Grammy award-winning Australian hard rock band Wolfmother, currently on a North American headline tour in support of its latest album Victorious, bring the Gypsy Caravan Tour to San Francisco playing at the Fillmore on March 28. The high-octane group is also scheduled to play at Live 105’s BFD at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater on June 4.
Victorious, released on February 19, was written by vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale at his studio in Byron Bay and recorded at legendary Henson Studios in Los Angeles with two-time Grammy-winning producer Brendan O’Brien (who in the past has supported Pearl Jam, Mastodon, and Bruce Springsteen).
Wolfmother is a powerful mix of talents – Andrew Stockdale’s howling vocals, blazing guitar riffs, and admirable bass-playing duties, along with Josh Freese (from Nine Inch Nails, Bruce Springsteen, and A Perfect Circle) and Joey Waronker (from Air, Beck, Gnarls Barkley, and REM) on drums.
Wolfmother first made its mark in 2005 with a self-titled record, highlighted by lead single “Woman” that won a Grammy for “Best Hard Rock Performance,” which obtained certified Gold status in the United States, UK, Canada, and went five times Platinum in Australia. When the band was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, Led Zeppelin personally invited them as their guests, to which they responded in appreciation by delivering an electrifying cover of “Communication Breakdown.” Victorious follows a lineage of solid record releases, Cosmic Egg in 2009, the 2014 release New Crown, plus Andrew Stockdale’s 2013 solo album, Keep Moving.
We chatted with Andrew to learn how he likes to spend his free time, hear some stories from his time touring the world, and to find out what he admires most about San Francisco.
Who would you say are your vocal influences?
Ozzy Osborne, Robert Plant, Jack White, Bob Dylan, John Lennon…that’s a good start.
First off, how do you keep your hair so awesome?
I just sort of grew it out when we started touring on the road on the first record. I hadn’t grown it out before that point. It sort of became a part of my look after a while. I’ve gone through different stages. I went through about four years of not washing it. Living on the beach, the salt water, I don’t know. But now, I’m using the conditioner at the hotels. That’s my secret. Fancy products. [laughs]
Do you have any remedy’s for keeping your voice healthy?
On this tour I did stop drinking alcohol. I stopped drinking coffee as well. I’ve had a couple glasses of wine here and there. For the most part, I stopped doing that because I was doing six shows a week. Drinking lots of water also helps. Eating fruit. Walking. I try to walk around a bit every day and get a bit of exercise. I try to stay hydrated and eat well. Stay healthy, you know?
How many guitars are you currently touring with?
Eight guitars. There’s a brown 1972 SG. I could do the whole set with just that guitar. I like when I see a band switch guitars, [so] I bring a few along to add a bit of a visual kind of interest to the show. I got a Gretch White Falcon. That’s a pretty nice looking one. A double cutaway. A Black Gibson 335. I have a James Trussart, a steel body guitar, an old 60’s Zeepa, a 1960 Les Paul Jr., and this white and gold SG Les Paul custom.
What has been the highlight so far from the Gypsy Caravan Tour?
We had a really amazing show in Lawrence, near Kansas City. There’s this vintage clothing shop across from the venue. We went there and bought all this extra stage attire. That kind of added to the show. It gave a bit of a crazy look. That was a fun show. Lots of costume changes on that one.
How do you like to spend your downtime when you’re not writing music?
I live in Byron Bay, Australia. There’s lots of beaches around there. Great surfing beaches. I’ve sort of become obsessed with surfing. I do long-boarding…nine foot three and nine foot five surfboards. That’s my main hobby. It gets me out of the house. I like it cause no one can text you or call you. You’re just out there in nature with sort of no distractions. It’s really relaxing. It’s really nice.
Do you have any fear of sharks?
I should, but it’s weird how fear works with your mind. I surf and I’ve seen sharks go past like 20 meters away and I just keep surfing. I have a healthy respect for the ocean, and sharks, and wildlife. I guess it’s just part of surfing, you know? You’re in their territory and you just try and respect that. Read the conditions I guess. Of course, they’re fierce predators at the end of the day. You just take your chances I guess.
Have you ever had a moment when your cult following unexpectedly surprised you?
Yeah, in Lawrence this girl turned up in front of the venue and she had a Cosmic Egg album cover tattoo…this big rock thing tattooed on her back. There were these girls in Nashville…one had White Feather tattoos on her. Keep moving, and my solo record tattooed on her waist. Another girl with the lyrics Black Swan tattooed on her waist. There was this girl in Berlin with lyrics to this song “Caroline” tattooed on her waist too. Every time I see that, it just blows me away that that’s part of their life every day. Those songs have inspired them that much to get a permanent tattoo of them. That’s pretty encouraging for an artist.
Do you have any tattoos yourself?
I have no tattoos. I thought about getting a couple, but there’s nothing I can really think of. How about you? Do you have any tats?
No, I don’t either. What would you say has been your most satisfying moment since the release of Victorious?
Seeing that it did really well on the UK and in Germany. I think it was the highest charting record Wolfmother has ever had in Germany and in the UK is doing well. And the States its doing well. The charts and reception are really cool. Seeing the first nine, ten, eleven shows sell out all down the east coast is the states was overwhelming. I haven’t been back to some of those places in a little while. That was really great.
Is there anything you miss about Australia when traveling abroad?
I miss my daughter and my girlfriend. That’s the main thing. They’re the most important things that I miss in my life. They’re coming over in a week or two. It’s funny, when you’re on tour, people always ask you, ‘how long until you get back home. How long does the tour go for?’ And then when you get back home, if I go out for a coffee or if I’m walking around town, they’ll ask, ‘when is your next tour? When do you go on tour?’ It’s a never-ending cycle. [laughs]
Is there anything you like or admire about San Francisco?
I mean those bridges are completely overwhelming. I remember the last time we drove up from LA and crossed those bridges. I was like, this is insane. It’s such an impressive display of modern engineering. It was kind of overwhelming. Apparently there’s also really good vintage clothes shops on Haight Street. That’s on the agenda for sure. I’m [currently] in Dallas now. I might see if there’s some cool vintage clothes around here. I bought so many vintage clothes, I have a suitcase and I’m walking around with a garbage bag full of clothes.
Any parting words?
I hope everyone enjoys the new record and hope everyone to see everyone at the show at the Fillmore!