West Coast Wolves announce new album Don’t Forget to Howl at Weskus Quarry

May 25, 2022 | Community, Creativity, Culture, Live music, Music, Music Festivals, Punk Rock, Social Activism, Surfing


The West Coast Wolves #dontforgettohowl

Cape Town surf punk, folk rocking, banjo picking freaks West Coast Wolves revealed their about-to-launch new album ‘Don’t Forget to Howl’ at a unique gig in a quarry way up the Cape west coast recently. 

blunt caught up with Galen and Pete from the band to find out more about this wild looking, semi-feral bunch of Cape Town surfers and musos with a compelling, distinctive and completely unique sound.

Who are the West Coast Wolves? 

Galen Hossack – electric guitar and vocals; Peter Grey – banjo and vocals; Michael “Miggs” Auer – bass and some vocals; Lawrence “Larry” Jaeger – drums; Jeremy “Jem” Shelton – percussion, harmonica and other percussive bits and bobs.

How did the band come together? 

West Coast Wolves was formed with the idea to be very stripped down with just acoustic guitars, djembe and vocal harmonies. The band was started by Geoff Adams, Pete Grey, Jason Barry and Jeremy Shelton. Geoff and Jason were two of the three founding members of LPShow with Galen. Jem also played in LPShow for a long time. Pete is/was from Half Price punk band. After a while Jason left and Pete and Geoff decided to ask Galen to join.

Pretty much during the writing of the album we’re about to release (Don’t Forget to Howl) is when we really felt we were on a good wicket. Simpler, and really using our differentiation features – banjo, simple guitar sound, power rhythm section and strong vocal harmonies.

He was also keen to keep it pretty stripped down and acoustic, but slowly more noisy ideas started to bubble to the surface. Now we have a full band set and we still enjoy playing the stripped-down shows with a djembe. Geoff unfortunately had to leave due to ear issues. And we slowly accumulated the line up of members you see now, they’re a solid crew and we’ve finally found our sound! It takes years for a solid foundation to form in a band.

What do you think was the defining moment when the West Coast Wolves went from a vague idea to a reality? Did you name the band first or develop the sound or did it just materialise at once?

It definitely took its sweet time for us to find our footing. It came together when Pete got really good on the banjo which he picked up in Elandsbay during the 10days10nights project. Galen stuck to the guitar and Miggs and Larry set up a strong rhythm section. That actually wasn’t too long before lockdown. So, pretty much during the writing of the album we’re about to release (Don’t Forget to Howl) is when we really felt we were on a good wicket. Simpler, and really using our differentiation features – banjo, simple guitar sound, power rhythm section and strong vocal harmonies. Ironically how Geoff first envisioned the band to be. The band name was put in place a long time ago. Something to do with the Wolf of Wall Street and the West Coast where we feel most at home. There aren’t actually any wolves on the West Coast, except us – we’re unique in that sense.

West Coast Wolves. From left to right, Jem Shelton, Pete Grey, Miggs Auer, Galen Hossack and Larry Jaeger. Photo by Bryan Little and Apples.

What does being in the West Coast Wolves mean to you?

Galen: It’s a good way to spend some time with mates, have some beers, let out some frustration and make something that can potentially last a long time and that will maybe mean something to the listener. 

Pete: It’s a family, its creative, its an identity, it’s a lifestyle, its following a dream to make something beautiful that can move people, it’s a glorious realisation of things we love (music, surf, jol) – and we feel most at home doing these things on the West Coast… our own culture. 

Galen, Jem and Pete surf. How much has surfing inspired your sound and your approach to being in the band and what it represents?

Galen: Surfing doesn’t much influence the sound, but it does result in us writing songs in strange places like around campfires and up the coast. Outside of a band practice room or studio. You often don’t have all the instruments so you must make do and that can change what gets written. Helps keep it novel, interesting and unique. And obviously very little effects get used when songs are written. 

A rock and punk rock edge, on top of the solid ska rhythm section, layered with bluegrass banjo. It’s a combination that hasn’t, to my knowledge, been used before, but doesn’t sound completely foreign. It was meant to be….. Pete calls it ‘folk-rock, banjo, surf-punk’.

Pete: For me, surfing and music are the two things in life where I can forget about the world and really immerse myself in the moment, let out the subconscious, watch in awe as time slows itself down and bends around light and soundwaves. It’s very special to combine both of these experiences on surf trips. Acoustic instruments like banjo, guitar and djembe sound absolutely amazing when you’re around the fire after a long day of surfing and drinking a cold quart of beer… hence our logo “music, surf, jol”!

You also reference Hunter S. Thompson, how does he inspire the band?

It’s a great movie. I think we all love it. Going big and having a laugh. Taking the piss, while also looking at some deeper aspects to societal issues. Check out our song Thompson Would!

Can you even describe your sound? What do you think makes it so unique?

A rock and punk rock edge, on top of the solid ska rhythm section, layered with bluegrass banjo. It’s a combination that hasn’t, to my knowledge, been used before, but doesn’t sound completely foreign. It was meant to be….. Pete calls it ‘folk-rock, banjo, surf-punk’.

What’s your songwriting process? Does everyone contribute or who leads the process, lyrically, musically and then putting the whole thing together?

Pete and Galen normally come up with some guitar or banjo riff. Hopefully with some idea for a melody too. They sit and hash out a bunch of ideas like potential choruses and verses. Song structure. And then bring the ideas to the band who then through jamming it altogether, we kind of collectively can feel what is working easy and what isn’t. Pete and Galen then go back and try to use what was really working and build off that. Sometimes only one tiny section of what was originally created is working and this little bit is then built upon. Then taken back to the band, all jammed together and then again, find what is working altogether and then build on that. Sometimes a song is ‘rebuilt’ multiple times. Sometimes, it comes together quickly. There has to be inspiration and magic in the room for it all to pull together, when it does it’s quite incredible to be part of it, each member’s essence is captured, unique and special. We’re also not afraid to toss out ideas, Don’t Forget to Howl was initially about 20 songs which we cut down to 11… the band’s quality control is quite ruthless! Only the best of the best survive.

Pete and Galen, West Coast Wolves. Photo by Bryan Little and Apples.

Tell us about your new single and album. What was the inspiration for the creative process that went into it? What can people who listen to it expect?

It’s the creative process above, done over and over, to finally get to 11 songs that we are super proud of. So, the music is the best songs from the past four or five years. Pete and Galen then spent a long time in lockdown tinkering on quite a few things, but ultimately, we wanted to keep the sound relatively simple and let the song writing and instruments do what they needed to do, without adding layers of complexity. So, it’s got a somewhat raw feeling to it, but we think it’s got a pretty unique sound in that the instruments are not often found in these combinations. The lyrics are about a host of things: Issues around society’s addiction to social media and acceptance, our loved ones (Pete and Galen both had daughters during lockdown) feature in quite prominently, failed relationships that didn’t work out, issues around identity in this strange country and a few words bitching about corruption in this country. And one song about war.

And what about the gig up the West Coast? How did that come about? 

We went up on a west coast surf trip to Gerrit Burger’s kraal and took our instruments with us. One night we were playing around the campfire and happened to meet the owners of the Weskus Quarry who joined us around the fire and we played them their own private show. They really enjoyed it and suggested we play a show at their venue, the Weskus Quarry. We checked it out and thought we absolutely must take them up on the offer. At this point we were finally ready to release Don’t forget to Howl and we rolled the dice, throwing the festival in mid-May… we got lucky! The weather was epic for the festival.

Have you done anything like that before? How was the experience – challenges and triumphs? Best moments?

Well, we’ve played around a lot of campfires… this was a much bigger version! Never done anything on that scale. It was a lot of work. We almost delayed it or called it off, cause we thought we may not get enough people. Challenges – Having a family, full time job and trying to coordinate all the different requirements. While Pete is amazing at logistics and organising, there was a long to do list. On the triumph side we actually got the whole band involved and eventually whittled down the to-do list. With much help from Sit The Folk Down. Best moment – Watching The Porchlights and Jon Shaban really enjoying themselves up on stage while taking in the awesome venue, what an incredible setting with the white cliffs and view out over the West Coast from the Quarry’s elevated vantage point. It was beautiful.

The West Coast Wolves draw much inspiration from the weskus. Photo by Bryan Little and Apples.

The gig was also in support of Protect The West Coast, why was that so important to the band?

We’ve been wanting to find a way to support the cause for a while. We’ve spent a lot of time up there over the years, so it was essential we give back. Hopefully, next time we’ll be able to give more.

What can we expect from the West Coast Wolves in the future? How are you gonna top an album launch in the Quarry?

Ha ha ha ha – actually have the album launch at the quarry. LOL. Meaning, the album hasn’t really been launched yet, the 1st single FACTORY OF BONES came out on 20-May and the 2nd is out 3-June, full album to follow… but other than that we are super keen to play some big stages and festivals. We think the songs deserve big crowds. And we’re really working hard on getting the songs out there. We have been a bit slack on that in the past, but we’re motivated now and so we’ll be spending a lot of time and effort on getting the songs heard. Hopefully that results in some big shows and gets these great songs out there

Anything to add, anyone to thank?

Thanks to all our supporters, friends who have helped out, we really appreciate it. We could never do it all alone. Thank you!

Follow The West Coast Wolves on Facebook and Instagram.
Check out them out on YouTube and Spotify.
FACTORY OF BONES is out now on all platforms. Check out vibe.to/westcoastwolves

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