For some people, being involved in the arts is an extension of cool. If you get a top tour, you’re gonna be cool. But cool can be very hollow. At some point you have to be genuine. If not, life would become boring and one-dimensional.
BY ERIKA KRISTEN
PHOTO BY PIPER FERGUSON
If you find yourself wondering what the hell ever happened to Wolfmother, you’re not alone. Just over 10 years since the fuzzy Australian exports burst out of nowhere to loudly redefine hard rock for the modern age, the band fizzled out just as quickly following the release of 2005’s self-titled breakout headbanger. Following the departure of founding members Myles Heskett and Chris Ross, who cited “irreconcilable differences” with frontman Andrew Stockdale shortly after Wolfmother’s release, Stockdale has soldiered on with a revolving lineup and two largely overlooked releases in 2009 and 2014. But the Zen-like Stockdale has turned his now largely one-man-show into a one-man mission to reintroduce his music to the masses with upcoming release Victorious, set for release February 19 on Universal Music. Chicago INNERVIEW spoke with Stockdale about what it all means.
Chicago INNERVIEW: Congratulations on Victorious. What does that title mean to you at this time in your career?
Andrew Stockdale: It’s sort of like just putting one foot in front of the next at this time. Waking up is a victory at this point. Not saying that I have low standards or anything! [Laughs] I’m grateful. In all honesty, a lot of this stuff is stream of consciousness. It was the perfect story that just came out. Like “Woman”, “Joker (and the Thief)”, “White Unicorn”. I could try and say that’s what animus morandi I was aiming for at this time in my career but…
Chicago INNERVIEW: What moral support did [producer/engineer] Brendan O’Brien give you on how to arrange Victorious?
Andrew Stockdale: With the original demos, I did have this kind of Jamaican reggae middle eight section that ended up turning into what it is now, a piano big hits kinda thing. He did help appropriate that concept to make it more…palatable.
CI: Do you think you’re difficult to work with in the studio, as some have said?
AS: I don’t know why anyone would think I was difficult. I’m like a very amicable, hard-working, patient…friendly, cooperative guy! [Laughs] But for some reason, people think I’m difficult. If someone’s taking complete advantage of you or brings in bad ideas or can’t play it rather than saying ‘Hey well, I’m sorry. Can we not do that?’ instead they say ‘You’re difficult!’ It’s an opinion. Everyone’s version of difficult is about their own motives. It’s not as easy as it seems.
CI: What’s one of your favorite songs off the album?
AS: ‘Remove Your Mask.’ It’s about pretentious people where all their energy is put into maintaining a façade, where their religion is self-preservation. I sorta feel they would have a better life if they just had the courage to show themselves and connect, but we’re in a society where that’s considered commercial suicide. It’s funny when I started playing music I didn’t own a guitar, a car or know what a band unit was. I didn’t know what publishing was or what public liability was but somehow as you continue in your career, people say you should do this or that. I never had a fear of failing, external failure. Failing is just relative. That’s why I said with Victorious, waking up in the morning is victorious. For some people, being involved in the arts is an extension of cool. If you get a top tour, you’re gonna be cool. But cool can be very hollow. At some point you have to be genuine. If not, life would become boring and one-dimensional…You’re living your life as a façade.
CI: After 10 years in this business, what have you learned about yourself?
AS: It all comes back to the riffs and the songwriting. People come and go. Record labels, managers, promoters. I’m not saying that as a diss at all, I’ve seen a lot of movement. The key thing I’ve learned is that I think I can write. I didn’t know I was a writer so to speak. Now the best use of my time is to write a lyric, a riff, a song — to make a positive impact on my own life in my little musical world [and with] the people I meet on tour and beyond that.