"We're trying to bring the good times to the noise, totally. There's a really good vibe going on right now, where it's a bunch of kids who want to have fun but want to listen to interesting music." - John Olson
I've been on a big Wolf Eyes kick as of late. It might have to do with it being winter, but probably not. I don't need an excuse or a reason to justify my listening to them. I like loud noises, dammit. And Wolf Eyes certainly are no strangers to making a gawd awful racket. The truth is that they aren't limited to just loud, but explore the notions of noise and sonic textures as well. Having a quiet build up before the storm can be even more effective than jumping right into a head splitting cacophony. Creepy drones, no wave saxophone, broken electronics and tortured vocals all fill out their arsenal. The band has built quite a vocabulary to work with over the years.
Wolf Eyes is currently the trio of Nate Young, John Olson and Mike Connelly. They operate out of Michigan. Aaron Dilloway was an original member until he was replaced by Connelly in 2005. Young started the band in 1997 and Dilloway joined the following year. Connelly is also a member of Hair Police.
I've seen Wolf Eyes twice in Buffalo. The first time was in September of 2005 at the Mohawk Place. This was when they were still riding a wave of popularity from Burned Mind and there was a decent crowd. The set they did was more song oriented. It reminded me of a hardcore show in a way, minus the dumb crap that can go with those. Black Dice and Et Sans also played. The second time was at Soundlab in October of 2007. The turnout was much smaller for this show. I think there might have been one or two other things happening elsewhere on the same night. The band went with a more subdued batch of songs this time around. Not to say that it wasn't brutal and loud, but it was also more atmospheric.
Like many noise artists, the group is extremely prolific with countless limited edition tapes, CD-Rs and a few seven inches. The 2002 CD of Slicer has a discography with over fifty releases spanning the years from 1997 to 2002. Factoring in solo projects and the collaborations of various members, it is virtually impossible to collect their complete discography. That's probably a good thing, too. It should be noted that in addition to cranking out the tunes, Young and Olson are accomplished visual artists as well. Many of the limited edition releases feature custom spray paint art and/or paintings. The band is a well executed mix of both visuals and sound, even though they would probably tell you otherwise. There is a distinct Wolf Eyes look.
Noise has always been a dweller on the edges of the so called indie rock universe. It's one of those things that many people into the scene like or can at least appreciate. Of course there are just as many folks who aren't into it, like your average Wilco fan for example. Wolf Eyes were taken from the shadows and put into the small spotlight in 2004 when Sub Pop released Burned Mind. If I recall correctly this generated a few complaints questioning the musical nature of what they were doing to go along with an 8.0 rating on Pitchfork. Wolf Eyes even got to open for Sonic Youth, which I'm sure delighted and pissed off an equal amount of people. The fact of the matter is that if you have an understanding of what Sonic Youth's history is and why they continue to endorse all sorts of weird bands, then a band like Wolf Eyes will start to make sense.
For more info:
An interview with the band:
Pitchfork's Decade In Noise:
The Decade In Noise