Sydney, Australia’s Wolfmother, one of the last modern bands who play radio-friendly music in the style of classic rock, is performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl Friday, June 3, as part of KJEE’s annual Summer Round Up, alongside acts including Iration and Fitz & the Tantrums. Lead singer Andrew Stockdale spared some time to speak to The Santa Barbara Independent about the band’s recording process and the effects of streaming on the music industry.
How was recording your latest album, Victorious? It was great. I demoed the whole thing in my studio in Byron Bay, and then we rerecorded it in L.A. at Kenton Studios. We worked with two drummers, Joey Waronker and Josh Freese. Yeah, it was great. It all went smoothly, worked really quickly. We did like 13 songs or something in…a month.
Why did you end up working with two drummers? Availability. Josh Freese was on the road when we started. I’d always wanted to work with Joey Waronker. I’d liked the work he’d done with Air and Beck. He was available so we went with him for the first half, then Josh Freese got back. He stayed and played on songs like “Victorious,” and some of those ones, so he was still there. It was kind of [decided] by pure luck, they all made the songs they were there for. They’d just turn and we’d be like, “Let’s try these three,” or “Let’s try these ones,” y’know? And then we’d listen to it and then we’d jam it out maybe four or five times.
Do you have any stories about recording specific songs? If I told you a story, it’d probably be pretty damn boring, because they aren’t that much crazy antics or spontaneous stuff. It’s all very straight ahead, it’s a very pragmatic, hard-working atmosphere.
Is it more serious now than when you were recording your first albums? It was always like that, even from the start. It was always very methodical and straight-to-the-point. It was only when people heard our music that people were like, “Oh were you guys tripping on acid, and going [to] strip joints, and drinking a bottle of vodka a day?” It’s like the music made them think that we were like that, but it was all pretty mellow when we record.
You collaborated with Spotify recently creating some album commentary. What was that like? Album commentary with Spotify? I can’t remember doing that. Could be someone else, I can’t remember doing that. Is there something on Spotify?
Yeah there’s an album commentary for Victorious for five or six songs. Oh okay, well I think when I finished the record I sat down with one of the engineers, just sat down, we went through the record and I talked about it, like on the last day of session I went in [the studio] by myself and we just talked about it. Like, “Victorious, you have something to say about that?” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, next song. It was like a fusion of minds with Spotify, in Stockholm, Sweden. Sitting on a Spotify boat, staring at the sunset in Stockholm. That’s not how that happened.
What do you think of the role of Spotify in the music marketplace, especially relating to artists? It’s just another outlet, just another distributor. What do I think of it? They could give the artists more money that’s for sure. But that’s a whole other debate. I hear they give something like .0007 cents for a dollar every time your song is streamed. But like, yeah, who cares? That’s just the nature of the music business, it’s not really about making money anymore, it’s just about people listening to your music and coming to your show and buying a T-shirt, if you’re lucky.
It’s funny, it’s been an unintended consequence of file sharing that more people goe to live shows now, because they have so much access to music and they can really get into a band more so than when they had to pay to listen to them all the time. Yeah, that’s been our story. We walk up to a place and they’re like “Oh, this place is sold out, but there haven’t been that many record sales here,” and it’s like, well, they’re not buying the record. They’re streaming it or whatever else, but they know about it so that’s amazing you know. I think this day and age if you work in the music business it’s like your primary goal is to get people to listen to your artists, and that’s it. And that’s the modus operandi I think. There’s so many bands, y’know, and I talk to bands and they’re like, “Yeah I got a record out,” and I’m like, “I didn’t know that.” And they didn’t know we had a record out and that’s just the way it is because there are so many platforms, so many distributors and social media things. It’s like, you really have to do your research.
411: Wolfmother will play KJEE’s Summer Round Up Friday, June 3, at the S.B. Bowl. For information, call (805) 962-7411 or see sbbowl.com