The Ghost Wolves punk-leaning, rock howl to town
By Tim Anderl
Austin, Texas duo The Ghost Wolves deliver a rabid and raw sound that draws inspiration from across the musical spectrum. Blending blues, punk, ’60s garage, glam and rockabilly, Carley and Jonny Wolf have been touring the country since releasing their debut in mid-2011. And despite their young ages – mid-20s – both have been lifelong devotees of the rock lifestyle. Multi-instrumentalist Carley Wolf fronted her first rockabilly group at age 14 and has performed internationally as a backing musician with several groups, and as bassist for Johnny Falstaff. Similarly, husband Jonny Wolf has toured and recorded with everyone from Gregg Ginn to Junior Brown.
Dayton City Paper caught up with Jonny Wolf before their summer stop in Dayton to discuss their sound, collaboration with Bushwick Bill and more.
There are some significant influences present in your music – Iggy, Guitar Wolf, The Cramps. How have these and other influences shaped how you’ve approached writing and performing?
All of those bands come at their music with the throttles all the way open – nothing held back. That’s how we see it, too – all in, or forget it. Every day, we’re at this, 150 percent, in one way or another. We learned a lot of that from digging on stuff like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Tom Waits, R.L. Burnside, Hasil Adkins; great musicians that seem to be completely consumed by what they do. -Jonny Wolf
This isn’t the first rodeo for either of you. What is it about performing together that makes this collaboration so rewarding?
We were dating when we started the band and were recently married. We already had a very strong connection outside of the band, but rocking out together on a nightly basis can definitely deepen a relationship, if you let it. -JW
Since your debut release in 2011 you’ve been road warriors. What have your favorite places been?
We’ve actually only been touring in the states, but that’s been pretty constant. We’ve had some press overseas, so we are planning on going to those places soon. We’re probably close to having done 450+ shows in the USA since we started two years ago, and the majority of that east of the Mississippi. We love touring through towns like Asheville, Knoxville, Dover, Columbus and Dayton. -JW
Does the band ever plan to call in favors with past collaborators for a future release?
Bushwick Bill (from The Geto Boys) rapped on a track during the sessions for our new album. Not sure how we will release that one yet, maybe as a limited edition single. But he is a new collaborator we met through Gordy Johnson (from Big Sugar). A lot of our previous musical connections were in genres we don’t feel very strongly about anymore, but we definitely have a short list of people we’d absolutely love to coerce into the studio or onto the stage at some point. -JW
Was Bushwick Bill intimidating or cool?
We haven’t had a proper hang with Bushwick Bill yet. We had already left for tour when he came to the studio late one night and Gordy showed him the album. Apparently he dug it, and decided to lay down some of his sweet goodness on one of our tracks, for fun. They sent it to us, and we liked it so much we decided to hang on to it.
We did see him perform one night at The Continental Club in Austin with Gordy’s drum/guitar duo Sit Down Servant. It was a very late weekday set, like 1 a.m. or something. He had everyone in the room in the palm of his hand, just vibing along zwith him. He’s magnetic, cheerful, honest, in the moment. With the duo behind him, Gordy on foot bass synthesizer and slide guitar, and the drummer laying it down, it sounded like some incredible music from the future. -JW
Are you working on or writing for a sophomore full-length? If so, how are those sessions progressing?
We have a sophomore release finished and ready to go. Really, it’s our first full-length, since the two previous to this one have been short format. We recorded it earlier this year in Austin at Arlyn Studios, where a bunch of incredible records had been made over the years. We’re really stoked about it, and are working on getting it released in the next six months or so. -JW
Is that an actual wolf in your promo shots? Who does it belong to?
Its a gibler dog, the breed Carley’s family has been developing for the last 30 years in Texas, for their personal pets and also occasionally friends would get them, too. Her dad is a true animal whisperer and would rescue dogs from people who couldn’t handle them. Some of those may have been wolf or wolf hybrids, so they have that wolf look from way back, many generations ago, like a lot of northern breeds. But they are all dog at this point, likely with some malamute and akita in them. They are incredible animals – gentle, loyal and very sweet. We named the band after Ice, our oldest male, who died at 15 years old in 2011. -JW
I read that some of Carley’s dad’s animals were in a Disturbed video. Were the animals bummed to be working with such a lackluster radio rock act?
I don’t think they cared about the music one way or another, and the Disturbed guys were very nice to them. They were just really stoked to be bringing home some bacon! -JW
The Ghost Wolves will perform Friday, Aug. 2 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Opening the evening will be Todd the Fox. Doors at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for all ages. For more information, please visit theghostwolves.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.