We are so so excited to bring you another edition of Bands Interviewing Bands, where we bring two artists together for a dynamic interview covering everything from their creative process to their take on the music industry.
This time we’re pairing up Wolf Rd, who tackles everything from heartbreak and toxic friendships to mortality and regret, and are heavily defined by their roots in their strong brotherhood in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with Austin based Sleeve Cannon, a rock band that blends their music with garage, psychedelic, blues, pop, & punk into a genre that can only be defined as their own.
Check out this week’s conversation as they delve into unexpected musical influences, a mutual love for live performances, and insider music industry advice.
Wolf Road: Congratulations on releasing your debut LP ‘KAPTV’! Normally, the release of a record is accompanied by lots of shows or touring, but obviously we’re living in unprecedented times. How are you guys staying busy? Have you come up with any interesting ways to promote the new record?
Sleeve Cannon: Thanks man! It was definitely weird to have our release coincide with this pandemic. We’ve really had to be more vigorous than we’ve ever been about promoting ourselves online and trying to reach new ears that way. We’re also using our online presence to talk about racial justice and inequality when we can, just because it’s something important to all of us. I’m a very silver-lining focused person though, I think this gap time will ultimately be a positive thing for our writing process.
SC: Obviously, this cursed year has ripped live music away from the world. So just to be even more sad and nostalgic, what’s the most memorable experience y’all have had while playing live?
WR: R.I.P. concerts in 2020. We’ve only done a couple shows so far, but they’ve all been really great. I think one thing that always gets us pumped up is playing “Oakton” live. Whenever we get to the end of the song people get up in our faces or get onstage to sing the refrain, the whole “I crossed my heart you broke it” part. There’s something really powerful about having people scream your own songs back at you. It’s goosebumps every time.
WR: What is the most rewarding part about being in a band for you? Some people are totally focused on playing live, others fall in love with the creative process or recording music. Maybe it’s even the influence you have on listeners or the ability to spread a message like the themes on ‘KAPTV.’
SC: Personally, the songwriting process is my favorite aspect. Taking a single lyrical phrase or melody or riff and crafting a song around that is such a cathartic experience. Even when the trial and error process of smoothing it out gets frustrating, it’s always coming from a place of love and excitement. It’s firing on all cylinders when it’s going right and it’s an incomparable feeling.
SC: I can definitely hear and appreciate the influence of bands like Chicago’s Fall Out Boy on some of your vocal melodies on this EP! Coming from Des Plaines, how else has the music scene of Chicago shaped your sound?
WR: Totally! We’re all huge Fall Out Boy fans. I think it’s impossible not to be influenced by the Chicago scene when you’re a band in the area. Certain bands like Rise Against, Fall Out Boy, Alkaline Trio – and now even Knuckle Puck and Real Friends – are just so pervasive in our scene that it’s impossible not to take notice. You’re either influenced by it, or you intentionally push back against those sounds. In our case, I’d say we’ve borrowed bits and pieces from all those bands I mentioned.
WR: There’s a lot of classic rock flair in Tre’s guitar solos on ‘KAPTV.’ Who are some of your guys’ influences when it comes to smoking hot solos? I feel like I’m picking up on some Jimi Hendrix in ‘Chameleon’ with the aggressive bluesy playing and grungy wah pedal shred.
SC: I was raised on a lot of classic rock, Slash, David Gilmour, and of course Hendrix was always a favorite. I studied some classical guitar in high school while also getting more into the funk/jazz world, and I try to blend a lot of those phrasings and voices while still staying true to my hard blues-rock roots.
SC: In my experience bands often have at least one huge musical influence that doesn’t really directly translate to their own band’s sound. Who’s one artist people might be surprised to learn that you admire and are inspired by?
WR: That’s a great question! I’ve never thought about that before. I think Rush is a big one for us. I think their lyrical depth has pushed us to write about things like mortality, politics, and existential topics, so that we’re not just singing about girls all of the time (but we definitely do that too).
WR: We’re gonna spin that right back at you. You guys are really upfront about wanting to incorporate a variety of influences into your sound. Who is one artist people might be surprised to learn you’re inspired by?
SC: I don’t think people would know it from my work in Sleeve Cannon, but Nile Rodgers and Chic, those disco type grooves are a heavy influence. And even more out of left field, I often think of the Tuvan group Huun Huur Tu with how I sometimes layer certain guitar parts and drone type things, and of course, I learned how to throat-sing from them.
SC: Chris & Nick, I saw you have the same last name. Are y’all related? If so, how does that affect your band dynamic, if at all?
WR: The Hoffmann boys are definitely related! We’re brothers, and I think it affects our band dynamic in a couple ways. Every band probably believes they’re a super tight group – but in our case, we have two actual brothers, two college fraternity brothers (Geoff and Devin at Indiana Tech), and three of us are also neighbors. Sometimes we can get a little heated, but I’d say the level of transparency we have always leads to better Wolf Rd songs at the end of the day.
WR: You guys formed back in 2017. Now that you’ve been playing together for a couple years, is there anything that’s surprised you about the music industry or creative process? Is there any piece of advice you’d give to yourself if you could go back in time?
SC: Practice to a metronome, invest in earplugs, self-imposed deadlines are usually more stressful than productive so let things flow and happen organically in their own time.
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