For the release of Anti-Tank Dogs, Wolfbrigade’s new EP, the band answered some of my questions.
Anti-Tank Dogs, your new EP, is about to come out, how do you feel about it? Did you already have some feedback?
Micke: Can’t wait to get it out! I’m really stoked about this EP… it took us more in a straight in your face direction and has a sound which is more extreme and primitive than the record before (The Enemy: Reality). I have only played it for a few friends, and they gave thumbs up… if we as a band are proud of it…that’s all that’s matter.
How would you sum the new EP out with only three words?
Johan: Our album title – “Anti-Tank Dogs” – are three words that pretty much sums up the EP, as the words could also serve as stand-ins for three bands who served as inspiration for the songs. If you know you know.
On the EP Anti-Tank Dogs, I noticed the song Necronomium, which is way slower than the other ones. Is there a story behind this song?
Johan: The title is borrowed from HR Giger. His surreal dreamscapes are a great setting for the theme on this one. It’s a journey inward, into the deep, grotesque unknown. A place with no rules, no shame, no age, no self-censorship. Our friend Christian from the band Kite plays synth on the track. We also added some buzzing leaf blowers and steel percussion to the verse that I think gave it a cool atmosphere. We usually make fast songs with a slow part in there somewhere you know. This song has the same concept, just that the arrangement is totally inverted (laughs).
I also love the eponymous track Anti-Tank Dogs because of its extremely effective riffs. Is the song linked to the Russian “anti-tank dogs” from WWII?
Johan: Not really. I mean, that’s where and when that horrific concept was created, but we just use it as a metaphor. How you can become brainwashed and turned into cannon food for someone else’s madness. The dangers of conformity.
How does the composition process happen? Was it different from your previous releases?
Jocke: Normally it will be a long, long process because we almost used all the riffs existing in our small and narrow universe (laughs). The difference this time was that we made all these songs fast, during one night of debauchery. Well, at least most of it. Pretty unusual for being us. We were supposed to play a couple of shows in New York, then covid happened and the shows got canceled. So instead, we brought a lot of booze and had a drunk late-night session in our studio. That’s basically how Anti-Tank Dogs came together. We didn’t expect that we would come up with an EP that night at all, but we did!
Since 2020, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up, how did you face the situation as a band?
Jocke: We’re not a touring band anymore so I guess it could have been much worse if you’re used to being on the road all the time…. but it sucked big time (just like it did for everyone else). We had to cancel all our gigs, festivals, travel etc… We had to postpone everything repeatedly… Next year… next year… We also had a massive flood at our practice space. A waterpipe burst, so we got a temporary swimming pool down there. Amps, merch, and studio equipment were damaged. On the positive side we spent time writing new songs and being productive…
If we also consider your lifespan as Wolfpack, the band has been alive for 27 years. Did you ever think it would last this long at the beginning?
Jocke: Me personally didn’t expect anything. I am just lucky it took us this far. In 1995 I was just happy if we managed to get up on stage without fucking things up too much… We had hard times with personal struggles in the band, but we’ve always had a lot of respect and love for each other. I am doing this with my best friends, my family. Nowadays we still have fun and love what we’re doing. The inspiration and passion are still there. I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life.
Micke: I don’t think we’ve ever thought about how long the band would keep going. It has just kept on going by itself. We are best of friends, and you know, you want to hang out with your friends. But yeah, 27 years is a long time. I started back in 98, almost half of my life. My way of life that keeps me sane.
Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Jocke: Yes. I never aimed to be the new Yngwie Malmsteen but I am still finding out new ways to abuse my guitar.
Micke: I think we do. Definitely. We have taken our sound and songwriting further on each record, without losing the original ideas and what we wanted the band to sound like.
What led you to the Hardcore/Crust universe back in time? What was the very first album you ever bought?
Jocke: Born in the early 70th my musical journey started with Heavy Metal, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Priest, Black Sabbath, etc… I had heard some of the classic 77 Punk bands like Pistols, Clash but thought it was lame back then…. My Punk journey started with Asta Kask. I didn’t know Punk could be so fast. After that I spent time searching for fast and heavy music. I ran across Metallica, Exploited, Anti Cimex, DNA etc… Later, I found Napalm Death’s Scum and Repulsion’s Horrified. It was the coolest thing ever. I spent my time listening to UK, Swedish Punk, US Hardcore, Death Metal and Crossover. I was hooked.
Micke: I think I was around 11 when me and my neighbor found a tape in his basement that used to belong to his older brother. The tape had some really bad quality recording of the bands Asta Kask and Anti-Cimex. It just blew my mind… it was fast, brutal and I could not hear a word they were screaming haha. From there I found bands like GBH, Exploited, English Dogs, Varukers, Svart Framtid and tons more. Before Punk I was listening to W.A.S.P, Kiss and bands like that…I was just a small kid when I found punk music. My first rec I ever bought was Kiss’ Love Gun. First Punk record: Än finns det hopp by Asta Kask.
Johan: My very first album was Kiss’ Unmasked. As a kid I was really into Guns N Roses, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Sisters of Mercy. Then in my early teens I discovered Anti Cimex, Discharge, and bands like that. I think the compilation cd Distortion to Hell was probably my first contact with Swedish Hardcore. Just after that cd was released, I saw Meanwhile play in our hometown Mariestad.
Do you also listen to non-saturated music?
Johan: Never heard that term before, but we listen to all kinds of music. So, the answer is yes (laughs). I think there is something to find and learn from each and all genres and art forms. Even the really horrible genres can give you new ideas.
According to you, what can we expect of a Wolfbrigade show?
Micke: Fast, raw, in your face Swedish Hardcore! The way it was meant to be.
Do you think music must have a message (whether it is political, social, heritage or whatever), or can it just be something imaginary?
Johan: Not at all. However, music can be an effective carrier for new ideas and movements. And record covers and videos are great platforms as well. As an example, political and controversial themes tend to become outdated. It’s all a matter of context. Making a Punk version of God Save the Queen was probably high chock-value back in conservative Britain. Now it’s just a great rock tune. I mean, a painting of a geometric black square was subversive in Russia in 1915. But Neu!’s hypnotic “motorik beat”, Discharge’s hammering d-beat or Black Sabbath’s heavy riffage, that will sound bad ass forever. Art can be so much more than a reflection of reality. That´s the beauty of it.
Micke: Hmm… you can sing about whatever you want. Sing about dragons and warriors if you want to, if you want to sing about a broken heart, go for it, I couldn’t care less. But I prefer to listen to bands that have something to say. About life, politics, injustice, personal experiences living in this mad world we all are a part of.