Interview: David & Jamie of Nocturn Wulf.
Nocturne Wulf hail from Glasgow. Having released their debut album last year, the band have recently gone through a couple of interesting line-up changes. Their latest single, Silver Hand is due to be released imminently and so it was an opportune moment to catch up with singer David Yates and guitarist Jamie Paterson to find out more about the band and their current situation.
The Razor's Edge: Nice to speak to you guys and thanks for taking the time to do the interview. How are things with you and how has lockdown been for you?
David: We are all missing gigging, but I think we are heading in the right direction, if people are sensible. It has not been too bad for me. I’ve been furloughed from work, so it’s been frustrating not seeing folk and we had a few gigs lined up that have now been cancelled and rescheduled which was gutting. For me, the whole experience has been a funny one; it’s given me time to focus on different projects and different things and having the time to do that has been quite fortuitous because we would never get three or four months of being able to focus on different projects. It’s been strange certainly, but it’s also been beneficial as well as horrific. But Jamie is the one to ask, he’s been on the front line.
The Razor's Edge: Okay. What do you do Jamie?
Jamie: I’m a nurse so it’s been a bit wild. I’m a theatre nurse so I usually deal with operations and stuff which is fine but because of the situation and my job, they [the employers] said that “we need to pull in anyone who is used to dealing with unconscious patients” to come in and help out and I did end up doing shifts in the ICU where the Covid patients were. I was only there for a couple of weeks, but I was there when it was at its worst in Glasgow. It was awful, but luckily, we are through it or at least we are for the moment and I’m happy about that.
The Razor's Edge: Tell me about how the band started and what happened with the line-up changes.
David: The band was formed way back when and I was part of it as well.
The Razor's Edge: Didn’t you play bass at one time?
David: I did yes. I’ve kind of been doing the rounds; the drummer is fearing for his seat [laughter!] When we first started, we were just a covers band doing pubs and stuff. It was me on vocals, Jamie on guitar and Steven [Scott] on bass. We had another drummer at the time. Jamie started coming up with different riffs and we thought they were cool so that was the start. ‘Hell’s Heart’ was the first song we did around the rehearsal room. There was a good buzz that got us thinking that maybe we should investigate doing more of our own tunes.
I was there for a wee bit and then I decided to try my hand at teaching, and I did a year’s post-grad Primary teaching and quickly realised that it was not for me! Because of the intense nature of the course I had said to the guys that I would have to focus on it and I stepped away from the band, just as we were thinking of getting out and gigging! That is when Bob [Bobby McCullough] stepped in which was amazing. It was interesting being on the other side and hearing songs that we had all made. It was like, “Oh man, this is what it sounds like” because you never really know when you are on stage. Being in the crowd and hearing them singing along to things you’ve made was cool. It gave me the buzz again and I was desperate to get back on there. When they needed someone for bass, I was straight in there. I can clunk away on a guitar, so I filled in on bass for a while and then Steven came back and he is a far better bassist than me. Bob decided he wanted to spend more time with his family, and I was more than happy. I said, “if you need someone, I’m here!” It was a good fit and I suppose that is a long way of saying it was a kind of rejoining! And it is lovely to be back, I can tell you that.
The Razor's Edge: You clearly have the enthusiasm, that definitely comes across. Jamie, is it about three years the band has been together?
Jamie: From memory, our first gig as Nocturne Wulf playing original songs was August 2016. That was the first time we came together and played original songs. It wasn’t a case of playing a bunch of Motörhead songs, or Metallica songs. We had six or seven songs of our own written, Let’s learn them, and let’s go and play a gig. Which we did. So, that was the first gig where the true path of Nocturne Wulf began.
In that first year a few things happened. Steven the bass player had a kid, so he put things on the back burner. We were not in any rush; we just wanted to come together and play some tunes. So August 2017 we decided to do another gig and that was the turning point, where we decided to start gigging and writing a bit more and coincidentally that is when David decided to do his teacher training and that was where Bob came in. Funnily, at that second gig Bob was in the crowd and he said, I got a very blunt message from him. It wasn’t technical, and he basically said, “I have fuck all recordings, I have fuck all technology but I can sing a good tune!” That was quite ballsy, so we said okay, let’s give this guy a shot and Bob decided to join the band. That’s how the formation of the band came about.
The Razor's Edge: Has your style evolved since you started? Were you leaning towards one genre? In my review of your single I thought you had an epic classic metal vibe whilst the album has thrash elements you have a more classic, cultured style than some bands.
David: Our influences are so many, we’ve got loads of influences from different members of the band, and the shared influences do bring the classic metal sound. The biggest band that have influenced me in terms of metal music is Iced Earth so that is always going to feed into the music from me. Different songs might lean towards one genre, but it always has that core element of classic metal. We love metal in general. It’s nice to hear that people are picking up on that as well.
Jamie: To piggyback on what David said, I love Metallica, and I like thrash metal. As I speak, Slayer is on my TV! I’m watching Slayer behind you. I’m a big Slayer fan, I love Exodus, Testament, Overkill, all that kind of stuff and I like the thrashy guitar. But I’m also a fan of Iced Earth and all that type so it’s a blending of heavy fast guitar but still being melodic, but not necessarily being power metal. It’s a weird one. So, Bob’s more aggressive than David vocally, it’s interesting to hear the two sides of it. I think they both really well. At the end of the day, the mantra is that we are a heavy metal band, whether that includes thrashy riffs, groovy riffs, epic singsongs, aggressive stuff, we try to keep it just heavy metal.
The Razor's Edge: Are you bothered by what label some people put on you as a band?
Jamie: It’s funny because our first gig outside of the two I mentioned, when we started getting put on bills with other bands, and we played a gig with a band who were more like Sabbath, a band called Watcher’s Guard, and we went up to them afterwards and said “it was really nice to play with you and it would be nice to play another gig with you”. And they said “I’m not really sure you’d want to play with us because you are a trash band and you are a doom band! And in my head, I was saying, but we’re all playing rock and heavy metal, you know, surely that’s cool! You can be pigeonholed, and I like the fact that we are not like that. I like to think we are a bit of thrash, a bit of power, a bit of classic style.
The Razor's Edge: And you won’t want the next album to sound like ‘NW’. You’ll want to progress from there. So, tell me a bit about the album because Bobby was singing on that, but David, did you know most of the songs?
David: There were certainly four songs that were fully formed by the time I had left the band but the other songs, all but ‘The Barbarians’, which was a brand new song and lovely to hear, were all part way formed and I was aware of them enough that when I came back into the band I could remember jamming away to that one. It was interesting and I was going along to the gigs and it was really cool to hear those songs and sing along to them. It was amazing to hear the album finished. Bob did an amazing job, and Chris [Horne] the second guitarist adds a whole new dimension to the feel of the band. I wasn’t having to learn new songs from scratch.
The Razor's Edge: And what about the recording, Jamie? How long did it take you to complete the album?
Jamie: I think the first thing to say is that for the most part, that album was a home project, that is probably the best way of putting it. We thought, can we do a full album by ourselves. At the time there were a few external factors, you know, having to go into a studio to record the drums and the vocals but generally once they were recorded we pulled it all together and recorded the guitars and the bass and then it was a case of, “right, we’ve got all the stuff. How do we make it sound okay!” [laughter] It didn’t take that long to record the stuff, it’s the mixing and the mastering. You’ve got five people in a band, and you are trying to make an album and everybody wants their bit to be heard, everyone has an idea of how it should be, so you are having to come to a compromise. You’ll send out a mix and go “great” and someone will go “yeah, but the bass needs to go up a bit” and then another mix and someone will say “that snare needs to be a bit louder”. We never had any big fights, but it was fine tuning it to that level and that took longer than it should have but it was a big learning curve for all of us. For us as a band it really helped us understand the importance of pockets for mixing the different instruments. That was very useful. It took about a year from start to finish.
The Razor's Edge: And did you tour after that?
Jamie: Yeah. We released the album in July and then we did a tour a few weeks after I think, I can’t quite remember, with Salt River Shakedown who are a rock n roll band, not heavy metal, who are also part of Reaction Management with another band called Iron Volt from Bristol, a dance rock metal group, and we did about five dates. That was the first time I had ever done a tour and it was really cool and we really enjoyed it. What didn’t help was the day before the tour started, we were playing in Manchester and the night before we all went to see Metallica at the Etihad and we were all a wee bit worse for wear, some of us a lot worse than others shall we say! But it was a cool way to start you know, we were all pumped up for it. It was really good.
The Razor's Edge: Did you have a launch in Glasgow? Are there venues you play regularly there?
Jamie: There are a couple. The one that so many metal bands play at is Ivory Blacks and that was one of the first places we played outside of doing our own gigs. Although on that tour we played The Classic Grand. It’s funny because when you play four or five shows in a row you start to get quite slick! It can take a couple of shows to get into your stride but by four shows in you are start to get quite snappy, your confidence grows and your performance starts to get really good. Well, at least that’s what I noticed.
The Razor's Edge: David, have you gigged with the band since you returned?
David: Yes, we were lucky that we had a few gigs lined up before lockdown happened. January and February, we were doing a few gigs around Glasgow, up in Paisley, we did a mini weekender in Aberdeen and Dundee and then Glasgow, again with Salt River Shakedown and it was nice to get up there. We were fortunate that we had another tour with another band who are now on the roster called Ritual Spirit and we did Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle on the last weekend before everything shut. JP is absolutely right, that feeling of doing consecutive gigs and you get the feel, it all clicked, and I felt that yeah, this is what we want to be doing! That Newcastle gig was phenomenal, we played at Trillions which was outstanding. We are desperate to rekindle that spirit.
The Razor's Edge: You are in a metal city in Glasgow. Lots of good venues and a great scene. So, you’ve been quite active on social media. I think a lot of bands are having to do it to keep the profile up. Has it been intentional to do things on social media during lockdown or has it been more because you feel almost obligated?
David: Elements of both I think. One of the first band meetings we had when lockdown happened was how do we stay current when we can’t gig. We realised that social media is the only way you can do that. I’ll hold my hands up. I can barely do Facebook so it’s been a steep learning curve for me, but it did become the focus of staying current. At least put stuff out each week to stay connected. That’s the amazing thing if used correctly you do get that instant connection with the fans and feedback and we’ve come to realise what a useful tool it is. Bands everywhere, if they hadn’t before, it has highlighted just how important it is.
Jamie: It’s interesting, that there are certain bands, even at local level who have really pushed the social media thing and other bands that haven’t, and I find it interesting as to whether it’s a conscious effort. Whether some bands don’t feel comfortable having that online presence. We are okay online, we are not brilliant, but we try and post something every couple of days to try and engage people. I find it curious who it varies. There is no right or wrong way. We felt it was the only way we could engage.
The Razor's Edge: That’s great and some of the stuff you have published, such as your Spotify lists is great. People do have time on their hands so if you can share stuff then that is great.
Jamie: The challenge with social media is you can be pulled in different directions, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp. You know, sometimes you post it on one source and then you forget and must go and post it on another platform and then it’s like, have I missed something else. As a fan it’s amazing; as a band it can be tough going.
David: Knowing what content to put on which outlet. Somethings work on Facebook, some don’t. Somethings are made for YouTube. It’s hard figuring it all out and getting to grips with it all, I guess.
The Razor's Edge: I want to talk about the single a bit. When did you record it and what influenced the decision to put it out? It’s the first thing you’ve recorded with the band is that correct David?
David: Absolutely. We recorded it just a couple of weeks before lockdown and it went quickly but the mastering took a while. We were trying to master it during lockdown. Usually you get a couple of recordings and you sit in a room and chat it out but with this we couldn’t’ so we were forced to go via email and then it got lost in translation a wee bit. We ended up doing video calls so another learning curve. Once it was done the discussion was all about when to release it; whether to release in lockdown, to wait, and we were torn but we decided to take our time, promote it and then release it. It’s been another journey for us to learn from.
The Razor's Edge: And the responses seem to be positive.
Jamie: Yes, it seems so. The thing with art is you are quite precious about it. You put it out to tender. It’s really difficult to objective about your own music. I would imagine it is like trying to be objective about your own children. But is that the reality? It’s nerve racking because you put stuff out and you don’t know if people will come back and say, “this is a pile of mince”. All you can do is try your best. Integrity is a big thing for us. From the start we have tried to play what we want to play. I’ve seen so many bands following what is trendy and guess what, it always falls flat on its arse because they are not playing it from the heart.
The Razor's Edge: The Single comes out on 11th July, and if you’d had the opportunity, you’d have had a gig built around it. Are you in a position to do anything around gigging?
David: It is all about the venues. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that they survive. So, when it is safe enough and what it will look like. We are lucky that we have a rehearsal space that we can use so we are hoping to get there soon so we can stream some rehearsals or similar but in terms of full gigs, when it is safe for everyone. It is the unknown at present.
The Razor's Edge: And music will be one of the last things to get lifted.
David: We have preliminary gigs in place towards the end of the year but whether they go ahead we don’t know now.
The Razor's Edge: And finally, you did Metal To The Masses in 2018 and got to the final.
Jamie: Yeah, we got to the final. It was a great experience. We all came in, we thought M2TM was happening and it was a quick-fire way to know what was happening, to meet other bands and find out more about the scene, it was a real crash course. We thought, we’ll get a gig out of it. Five gigs later … we are in the final thinking this wasn’t what we had intended. We didn’t think we’d get to the final. It was great and if any bands are thinking about entering then they really should.
The Razor's Edge: Many thanks for taking the time. We wish you the very best for the single and look forward to seeing you on a stage in the near future.