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Wolves ready for Rockquest finals

September 2009

These Dancing WolvesThese Dancing Wolves are a Timaru three-piece who are off to Auckland later in September for the Smokefreerockquest National Finals.

It is the band’s second trip north – last year they competed with a different line-up under the name New York Minutes.

The Pulse caught up with James Gibb who contributes words, guitars, loops and percussion to the band’s sound, which their MySpace lists as visual / experimental / big beat…

James, congrats on getting to the national finals! How rocky and long was the road there?
Thank you. Well the road wasn't as rocky as it was last year, for us. I think that having gone through the whole process before left us more relaxed for this year, since we knew what to expect and were confident with our material. Also, we didn't have to organise a show with a touring band this year, which made it a bit easier.
You had to make a DVD for the judges and obviously they liked what they saw - what did your DVD have in it?
Our DVD consisted of us playing in the basement/stock-room underneath a clothing store where I work. We played in a pretty small space, and placed a variation of manequins around us. Then we projected a music-player’s visualiser over us, and it created this pretty psychadelic/acid-trip atmosphere.
The band’s sound is big – how do you manage to get such a big sound out of the three piece? Tell us about the technology you use and how you use it to create the sound.
I think that losing a guitarist from last year left us with a need to fill that gap, and avoid the empty sound. So with my Rockquest vouchers from last year, I purchased a Loop Station, which basically records phrases of my guitaring on stage, which I control and record while playing live. It takes quite a while to learn how to use it properly and accurately, and for the others to practice playing in time with it. But that also keeps us tighter as a band, and more confident.
Your influences are many and varied – tell us about some of the bands you really admire and why.
Yeah, we're each into quite different music, which is reflected I think through our individual instrument sounds. I'm influenced by bands like Battles, Talking Heads, Holy F***, An Emerald City, Yeasayer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While Kieran (drummer) is into a bit of metal and heavier stuff, and Isaac is probably a good melting pot of Kieran’s and my musical interests. But there are quite a few bands that we all like, including Holy F***. (NME described this band’s sound as ‘noise as abrasive as it is awesome’).
Band LogoThe songs on your Myspace are reasonably long and cover quite a range of tempo and rhythms – how do you guys go about writing your songs?
Usually it starts with a looping idea I have, and a few layers I can put over it. Then we all jam for an extended period of 15 minutes, and take out the bits we like, then talk about the possible structure to the song while we walk to the dairy, come back, decide we like it, try out some vocals, record the song so we don't forget it and finish writing it next band practice.
You recently did your first official road trip – to Christchurch. Tell us how you got on – how did the crowds like you?
Hah, yeah that was the first These Dancing Wolves road trip for the year, and we really enjoyed it. We played at the Media Club with two bands we really like; Tiger Tones and Brand New Math. We also got some really good responses and a few gig offers out of it as well. We're also looking at going and playing a show with Brand New Math in Auckland later this year.
Good luck for the final – what do you all hope to get out of the trip?
For us, we love playing live. So if nothing else, we'd love to get gig offers and good feedback from people we respect.

The smokefreerockquest finals were held in Auckland on September 19, 2009.