Classic rock lives on

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By Gary Graff  

Wolfmother is one of those bands that everybody is talking about these days. The Australian trio, which formed in 2004 with singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale, bassist-keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett -- and takes its name from the Tom Robbins novel Skinny Legs and All -- has made waves in its homeland and around the world with a hard-rocking sound that's at once retro (or, if you prefer, classic) and modern: a loose, sinewy, and dynamic mix ably captured on the band's Dimensions EP and and self-titled debut.

Q: How did Wolfmother get started?

Heskett: I think we met around '99 or something like that, just through friends. We realized that we had some instruments and we were into music and had similar tastes. But music was just something we did for fun. Whenever we had spare time we'd muck around, and we just jammed together for about five years or something like that before we even played a gig. Around the start of 2004 we decided to get a gig. We put some songs together and it took off pretty quickly.

Q: Do you feel the 'buzz' surrounding the band at this point?

Heskett: We kind of hear about it. (laughs) We only hear about it from our manager, really. He says everything's going well, so we just keep playing.

Q: How did you arrive at the band's sound?

Heskett: When we started we were doing like the Beastie Boys -- just a real kitchen sink kind of sound, and we'd go off on these little monster jams now and then. Chris and I were big Kyuss fans, and we'd have these desert rock jams. Then we'd go into doing beats and stuff as well. When we decided to play gigs we made a conscious decision to strip back the instruments. Chris and Andrew both had Big Muff pedals, so they came out with those and started playing really big rock.

Q: What are some of Wolfmother's main influences?

Heskett: They're actually more visual than aural, to be honest. We spent a lot of time watching the Who documentary The Kids Are Alright. We'd watch that DVD and then run into the jam room and start playing. And also I remember watching Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii quite a bit. Those were probably our main inspirations. I think watching musicians play is just as important as hearing them.

Q: Was it a major culture shock coming over to record in Los Angeles?

Heskett: It was a little bit at first. We weren't quite sure what to make of L.A. when we set up there. There's no real sense of community, no proper public transportation. Everyone drives everywhere. No one walks anywhere. Everything seems so kind of isolated within itself. It was a bit strange for us, coming from Australia, where there's a real sense of community.

Q: What are your goals and hopes for the band at this point?

Heskett: I guess just to continue playing to people and building up a fan base. It's a slow process. You've just got to keep coming back and playing shows. You come back and people go nuts 'cause they know the songs, which is a great feeling. It's happened in Australia and we hope it happens in the U.S. too, 'cause it's so much bigger here.

Gary Graff writes extensively about music. His work has appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, and Billboard.