To survive 15 years and release five albums as a self-described ‘underground band’ takes real commitment and sacrifice. That is the case with Montreal-based trio We Are Wolves, as we discovered in our recent interview.
The group is preparing to release their fifth album, WRONG, on Sept. 30, one that has been preceded by two single, “Wicked Games” and “I Don’t Mind."
We chatted with keyboardist Vincent Levesque yesterday, and he explained that “I just can’t wait for it to come out. It has been a long process. Being rather a DIY project where we do so much ourselves, at some point it becomes more like a psychosis than an album!
"It is like a double life. You are working on it for years and nobody hears anything. You don’t share every step of the process with people around you and then it’s like ‘let’s get it out there and move on! Start living again.'"
Prior to the album release, We Are Wolves will showcase in Hamburg as part of the Canadian contingent at the Reeperbahn Festival, and an extensive Quebec tour is set after that.
Levesque cites the opportunity to travel as a satisfying one. “We went to China three times last year. I’ve been all over the States and Canada and through Europe. I likely wouldn’t have gone to places like Baltimore or Minneapolis on vacation, but I’m glad to have been able to travel.”
Not that the group travels in a first-class fashion. Sharing a cheap motel room is common and Levesque says that “sometimes you have to stay at the promoter’s house. To me, sleeping on the floor isn’t a big deal. I don’t define my person as to where I sleep.
“I grew up listening to punk and grindcore and hardcore- heavy stuff. I went to punk shows. To me, my own personal comfort wasn’t much of a problem.”
He does acknowledge that pursuing this life in music means financial sacrifices. “All my friends of my age have cabins in the north and new cars and they buy houses. But we are still the guys doing the art stuff. We are the poorest of everybody we know, but people do really respect us and think it is amazing that we do it. At some point it no longer really feels like a choice."
Levesque and band co-founder Alexander Ortiz (drummer Pierre Luc-Begin is a more recent recruit) had no great career ambitions when they began, Levesque explains.
“We never imagined this journey. When we started doing music an album wasn’t even in the plans. We just wanted to do it for fun. We started doing shows – opening for others- and at some point a friend goes ‘I think you should record an album.’ We go, ‘what? That sounds like a lot of trouble.’ But we did the first one and it went on from there.
We liked doing it and had the opportunity to keep on with it and we never really looked back. Sometimes I think, ‘holy shit. Is this what my life is now? I’m one of those guys now?’”
WRONG is primarily self- produced, he explains. “I did most of the electronics myself and we were helped out by Antoine, our live sound engineer. We share our rehearsal and recording space with him. I gathered skills along the way and we all feel much better in the studio.”
The We Are Wolves sound meshes elements of post-punk and synth-driven electronic. The group decided early on to work in English. “From our background in punk and minimal music we always liked shorter sentences and slogan-oriented lyrics that we thought worked better in English. French people were never really good at being intense and rocking out.”
That approach did mean they couldn’t access the francophone-based grants system in Quebec. “We never got angry about that as we knew it from the start,” says Levesque. “Singing in English means we could travel more.” The group has received FACTOR assistance in the past.
WRONG is the first We Are Wolves album since 2013’s La Mort Pop Club. It will be released on Fantôme Records, a Montreal-based label that was started last year. Fantôme Records A&R head Alexandre Auché told FYI yesterday that “with the identity of the label, We Are Wolves were one of the first acts we wanted to talk too and now we’re on board with them. We will work with Anglophone artists and with a stress on electronic music.”
Another early label signing is Le Matos, a duo who composed the score to acclaimed film Turbo Kid.
Auché is excited about WRONG and he notes that “I knew of the band for years. Earlier on I booked some shows for them in Europe.”
We Are Wolves publicist Danny Payne is also a genuine fan of the group, as he tells FYI. "I'm actually a Brit but first heard them through my Québécoise wife many years ago. Funnily enough I think their sound would and should be very popular over on my old side of the pond."
Levesque informs us that a Toronto date in December is expected. For confirmed tour dates go here.