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Progressive Rock Interviews

Wolverine

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview With Stefan Zell of Wolverine From 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

You guys started out as rather extreme metal, but now have moved pretty thoroughly into the realm of progressive rock. How did that come about?
I guess what it comes down to is the fact that we have all changed as persons. The music we write is a reflection of who we are so it’s only natural that our music has changed through the years. We also have other musical influences today compared to let’s say five years ago. I find it nice to know that we have always been a band that’s never stayed in one place but actually tried to evolve from album to album. Of course you can’t please everyone but at least we have pleased ourselves and in the end that’s all that matters to me.
MSJ:
What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of both metal as a genre and progressive rock?

Tricky question… The strength of metal is definitely its power and energy. I also find metal to be a pretty wide genre. Of course there are people that have opinions about what “true” metal is but if you ask me metal can sound very varied and different. I have a hard time coming up with a weakness since I myself love metal. It would probably be the narrow-minded view some fans of metal tend to express (if it’s not brutal and aggressive it’s not metal) but I guess that kind of mentality can be found in every genre. Believe it or not but I’m not very much into progressive rock so I don’t really have a qualified opinion about it as a genre. I tend to think a lot of it sounds the same but that’s a typical thing to think when you’re not into a genre.
MSJ:
Can you catch the readers up a bit more on the history of Wolverine?

We started out as a melodic death metal band in '95 but soon started playing a more progressive kind of metal. Early influences were Fates Warning. In '99 we released our first EP, Fervent Dream, and in 2001 our first full-length album The Window Purpose was released. In 2003 we released Cold Light of Monday through Earache/Elitist Records. A couple of years later we split with Earache and signed to Candlelight Records and it’s through them we have just released Still, our fourth album to date.
MSJ:
I know artists hate to have their art described or pigeonholed (and your music is harder than most to pin down), but how would you describe it?

I would describe it as a very melodic kind of metal with influences of progressive rock/metal. People have compared us to Anathema, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Pain of Salvation and a few the bands. I guess the truth is somewhere between all those names.
MSJ:
What are your musical influences, both personally and as a band?

I listen to a lot of different kind of bands and artists - everything from Richard Marx to A-ha to Judas Priest and so on. I like good melodies so most of the stuff I listen to is very melodic. Right now I’m heavily into the new solo album from Paul Stanley, a 33-minute long masterpiece to my ears. Buy it once it’s out! I don’t really know what the other guys listen to but I know we all have kind of different tastes in music but somehow we manage to create music that we all like together so that’s all good.
MSJ:
Are there musicians out there with whom you would like to work in the future?

I’d love to have Anneke of The Gathering to sing on one of our albums but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get hold of her. There are so many talented people out there so it would take forever to list everyone I’d like to work with. It would of course be awesome to have Geoff Tate appear on a track but of course that’s nothing more but an impossible dream.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?

I’d say it’s a great promotional tool. I’m pretty sure we have a lot of fans that would never have discovered us unless they downloaded us from the Internet. In our position, as a small and unknown band, we have everything to gain from downloading. The problem occurs if people only download and don’t buy the album once it’s out and they like it. That way it hurts a band our size a lot since that means the label see we don’t sell enough records and if that’s the case they will immediately drop us. I’m all for downloading but if you download something and like it: Buy it as soon as it is officially released!
MSJ:
What’s ahead for Wolverine? Touring, more recording?

We’ll go to the UK next week for three gigs together with Anathema. We’ll play in Glasgow, Manchester and London so that will hopefully be a lot of fun. After that I really hope we’ll get a longer tour. If not we’ll just go back into writing mode and start working on our next album.
MSJ:
Where did the name Wolverine originate?

The band started out as a side project so we didn’t really give much thought to the band name. It was just something Marcus came up with and we both thought it sounded cool at the time since we are both Marvel fans. I never knew how much I’d regret that decision. Today there’s nothing else I’d rather do than change our name but so far the other guys haven’t really seen it my way. We’ll see what happens in the future.
MSJ:
What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

I’ve listened extremely much to the new Paul Stanley album so I’ll definitely buy that as soon as it is out. I don’t buy a lot of CD’s, I’m more into music DVD’s. The last DVD I bought was Dream Theater’s Score which is brilliant.
MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

I think Dream Theater was the last band I saw live. It was on their Octavarium-tour but to be honest I prefer to enjoy them on DVD. They easily become too much and then it’s nice to be able to press stop.
MSJ:
What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

I actually don’t have a Spinal Tap moment to share. We have never done a proper tour so those moments have been avoided which is a pity if you ask me. Hopefully I have some moments to share with you in a few years.
MSJ:
Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

I just hope as many people as possible check out Still. We’re extremely proud of it and if you’re into melodic and moody music you’ll definitely enjoy it. Take care!
 
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