Michigan’s Wolf Eyes has remained one of the country’s most consistent contributors to the harsh, dissonant and otherwise fucked-up sounding genre of noise. The Vanguard recently spoke to guitarist Mike Connelly about the band’s approach to making their latest record.
Michigan’s Wolf Eyes has remained one of the country’s most consistent contributors to the harsh, dissonant and otherwise fucked-up sounding genre of noise. In over a decade of studio releases, relentless touring and an almost infinite amount of self-released CD-Rs and cassettes, the trio comes to Portland tonight touring on Always Wrong, their first proper album in over three years.
It sounds apocalyptic, like all the concrete and dynamite and steel of a crumbling civilization clattering together into a beautiful cacophony, but to anyone who knows Wolf Eyes, that won’t be much of a surprise. The real treat in Always Wrong is the attention to detail, the way the ambient spaces punctuate between abrasive textures to evoke a beautiful portrait of collapse.
The Vanguard recently spoke to guitarist Mike Connelly about the band’s approach to making their latest record.
Daily Vanguard: Where and when did you record Always Wrong?
Mike Connelly: It’s been a while since our last full-length came out; it’s been almost three years. We’ve been doing a lot of touring and when we were home here and there we were kinda still working on things, working on ideas, but the big bulk of the record was written and recorded this winter in Michigan. I think it’s pretty appropriate music for the winter—it was a pretty rough one. It was just fucking cold and snowed for about six months straight; it was pretty brutal. We had to kinda hole up and just get weird.
DV: There seems to be a sort of slower pace to the new record.
MC: I think it’s definitely a lot slower paced, but it’s hard to say. I think the thing with the record that we’re really stoked on is that it has a lot of actual instruments and acoustics and metal and stuff like that. There’s no electronic beats on the whole record, everything is made with metal, you know, or with something hitting something. That’s kinda the thing we were most stoked on, just kinda getting weird in that way. Bashing things around in the studio and seeing what we could come up with.
DV: What drew you toward the physical instruments rather than electronics?
MC: I mean, you know, it’s just natural, it’s stuff we’ve always done. It was just kind of something that felt right and we went with it. There’s a lot of stuff that we didn’t put on the record. We recorded a lot and just kind of put the record together after we had so many recordings. So we just really pushed ourselves to try everything and not limit ourselves to anything. So I think that’s one of the cool things about recording it.
DV: What’s going to happen to the recordings that didn’t end up on the new album?
MC: We’re selling a tour CD-R thing that has some of the songs that we’re selling at the shows as well as just lots of other new stuff that we did while getting ready for the tour, stuff we did in the studio for a tour-only kind of thing.
DV: With all these weird sounds, who is playing what on Always Wrong?
MC: For the most part, I play guitar on most of the tracks, and tapes as well. John Olsen plays the reeds as well as electronics. He’s the electronics and reeds guy—he always has some crazy horn that he’s blowing through that always rules. And Nate does the vocals, you know, writes all the lyrics and usually structures the songs that we kinda go from. We all have a say in everything, it’s not like one person does everything, but Nate does write all the lyrics and does all the vocals.
DV: Does the use of actual instruments on the record change the dynamic of the live show?
MC: I think so, yeah. I think this tour has been our very favorite tour we’ve done since I’ve been playing with Wolf Eyes, and it’s because we’re just kind of getting up there and letting loose on stage and not really worrying about anything, just making the sounds that we want to make. So we’ve just been focusing on fleshing out different sounds and different ideas rather than sticking to song after song. I think the live shows on this tour have been a lot more, maybe expansive is the word. We don’t play like super long, you know, so expansive in the jam sense, not in the length of the set.