The Republic of Wolves: Through Empty Vessels and into the Limelight
August 3, 2015
Issue 001: The Republic of Wolves
At Outcryer, we believe heavily in the power of friend collaboration. There is something about like-minded individuals who come together to get shit done. The Republic of Wolves are no exception. Starting as a band of four friends playing in high school, they have beaten the odds of staying friends after graduating (kudos, guys), and have most recently found themselves at Warped Tour. Listening to this band feels like swimming into the oncoming tide; it’s peaceful at first but suddenly a lyrical rip-tide knocks you off your feet and you’re left gasping from the intensity.
Photography by Rebecca Reed
How did you get started?
Going all the way back, most of us started making music together in the first couple years of high school when we’d go down to Billy’s basement every day and create ridiculous, bizarre joke songs. It was purely for our own entertainment, and it was quite a while before we actually started trying to make good, serious music. A few years later, we kind of found our collective voice when we started experimenting with darker, heavier material that was inspired by a lot of the music we had bonded over. We realized pretty quickly how well everything was coming together, and how passionate we all were about this new music, so we decided to get serious about forming a legitimate band. So it was a lot of trial and error.
What are you doing now? Please give an example of current work or projects.
We’re currently writing and recording a new album, one that’s a bit darker and more eclectic than our previous music. We’re really trying to make it more collaborative than any of our previous albums, which each tended to be dominated by one of our two main songwriters (Mason and Gregg).
We’re all people with very strong musical opinions, so it’s really an exercise in expanding our individual horizons and opening ourselves up to different ideas.
We’ve also just finished recording an alternate version of our first EP, “His Old Branches,” to accompany its upcoming re-release on vinyl. We basically broke down the original songs and reimagined them in exciting new ways, and we had a lot of fun changing around the musical elements (chord progressions, instrumentation choices, etc).
What does art mean to you? In other words, define art for us.
Art can be a lot of things, but I think the key is that it has to evoke emotion, either in the creator or in the viewer/listener, or (preferably) both. In that way I think it’s the manifestation of emotion and sentimentality, and the only way to turn the human condition into something tangible. There’s a lot that can’t be communicated rationally or intellectually, and I think art has the ability to bridge the gap between people’s deeper selves. I don’t think anyone can definitively say that something isn’t art, because they can’t actually know what the artist may have put into it emotionally…or what someone else may take from it.
Tell us about your most favorite piece of work that you have done. Why is it meaningful to you?
One of my more recent favorites would probably be “Through Empty Vessels,” the last track on our most recent full-length album “No Matter How Narrow”. When I wrote that song, I definitely felt like the lyrics were expressing emotions that I had had a tough time putting into words before that. I also think it came together musically in a really beautiful and cathartic way, thanks to the contributions of the rest of the band.
How did you get your name?
Our name came from a story that our guitarist Gregg was writing at the time that we put the band together. He had been working on this conceptual music project that was based around a pretty intense story about two rival factions, one of which was called the Republic Of Wolves. When we started thinking of possible names for our new project, “The Republic Of Wolves” was one of the first ideas suggested. It just felt right to everyone immediately.
Tell us a deep dark secret.
One “deep dark secret” (which isn’t really very secret at all) is that we first got attention online from some mislabeled Youtube videos. As a prank, a friend of ours posted clips of some of our earliest demos online, labeling them as leaks from Brand New’s upcoming new album. Apparently a bunch of people were fooled, and a lot of people were actually into the songs. When we realized what was happening we cleared everything up, and ended up getting a ton of hype. So essentially there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if it weren’t for an unexpected internet prank.
What is your favorite show you’ve played? And why?
Aside from Warped Tour, which was amazing altogether, our favorite show to play was probably last year’s Shrek Week show in Brooklyn.
Every year we celebrate Shrek Week, (around the first week of August), and last year we played a show with some awesome bands on the last day of the week.
At the end of our set we invited the other bands back onstage, along with some close friends, and did a huge, epic cover of “All Star” by Smash Mouth. We’re not sure how it sounded to the audience, but it was one of the most fun experiences we’ve had as a band.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you travel? And why?
We’d probably all have very different answers for this, but I think as a band we’d love to go to Japan. We’re all into a lot of aspects of Japanese culture, and somehow I think our music could do really well over there. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, though.
Finish this sentence…
We’re happiest when…we’re experimenting with new songs in the studio.
We feel most fulfilled when…a fan/listener tells us that our music somehow made a difference in their lives.
If we had it our way…we could reach enough people to make a living off of our music, and be able to continue writing, recording, and performing until we retire to a Space Station in our late eighties (which at that point will be considered fairly young).
It’s happy hour, what are you ordering?
We’re pretty much all ordering reasonably-priced beers. Or, if it’s an open bar, really fancy tropical drinks.
The Republic of Wolves is based in Long Island, NY.