Wolf & Cub's Adelaide
A conversation about cities and their music with Joel Byrne
How does your city influence Wolf & Cub?
I don't really think it has influenced the music that much, lyrically, especially. There might be some influence in our motivation or attitude perhaps. We do feel a bit segregated from the rest of the Australian music industry, partly by choice, and partly because there is a stigma that still remains prevalent within certain circles. I'm not really sure why, maybe it's insecurity, it’s not really something we focus on, we like Adelaide where a band comes from doesn’t really have too big an influence on us. So I guess it's not the city itself, but the attitude towards the city from interstate, that influences us.
How has Adelaide's geography or cityscape been reflected in the music coming out of it?
Well Adelaide seems to be well planned, quite conservative, mixture of old and modern architecture, so maybe there is a bit of a connection. We strive to make a variety of music from various sources in the hope of being harder to pigeon hole. Perhaps we have inadvertently used the geographical nature of Adelaide as inspiration for that type of thinking. I never really thought of the city I live in as having that profound an effect.
Did you ever feel connected to a community or tradition of art in Adelaide?
There is a small community of bands and dj’s that we definitely feel some sort of affiliation with, like Artax Mission, Bitches of Zeus, DJ Aaronac, Brother Irwin.... but it’s more prevalent to us when we travel and less obvious when we're home, probably because we take it for granted.
How has Wolf & Cub survived with Adelaide?
I think we’ve survived in Adelaide because we haven’t expected too much of what Adelaide can’t provide, it’s exactly what we want it to be. Personally I need a place that is a little more laid-back and subdued, because it compliments the hassles and immediacy that touring bigger cities brings. We’ve learned to accept Adelaide for what it is. It’s also helped that we have representation in Sydney and our label is in Melbourne, so that helps.
Have you outgrown Adelaide? Do you see yourself outgrowing the city?
Again, if we were playing every weekend, then yes there would be that feeling of doubts about our relevance to the city. It really comes back the level of expectation that you put on your surroundings. We’re lucky that about 70% of live performing that we do throughout the year is all over the Australia and possibly overseas so our point of reference is perhaps a little narrow sighted. For a band that has barely played outside of Adelaide for the last two years it might be a different story. For Bands from Melbourne and Sydney only playing around Melbourne and Sydney, there is at least a greater feeling of opportunity, because there is greater possibility of being seen by the right people. Not having that chance for exposure in Adelaide encourages an Adelaide band to feel like they’ve outgrown the scene.
Were the circumstances different, if we were playing shows every second weekend to the same crowds at the same clubs, getting disillusioned and frustrated because no one gives a shit, than yes of coarse we might. Under the present situation however, no we don’t feel like we’ve outgrown Adelaide. I do however feel a bit irrelevant and out dated when I see some of the local acts like Artax Mission and Mr Wednesday play. Maybe Adelaide is starting to outgrow us.
Tell us whether or not the amount of venues (pro) outweighs the number of competing bands (con).
There is definitely a problem in Adelaide at the moment where live music venues are being downsized in order to meet demand for high rise city apartments. It’s quite tragic, because a couple of venues which we played at and were known as sort of hubs for live music are becoming extinct. We could pay no mind and be totally oblivious to what’s happening and not really give a shit, but had it not been for these venues existing when we started, we probably wouldn’t have had too much motivation for playing live. Until I started really paying attention to the local music scene I really was unaware that it existed. The only live music I had experienced was the large shows at Thebarton or Entertainment centre when overseas acts played. Seeing our friends and people you knew on the streets playing live was the motivation for us to start because we figured if they could do it then so could we. If your only point of reference for live music is an international act’s show that you saw aren’t the entertainment centre, than you probably aren’t thinking playing live is within your ability. So these small venues are crucial. Thankfully there are some great small venues that are still around like Jive, Jade Monkey and some new ones gathering momentum like Rocket Bar.
Is the idea of an Adelaide band having to move east to be successful a myth?
Well yes to us it is a myth. We of coarse have been very fortunate, but the fact is we feel like we’ve disproved that myth, the Hot Lies, I Killed the Prom Queen, Pharohs have also played a part in that. With that in mind I think The Sleep Jackson, End Of Fashion, Gyroscope, The Grates, Regurgatator have also played there part in disproving that myth in relation to there respective home bases.
What buildings and spaces constitute the true Adelaide?
To outsiders Adelaide feels like a planned, grid-based city, does that feeling exist for you and is that something to work against with your music? In all honesty it never occurred to me until this question was asked and I actually had to have it explained. Seeing as it never occurred to me, I’d say I have never given it much consideration where our music is concerned.
Does Adelaide look and feel different to you now that you've begun to tour widely?
Well we’ve been lucky to play in some other countries so every Australian city feels different in that regard. Having traveled a little with the band I can say that Adelaide starts to feel more like home every time I’m away and before I started to travel I’d never had that feeling. I think it’s the type of city that you really have to leave to appreciate what you’re missing. Three quarters of the band grew up in a small country town, so Adelaide, for us, retains some of the comforts of a small town lifestyle, whilst providing the opportunities that didn’t exist in our home town.