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Written By Wolves - Interview with Michael Murphy from Written by Wolves

21 Aug 2019 // An interview by Steve Shyu

Written by Wolves have been hailed as the princes of anthemic alternative rock in Aotearoa; blowing away audiences and fans alike with their energising and unforgettable live sets. For nigh on a decade, the five-piece group from Auckland have secured opening slots on tours with Devilskin and Blindspott, as well as dominating festival stages like Storm the Gates, Bay Dreams and Ohakune Mardi Gras, all to critical acclaim.

Countless live acts throughout the country, and almost a dozen singles and EP's under their Spotify belts, Written by Wolves are on the eve of releasing their very first full-length album. Steve from Muzic.net.nz was fortunate enough to talk with a very busy frontman and lead vocalist Mike Murphy over the phone to banter about their latest single, shooting music videos, choosing their band name, and his love of whiskey. Here's an excerpt of their conversation:

Prologue was released late last year, mind catching us up on what’s happened since then?

Brief history on where we’re at, near the middle of 2018, just before our Prologue EP came out, we were getting ready to go on tour with Devilskin, and after it came out, we were getting ready to tour with Blindspott AND Devilskin, which was really great to get on such an epic summer tour. We then went all in and started writing the album in January this year, finished recording it in early May. The first single Tell Me What You’re Running From came out on 19th July, I believe.

As of right now, the video to the second single is just about finished. Our friend Josh in Los Angeles has almost completed it, and we’re releasing it next month in September, which will serve as the next step in ramping up for the album at the end of the year.

In your bio on your website, the band’s music is classed as “cinematic rock”. Could you elaborate on what that means, and how that term came about?

Since we’d played in other groups before, when we first started Written by Wolves, we all wanted to do something different that we hadn’t done. At the time we were really inspired by people like Hans Zimmer, and the idea of creating a soundscape to a movie. While we didn’t set out to create a two-hour soundscape for films, we wanted to incorporate that idea into a five-minute long song, take the listener to different places, and make them feel different things as the song progresses. We took as any elements from every corner of the music we love, smash it together and see what we could do. When we first described our sound, it was difficult to lock down what it was, so we decided on “cinematic rock”.

That’s a terrific concept, being a Zimmer fan myself, I find it fits perfectly. Like in the latest single, Tell Me What You’re Running From, there are horns used midway through the song.

Yeah, it’s using different instruments and different sounds to create these moments where you don’t know if something’s happening, but you definitely feel something. When you’re watching a movie, the music can really steer you in a certain direction that the composer wants you to feel. With this new album, we wanted to take people to places with a bunch of songs, instead of just within one single every few months, which is what we’ve done since we started.

How exactly did the name 'Written by Wolves' actually come about?

That’s actually a funny question. No one’s 100% sure! There’s since been some theories thrown around by us, but I personally have this weird memory: Dave had these super cute little dogs that look like mini-wolves, and one night when we were at his home studio, the dogs came to watch and looked like they were about to take over. I think someone jokingly said those words, and we rolled with it from there, with the idea of us as a pack, and that we’re stronger together. But that’s how I remember it, and I’m sure someone else in the band will have a different idea.

It’s ironic because everything we do has a deep meaning, and we really try to make our songs connect with people, but I don’t think the name of the band actually had a deep meaning to begin with!

On the topic of what songs mean, tells us about the inspiration behind Tell Me What You’re Running From. What’s the big message behind the lyrics?

This is all about being honest with yourself when fighting your demons. It’s realising “if I keep running from this, this is not gonna get better, I’m not gonna fix this”. Whilst the short-term gain of running away might be great for a while, there’s a realisation that if I don’t be honest with myself, then it’s never gonna change. For us, we’ve always tried writing music that has strong meanings that people will be able to relate to in their lives.

Also loving the video to right now – Could you give us a little insight into the process behind creating it?

We went back to our friend in Los Angeles, Josh Maybie, who shot our video for To Tell You the Truth. We thought “Let’s really commit to this new album and go all in”, but what do we do visually? We got back to Josh, and he was super pumped to jump on board again. He shot his parts over in L.A., we shot our parts here then sent it to him, and Josh was able to put it all together, make it look good.

Josh films all of the cinematic storyline there, and he does it properly; when we shoot, we find a spot, Bahador hires a camera, then we go full number-8 wire. Josh has a good team of editors who then make what we’ve done tied together and look great.

And the end result certainly looks seamless. How long did the video take to make, from start to finish?

We’ve had some pretty insane deadlines in the past, and with this album coming up, we pretty much finish one thing then move onto another. This particular took about a month; it’s pretty impressive what Josh puts together. He’s just shot another one and it’s almost ready to go.

Tell us a little more about the process in creating your videos? How did it all come together?

Josh Maybie originally approached us a few years ago and said, “I love your music, and would love to work with you!”, and we went, “Cool! But who are you?” We then jumped on a phone call and hit it off really well, and Josh was really passionate about the project, and we decided “Yep, let’s do it”. In the end, the video racked up almost a million views in one month, which worked out well, so we realised we needed to keep this relationship going! He’s now become an extension of the band, I suppose. In the beginning, we had our guitarist Bahador creating our videos, so now Bahador would shoot our New Zealand parts, and Josh would shoot his; we’re pretty lucky to have such a talented team.

What can you tell us about the Morse code dashes and dots that we’ve seen on your social media pages and in the newest video, spelling out W, B and W? Does that carry any other meaning?

There’s a few things that are gonna be revealed with this album, so for the next period of our band’s existence, you may see – or hear – that pop up from now.

I’m definitely intrigued! Thinking outside of Aotearoa, any plans on taking Wolves’s shows outside of New Zealand?

As with any band that starts out, we’ve always aspired to take our music overseas. Nowadays, with the music industry as it is, it’s so much easier to connect with people outside of your local music venues, so you’re gonna have to, eventually. There’s things now that can show you and break down where your listeners are, in what cities or states, and it helps you plan where you need to go and what you need to do. It’s certainly in the works, nothing’s set in stone, but it’s definitely one of the next steps. Once this album comes out, we need to look at where we can take it.

Understandably, the focus right now is on the release of the new album; does the band have a timeline on when you’ll be playing live in support of the album?

Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff being worked on at the moment. We’re waiting for things to be finalised, and hopefully there’s live stuff to come soon. We’re actually hoping for a show or two before the album comes out, it all depends if things work our way or not. Definitely watch this space.

Care to share clues on when it’ll drop?

That’s going to be announced with the next single, which will be released 13th September, so keep an eye on that date for more on the album’s release!

Last question, time for one out of left field: Thinking of bands that have created their own branded products, like Gene Simmons with Kiss caskets, or Motorhead creating a range of wines, taking money out of the equation, what cool or crazy product would Written by Wolves collaborate on and create?

Wow. I feel like a kid in a candy shop right now. We like to party and drink, but we also like shoes... Maybe if we could do a bad-ass whiskey? I’ve actually got a Frank Sinatra-signed bottle of Jack Daniels, which I still haven’t decided on when to drink it... But if we could do a whiskey that would be awesome. And call it “Whiskey by Wolves” or “Wasted by Wolves”, something like that. And maybe do some bad-ass shoes. We got a lot of merch, but we haven’t got shoes or whiskey, so that could be our next step in branching out!

Follow Written by Wolves’s Facebook page, Instagram account, or check back here on Muzic.net.nz for upcoming news on the band’s debut album and new tour!

Live gig photography courtesy of Chris Morgan Photography


About Written By Wolves

Written By Wolves are a fresh and progressive, cinematic rock band and one of the most exciting new rock acts to come from New Zealand in recent years.

Having announced themselves on the world stage with their debut release, Secrets in 2019 they then combined with some of the biggest names in Rock Music in 2021 to release The Collab Project, an EP and mental health initiative aimed at giving their fans, friends and followers a platform to talk about their mental health and a reminder that no matter what they are going through they do not have to do it alone. Featuring Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D, Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses and Sydney Rae White of The Wild Things, the EP has received critical acclaim, millions of streams and has delighted fans worldwide.

Renowned for their highly energetic live show, the band have already shared the stage with international heavyweights such as Machine Gun Kelly, Limp Bizkit, Pendulum, Sublime With Rome, Suicidal Tendencies, Hed PE, Falling In Reverse, Escape The Fate, We The Kings, Four Year Strong, Stevie Stone, Kehlani and have recently completed 3 nationwide tours with two of New Zealand’s biggest Rock bands - Devilskin and Blindspott.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Written By Wolves


The Lighthouse
Year: 2024
Type: Album
Year: 2023
Type: EP
The Collab Project // Secrets
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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