Wed, 29 Jul 2009 08:48:04
Wolfmother mainman Andrew Stockdale is all smiles right now.
His band's latest record Cosmic Egg [Interscope] is finally done, and he's hanging out at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.
"The pool party I witnessed last night was like nothing I've ever seen," he laughs." I didn't bring any board shorts so I walked in wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It was just insanity all over the place [Laughs]."
Cosmic Egg captures another kind of insanity. Following up Wolfmother's multi-platinum first offering wasn't easy, but Stockdale was up to the challenge. The singer and guitarist created a powerful and poignant rock n' roll record with all the ingredients of a modern classic. From the unforgettable riffs on "Pilgrim" and "Sun Dial" to the infectious hook on "New Moon Rising," Wolfmother have crafted their masterpiece. Instead of simply nodding to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Stockdale turns the formula upside down and gets more progressive this go-around.
Though Cosmic Egg doesn't hit shelves until this fall (October, 13), we spoke to Stockdale about the record, strange Terence Stamp movies, speaking through the guitar and going to outer space in this exclusive ARTISTdirect.com interview.
Cosmic Egg is truly more epic than your debut. Do you feel like you've broadened the scope of Wolfmother's music and pushed things to the next level?
Well, that would definitely be nice if Cosmic Egg broadened the scope and pushed things to the next level [Laughs]. This is the second record so now there's a reference point. Sometimes you try to think about it and other times you try to forget about it. Hopefully, there's some growth there. Now that I've finished making the record and I've listened to it, I'm really pleased with it.
Was there one concept or thread that you wanted to follow over the course of the album?
When I'm in a writing mode, I'll just write a song one day—like "New Moon Rising." I wrote that on the drum kit. That started off with the hi-hat kick happening. I started singing along to the drum kit. I was singing the riff, and I copied the riff from what I sang. Maybe a couple days later I wrote "Cosmic Egg." I definitely wanted to catch a real groove. Making the groove happen can be challenging. To get the swing into a riff and get vocals that fit nicely on top of the riff is certainly a challenge too. I looked into different ways of writing songs and using different instruments to write them. The lyrics and themes come naturally. For me, I start singing all the lyrics and I write down whatever I say. Then I write it again and again until it sort of makes sense—to me at least [Laughs].
Lyrically "Pilgrim" really stands out. Would you say you've gotten more cinematic with the lyrics?
That song is about someone who may be perceived as not knowing what they're about and what they're doing but really they do [Laughs]. That person has some kind of wisdom within him or herself. To write about that wasn't a conscious decision. A lot of my songs are very visual. I've been talking to directors about film clips and they always seem to enjoy this album. The first two songs lend themselves to great visuals. There's definitely imagery within the music.
"Sun Dial" sounds like one of those crazy Black Sabbath stories.
Yeah, I'm not quite sure of the story behind that song [Laughs]. That's another one that's a play on words—going around in circles with illusions, dreams and things like that.
The bass line is pretty killer.
It's pretty heavy [Laughs].
Are you a big movie fan?
Recently, I haven't watched a lot of movies. I kind of stopped watching movies and TV; I don't have a lot of time to do that. When I was a kid I watched TV all the time. I'd get home from school and watch TV for like three hours a day [Laughs]. Then I'd go play guitar or go down to the park. I think I've just exposed myself to so much television and film that now when I write songs all of that stuff comes forward.
Do you look back on any shows or movies from that time fondly?
There are lots of them! Have you ever heard of the Carry On Films? I used to watch SBS, which is a foreign TV show. I used to watch lots of weird Italian films. I remember this one Terence Stamp movie. He was a young guy in this movie. He went to this mansion and he ended up having an affair with the son, the mother, the father and the daughter—everyone in the family [Laughs]. They all went nuts over it, and the movie was in black and white. I remember watching hundreds of weird films like that. I don't know why. I don't really watch many films now but I remember all of these movies from people like Fellini and Woody Allen that I saw when I was a kid.
What was it like recording in L.A.?
The studios just seem to step it up a little bit in L.A. They have that vibe to them where they sound huge. They give the sound some guts. I really like the old studios in L.A. The producer we worked with, Alan Moulder, was a really cool guy to hang out with and see things through with. It was a good run.
Given how visual this record is would you ever want to do your own movie or book to act as a companion?
We're planning on doing that sometime soon. We want to do a film clip for every song—just like a total visual thing for the whole record. I don't know if it'll be a linear thing where it has a script or anything like that but we'll definitely try to create some interesting footage to go with this record.
It feels like you're telling the stories with the guitar just as much if not more than the vocals.
Yeah, one thing sort of fills in where the other can't go. I spend a lot of time playing guitar and not singing. Most of the time when I'm playing guitar I rarely sing along. Only when I'm writing do I start singing. The guitar is a pretty good vehicle for saying things without a doubt.
Is it easier to communicate that way?
Sometimes, yeah. For me, the guitar can really say something. I just go downstairs and play the guitar for like two hours often. I try different effects and everything. To me, that's just definitely easier.
Does the title give the album an outer space vibe? You're taking people to a new universe.
Yeah, the space element of Cosmic Egg is part of that meaning. I just used that word "cosmic" because I liked the sound of it. That was my only reasoning for using that title [Laughs]. I saw a jukebox at a café that was called "Cosmic Blast." I was thinking I should call the album "Cosmic Blast" but I decided to stick with Cosmic Egg [Laughs]. There's an otherworldly element to it.