Interview: Bad Wolves’ Tommy Vext On New Album ‘N.A.T.I.O.N.’ + Upcoming Tour

Photo credit: David Jackson

Interview by Tracey Moyle – Music Maven Events

Bad Wolves have released their sophomore album ‘N.A.T.I.O.N.’ going straight to no 1 on the iTunes charts in nine countries including Australia, and entering the top 10 in fourteen countries on both Rock and mainstream charts sending a wave of excitement through Rock music fans around the globe.

Since the success in 2018 they had with their cover of The Cranberries hit Zombie their schedule has been flat out with touring commitments but still finding the time to retreat to their own spaces to do what each member of this band does best and that’s create music.  Throwing their individual works and ideas together they came up with twelve of their best tracks for their second album. 

Talking to Tommy Vext while on tour in Dallas, the conversation carried us through not only the bands rapid rise to the top of the rock charts but how it feels to be there, the personal stories and honesty that goes into their song writing and the importance of collaboration within the band.

Bad Wolves are a busy band at the moment and yourself in particular, with the new album ‘N.A.T.I.O.N.’ released October 25th and touring the US at the moment, then you have the solo Australian acoustic shows coming up touring  with Danny (Worsnop) from Asking Alexandria.   You must be feeling pretty excited about everything at the moment?

“Yeah it’s pretty cool we’ve just been grinding.  We’ve have the past two months off, we started working on the third record and I started writing the biography and we’ve got this Five Finger (Death Punch) tour coming up.   We’re doing shows with Marilyn Manson tomorrow and the next day then were going out.  And after the Five Finger tour I’m flying out to meet Danny Worsnop in Australia for shows we’re going to do over there.”

It’s a busy life style that’s for sure.

“It’s ok.  I actually heard that our record came out today (Friday 25th October) in Australia and I got an email this morning, or afternoon here, saying that it went number 1 on the rock charts of  iTunes and it went no 3 over all genres.”

I’m not surprised you’re music has a great honesty and intensity to it.    In comparison to some bands you’ve had a pretty quick rise.   I read an interview with Greta Van Fleet a while back and they spoke about their quick rise having and overwhelming effect but you’re all seasoned musicians, everyone has been in other bands before.   It must be more of a “WOW this is amazing” type of energy?

“Yeah we’ve all been around for a long time and sometimes it feels like it’s happened to somebody else. We’ve been around a long time, we’ve watched other bands get really big and we’ve been doing the opening band kind thing, you know. And since 2018 we kind of showed up and things exploded.  It’s just continued to go from there.  It’s cool.  For us all the attention gives us the opportunity to do what we want and that’s touring.  We’re stoked.”

The quick rise thing sounds impressive but after slogging it out for many years it probably doesn’t feel that quick to you.

“Yeah, I mean as a band it’s very sudden but as artists, you know, we’ve all toured with each other before.  Chris (Cain) play in Bury Your Dead and For the Fallen Dreams, and Doc (Coyle) he was in God Forbid he’s still in Lamb of God.   John (Boecklin) played in DevilDriver and Kyle (Konkiel) has been in VIMIC and Scar the Martyr with Joey (Jordison) from Slipknot, I’ve toured with Snot , Divine Heresy and toured with Five Finger Death Punch for a little stint  so we’ve all been around for a long time. We just have a band together which is kind of like, a weird combination of us all getting together, it all kind of happening.”  

You mentioned that the album has hit top of the charts straight away, did you know the single Killing Me Slowly hit number one on the Australian iTunes metal singles charts at number one? So that’s more amazing news for you.

“I didn’t even know that. That’s awesome.  That’s more good news.”

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Congratulations.  It is great news!

“Thank you, we’re looking at coming out .  We’re trying to get the whole band over there in February/March.  Actually it will probably be the end of February ‘cause we will be in Europe with Megadeath and Five Finger (Death Punch) from January til February.  Then there’s talk about us going straight away if we can book these dates and do a proper Australian tour, it’s really exciting.  Australia is one of my favourite places.   It might be my favourite country in the world to visit.   I spent a lot of time over there.  My ex-girlfriend is from Brisbane, I spent time on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and Brisbane and Melbourne and Sydney.   So for me it’s really, any excuse to go back there and hang out.  It’s always a great time for me.”

That’s great to hear. A lot of artists I speak to are on such a tight schedule when they get here, they don’t have time to see our beautiful country. 

“Yeah, it’s fantastic.  I mean I’ve had that experience of coming there, like we played with Nickleback in February and we had no real time to hang out. And there’s things I wanted to show the band because I’ve spent, you know, probably 3 weeks or a month at a time visiting.   I’ve done Soundwave Festival which you know, back in the day Soundwave was amazing because you’d have like 3 days off in the city you were playing so you could explore so that was one of the really amazing experiences of my touring life.”

I miss Soundwave, a lot.

“Yeah it was a great festival.  It was like magic.  I’m glad I got to experience it before it went away.” 

You’ve released the fourth Single “Crying Game” from the new Album.     Listening to the lyrics in Crying Game, and I guess everyone interprets songs differently, but to me it’s a song of not taking responsibility, laying the blame on others?

“Yeah, Crying Game is a song that John came to me with which was almost pretty much finished.  He had a bunch of melody ideas and the lyrics weren’t really there and so I kind of interviewed him.  Whenever the guys want to talk about if they have lyrics or emotions that are already attached to the song, I kind of interview them.  So I basically interviewed him and got the story of what it meant to him and then I re-wrote it in a way that made sense.   And I interweave my own personal experiences so that they’re real to me.   So for me, I think that song is about boundaries and it’s about limitation in relationships whether it’s professional or whether its friendships, whether its family members, and its hard for people to accomplish things together and progress together when one person is completely unwilling to be accountable.  And that’s what the song really came out and lent itself to.”

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I’m sure that will resonate with a lot of people because that’s how life is at times to so many people.

“I just want add about the chorus, whenever you try to sit down and set boundaries with a person like, that they have to make it your fault, it kind of touches down on gaslighting and a lot of psychological terms so that just an added thought.”

With so many sub genres in rock music today, you seem to have found the sound that appeals to all rock fans. John Boecklin writes a lot of songs for the band but has the song writing particularly for this new album come from both of you or a collaboration with other members as well?   As I imagine this would give the songs disparity and different shades. 

“On ‘Disobey’, John and I are the primary song writers and we had kind of started the band and put things together so when the guys came into the band on the first record a lot of the material was already written and so some of the guys cam in and contributed on later songs.    On this record we all broke off into our little factions and I just went into the studio and I wrote a bunch of songs and John wrote a bunch of songs and Chris and Doc had home studios and they wrote material.  And so how we did it was, we threw our things into a pile and we figured out what works.  Ultimately it was like what sounds like us, how does this  play out in an album.  We have a propensity to overwrite so there are songs we wrote for this record that didn’t make the cut just because we had too many songs.  So they’ll probably get pushed over to the next album.  It’s a quality problem, well we’ve got too many songs, you know.  We want them all but we don’t want to put out a double album.  We haven’t been around long enough to do that.” 

Is it like picking a favourite child? 

“Yeah, sometimes. Everyone has their attachments to your creativity, so certain things were like what needs to stay?  It’s about picking and choosing battles.  So sometimes its like that’s gonna go here and that songs gonna go there.   As long as everyone is happy at the end of the day.  It’s a collaborative effort.”

Are there any songs on the album that stand out to you as something special in a personal way?  Do you have a favourite?

“They’re there on both sides of the pendulum I think.   Two of the most personal songs I’ve ever written are Foe or Friend and Sober.   I think both are on complete opposite emotional spectrums.  One is a very visceral Pantera/ Slipknot style song about my experience after…  it’s kind of post remember when, when I was living in witness protection because after I testified against my brother he hired someone to murder me, so there were actually recorded phone conversations that were used in the trial that were used in that song. So it’s really brutal and Sober was a really important song for me because I’ve been sober for almost 10 ½ years and a lot of artists talk about addiction and they talk about alcoholism and stuff over the course of musical history and it’s always talking about their personal experience in the first person and Sober breaks down the wall and addresses the actual torment and suffering that the family have to go through as a result of loving someone who is suffering from addiction and alcoholism.  And it was really important to shine a bigger light on that issue as a whole, because it’s not just about that, it’s pretty common sense for me.  It was my experience to understand  that alcoholism is a family disease,  drug addiction is a family disease. You know if a parent is an addict or alcoholic it effects the children, their co-workers, it effects their friends their relatives.   And same thing if it’s a child.  No matter what circumstances it is,  if you’re that person the people who love you are bound to suffer to.  We turned it into a song about hope, you know, so I think people need help, they need to know they’re not alone, so it’s a kind of  a powerful message for me.”

And that’s so important to the fans. So many people go through things in their life that they turn to music to help them get through it and make them feel like they’re not alone.  It’s amazing that you’ve shared such a personal experience with that.

“Oh thanks.  I mean, all of my favourite artists, they were always in their lyrics and they told the truth and I recognise the power of that and for a lot of intents and purposes I was raised by music.  I was kind of left to my own devices so a lot of the lessons I needed to learn from my parents who weren’t around I got from bands like Korn and Pantera or Fiona Apple.” 

You’re coming to us with Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria for an acoustic tour in December.  I know a lot of people excited for that to come along.  I hope to review that one but I will be there in any case.

“It’s going to be great I’ve known Danny forever and it’s going to be fun.  There’s no cap on the meet and greets since we’re going to be in town we decided that anyone who wants to hang around and meet us will be great.  I’m going to take questions and makes jokes, it’s going to be intimate you know a good hang.”

Acoustic rearrangement of  a song is so amazing. Rise Against are one of my favourite bands and their acoustic album ‘The Ghost Note Symphonies’ blows my mind. Hearing the songs I love in such a different way, both familiar and different, it’s amazing.    Do feel the same when you arrange one of your songs to be heard and felt even in a differently light?

“It’s interesting, there’s this really great Dave Grohl interview where he talks about, “if a song is good on an acoustic guitar, it’s good”.  So if we transcribe one of our songs, any of our songs for us can be worked acoustically.   So even the really heavy ones, just by manipulating the aggressive vocals into melodies it all just seems to work.   I think there’s more of a vulnerable aspect in performing acoustically and stripping things down and it’s like more of the heart of the matter and I enjoy it.  It’s a little more difficult, like with the lights and the whole band and you know it’s definitely a challenge and something I enjoy doing.” 

Tommy thanks for talking to Good Call Live today, enjoy the rest of your current tour.  Best of luck with the new album, I’m sure its going to be a success and I can’t wait to see you and Danny here in December.

“Thank you so much for that I look forward to seeing you this summer.” 

Bad Wolves new Album N.A.T.I.O.N. is out now on all streaming platforms Apple and Spotify links below.

Tommy Vext and Danny Worsnop will bring their raw, un-plugged sound to Australian audiences this December as a special pre-Christmas treat.

Wednesday, December 18: Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane (18+)
Friday, December 20: Manning Bar, Sydney (18+)
Saturday, December 21: Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne (All Ages)
Sunday, December 22: Max Watts, Melbourne (18+)

Tickets via Oztix here    
Moshtix  here
VIP Meet and Greet Upgrades via:
www.pinnaclemusic.eventbrite.com

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