Interview: London Indie Rock Trio WULF Talk “Never Giving Up,” New Music, COVID, & More

WULF
WULF
A smoldering indie rock jam, WULF’s “Never Giving Up” resonates with vigor and staying power as the British trio paint a heated picture of connection, hope, and faith.
Stream: “Never Giving Up” – WULF




This March marks a year of the COVID-19 pandemic and what better way to observe and honor this occasion that with a song guided by the perseverant spirit and unrelenting human passion? WULF’s first single of 2021 captures the inner strength we have deep in our core: A smoldering indie rock jam, “Never Giving Up” resonates with vigor and staying power as the British trio paint a heated picture of connection, hope, and faith.

Never Giving Up - WULF
Never Giving Up – WULF

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Never Giving Up,” the latest single from London indie rock band WULF (out March 12, 2021). Active since the early 2010s, the three-piece of Joshua Bowyer, Jimmy Gardiner, and Sean O’Neill have one EP (2015’s Lairs) to their name, but the band returned in January 2020 with what sounded (and still feels) like start of a new chapter: The rollicking “These Days” reassured all that WULF were ready to double-down in the new decade, and if we are to take their new song at its word, then “Never Giving Up” is all we need to know this band is here to stay.

A dynamic, burning power-ballad, “Never Giving Up” aches with a thick, vibrant wall of sound. Roaring guitars and churning pianos coalesce as the band build to a vivid chorus, where they let loose in a soulful confession of devotion.

“‘Never Giving Up” is a very personal song, written about a friend’s experience,” Josh Bowyer tells Atwood Magazine. “It reflects on the rumination of holding on to hope for those to be there who have been missing from your life. The song stems from past experience, and very relatable to COVID and what everyone has been going through recently and the importance of family, friends and relationships. It’s an ode to hope and perseverance.”

A darker song than some of the band’s past repertoire, “Never Giving Up” burns as a beacon of resilience – and hopefully, one of love. Its charismatic chorus and soulful vocals channel the kind of energy that comes from deep within, speaking to the band’s own growth since their debut seven long years ago.

Atwood Magazine caught up with WULF to discuss their story, this new single, COVID-19, and more: Reconnect with the UK trio below, and stream their new single “Never Giving Up” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

WULF
WULF



A CONVERSATION WITH WULF

Never Giving Up - WULF

Atwood Magazine: Hey WULF, thanks for chatting! What is the story of “Never Giving Up” for you?

WULF: Thanks Atwood for the chance to catch up and tell you about our new single and what we’ve been up to. We’re excited to have this track out on March 26th. “Never Giving Up” is a very personal song, written about a friend’s experience. It reflects on the rumination of holding on to hope for those to be there who have been missing from your life. The song stems from past experience, and very relatable to COVID and what everyone has been going through recently and the importance of family, friends and relationships. It’s an ode to hope and perseverance.

It's been over a year since you released ''These Days,'' which itself arrived a solid five years after Lairs. What's been the story of WULF in your words, and how do you define the present iteration of the band compared to that of the past?

WULF: Our debut EP Lairs came out at a pertinent time; 2014/2015, when the industry was still warming to Digital Streaming. Signed artists at that point, still had an old-school mentality instilled of needing to “make or break” with a release, to continue. We didn’t have all the self promotion tools, or analytics that artists have right now, and this was just five years ago. It’s funny, after our debut EP came out via BMG, we thought it had maybe not made the impact we had hoped, and looking back we were in a quandary about the next step forward. The EP was a big undertaking, it wasn’t just 4 quickly recorded self-produced songs, there was a year of writing, honing down track selections, and then recording with our long term collaborator and producer James Kenosha.

The irony was that in actual fact, when we were re-thinking where to go next musically/sonically, the tracks were seeing tens of thousands of daily streams (unbeknown to ourselves) across multiple platforms and achieved a few million streams across our SoundCloud and Spotify followers, and this for an alternative indie-rock band from a first release… It was in fact a modest start, for a ‘band’. Fast forward 5 years, independent artists like ourselves are learning to be self-sufficient, to better analyse success, and understand our valued territories. It’s these tools that have been useful and allowed WULF and other emerging artists to adopt a more catalogue approach to releasing music, and to organically build listenership across different platform communities.

Our line up hasn’t changed, it’s the same iteration – Joshua Vocals & Piano, Sean Guitar & Soundscapes & Jimmy Drums, but we’re playing for ourselves these days, for the love of recording and creating together and not because we need a single to achieve X success or be dropped. The music industry has rapidly evolved in recent years since our debut EP, it’s an exciting time to be a musician, we are seeing the welcomed investment streaming revenue brings to both independent & signed artists, and its created an opportunity to start regularly releasing and investing in our music – but at the same time, self distribution tools and low barriers to entry, makes the industry somewhat saturated with new music. It’s so hard for new artists to get cut through these days!

With so many weekly releases, it has the risk of creating a hobbyists industry, where revenue per streams will ultimately dilute and many artists won’t be able to sustain a lifestyle purely from being reliant on streaming services. On the whole though, to define a difference, the industry has changed for the better to suit our independent artist mentality, in the way we want to work and stay in control of our masters and output.

Why did you want to return this year with “Never Giving Up”?

WULF: Four years ago there were personal struggles and distractions, like many bands have to deal with, this saw sadly rehab stints, as well as reasons to celebrate like marriages, and even one rock’n’roll baby. The timing suits us better right now after a hiatus, in some ways Covid and recording remotely has created efficiencies. When making our debut EP back in 2014/15, to fund it, we were taking on demanding jobs within the music and film industries. We’d be recording in Yorkshire with James Kenosha at the Barn Studios all weekend, and then hammering it home on a red-eye drive through the night, back to London to make it into an office for 9am… it was like living a double-life. It’s often a taboo to speak about, but every independent artist, although not often mentioned, will go through financial struggle at times to keep their artist project alive and is often moonlighting as something to keep their ambitions alive.

It all nearly ended badly when one winter we lost control of our car down a snow filled Yorkshire hill, returning from the studio at 2am. Sean, our Perth native (Australian) guitarist, who’s used to 40 degree temperatures, shouted this is fucking suicide, STOP THE CAR, and he got out the car refusing to continue on. Being confronted with the potential to freeze to death outside, he got back in and we slowly slid forwards beginning the M1 to find us.

WULF have now all hit their early 30s, and although this comes with a lot of self-doubt about being relevant at an older age than the Pop market usually appeals to, we are comfortable to play by our own rules, and enjoy the process, not the pressure. Music is cathartic and it’s not something that any of us will give up any time soon.

WULF
WULF

How do you feel this song captures who WULF's artistry is and what you're all about?

WULF: It’s a darker alt-pop track, not as traditional as “Lairs,” or “Fire,” it shows a slight evolution to our sound but still keeps the gospel/soul-tinged vocal, and big melodic chorus moments WULF are about.

I love the energy behind this song's chorus - there's clearly so much passion behind this song. How did you go about bringing your musical vision to life?

WULF: The chorus is very apt and relatable to this current time, it felt although dark, heartfelt and hopeful a message so many artists and general public will be feeling now towards their family and friends during the pandemic. We always liked to play around with these almost tribal-feel rhythmic moments, inspired by what you may hear Phil Selway play (just not as good, adds Jimmy).

A lot of the time this would inspire the piano to mirror something and a song would later form out of these jams. Josh takes these early ideas away and comes back with a loose song structure, and then in the studio we arrange it and record. The band are “pressure players”, especially Josh, and often the magic happens when in the studio, knowing you need to come up with a finished product, as opposed to going in well rehearsed and prepared… that’s never been WULF. But it’s that process we love as a band, more than anything else, even more than playing live. The opportunity to be completely immersed in recording, having the opportunity to be in a residential studio space like at James Kenosha’s studio and away from all outside world distractions.

How did COVID-19 impact the band - and are the songs we're going to be hearing from you this year products from this time, or do they pre-date the pandemic?

WULF: COVID has meant learning to work remotely with each other, our Guitarist Sean, has had to return to his family during Covid in Perth, Australia, but he has a great Studio set up and is able to input his parts independently. The rest is remote working and mixing with our production team, and its taken the form of new material and older material that was never finished.

What is your hope for WULF moving forward? Can we expect to hear more frequent releases from now on?

WULF: WULF are excited to be moving forward with more regular new music – we already have a follow up single ready to go, and continue our love affair or writing and recording. Beyond that though, we are spending a lot of time on collaborations with our network of artists and producers, and we’ve taken to starting an Artist Development agency. There are a host of young budding artists we’ve discovered and helped to fund their development, thanks to leaning into our individual skills, Sean continues to compose and produce arrangements daily, Josh continues to write and co-write with our roster of artists, and Jimmy is the management and promotions whizz behind this social enterprise. It’s really rewarding to give young musicians the opportunity to develop, in an industry obsessed with release volume, Tiktok stars and editorial playlist crowns; artists with special-talents need the time to develop and have the opportunity to meet their potential and create music that stands the test of time for an audience. It would be a shame if we never again hear an artist like 10cc… because their song compositions don’t fit a short-form media format’s algorithm.

What do you hope audiences take away from “Never Giving Up,” and what did you personally get out of writing and recording this song?

WULF: We just hope that our audience is able to have another WULF track they can blast on repeat in the car or in the house, getting them through their cleaning, or at the gym to get through those squat routines.

As Josh tends to write on the fly in the studio, it’s always kind of a magical experience for the 3 of us as we are all hearing the music together for the first time and our first thoughts and natural instincts as to how the song should be produced and performed are all done together over those few days. Each time the three of us wrote and recorded together in that lovely studio up north we became closer as friends. The music sometimes came second, as it was so much fun just hanging out with each other.

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:: stream/purchase WULF here ::
Stream: “Never Giving Up” – WULF



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Never Giving Up - WULF

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