Vanderwolf © @dandyvagabond
VANDERWOLF RELEASES DEBUT SINGLE – FEATURING
ROBERT WYATT, DAEVID ALLEN & TERRY EDWARDS
AVAILABLE TODAY VIA PROPER MUSIC
New York City musician Vanderwolf has released his stunning debut single today via Proper Music.
Lead track “When The Fire Grows Cold” is a piano-led cinematic nightmare-lullaby co-sung by the legendary musician-activist Robert Wyatt. The second track, “Extinction!”, is a 7-minute Balkan-brass psychedelic fantasy featuring the late Soft Machine/Gong guitarist Daevid Allen and Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey, Lydia Lunch, Tindersticks) on saxophone. These two epic tracks capture the polarities of Vanderwolf’s vision: one song precise and quietly disturbing, one sprawling and transcendent.
As well as being a musician with a long and storied history (most notably as vocalist with semi-legendary London band Last Man Standing, whose sole album in 2007 received plaudits from Mojo and Uncut among others), Max Vanderwolf has a hugely successful career as a music programmer and concert producer, working for some of the world’s most celebrated clubs and concert venues. These include New York’s legendary Knitting Factory and London’s internationally renowned Royal Festival Hall, where for nine years he produced the Meltdown Festival, working closely with David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker, Massive Attack and Ornette Coleman. It was whilst working on Meltdown that Vanderwolf forged his friendship with Robert Wyatt.
Explains Vanderwolf: ‘’I had produced a tribute to Wyatt in NYC many years ago. Fred Frith, Peter Blegvad, Hugh Hopper and many others appeared. Robert gave it his official nod of support. When I moved to London to produce my first Meltdown Festival, Robert seemed the obvious choice to curate it, and from that, a lovely friendship evolved. Of course, it was daunting asking him to sing something I’d written. I know he gets a lot of proposals of which he turns down nearly all. But happily, he said yes. He said he thought he could sing this set of lyrics— and commented about the possibility of singing about his father. It was a huge relief to me.’’
“When The Fire Grows Cold”, which also features co-producer Sam Sallon on piano, is lifted by what Wyatt referred to as a ‘’peasant-chorus’’. Videographer Alden Volney also depicted the ‘’peasant chorus’’ in the accompanying video for the song
The single’s B-side, “Extinction!”, is a dark ritualistic journey involving Balkan brass, African drumming, electronic analogue trance elements and the crunch of metal guitars, and features an incredible glissando guitar solo from the late, legendary Daevid Allen and sax from the wonderful Terry Edwards
The idea of these tracks being paired is partially due to the thematic link of the lyrics: the folly of human progress that has brought us to the very brink of our own mass extinction. But it is also a linkage between Wyatt and Allen who met as kids in Canterbury England when Daevid Allen became a boarder in the Wyatt household at the age of 16. He had been shipped off by his family to England because he was too effeminate and too artistically-inclined for the rugged testosterone-driven culture of Australia in the early 1960s. Daevid showed up with Charlie Parker albums under his arm and, from their mutual love of bebop, a vital creative relationship was forged that eventually led to the pair forming Soft Machine along with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge. That love of jazz is reflected in the music and the artwork (by Trend & Chaos) on ”Extinction!”
The debut album from Vanderwolf will be released this summer.
VANDERWOLF – BIOGRAPHY (2022)
Max Vanderwolf has recorded more than eleven albums under his own name and as part of various bands. Many more went unreleased. Some evanesced from the catalogues of fledgling independent labels. Under his name, or various pseudonyms, he has also appeared on festival bills performing with various other musicians’ projects, his own bands and small orchestras.
While this isn’t unusual for a busy musician, what is unique is that concurrent to this activity, Vanderwolf lived under an assumed name, spending most of his daytime hours working as ‘Glenn Max’ as a music programmer and concert producer, including overseeing London’s legendary Royal Festival Hall. There, for nine years he produced the Meltdown Festival working closely with David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker, Massive Attack and Ornette Coleman.
Vanderwolf then shifted over to East London’s underground music scene finding a home at the notorious Village Underground where he established a stronghold for his unique curatorial visions while producing concerts in Brooklyn, Rome and Paris for such notable artists as John Cale, Sparks and The Residents.
The demands of his work-life were not without their rewards, but they came as a detriment to his life as a musician and bandleader. He had to turn down offers of tours, and support slots due to his heavy work-schedule. Entire finished albums would get regularly shelved or went unmixed and unreleased. Bands would disintegrate after periods of inactivity.
Amongst his bands, Last Man Standing made the biggest impact. Emerging from the infamous Soho drinking den, The Colony Room and fuelled by alcohol, the YBA movement and the notorious Lost Vagueness parties in South London, the band were soon playing the full array of UK festivals with their incendiary live show. Their sole album, ‘’False Starts and Broken Promises’’, earned 4 and 5-star reviews from Mojo, Uncut and others, with favourable comparisons to Bowie, Alex Harvey, Tom Waits, Steely Dan and Lou Reed.
Despite encouragement from friends and fellow musicians, Vanderwolf always shrugged off releasing a follow-up album. Yet he continued to record. So what changed?
“Finally – a break in the action!” says Vanderworf, who is currently based in Los Angeles. “This pandemic killed all my work but it got me back in the studio. I’m free to write and record all day or do all the obligatory self-promotional nonsense. It’s strange to say but I’m one of those people that really benefited from taking a break. It’s been a breath of fresh air.’’
A new period of studio activity, writing, recordings and remixing some older tracks overseen by Sam Sallon and David Watson produced a wealth of new tracks, many of which will be seeing the light of day in Vanderwolf’s new album, due this summer.