In 2005, Sidney, Australia's, Wolfmother arrived when one rock heyday was in its 11th hour and another underground metal-originated movement was just about to find wider-scale popularity. This fortuitous timing and combining of influences from both movements brought quick success to the power-trio, which was sustained until after the release of its second album Cosmic Egg in 2009. The past five years have seen some ups and downs for the festival-favoring, hard-rock/'70s-metal endeavor of founder Andrew Stockdale and different backing lineups, but it looks like the recently released Victorious might help return at least some of the spotlight the band enjoyed earlier in its career.
There's no doubt that the 2000-2005 era was one defined by near or full-on mass acceptance of guitar bands offering up their version of a style that was already well-established by whatever underground movement happened to respectively birth and develop it over the preceding years. This gave us the Strokes and Interpol, plus brought the White Stripes and the Hives up from their more grassroots origins. A ton of other bands and factors played into this as well, but by mid-decade it had given way to a widespread re-embracing of heavier fare, thus giving different modicums of higher exposure and success to Dead Meadow, Queens of the Stone Age, the Sword, Sweden's Witchcraft, and, in some indirect manner, this helped contribute to the blindsiding mega-success of the far more commercially viable Wolfmother.
Guitarist/vocalist/principle songwriter Andrew Stockdale, bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross, and drummer Myles Heskett cherry-picked the right characteristics from both the former "new rock" era and the latter "retro-metal" salad days, and the Wolfmother name came not long before playing their first live show in spring of 2004. Signed to Australian major-label imprint Modular Recordings by August of that same year, the trio released their debut four-song, self-titled EP a month later, and it gained respectable purchase on the ARIA Australian Singles Chart. The EP was recorded in Detroit by Dirtbombs bassist Jim Diamond, best known for recording the first two White Stripes albums then suing the post-fame version of the duo over crediting disputes (Jack and Meg won the dispute).
Wolfmother toured for months in support of the EP and signed an international record deal with Modular parent label Universal Music Group. The trio's self-titled, full-length debut was released in Australia at the end of October 2005 and elsewhere around the world on subsequent dates. Recorded by in-demand, hard-rock/metal producer Dave Sardy, the album was certified 5x platinum in Australia as well as gold in the U.K. and U.S. by 2007, where it peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200. Much of the stateside success was due to the 2006 mega-hit "Woman" (the fourth single released from the album), which took the 2007 Grammy award for "Best Hard Rock Performance."
Wolfmother is a deft, hard-rock repurposing of the White Stripes, is stuffed to the gills with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin riffs, and is presented as a more melodic, less "scary," and much more commercially viable stoner-metal package than what the Sword or High on Fire had to offer. Tall, skinny, well-dressed, and coifed somewhere between Grand Funk Railroad's Don Brewer and the MC5's Rob Tyner, Stockdale added the appropriate guitar moves and cut a figure built for the festival stage. Once the debut broke in the U.K. and U.S. by mid-2006, Wolfmother was soon assuming prime slots at festivals around the world. The band followed up the album with the four-song Dimensions EP in 2006, then a live video album titled Please Experience Wolfmother Live in 2007 and contributed the song "Pleased to Meet You" to the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack that same year.
In early 2008, Wolfmother's label announced via press release that "irreconcilable personal and musical differences" had ended the band. However, Wolfmother's sophomore follow-up album was already in the works, and after a brief spell with the Raconteurs drummer, Patrick Keeler, Stockdale reassembled what he called "Wolfmother Phase II," a quartet with Ian Peres on bass/keyboards, Aidan Nemeth on second guitar, and Dave Atkins on drums. The lineup was made official by January of 2009, and, later that year, the longer, heavier, and all-around bigger Cosmic Egg appeared and peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and sold boatloads in Australia.
As a sign of the changing musical landscape, the next few years were not as commercially fruitful for Wolfmother, and Stockdale had to steer the band through more lineup turmoil and other challenges. He released what was to be the band's third album, 2013's Keep Moving, under his own name, then two months later resurrected the Wolfmother moniker for a string of live dates. In March of 2014, Wolfmother's third proper full-length, New Crown, was released out of nowhere as a digital download on Bandcamp. Self-produced and self-released without any promotion, the album still sold well in Australia and cracked the Billboard 200 at No. 160. Signaling a return to the band's earlier years, this month the fourth Wolfmother album, Victorious, was released by Universal Music Enterprises (or UMe). It was recorded by noted producer Brendan O'Brien (also former vice president of Epic Records) at Henson Recording in Hollywood. Stockdale wrote everything on the album and performed all of the vocals, guitars, and bass himself, with keyboards contributed by regular touring bassist Peres and drums handled by Josh Freese and Joey Waronker.
The tour that brings Wolfmother to Memphis is known as the "Gypsy Caravan Tour" and will feature a trio configuration of the band with Peres on bass and Alex Carapetis on drums.