Saturday, February 18, 2012


A growing trend in music these days is taking a moniker of a full band and it really just being the brain child of one person. One can say it is for a generation of artists inspired by Trent Reznor's work for Nine Inch Nails or what Dave Grohl's original intention's were for Foo Fighters - just him doing all the work. Britain's Wolf Gang aka Max McElliot is another example of this. While he may not be dabbling in rock and roll or industrial music, he is certainly taking inspiration from those mentioned and beyond. His dark electronic and hypnotic sound is what has made him all the rage back in the UK. Inspired by today's indie scene, 70's classic rock, classical and Radiohead, Wolf Gang released his debut album, Suego Falls in 2011 to rave reviews. As he is currently on tour in Europe before heading over to the US in April for Coachella, we spoke with Wolf Gang about his career, being alone in the band and the fantasy dream he had that brought his debut together.

Since the band is primarily just you, Max, why did you decide to adopt the moniker “Wolf Gang?”

I chose 'wolf gang' because I constructed the songs in a band like way, writing parts for the drums, bass, guitars, sonically the music sounded plural to me. I wanted the name to reflect that. Also people would have a nightmare of trying to remember or spell the name 'max mcelligott'...

When you were growing up you moved quite a bit, from England to US to Scotland. Did the change of countries and constant moving inspire any of your work?

Definitely, I think growing up and moving around quite a bit expanded my horizons, I never had a small town mentality, despite living in many. It was always about what else was out there. Having a German mother and an Irish/Greek father, I always felt a bit foreign myself wherever I lived, and though I became very attached to places and people, I felt a little like an outsider.

Did moving help define who you are today?

Yes, growing up in all of these places has shaped my personality. I feel like I could move far away without ever feeling the need to come back, and I apply this attitude to music, relationships, all sorts. It gave me independence.

Do you identify yourself as English or Scottish?

I identify myself as being British. I haven't family history in either country, it's all European, but I've lived here pretty much all my life, I probably appear more British than most of my friends.

Your music is very complex and very textured, you manage to combine classical inspiration and electronic hooks. Who are some of your influences?

I love records from my parents generation; Bowie and Byrne, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush. Roxy Music. Pop music that had character and intelligence. I love classical music and jazz as well, I think that must manifest itself in my music at times too.

Through your combinations of classical and electronic, do you find that composing each genre is very similar?

I feel that when it comes to composition, I always take the same approach of trying to create a good song with a solid structure and good melodies and hooks. I always write on piano or guitar. It's more in the production process that the song starts moving down either a classic or more synth type route.

The title of your debut, Suego Faults, is said to come from a place in a dream you had. Do you ever revisit that place? What is Suego Fault to you?

Not since the night I dreamt about it. It was a very vivid dream, it had a cinematic quality to it. Suego Faults was a place I was trying to reach, a sort of Utopia. I think everyone day dreams about their own Suego Faults in a way, somewhere they would rather be.

You recently said that you are already working on a follow-up album, when can fans expect that?

Something much better. A more mature and refined album that has more emotion to it but with all the of energy of the first one.

The NME Radar tour, which you were apart of last fall, has brought big success to many of its headliners, Florence and the Machine, The xx, Chapel Club. Do you feel honored to apart of this legacy and feel you can live up to the other bands?

Yeh it's great to have the same opportunity those other bands did, I'm really confident where the live show is at the moment, so I'm less nervous and more just really looking forward.

Your brilliant cover of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” was given away for free via your Facebook page. How did the cover come about? Do you feel social networking and giving songs away is good outlet of self promotion?

I've been playing that cover on piano for years, just because I love that song, so thought it would be fun to record it and give it away. I think social networking has become almost a foundation of any musical artist's career, you have to have an online presence to get anywhere these days, with the decline of single and album sales, it's almost the online statistics that measures an artist's success.

Back to your name real quick, there is also a rapper from the hip-hop group Odd Future with the name Wolf Gang. Are you already feeling the confusion?

Yeh I get a lot of online traffic from hugely aggressive and frankly inerudite odd future fans who threaten all sorts of punishment because I stole their beloved's name. Given that my 'wolf gang' predates his, one wonders what point these fans will struggle to make when they discover Mozart.

Much about your music is very much a young boy living a fantasy. Do you feel your fantasy has now become a reality?

The album is quite fantastical I suppose because at the time, the reality was that I had just dropped out in the final seconds of my degree on a whim and an instinct, my parents weren't talking to me, and I now faced the uphill struggle of trying to become a musician and pay my rent while working in a coffee shop. The escapism was a survival technique. Much of what I could of hoped for back then has happened now which is amazing, but there are definitely still things I dream about that have yet to happen in real life.