What: Two Tone Wolf Pack w/ Champagne Charlie
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: hi-dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver, 303-733-0230
More info: hi-dive.com
I t's been about two years since Two Tone Wolf Pack built themselves some tin-can microphones and recorded an EP. The self-described "early 20th century imagery and idealism manifested in trashcan-americana" band has since gained a bass player and refocused the writing on more complex vocals and a thicker sound.
It'll be a few more months before the Denver band releases the next album, but you can check them out at the hi-dive tomorrow night, opening for Champagne Charlie. We talked to John Hyde about his band's changing sound and fascination with an older, wilder America.
What has the band been up to lately?
We're in the process of recording a record -- or, well, we're supposed to record in July. So we're in the process of writing that and revamping merch and redoing the website, stuff like that. We got a new bass player in October. Halloween, I think, was his first show with us, and since then it's kind of changed the direction of our sound a little bit. He's definitely been a big part of the writing.
What's the change in direction? Will a casual listener hear it?
If you watched us over time, you will definitely notice the change because we're filling out the sound a lot more. Before, we never had a bass player... It just adds a lot in terms of atmosphere, and because we're able to hone in as a team more, I think we learned how to utilize our strengths more -- one of those things being that we're emphasizing our vocals more in terms of harmonies and intricate parts like that, and before it was more of a gang-vocal thing.
That's pretty different from the EP recorded with tin-can mics.
Part of what we're excited for with our new record -- that was a great learning process to do our own recording and mixing -- but having someone who's going to work with us, Tim from Mammoth Cave studios, and we're excited about that.
So those mics are out this time.
It's definitely a unique thing. They say you can either look at making a record as one of two things. You can use it as a snapshot of where your band is at the time or you can do it more as an art piece. I think the listener totally subconsciously gets that as they listen to a record -- these are songs or it's a whole piece -- and I think the tin can songs were just songs ... I think this is going to be more of a whole piece.
Tell me about the mindset you're in when you're writing these songs about an older, violent time.
Well two of our band members are from Georgia, and so they grew up very much in that world and in that mentality, at least being around their grandparents and learning from that. And I did something similar where I'd go out to Illinois in the summer and work on a farm with my grandparents. That makes it a little easier and fun to explore older language, if you will. And I think all of us have kind of an obsession with a more primitive America -- old time is what people call it.
I love reading Cormac McCarthy, the guy who wrote "No Country for Old Men." And, more so, I think all of us have had some stage in our music career or as individuals where we've played folk music, and there's definitely something really beautiful with simple folk music and sometimes if you get too technical you can lose the soul in it.
One time I heard somebody say that the bluebird knows how to sing but the blackbird's got the soul, and that was a reference to the difference between old railroad folk music and old blues versus bluegrass at the time, which was kind of variation of blues which was created to be a commercial success. We have the tendencies and definitely have an affinity. It's just like editing, you know, you learn to put out a lot of thought and say it in as simple of words as possible, and I think we've benefited from writing that way.