After forming only last year, heavy metal supergroup Bad Wolves bring their first album Disobey to stages across Europe and the UK supporting Three Days Grace on tour. SlantedPress spoke to Bad Wolves’ guitarist Doc Coyle ahead of their Nottingham show to talk about Disobey, their UK/EU tour and life on the road.
Even though this is the band’s first-time touring in their current set up, all of the members came from other projects. Doc tells me that he played the UK 15 times before with his previous band God Forbid, so I ask if he has any favourite places to play in the UK. “I love Wales, no offence, Wales is always awesome. Manchester’s always great, and Glasgow, obviously they’re really great fans there. I was very lucky, the first time I came to the UK was in 2001 and my old band was supporting this band called Stamping Ground, a UK hardcore band. We did three weeks [touring] just in the UK. We got to go to a lot of different places. At the time I didn’t realise that it was fairly unique for foreign bands to do that… Yeah, I got to go all over the country. I love it.”
Bad Wolves’ fame began to rapidly escalate with the release of their third single, a cover of iconic rock song ‘Zombie’, originally released by The Cranberries in 1994. Dolores O’Riordan was lined up to perform the song with Bad Wolves, but passed away before they could record together. Because of their cover’s Billboard success, I ask Doc if the band intends to do any more cover songs in the future. “The short answer is yes. I know Tommy [Tommy Vext, lead singer] has another cover he’s working on and we’re behind the scenes on another one. I think it’s fun. Tommy and myself had a cover band called Rebel Noise Group and we would do 90s and 2000s era, so we’d do System of a Down and Filter and Soundgarden, stuff like that. In some ways I almost feel like that experience influenced the idea of doing a cover in that era. We love playing covers.”
Although the band didn’t get to collaborate with Dolores O’Riordan, they have collaborated with DIAMANTE on the track ‘Hear Me Now’. I ask Doc if there are any other artists that he would like to collaborate with in the future. “I think between me and Tommy one of our favourite rappers is Busta Rhymes because he raps really fast. I think that’s like our dream trying to see if we can somehow get Busta Rhymes on a song. I don’t think we can afford him, or, collectively, if we could get Huey Lewis or Phil Collins to do a track. I bet these people would not even return our phone calls, but I think for the whole band, if we could get Huey Lewis on a song that would be great.”
With the band’s first album bearing the simplistic title ‘Disobey’, giving an air of mystery to the band’s music, I ask what the thought process behind the title was. “We were brainstorming artwork ideas for the album and I suggested some kind of propaganda inspired artwork from the film ‘They Live’. The guy that started that [Shepard Fairey], he did the Obama poster and stuff. He came up with that whole ‘Obey’ thing. ‘Obey’ is actually from ‘They Live’ and it’s essentially you put on these glasses and the aliens took over. You’d see a Coca-Cola billboard and when you put the glasses on it would say ‘Obey’, or it would say ‘Conform’. So, when looking at artwork for that, Tom was like ‘Disobey’. It’s one of those things that’s so obvious, it was hiding in plain sight… and I think it’s perfect. I love titles that have simplicity.”
With the band just beginning their European tour with Three Days Grace at the time of the interview, I ask Doc what his favourite things to do to keep occupied on the road are. “So right now, we’re in Europe and the UK, you know it takes you a couple of days to get adjusted and it’s a lot of downtime. We were playing table tennis and I was catching up on television, I also have a book I need to finish.” Intrigued by what kind of books the metal musician would be interested in, I ask Doc what he’s reading at the moment. “Anthony Bourdain’s first book Kitchen Confidential, it’s really good, but I’ve been slacking with it… I’ve been a very terrible reader for the last few years or so. I think it’s also our brains have changed from using social media.” He clicks his fingers to explain how our attention spans have shortened. “There’s so many entertainment options available to you. I think just longform reading is harder for our brains than looking at a phone. It’s working out for your mind.”
Speaking of changes in modern life, a lot of the tracks on Disobey focus on political and social unrest. I ask Doc if he thinks it’s important for artists to explore these topics in their music. “I think, for artists it’s about kind of being true to what you’re about. Like, if you’re generally not really political or it’s not something that interests you, then I don’t think there’s really any responsibility [to include it] whereas, if that’s something that you really care about and it’s reflected in your art and in your work then yeah… When you’re putting this music together and you have to write lyrics, you have to focus on the things that you’re passionate about. I was not really involved lyrically with the record, but I know the stuff that is a little more politically edged is stuff that Tommy is really passionate about.” As a very energetic and muscular band, I ask Doc how the band keeps up with working out on tour. “On the last tour, Tommy bought like this big gym so we had that and I had like a bike but the hardest thing is just finding space to stretch. I have really, really bad back problems, so I have to do all these stretching and core exercises, and for lots you just have to have space. I didn’t bring actual workout shoes…” He indicates to his Air Jordans. “These are technically basketball shoes. They’ll do, but then you’ll get them all funky.” Seeing the band members walking around, it’s clear that they all take pride in their kicks. “This is our band thing, Air Jordan 1’s. If you see any of the band we’ll all be wearing different varieties of these shoes.”
It’s encouraging to see that the band have already got their own ‘thing’, especially since they’ve all come from fairly big bands in the past. I ask Doc how the new dynamic of Bad Wolves feels compared to his previous project. “I think that the main thing that makes it different is that we have several people in the band that have more or less been the band leader. Or been you know, type A personalities. I think that creates its own kind of tension in good and bad ways. We’re learning how to modulate the functionality of the band because everyone can’t all be the ringleader. So, for myself it’s about kind of picking spots to be at the head of something and also know when to support. It’s really learning different types of teamwork.”
With friendships between the band members building since their formation only last year, I ask Doc if there’s anything he misses from home when he’s travelling. “I have a girlfriend at home and the time is off so you’re trying to coordinate when you can call, so the distance is definitely relevant. I also think the days feel a little longer. A week here, you feel like you’ve been gone for two weeks. Maybe vice versa too if you’re from Europe and you go to the US. The thing is, I love variety in life, I think that just staying in your comfort zone is not healthy. Some things here aren’t as comfortable, like the tour buses. I’m too big, they don’t fit me. Like, I don’t fit in the bathroom, my head touches the ceiling. Little things like that you think oh, I wish it was kind of like this but I think that’s okay, it’s alright to challenge yourself. In that regard, just wanting everything to be comfortable all the time is not the best way to go in my opinion.” Shortly after the Nottingham gig, singer of Bad Wolves Tommy Vext was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre to receive treatment for a ‘severe bronchial infection’. Subsequent tour dates have featured the guest vocals of Stars from Bang Bang Romeo and Austin Dickinson from As Lions and Tommy re-joined the tour as of the 5th of October.
The band’s dedication to their first UK/EU tour together is admirable, and refusing to cancel their tour proves that Bad Wolves will be one to watch in the heavy metal scene for years to come.