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Once A Wolf

Once a Wolf is four-piece rock band from Ventura, California that’s coming back from a short break and lineup change with their newest e.p. titled “Irene”, released on April first of this year. The band consists of Nick Morrison (Vocals), Max Dickenson (Guitar), Brett Wilcox (Bass), and Kevin Dunn (Drums).

When I was asked to do this interview, I was ecstatic. Once a Wolf is a band that I have a lot of respect for. Irene was recorded and produced by the band’s own Max Dickenson at Rock City Studios in Camarillo, CA. All four members of this band are such humble and respectful people, as well as extremely talented musicians. Besides releasing the e.p. itself, they also released a music video for their song “Follow Me” in October of 2017. If you’re a fan of music of any kind, I would implore you to check out Once a Wolf. You won’t be disappointed.

What are you guys’ influences?

Kevin: Incubus.
Kevin: That’s it you can stop right there.
Brett: There’s also asterisk Weezer.
Kevin: Hahaha don’t put Weezer. But put Weezer.

So there you have it folks, their influences are Incubus and not Weezer*. While listening to “Irene” on Bandcamp, I noticed that their song “Five More Minutes” was titled “Five More Minutes (Tomato Paste). Naturally, I inquired.

So, what’s with the song “Five More Minutes and the whole Tomato Paste thing?

Nick: *laughter* So, when we wrote this song, I was recording it on my phone so we could send it to everybody so we would have a reference for it, and I didn’t know what to name the file so I named it tomato paste. And after the song was completely written we still didn’t have a name for like two or three shows so we just kept referring to it as tomato paste. As the album started to take shape and become more of a real thing I figured we should come up with a more legitimate name to the song.
Max: You’ll notice it does not say tomato paste on the physical copy.
Nick: Yeah that was me.
Kevin: Oh so it says it’s only on Bandcamp.
Max: Yeah I put that there, and I was just hoping it would be on this e.p. but [I guess not].
Nick: It’s funny because that’s like the first thing everyone says to me when they look at the list of the tracks.
Max: Like, ‘What the hell is this, is it like a secret track?” Damn right!

Each track on Once a Wolf’s e.p. features at least one guest. One of the most notable features on this e.p. is on the track “Farewell”. That track features a captivating vocal solo by Vivian Pondella, a vocal and piano coach at Rock City Studios.

Vivian’s solo on “Farewell”, that’s pretty cool. Did you guys ask her to do that or did she hear you and have something to add?..

Nick: Well she didn’t really have much of a choice. It was more of a forced her to do it than asked her to do it.

Atreya: Did she come up with the riff?

Max: Right off the top of her head, yep! That was take nineteen and was like, ‘F# minor – go!’ and she did something perfect, and I thought we were done. Nineteen takes later I had to make her stop.
Kevin: It’s very similar to “A Great Gig in the Sky” [by Pink Floyd].
Nick: Yeah that was kind of the song where the idea came from. We were listening to the song in the room and thought that would sound good. So I bugged Vivian about it.
Kevin: Originally I was gonna do it, but then I didn’t.
Nick: Yeah he was having pitch problems…
Kevin: Yeah then I realized I don’t sing and that was the end of that.

With the writing for the whole album in general, who did most of it? Was it a collective or did someone write most of the parts?

Nick: I’d say it was pretty much a collective.
Kevin: Yeah usually Max would just come up with a riff. This kind of ties into the whole influence thing, I like to shuffle [a style of drumming] and Max was like, ‘I can work with that.”
Nick: The first time me and Max were writing a song together, we were jamming and he asked about the influences of the band and the direction we wanted to go. I told him we were all really into Incubus and that kind of rock sound so that’s kind of where that came from.
Kevin: So on Follow me that’s how that song started. I was really into the shuffle and Max was like, ‘Hey that would be really cool to shuffle over’. And to shuffle you play in 6/8, so I feel like a lot of our songs are in sixes because of that.
Nick: Yeah we try to throw in shuffles when we can and a few breakdowns to make Brett happy. He always requires at least one.
Kevin: We’re working on a new song that literally has shuffles and breakdowns, so I’m excited.
Max: So the two assholes are happy.

Before releasing “Irene”, they released their music video to the song “Follow Me”. The music video shows a few guys on the beach just running around, as well as the band playing in various spots inside Rock City Studios. The drummer, Kevin, even plays in the aqua-colored bathroom stalls. I thought it was pretty interesting, so I decided to ask about it.

So this is the perfect segue into my next question. The “Follow Me” music video, how did you guys come up with that?

Kevin: So what we did was, absolutely nothing. Max’s friend Colin came down and shot that for us.
Nick: He basically walked into Rock City [Studios] like, ‘This wall looks pretty cool do stuff here. This is a cool wall do stuff here.”
Brett: Originally we were thinking of making it a video about having this Uber driver..
Max: Yeah we had a cool plot to it, but then getting the camera stuck to the car was a little tricky.
Kevin: We realized how much work it actually takes to get a camera in a car that’s stabilized. We realized we could get the camera in the car but we couldn’t get the device to lock. So he just free-balled the whole thing.
Max: Yeah it turned out pretty good. But everyone who’s watched it that knows us doesn’t know the people on the beach. But that doesn’t matter, if you didn’t know us you wouldn’t care.
Nick: What actually happened was this sandcrab died, and it was a funeral for a sandcrab.
Max: Yeah moral of the whole story is respect your fellow sandcrabs.
Kevin: We did a whole B-roll of us dancing at the train station.
Nick: There was a whole like, walking backwards dance sequence where I was standing in front singing this song as loudly as possible.
Brett: There’s this whole ad-libbed choreography dance to the entire song filmed at a train station somewhere. We’ve never seen it. We all danced to the entire song, me and Kevin and Max, and we were just looking at each other like next we’re doing this thing.

At this point Brett displays a very cheesy dance move that looks like it should be in a 50’s doo wop video. You know the kind, with your thumbs out moving side to side?

Max: See he’s taking all the credit but it was totally me. I made up the whole dance.
Kevin: I was just there to be a follower. See look guys… “Follow Me”!

We all laughed at that terrible yet wonderful pun. If anything shows what type of wholesome, fun-loving guys are in Once a Wolf, it’s cheesy puns and dad jokes. They’re full of them.

My last question, are you guys going to be playing shows or touring?

Kevin: Well we have that festival show at Studio Channel Islands [in June]. There’s gonna be a lot of bands, it’s gonna be a charity event for victims of domestic abuse. We were asked to play, and we said yes. And then we’re gonna do a motorcycle gang show.
Brett: Yeah we’re gonna get jumped into a motorcycle gang.
Nick: Yeah and that idea just got brought to us yesterday so it’s still in the works.

Atreya: Do you plan on touring for this release at all?

Nick: I don’t know about a tour for this one at all but we’re looking to put together maybe an album release show for it or something.

Okay I know I said last question but one more. Do you guys have a full length in the works?

Max: Yeah I mean right before this we were working with new ideas and stuff. So we’re constantly noodling.

Make sure to check out Once a Wolf’s new e.p. “Irene” on Spotify, Itunes, or Bandcamp, and watch the music video for the song “Follow Me” on Youtube.

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