Interview: Reignwolf

Jordan Cook AKA Reignwolf is currently touring the Pacific Northwest with bandmates Joseph Braley and David ‘Stitcx’ Rapaport and spoke with LYFSTYL’s Kevin Vanstone before the band’s stop in Vancouver last week.

KV: Let’s start off with your recent trip to Australia. Following along via social media it appeared to be very successful. How was the reception down under?

Reignwolf: That place was obviously incredible. I’ve never known it to be a musical place, I didn’t know much other than Canadians love to go there and party. It was amazing. We played a show for the company Monster Children in Los Angeles and played their ten-year anniversary and they asked us to come and do something down under. To be honest I can’t wait to go back. It was incredible, the audience was amazing.

Reignwolf performs inside Bonn Scott's son's record shop in Australia.
Reignwolf performs inside Bonn Scott’s son’s record shop in Australia.

KV: What was it like playing in Bonn Scott’s son’s record shop?

Reignwolf: I would say that was the highlight of the whole thing. Going in I actually didn’t know that it was his record shop, I just heard it was a cool place to play or go buy records. It was a rad place to make music. There’s no doubt that it was the highlight, I think it was my favourite show because it was so off the cuff.

KV: So you had no idea you were going into his store at the time?

Reignwolf: No basically it was a last minute idea of how we could fit more shows into one day. I think we did three shows in one day, it helped with the jet lag I would say.

Always enjoy Reignwolf responsibly.
Always enjoy Reignwolf responsibly.

KV: Well the Bulleit Bourbon must have been good for the jet lag as well. How did that come about?

Reignwolf: That was another situation where I think they heard we were coming and said for these shows let’s do something special. It was a pretty cool situation. There was actually talk about making the bottle with Reignwolf on it but I didn’t know it was actually going to happen. When I got there I was like wow that’s right on.

KV: You aren’t a big drinker are you?

Reignwolf: No, I grew up in the bar scene and all that sort of stuff and I’ve just never really gotten into it.

KV: Well I guess if you’re spending so much time in bars as an under-ager it loses its allure.

Reignwolf: Well that’s the thing, it’s always there. Some of my favourites have gone missing because of it so I have kind of just stayed away. I would say I have an addictive personality so I do what I can.

KV: So tell me about Buds On Broadway. That was one of the first places you go to enter as an under-ager correct?

Reignwolf: That place was basically the stomping ground for a lot of musicians in Saskatoon. For me I started going there when I was four or five. I just kind of went there every Saturday with my dad to watch bands that were coming through the place for these matinee jam sessions. I think I was five years old the first time got onstage but my dad and I both had to go to the owner and be like “Look, my son would like to play,” and have the owner OK it. It was weird at that time to have a kid onstage in a smoky bar, but thank god that happened because really that was my start to playing live, it started everything. It’s so cool, now when you go there on a Saturday you see a ton of kids playing, it’s become a thing and it has produced so many cool musicians. To have anything to do with that is just cool to me.

KV: At the time did you know you would end up playing with Muddy Waters’ backing band?

Reignwolf: No that was all just a fluke, really. They saw me in front of the stage and heard about this kid that was kind of taking over the city. They just said “let’s get him up,” and I got up and I remember being kind of stunned about it because my dad used to listen to Muddy Waters all the time so to me it was the top of the top.

KV: Did you know how important those musicians were at the time?

Reignwolf: You know I think I did. There’s something about blues legends onstage, they just have a swagger about them. There was seriousness about it. It wasn’t that they were doing this because they had to, you could just see that they were living it. As a little kid you kind of take that in even more, I think it hits you even harder because you don’t totally know what it means.

KV: You’ve cited legendary bluesmen like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and others as influences. Of all the bluesmen, living or dead, who would you most like to jam with?

Reignwolf: I would say Howlin Wolf, because I think he would scare people the most. He’s has one of those kind of voices that is just so strong, I think he would be really great. R.L. Burnside is another guy I would like to play with. I almost did, but he got in a car accident on the way to our gig. It really sucked because to me he has done things where he’s taken the blues and taken it somewhere else. For me that’s the mission. I started out playing the blues, and almost every rock and roll band I like started that way and sound their own way with it. I wouldn’t call Reignwolf a blues act, but I would definitely say that the influence is there and always will be because that was my starting ground.

KV: I’ve seen you referred to as the “Canadian Jack White” for your love of the blues and the way you interpret it…

Reignwolf: I’ve actually never heard that, that’s kind of funny. I think the reason why people kind of like to say things like that is because of the wild guitar, and there’s no doubt that there’s influence coming from the blues as well.

KV: There are other similarities as well. You both appreciate the blues and seem to take your music seriously. You both don’t like set lists and rely on a raw live show.

Reignwolf: That is true. I’ve never been one for set lists, it’s just one of those things. You can’t know how you’re going to feel and how the audience is going to feel. So it’s the most real thing to live in that moment, and I think that’s why our shows go over really well. We go wherever it feels right to go with the audience. It’s not a planned thing. Every time we’ve ever tried to plan it, say it’s a short show, we’ve tried doing a set list and it just wasn’t right. I don’t think we will ever change, it’s just something that I feel I’ve always done naturally.

KV: And that’s something that requires a tight band. Having played with Joseph and Stitcx for so long is that something that comes easily?

Reignwolf: I went and watched them play when I moved to Seattle a couple of years ago and I was with a friend of mine and he kept on joking that they would be my band, and I was kind of like “Yeah, whatever,” but it felt weird to say that. Then they were playing at a show I was also playing at and I asked them to come up and jam and it’s just been going like that ever since. Again it wasn’t a planned thing. Does it come easily? Yeah, they’re just cool with it and they really like coming out and playing the Reignwolf thing. It’s been a natural progression, something we didn’t plan, and that always seems to work best.

KV: Are you freest playing by yourself with the guitar and kick-drum together?

Reignwolf: I guess it depends what night it is. Some nights I sway towards that more and other times I want to do the band thing, it’s weird. I think that’s why both are so important to me, one makes the other better. I wouldn’t really say I’m more free, but there is no doubt that you can get away with a lot more in a band situation where you’re not hiding anything. It’s as bare bones as possible when you’re on your own and there’s nobody there to cover your goof-ups.

KV: So you’re playing smaller venues on this Northwest tour before you go on the road with Black Sabbath. What’s it going to be like adjusting to playing arenas?

Reignwolf:  To me it’s really exciting. Obviously the band will be really fun. We’re used to people being crowded around the stage. I think the feeling of having a whole bunch of people but not right up against the stage will be an absolute shocker, but in a good way. Again it’s just opening up new ground. The thing I think I look forward to the most is the kick-drum and I in a stadium. I kind of feel like it’s just so bare bones and you’ll be able to hear everything in the stadium. Even the echo when that happens, the boom of the kick-drum, it’s going to be amazing. It’s new ground for us. Stitcx plays this instrument he calls a “buitar” that is half of a bass and half of a guitar, and it’s hard to say how that will sound in a big arena, but hell, we can do it.

KV: So Seven Deadly Sins has been out for a while now and you’ve recently released a steady stream of singles. What can fans expect to hear at the new shows?

Reignwolf: Just to be clear Seven Deadly Sins is not something we tour on. That record was something I did in 2010 and we sold out of Seven Deadly Sins and didn’t re-issue it, and that was that. Now I’ve really been focussing on Reignwolf music and the two singles that are under Reignwolf are things that just came naturally. ‘Are You Satisfied’ is something we ended up recording in Saskatoon. The start of the song was recorded in Seattle and we finished it in Saskatoon. ‘In The Dark’ was in New Orleans at Ani DiFranco’s house. Basically our recording process is there, but we’ve been so busy building the live thing so now we know what we want to do. In 2014 we will have a record and I’m dying to get it out. We’ve been working quite hard on something and it’s time. We’ve been touring without a record for quite some time and now I feel like there will be some people to actually listen to this thing.

KV: Throughout your career talented musicians seem to gravitate towards you. Can we expect any new influences or other musicians contributing to the new album?

Reignwolf: It’s really tough to say. I’ve done some recording with Matt Cameron and Ben Sheppard and those guys are personal heroes and friends. To say they will be on the record, I don’t know at this point. What we have right now as a band is exactly what we need it to sound like, at least for this first record. But that being said it’s too soon to say.

KV: OK, one last question. If the blues was a country, who would be president today?

Reignwolf: There’s no doubt I would have to hand it to Big Dave McLean. He’s the guy that gave me the most in terms of the blues. He’s been doing the same thing for forty years, I’d definitely say he’s the president.

KV: Thanks for doing this Jordan, looking forward to seeing you in Vancouver.

Reignwolf: Can’t wait. Thank you very much.

 

For a review of Reignwolf’s raucous Vancouver performance click here.

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