We Are Wolves

There are a lot of reasons why one could shrug off We Are Wolves without ever listening to them. There’s no denying they are a trendy and arty wolf band from Montreal. Yes, we all got pulled aside at some point last year by some astute observer of culture who said you might not be aware of this but there are quite a few bands with “wolf” in their name out there these days. As off-putting as this may be, there are a lot more reasons why you should embrace Les Loupes and their spazzy, dance floor friendly electro-rock.

Consisting of Alexander Ortiz on lead vocals and bass, Vincent Levesque on keyboards and Antonin Marquis on Drums, the band formed when they met in an arts program after high school. Despite their strong involvement in film and the visual arts, Marquis is quick to dismiss that the band started off as some ironic art school joke. “We never took ourselves seriously but we never took it as a joke. We formed around the year 2000 but we didn’t have a name until 2004. We weren’t playing any shows either. We just learned to play our instruments and changed lineups a lot. I used to play guitar, then bass, now drums. We’ve settled down now. For four years it was really a work in progress and a creative process. It had no vocals either. It was really artsy. More than it is now. Now it’s artsy rock.”

 

The trio released their 2005 debut Non Stop Je Te Plie en Deux on Fat Possum, a Mississippi based blues label, of all places. If that sounds like an odd fit you’re not alone. “We couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t be represented by a Montreal based label at first. No Canadian labels were interested in the band. We knew about Fat Possum but we never would have thought of sending them a record. But the owner was really enthusiastic about the project so we thought okay, lets do it.” Despite the label’s enthusiasm, Marquis acknowledges their debut had a few shortcomings. “For us it was really like a demo. It’s all the songs we had at the point. It’s a tutti frutti electro-rock record. . . We were very critical about the first record. We were unsatisfied with a lot of things. Like how come there weren’t more emotional songs on the first record. It’s all the same tempo. So we knew what we didn’t want for the second record.”

 

All in all, the band’s experience on Fat Possum was a positive one but they have since found a new label a bit closer to home. This fall the trio are set to release their sophomore album, Total Magique on Montreal’s Dare to Care Records, the home of Malajube and the recently broken up Les Georges Leningrad, “We feel more comfortable now. The bands on the roster at Dare to Care are more like us. It feels more like a family.” Though their debut may have under-performed sales wise, the band has built a solid fan base through their live shows and have a rep for being one of Canada’s best live acts. Marquis says the trick for delivering a blistering set night in and night out is simple. “I don’t look at the audience. I’m just really into my music. We have this old story on our first tour, which was with And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and The (International) Noise Conspiracy. We were on our way to meet them in Colorado. We had like two or three gigs before that. One of them was in Iowa City and we were totally unknown and played there for one guy. I’m not kidding and I’m pretty sure we put on the same show for 500 people in Montreal. Maybe it sounds banal, but we’re really into rock ‘n’ roll. We believe in energy. For all the technical aspects that we’re lacking, we’re putting all our energy into the live performance.” Energy might be an understatement to describe The Wolves’ live show, especially Marquis, who plays drums standing up. “Rocking the dance floor. I love that,” he exclaims. “That’s always been our dilemma as far as this band is concerned. At some point one of the guys will listen to too much rock ‘n’ roll and it’s like ‘we’re too much rock.’ Then the Justice record comes out and ‘we’re not electro enough.’”

 

Regardless if one would classify them as electro-rock or rock-electro, the biggest struggle for the band has been bringing the energy from their live sets into the studio, and Marquis worries if this is something they were even able to do on Total Magique. “We Are Wolves live sounds a certain way. I’m always wondering when people buy our record after the show like what the hell are they going to think when they get home.” It’s a safe bet there won’t be many disappointed fans, longtime or newly converted, who throw on Total Magique after a live show. Far more palatable album than their debut—which was laden with arty and experimental instrumental tracks that didn’t lend itself well for home listening—the new disc is also far more lyrical. Some of songs, like “Walk Away Walk” are borderline radio friendly. “We definitely wanted to be more poppy. We listen to pop music all the time. We all love Justin Timberlake. Whatever, man.”

 

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