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Albi & The Wolves - Interview: Albi & The Wolves

10 Jul 2019 // An interview by Steve Shyu

Albi & The Wolves are making 2019 all theirs. After three years or performing, touring and connecting with people, their new album This Is War will be making an impact on 26 July. To celebrate this incredible new release, Albi & The Wolves will also be taking their music on the road for three months to perform in some of their favourite towns and venues, including the band's first performances in the United States. 2019 could well become their most memorable year to date.

Paul T Gheist spoke to the band about their history, personal highlights and what the future holds:

The first round is on me - What’ll you be having?

Micheal: a pale ale

I’d take a pale ale too!

: Some quirky mocktail please

Give us a quick history lesson - How and when did your musical trio form? What have been some major turning points for the band?

Chris: The band started sometime in 2014 when I met a super enthusiastic banjo player called Matt Owens and we played a few tunes around Kingsland, Auckland. Promptly after meeting him I roped in Micheal Young to play bass and Matt knew Pascal Roggen who plays the fiddle. By September 2014 we knew we had something special with the four of us and since then things have really grown. Our only major setback was parting ways with Matt sometime in 2016. That was a major turning point for us. When he left we changed how we thought about touring, how we recorded music, and how we wrote music too. In my opinion, traveling to Australia to play Woodford Folk Festival in 2016 was a rather pivotal point too as it showed us, or at least me, what the bigger world of folk looked like. That one week helped us create the sound that we have now.

What is your most memorable performance to date?

Pascal: 2016 Auckland Folk Festival was special, we played one Ballad and the crowd were so amped they clapped in time through it, absolutely bananas.

: there have been so many - the amazing crowd response from the main stage at the major NZ and Oz folk festivals stand out for me.

Chris: Auckland Folk Festival early 2016 was a cracking gig that will be hard to forget.. We had to follow some folk heavyweights and we managed to hold our own on that stage and not only that, but everyone was going crazy. It was fun. This year we played a smallish festival in Tasmania, Australia, and that whole weekend was magic but on the first night we played a small hall that held around 200ish people in it. The audience was silent aside from their applause and there was a connection you could almost see it felt so real.

As a musician, what do you think is the most important quality in creating music that captures and moves people?

Micheal: a passion for it. In other words, it captures and moves me, so I want to convey that.

Pascal: Caring about your craft. Listening to an audience and responding to them. Always being willing to change something to see if it can be better.

Chris: I don’t think it’s something you can plan.. I think if you care about what you are doing and the art you have made that passion will come through your performance. I guess that means, for me, that the most important qualities are being earnest and true to yourself. You write about your thoughts and feelings and if you play those songs with conviction people will connect to it, especially if those ideas resonate with a person.

Not many would associate Albi & the Wolves’ music with inciting war... How did you choose the album title This is War?

Micheal: for me, it matches the vibe from the photo shoot that we used for the cover art.

Pascal: It’s a great opening track and album names are hard:). It’s also nice to move people’s expectations a bit. Just having it as a title makes people think differently about the music in the album.

What are some of your personal highlights from the new album “This is War” that we should listen out for?

Micheal: Working with Amy Maynard (vocals on I'd Go Anywhere) and Aaron Gott (keys) was a special day in the studio.

Pascal: Story is a magical song. I also really like throwing together a big strings/vocal mash in our cover of wayfaring stranger, which is not something we’ve done before. In fact, there’s quite a few departures from our first album, style and production wise.

Chris: Oh, that is a tough question. I agree with Micheal about I’d Go Anywhere as Amy and Aaron really made that tune magical and her voice, as per usual, is nothing but stunning. Oh Father is fun because it’s so different for us, it’s so different in fact it almost doesn't belong on the record but it still kinda does just. Story is a special song for me and every time I sing it I can’t forget who I wrote it about so the fact that we captured a very nice version on the album makes me happy. Hopefully you will all enjoy it too. P.S. I do my first ever guitar solo so that is terrifying.

You have three shows in America booked for September, which is exciting; have you played in the U.S. before? And how did a tour leg in the States come about?

Pascal: The last time I toured the states was performing Ladino world music for a couple of weeks, I’m really looking forward to playing with the band over there, it’s a wacky place.

Chris: It is exciting indeed. We have never played there but Pascal and I ventured into Canada earlier this year to attend the Folk Alliance International conference, thanks Outward Sound, where we met hundreds of folks who work in the industry there. During that time, we made enough contacts to throw these three dates together but next time we go we hope to go for longer.

What Kiwi artists or bands have you and the Wolves been listening to lots of?

Micheal: The Frank Burkitt Band, Strangely ArousingLooking For Alaska

Chris: The Veils, The Phoenix Foundation, Holly Arrowsmith, Unchained XL, Tom Cunliffe.

Pascal: I’m the worst, I don’t really listen to music unless it’s on the radio, I have to learn it or I’m touring with these cats:). So… whatever Michael and Chris listen to, or whomever I’m jamming with at the time.

Aside from the release of your album, any other exciting news on what’s on the band’s horizon?

Micheal: touring for the album launch - always keen for road trips.

Chris: Well we will be touring in Australia, Rarotonga, the US, and New Zealand so that will keep us quite busy. Aside from the odd gig here and there that’s not part of the tour I think working on some of the new songs I wrote in Europe would be great too.

Where do you see your band and your music in a year or two’s time?

Chris: I want to see this band touring the world. How will we get there? We aren’t sure just yet, but we all love what we are making here so keep an eye out for our future endeavours. Also come check out the shows as we have some new tricks up our sleeve that are worth seeing.

About Albi & The Wolves

This is folk music, but not as you know it. Pulling inspiration from a wide spectrum of genres, from swing to bluegrass, soul, R&B, rock and world music, Albi and The Wolves offer a decadent serving of double bass, banjo, and fiddle accompanied by Albi's smooth vocal stylings. These elements come together to create both a potent foot stomping rhythm and a captivating music and stage presence never experienced before.

With this love and respect of music in all its forms, Albi and The Wolves not only offer vibrant and refreshing original songs which burst open the seams of traditional folk music, but they also inject their signature sound into modern classics from artists as diverse as Micheal Jackson, and Pink Floyd.

Since the band's formation in 2014, they have excelled in New Zealand's live music scene, pulling in large crowds with their unique performance style, making it irresistible to dance.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Albi & The Wolves


Light After The Dark
Year: 2023
Type: Album
This Is War
Year: 2019
Type: Album
One Eye Open
Year: 2016
Type: Album
I Will Not Be Broken
Year: 2015
Type: EP

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