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Wolfmother is ready to turn rock on its head

Australian psychedelic metal band is gets high praise from fans and critics
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of Australia’s biggest bands is setting its sights on conquering America. And with praise from critics and a healthy buzz among fans, Wolfmother just might succeed.

Wolfmother exploded on the scene in Australia in 2004 and quickly ascended to the top. Their self-titled debut was voted best album by Australia’s top alternative radio station, and is close to hitting triple-platinum certification Down Under.

So, why all the fuss?

Wolfmother brings together all that was revered about ’70s psychedelic metal. Uber-fro’d lead singer Andrew Stockdale’s higher-pitched vocals perfectly blend Robert Plant’s scorching staccato and Ozzy Osbourne’s melodic howl, occasionally allowing a little Jack White to slip in. The seething guitars ooze sex appeal; the tubular organ stomps and rolls over anything in its path and the drums thunderously stampede from track to track.

Following a short tour to introduce the band early this year, Wolfmother returned stateside to dazzle the crowd at the Coachella Valley Music Festival on April 29. And it looked to be a career-turning performance with people pouring out the sides of the performance tent.

“It was our biggest show in the states [so far],” Stockdale said while sitting in traffic driving back to the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., for the second day of Coachella. “There were a lot of people there and maybe seeing us live gives you more of an understanding of where we’re coming from.”

And where they’re coming from is six long years of kicking around music and playing together in Sydney. It took the band — Stockdale, bassist/organist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett — four years to play in front of an audience. But that time has certainly paid off because soon they were playing for 50,000 people in Australia’s Big Day Out tour.

“In some ways we didn’t really consider that we could dedicate ourselves to music. We were probably thinking about other things and other jobs to sustain our lives,” Stockdale said earnestly. “Then eventually when we thought we’d do the basic things — do a show, record what we were doing — it all started to happen.”

Wolfmother’s sound is a huge departure from the current post-punk revivalists. And while bands like Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin changed people’s lives in the late ’70s, Wolfmother hopes to have their own effect.

“Hopefully [fans] will be transported from their daily lives to a freer place and feel understood through our expression,” Stockdale offered. “Whether that’s expressing your inner demons or feeling of joy, it’s all healthy to go there and realize it with the music. It’s what everyone’s looking for.”