank Sylvia enough for hopping on this track with us! I needed her voice to give life to the other person’s side of the story. It just wouldn’t be the same song without her.”
We love the diversity of the Wolf Rd sound, on which Chris tells us: “If Wolf Rd was a person, it’d be the kid who figured out how to play guitar along to pop-punk bands after discovering metal for the first time and learning, like, Pierce The Veil and Silverstein riffs. Or maybe the other way around in my case – I started off listening to metal. Avenged Sevenfold and Of Mice & Men were my gods in high school. Later on, A Day To Remember was kind of like my gateway drug to pop-punk.
“Wolf Rd has some songs that are straight up melodic rock, and others that are super heavy. Most of our songs probably live in the middle between those two with a riffy pop-punk blend. I’d say it’s kind of like Neck Deep meets Ice Nine Kills.”
On top of those influences, the band draw from a wide range of music from The Story So Far, My Chemical Romance and Yellowcard to much heavier bands like Boundaries or Loathe and even ‘vibey pop’ like Surfaces or AJR.
And on what inspires them to write music, Chris explains: “Everything in the world inspires us to write. A big one for me right now is heartbreak, just because I’ve been through a lot of it recently. I’m definitely a hopeless romantic. But we’re not afraid to write about anything that comes up in our lives.
“Our EP Nowhere Around You is pretty diverse in terms of subject matter. Our song A Twisted World is about burn out and trying to find my place in the world. Dogwood is about losing family and feeling like you didn’t have enough time to be together. Blue Moon dives into politics and is basically my middle finger to Trump and the Fox News propaganda machine here in the States.”
There’s plenty more to come from Wolf Rd through the rest of the year, starting with a new EP Counterpoint being released on 28 May. There’ll be much more new music as a result of the band getting an opportunity to write plenty of material over the last 12 months and, hopefully, gigs soon too.