WÜLF GANG: Unleash The Beast !!

Sometimes, when you’re on the migthy internet, you might bump into a band, that catches your attention. WÜLF GANG (with female singer JoAnna Brooks) caught our eye with their album “Unleash The Beast” almost immediately. The name of the band, the title of the CD and the drawing of the wolf on the CD cover…. This must be an interesting band or we’ll eat our hat, was our first tought. And we were right (again). WÜLF GANG from Concord, NC are a great classic old school metal band, and they have released an amazing debut album. This simply asked for a closer introduction to our readers. So, let’s waste no time, because the WÜLF GANG is here to present themselves to you....

When did WÜLF GANG become a band and who were in the first line up back then?
JoAnna Brooks: “WÜLF GANG started back in 1991 with Vee Patrick, James Jones, Jamie Watson, Pat Donyghaue, and KK York.”

Who actually came up with the name of the band?
JoAnna: “When I joined the band in 2001, WÜLF GANG was already an established metal band, that had been around since 1991. The drummer for that original line up used to raise wolves and so they decided to drop the "o" and add "u" for WULF GANG. The umlets were added later, when the current member line up was complete making it WÜLF GANG.”

Please introduce yourself here and what instrument(s) you play.
JoAnna Brooks on vocals;
Vee Patrick on guitar;
James Johnson on bass guitar;
Stephen StiXx on drums.

Did any of the recent members play in other bands before they joined THE GANG? And if yes, did they record anything with these bands?
JoAnna: “Yes. WÜLF GANG being an established band since 1991 with Vee Patrick has had two previous album releases: “Wulf Gang” and “Love Aint Easy”. Stephen StiXx was the drummer for a band called MOX RUBY with former members of WULF GANG. To my knowledge nothing was recorded by that project. I fronted a band for four years called JOESY WAILS. We released a full length CD in 1997, called “North Of Nowhere”. I learned a lot and gained much experience with my time in JOESY WAILS, but I needed a little more room to write and be myself. James Johnson fronted a band in 1992, called KILLIAN, who recorded a four song EP and later joined the band JEZTER’S COURT as a bass player.”

Did any line up changes occur in the early days, and if yes, can you please tell us which members left the band and why?
JoAnne: “Vee is the only remaining member of the original line up. He has struggled over the years keeping the name WULF GANG and going through various member changes. It's hard keeping a good rock band together, if the elements just don't mix. Some people have kids or get married or have substance abuse problems that can hinder a bands progress, if the musician's heart and mind just isn't with the band anymore. Not to mention situations of musical indifference, which often arises and one simply cannot balance two different things at once. In 2001, I joined WULF GANG, which consisted of Vee, StiXx, and myself. We found that we hit things off right away and were very comfortable in being ourselves and letting that come out in our music. A couple of months after I joined the band, James Johnson joined up with us on bass and we've been rocking ever since.”

Who can we see as the biggest influence for WÜLF GANG, and maybe you can also point out some of the influences of each bandmember individually?
JoAnna: “WÜLF GANG has several influences of YESTERDAY AND TODAY (Y&T) as far as mainstream rock and underground metal. One band that I think has influenced all of us is DOKKEN. We've heard a lot of people say, that they hear the DOKKEN influence come out, when we start playing. Other influences of ours that you may or may not hear range anywhere between thrash metal bands of the 80's and newer bands of today like PUDDLE OF MUD and SALIVA.”

How would you describe your music?
JoAnna: “Good ol' heavy metal music.”

You recently released your debut album "Unleash The Beast". What was the reaction of the press towards this album?
JoAnna: “We were a little concerned at first, that people would get the wrong idea behind "Unleash The Beast" and compare it with other publicity stunts honoring satanism (laughs). It turns out that people were more curious about the band members and the material than the cover of the album and the meaning behind the title. So far we've had a very positive response from reviews and newspapers.”

Can you tell us how many copies were sold so far?
JoAnna: “I'm so busy with focusing on new projects for the band, that I really don't know the exact number of copies sold. Most of our record sales are made online through CDBaby [http://www.cdbaby.com] and CD Street [http://www.cdstreet.com] as well as live shows. “Unleash The Beast“ has been sold in the U.S. and a few other countries. We are working on deals with various record stores to get copies of “Unleash The Beast” as well as the upcoming album on the shelves to increase our record sales.”

Are you satisfied with the final result? And if you could change something to the album right now, what would you change then?
JoAnna: “I'm fairly satisfied with the final result of “Unleash The Beast”. I think, that if I had one thing to change, it would probably be the final mix. Of course when you are on a budget while in the studio, sometimes it's not easy to get everything done the way you want it.”

Did you also get any negative reactions, and how do you deal with those critics? Do you try to learn from your 'mistakes', or do you try and forget about it as quickly as possible?
JoAnna: “Constructive criticism is always appreciated, as we can get ideas of how to better ourselves and know that are fans are satisfied. Occasionally, we do get the destructive side of criticism, which we tend to ignore and keep on doing what we like to do best.”

Who writes the songs for WÜLF GANG, and how do you people go about, when writing new songs?
JoAnna: “Vee and I mostly write the songs for WÜLF GANG. We have become very accustom to each others ways of song structure and pretty much know what the other is going to do. Of course, on stage is a whole different thing for us (laughs). We've learned how to compensate for a lot of "spur of the moment" events, while playing live.”

Who writes the lyrics for the band, and can you tell us what they are about?
JoAnna: “I'm responsible for the lyrical content of the band. Sometimes I run into problems with certain words I sometimes like to use, that others would not consider appropriate. If I weren't so kind as to consider other peoples point of view, then I would be the blame for any "parental advisory" being stamped on our material (laughs). I usually write from a dark perspective, as I do not believe in sugar coating reality. The material on “Unleash The Beast” will sum up these subjects... Adultery, alcoholism, meddlesome ex-wives causing chaos, love/hate relationships, three phases of womanhood.”

Who came up with the artwork for your debut album? It looks very cool and it matches your band name perfectly, I think.
JoAnna: “The cover artwork for “Unleash The Beast” was created by Deana Bost. The layout and additional art was done by Donnie Christianson.”

Looking at the 'thanks' list, we notcied some remarkable things. First of all, we want to know all about JoAnna's obnoxious angels (Trey, Ashley, Cheryl and Nicole). Who are these ‘angels’? (laughs)
JoAnna: “My obnoxious angels are of course my children. Ashley and Trey are my daughter and son and Cheryl and Nicole are my two step-daughters. All are very special in their own way.”

Then you also mentioned God as first and foremost. Many people do this, but must we see WÜLF GANG as a white metal band, or is this going too far?
JoAnna: “I would not consider us a white metal band, but I think that each member of WÜLF GANG recognizes a higher power, that we are thankful for allowing us to achieve the things, that we work hard for.”

Another thing, you will seldom see and which caught our eye, is that you mentioned Keith Allen Bryant, and thank him for serving and protecting the city streets of Charlotte, NC. What a great way to pay respect to someone! Who was this man?
JoAnna: “Keith Bryant was a good friend of James Johnson. He was a Charlotte police officer for several years. He died of liver disease at the age of 34 in October 2002.”

Let's have a closer look at your live shows now. What's the metal scene like in Charlotte, and in North Carolina? Are there many clubs where you can play live, and maybe you can name us a few bands that come from this area too?
JoAnna: “The metal scene in Charlotte is trying to bounce back to what it was in the 80's. I think more bands are coming out of the woodwork. There are quite a few places to play live, but the problem for the local bands is that many of the clubs here do not promote their local music. Most bands are finding more success playing clubs in other surrounding states rather than their home base. I would like to see Charlotte and other cities in North Carolina support their local music more in the future. Some bands that have come from North Carolina are OBEY BIZARRE, FIREHOUSE and C.O.C.”

What will people expect, when they come to see a live show of WÜLF GANG? Do you have any show elements during your live show?
JoAnna: “We like using pyros, but since most of our shows are indoors we are no longer allowed to use them. We always provide a good sound thanks to our man Jerry Tucker. We love our lights and fog... Other than that, it's pretty much just our craziness that gets the crowds attention and keeps them rocking through the show. We love to interact with the crowd. Occasionally, we will have crazy contests for a free CD and sometimes we come up with cool ideas and things to throw out to the crowd.”

Do you play any covers or do you stick to your own penned material only? Which covers do you play during your live sets?
JoAnna: “Most of our live set is original material. We have a list of covers that we play when the crowd is pumped, still buying beer and refusing to go home. We cover a few songs from DOKKEN, KISS, JOHN MELLENCAMP, TED NUGENT, BON JOVI, ect.”

Which song is the most difficult one to play live and why?
JoAnna: “I think we have a few, that are a little difficult to play live. We base our set list according to which songs are difficult and usually try to knock them out early on. Considering that we usually play three set shows lasting about four hours, it gets kinda tough holding out that long, unless you have a game plan for survival.”

What's the crowd’s fave song?
JoAnna: “We've had an overwhelming response to “Maiden Mother Crone” and “Power”, as far as original material concerns. Of course we have a little Southern medley, that we do consisting of three cover tunes: “Seven Bridges Road” (THE EAGLES), “Sweet Home Alabama” (LYNYRD SKYNYRD), and “You've Got Another Thing Coming” (JUDAS PRIEST). This usually gets the crowd screaming.”

I bet, you can tell some nice stories about ‘live on the road’ with WÜLF GANG. I hope, that you want to dig into your memory and come up with some nice stories for our readers?
JoAnna: “I'll just say that "you might be a redneck if"... you drive a truck full of equipment down the interstate and 30 miles away from the club with the door wide open and never lose as much as a drum stick (laughs). On a gentler note, my father passed away shortly before the release of “Unleash The Beast”. We had been playing show after show, weekend after weekend and were too busy to even think about anything else but our next gig. When the guys came to my house and were there for me in my time of grief, it really meant a lot ot me. It made me feel as if I were more than just a singer and band member, but that I was like a sister.”

Are there any memorable gigs, that you want to tell us about?
JoAnna: “Hmm... playing the club circuit, you see all kinds of crazy things. The security isn't as tight in clubs and fans can get away with quite a bit. During one of our shows, Jamie disappeared and was replaced by a bouncing topless woman, who decided to sneak her way on stage behind all the equipment. One fan was very proud to snap certain parts of her anatomy in a rat trap. We have a very faithful fan and friend of the band, who fell flat on his back one night during a song. He scared all of us pretty bad, because we didn't know if he’d just dropped dead or what. When we started the next song, he jumped up and started rocking again... Guess he was just resting a bit (laughs).”

What do you think of the metal scene today, are there any bands that you like to hear in particular? Is there a slight chance, WÜLF GANG will come over to Europe to play live?
JoAnna: “I think playing Europe is a goal for WÜLF GANG as well as any other band. I would like to think that we would someday be in high demand to play live shows in Europe. This is one of the goals, that we are working hard on to achieve.”

Are you writing for a new album yet, and maybe you can reveal something here?
JoAnna: “We are writing new material and are getting prepared to record the next album. New songs ready for recording are “Little Things”, ‘Trapped”, “Feet On The Ground”, “Wasting Time”, “It Breathes There”, “American Way”, “Here To Stay”, “Memories Remain”, “Crossroads” and “Rest In Peace”. Of course the hardest decision for us is deciding which songs will make the cut for the next album. We are preparing for a bigger response than the previously released “Unleash The Beast”.”

How important is the internet for a band like WÜLF GANG? And where can we find your website?
JoAnna: “I think the internet is a great way for bands to advertise and get their name out there. It's one way for unsigned bands to afford advertisment and attract attention from other countries as well as new local fans. Our website can be found at: http://www.wulfgang.com. Please stop by and sign our guestbook, when you’re there. We’d love to hear from you all!”

Do you have any goals for WÜLF GANG?
JoAnna: “We have a goal to get better deals with promotion and touring. Being an artist in a genre where the competiton is so great, it's hard to attract attention from the important people who get tons of marterial from bands everyday. We hope to get our material in the right hands.”

Our magazine is dedicated to all the female musicians in the (hard) rock and (heavy) metal. Do you feel you still need this kind of recognition?
JoAnna: “I think it's great for a magazine like Metal Maidens to be there for women in hard rock and heavy metal. Women of rock and metal will always appreciate the recognition they work hard for.”

We strongly believe, the metal scene is gaining popularity again. Do you agree with that?
JoAnna: “I would agree that the metal scene seems to be gaining more popularity week by week. Over the past several months I've been noticing that bands are starting to have a more melodic approach to their music. Some bands like JET even have that old school sound, that is attracting a lot of attention. One band that I really enjoy hearing is LACUNA COIL. They have the perfect combination of new and classic styles of metal. TESLA's new album "In The Now" is in my opinion stronger than anything they did in the eighties and one album, that I would encourage people to buy. Even THE DARKNESS has managed to take everyone by suprise. I still don't know what to think of those guys, but they have somehow managed to make a big impact in mainstream rock.”

But we also believe the music scene has changed a lot. It seems to be all about money and not if you have any talent or not. What's your opinion about this?
JoAnna:“Money will always be the important focus on the corporate scale. I think music fans are the real bosses, when it comes down to where the money is coming from. Whatever the public is buying is what the rock and roll corporates are going to sale them. It seems that the music scene will change every ten to fifteen years anyways.”

Any final words?
JoAnna: “Thank you so much for the interview! I really enjoyed doing it and I hope we can make it to Europe soon!! I look forward to reading your magazine, as I really admire the very cool website you have. Will keep in touch!”

Website: http://www.wulfgang.com

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Toine van Poorten, 2004.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #37/Oct. 2004.