Andrew Stockdale Talks "Keep Moving", Wolfmother, and More
Mon, 11 Mar 2013 14:06:08
If there's one guy still waving the flag for old-fashioned rock 'n' roll in the 21st century, it's Andrew Stockdale. The Wolfmother singer and guitarist has got the kind of chops kids spend decades in their bedrooms trying to achieve, but he can also write the kind of anthems that last for eternity. Moreover, he oozes that effortless cool that all the best of the best have. It's that indescribable aura that real frontmen are made of. He's got it in spades.
In many ways, Stockdale's new album Keep Moving is the best representation of the enigmatic frontman. At times, it's mind-blowing in terms of its impressive instrumentation. At others, you'll be singing along at the top of your lungs. In essence, it's the perfect rock record and a masterpiece in its own right.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Andrew Stockdale talks Keep Moving and so much more…
There's a fresh grit and bluesy swagger to the new music…
That's it! We've been talking about the swagger. It's got to have that [Laughs]. It's an indefinable thing. What is the swagger? How do you capture it? It's either there or it's not there.
What was your vision for the record as a whole?
I've always loved The Rolling Stones and classic rock 'n' roll songs with that swagger and attitude. It's the undefinable mojo. The easy part is to get an aggressive, big, and rollicking riff. I wanted to move away from that. That was the intent with these riffs. I wanted to find that ray of light that opens within rock 'n' roll where the swagger comes out and the groove kicks in. Maybe it's being a bit behind the beat with the drums, playing some bongos, writing the right riffs, or playing in a full moon? Maybe, it's like buying some vintage boots and putting a feather in your hat. I don't know. It's a whole vibe. I'm trying to create the magic, you know what I mean?
Where did "Black Swan" come from?
That's about three-years-old. It was around the time we performed at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit. I like those feel-good folk songs like "Harvest Moon". I was trying to write in that style. As far as the lyrics go, a friend of mine was like, "I just read this book called Black Swan, and I think you're a Black Swan". [Laughs] There's a theory that there was never a black swan. It never existed. There were only white swans. Eventually, in Australia and Perth, there were black swans. It's about how we interpret reality. Our reality is always changing. It's the creative people and the innovators who can change it. They can do things we least expect, and then that becomes part of our reality. I think it's slightly along those lines. A swan or an animal lives in the moment. Does a swan feel bad about itself? Does it feel lonely? Does it want to give a child food? Does it have emotions? Does it feel lost? It's the difference between an animal's mind and a human's mind. I wrote about that and tried to see where it would take me. I was thinking about that lyrically.
What's the story behind "Year of the Dragon"?
People look at the Chinese calendar and think, "This year, I'm going to be creative, have a great love life, make lots of money, and be healthy!" It's the whole idea that we change every year. We're looking for experiences and hoping things will work out. Sometimes, you're oppressed, down, and nothing works. We're looking to these things in order to predict how we're going to behave, so I figured I'd write a song about it. You look at yourself, how things are going, and try to work it out.
What song is resonating with you the most right now?
"Keep Moving" spoke to me a lot through this. It's the idea that you might be at home and you get irritated or frustrated with a situation. You drive or fly somewhere and see new people, and everything changes. You change your state of mind. The people you meet change your perspective. When you come back, everything's better, and you've cleared your mind. People have this desire to continually move, change, and renew or reenergize themselves.
Would you say there's something primal about this album?
Yeah, this is about following your heart, putting your heart on your sleeve, and being true to yourself. I was talking to a friend about the record and I was like, "I don't know about this or that." He asked "Do you like it?" I thought, "Oh shit, that's a good question!" Ever since then, I had to make a record that I'd like. It sounds so simple, but people caught up in what their fans want, what the label wants, what's going to sell, what's going to be on the charts, what's going to sound cool, or what's going to make 50,000 people jump up and down. Well, do you like the songs and the record? That's what it's all about.
Were the sessions fulfilling? Is that one reason you liked it?
The sessions were so good. I'd call a session at three in the afternoon. Everybody would chuck all of the gear in the trunk. We'd drive up to this studio in the hills, set everything up, put lights around, light incense, and they were generally three-day sessions around a full moon. We ran through "Vicarious", "Long Way to Go", and "Keep Moving". We'd bang it out quickly. The vibe was there. I stopped drinking. There was nothing. They were just straight sessions, hanging out and playing music. That was another part of it. I was in the present, sharp, and productive. I kept my awareness levels at a better point.
Where else do you draw inspiration?
I've lived in a shack on the beach for the last year with no television. I've been living completely off the grid. You have a bit more time on your hands when you don't have a TV in the house. You're not subjected to as much media as you were in the past. I like Neil Young's song "Cinnamon Girl". I love records that sound spontaneous and magical. They have that good energy. The idea of records like that inspires me. I'm living in Byron Bay. There are a lot of free-thinkers and people who are building their own houses and veggie gardens. It's a very friendly atmosphere. It's a good community atmosphere. Being around here has made me want to be truer to myself. Being able to look people in the eye and acknowledge them as you walk down the street is great. The city can harden you. The hardness of the city can make you switch off and put you in a state of loneliness. You get isolated and nervous. You're under a lot of pressure. Moving away from the city and into a different way of life has inspired me and my songwriting.
What's Byron Bay like?
There are beautiful rolling mountains in Byron Bay and beaches. People describe it as what California would've been like forty years ago.
What's next for you?
That's the clincher isn't it? What are you going to do next? [Laughs] Well, I'm working on getting this record out. Then, I'm going to start doing some shows.
Are you excited for Keep Moving? What's your favorite Andrew Stockdale or Wolfmother song?