After blowing away sold-out crowds during tours across the nation, topping Spotify charts and opening for countless New Zealand and international acts, Written By Wolves recently released their first EP titled Prologue.
Having followed the band for several years, Paul T Gheist was eager to catch up with band lead vocalist and frontman Michael Murphy for some insight into the much-anticipated release, and – of course – get a listen to the new five-track EP.
Paul: What made Written By Wolves choose to finally release an EP?
Michael: We felt it was time to release something to really signify the start of what we had set out to do. We’ve been releasing music for three years, and we’re still aiming to get as much content out there as possible. With now at about thirteen songs, we’re still wanting to ensure there’s always a new body of work. Because there’s nothing worse than finding your new favourite band, and finding you’re binging their same songs over and over. Plus, Written By Wolves’s fans have asked for ages for an EP or an album, so it was a good chance to draw a line in the sand and put it out there.
Paul: Of the five songs on the Prologue EP, two were remastered and released - Starlight, and Timebombs and Hurricanes. What made you choose those particular songs?
Michael: Over the years, we worked out something of a masterplan and we’d always envisaged those two belonging together. As an EP, we knew we wanted those five particular ones; it was all part of how we wanted everything to sound, and a style we wanted to create for ourselves.
Paul: Tell me a bit about your three newest songs - Affirmation, Oxygen and Promise Me.
Michael: Affirmation and Oxygen were some of our slightly heavier songs, particularly Oxygen, which acted as an announcer prior to our tour with Devilskin earlier this year. We wanted to explore the heavy side of what we do... see what ways we can get our love of heavy music incorporated, but also twist things around with hip-hop and dance music too. These three songs are definitely my favourites, they’re the most raw and honest songs I’ve ever written.
Paul: Any personal favourites of yours from Prologue?
Michael: Listening back to the EP, it was honestly really hard to pick a favourite. The songs I like tend to be ones I’ve written most recently, because they remind me of the different head-spaces I was in, and for me, that’s the beauty of music. To pick one, it would have to be Promise Me. It’s quite a personal song and was written about a phone call between my dad and I when he told me he was sick. He’s doing great now, otherwise it would be a very different song!
Paul: Cheers, Mike.
So what does Paul T Gheist feel about the new EP?
The EP begins with a solid stomp of mid-pace drumbeat, matched with roaring bass and guitars. Opener Affirmation serves as the bold and ballsy entrance the band deserves, welcoming listeners with arms outstretched. Michael Murphy’s lyrics “We won’t go quietly” and “We will survive” asserts their stance and affirms that the band’s mission has just begun. In the band’s style of stadium-wide sound and anthemic singalong choruses... energy levels on this one are then taken up notches for a one more energetic double-time chorus, making for a powerful, yet positive, rock record opener.
The second track Oxygen is a crowd-tested new release that’s become a fun live staple at shows... and it’s easy to hear why. With its contrasts of soft, clean-sung verses and blasts of thrash metal winding listeners up... before releasing them into huge choruses of layered synths and strums on the ol’ electric axes from Bahador Borhani and Davie Wong. For those up for some air-guitar action, there’s even a sweet little guitar solo added!
The third track is the one that may separate pop fans from rock fans. Though steeped in keyboards, effects and synthesised beats, the song is just as energetic and enjoyable as its EP counterparts. In the style of a dance-pop tune, there is heavy emphasis on the chorus drops, and 80’s-like keyboard passages that one can imagine filling out a stadium, and glow sticks in the air as the choruses soar. Easily the most pop-influenced on this release, but frankly, this genre-fusion is what the band is about, and nobody’s holding back.
Not letting up on their electronic inspirations, the remastered fourth track Starlight features scratchy electro-edges to the ends of Michael’s vocal phrases with an almost industrial four-four beat. Once again, the signature sound of lead singing takes centre-stage, backed with gang vocals and heavy metal guitars, only this time, listeners are also treated to a bouncy and entertaining drum n’ bass passage unleashed at the last third of the song.
Concluding with the hit single Promise Me, leading with sobering lyrics and a hip-hop beat, the mood ramps to a slow-dance of guitar roars and heart-searing singing, eventuating in a heavy breakdown of drum and guitar riffs, then concluding in one last chorus, with the last bars lightly beating away, as though to lead in to another song – Perhaps the next chapter, perhaps a full album.
When asked if the EP title alludes to new releases on the horizon, Michael himself said, “We have a lot of stuff planned. Keeping in mind the goal of getting as much music out there as possible, we will definitely be doing more.”
For those who are into arena-sized alt-rock sounds, tied together with equally big melodies, blended with elements of heavy metal, punk and dance music, be sure to stop by this release. If you haven’t already.