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Why Andrew Stockdale Had to Leave Wolfmother Behind

Andrew Stockdale

Fans shouldn’t have been surprised when Wolfmother main brain Andrew Stockdale announced earlier this year that he was dropping the band’s moniker: As the Australian guitar hero explained in a recent e-mail exchange with SPIN, he’s “had session players on and off since 2009.” So, instead of billing his upcoming release, the long-awaited Keep Moving LP (out June 11 in the U.S. through Universal Music), as the third Wolfmother full-length, Stockdale is releasing the upcoming collection under his own name.

“It was time to come clean, time to step to the side of the Wolfmother name and be me,” Stockdale wrote. “I’ve felt soulless playing after a while and kind of hollow. So I’m really trying to make this meaningful.”

If “meaningful” is code for “classic rock-infused blues metal that crunks as smoothly as it grooves,” then Stockdale’s first official solo effort is definitely a success. For a quick taste of Keep Moving, consult the above video, which captures the unencumbered Aussie chugging through album cut “Somebody’s Calling” in a Byron Bay rehearsal space dubbed the Shed. The one-take clip features Keep Moving‘s personnel: bassist Ian Peres, keyboardist Elliott Hammond, guitarist Vin Steele, and drummer Hamish Rosser.

Scroll down to hear Keep Moving‘s Zeppelin-esque lead single, “Long Way to Go,” followed by SPIN’s Q&A with Stockdale.

:audio=0:112882:song:Long Way To Go:

How has the transition’s been?
The transition has been great. The band’s vibe has shifted for the better since I’ve made the decision to change my name, or the band’s name, so to speak. We are free to be ourselves, there’s no reference point. Creatively I’ve found it’s helped a great deal. You can open your spectrum for inspiration and styles.

What prompted it?
It was time to come clean, time to step to the side of the Wolfmother name and be me. We created that name way back and there was some kind of magic in the air around that time, though now I have a different relationship with the name, it’s transformed into so many things. I guess I just want to see what I can do. Can I get out there and do it off my own bat?

I appreciate everyone’s help, though right now I want to do it this way. There’s another thing when you have a band name: You are expected to stick with the band members. This has been hard to do post being in a big band, or relatively big or however you see it. The outright honest way this works is I’ve had session players on and off since 2009. So that’s what I’m going to call it: It’s a solo project with various musicians for various tours and recording sessions. The funny thing is you can connect with the people you play music with more when you’re solo. Mainly because you’re forced to connect because it’s your project. Bands these days, do one week on drums, everyone leaves, the bass player sits with the producer, then goes, then the guitars get overdubbed, then the vocals, etc. Then the tour starts, they have their stage plot and have mainly themselves in the monitors. Going solo, it’s like the responsibility rests on your shoulders so you can be way more curious and get involved in everything, so somehow you kind of connect with the engineers, the band, everyone around. You’re thinking, ‘Man, this is my project I should know what’s going on…’ All of the above can work. There’s no right or wrong. This is just where I’m at.

How has this new material come about?
Some of these songs I’ve written while sitting in the back of my van looking at the beach. Others just sitting in the lounge room with an acoustic guitar. I just keep a voice memo thing handy to capture riffs and vocal ideas. I’ve tried playing the banjo, then taken that riff over to the guitar in open tuning. That’s how “Keep Moving” came about. Sometimes I can be in the studio tracking a song that’s been pre-written before getting in the studio, then just hear a tone and be inspired by that tone, then write a riff to match the tone. Some of these songs, the arrangements happen straight off. Others, I’ll change the arrangement after six months, then change the tempo. Songs can go from feeling really tired to having fresh energy, so for me it’s just a matter of experimenting with a song till you really know it’s all working. It’s like switching from being the creator to the listener, like you’re in a bit of a dual state. Though as time goes by with songs in the past, the audience sort of becomes the listener, and the writer sort of coexists with the song. It’s like you and the song become one. People look at you and just yell “Woman!” which is cool. It’s connected with them, it’s stayed with them. They’ve connected with you.

Do you have any special goals with “Andrew Stockdale?”
Well, I guess this a soul venture. I’ve felt soulless playing after a while and kind of hollow. So I’m really trying to make this meaningful. Music can stray off into many different energies. Essentially I want to bring people together, take them away from the everyday grind or drone of their life and try to offer hope or inspiration. Anything that helps them go from having their arms crossed, avoiding people to possibly striking up a conversation about whatever, or laughing at the guy on the stage doing scissor kicks. Anything to offer some kind of escapism, transformation, or the modern equivalent to sitting around the campfire for a moment, resting, feeling connected, and escaping anxiety or pressure or whatever’s going on in the listener’s life at that time.