Wolfmother goes old-school with classic rock and rollers Guns n' Roses

For Wolfmother's frontman Andrew Stockdale, opening for Guns n' Roses means playing to a whole lot of people who love ...
YULIA GROGORYEVA

For Wolfmother's frontman Andrew Stockdale, opening for Guns n' Roses means playing to a whole lot of people who love rock and roll, something that's becoming rare, he says.

They've barely had time to empty the suitcases after a whopping 111-show world tour, and Australian rock band Wolfmother is already back on the road.

Only this time, it's with Guns n' Roses.

Wolfmother will open for Guns n' Roses at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Thursday night, as well as the Auckland show on Saturday, and four dates in Australia.

Wolfmother open for Guns n Roses' Not in this Lifetime tour, at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Thursday night, as well ...
FAIRFAX NZ

Wolfmother open for Guns n Roses' Not in this Lifetime tour, at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Thursday night, as well as Auckland on Saturday, and four dates in Australia.

Many rock bands can testify to the hard yards of opening for countless bands before they hit the big time themselves.

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For the most part, Wolfmother managed to skip the process, with the exception of Pearl Jam in 2006.

But for a legendary band like Guns n' Roses, they were willing to make another exception.

For Wolfmother's frontman Andrew Stockdale, Guns n' Roses embodies old-school rock and roll, something he feels has been largely lost in the current music scene.

Don't even get him started on Mumford & Sons.

Wolfmother's track 2006 Woman shot them to huge fame, with the song appearing on The Hangover, Green Lantern, and The ...
LISI NIESNER

Wolfmother's track 2006 Woman shot them to huge fame, with the song appearing on The Hangover, Green Lantern, and The Good Guys.

Wolfmother splashed onto the music scene in 2005 with hits like White Unicorn and Woman making waves with their high-energy sound, meaty riffs and glam rock-esque vocal.

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The band would go on to win a Grammy for best hard rock performance in 2007, as well as several other awards and nominations including a BRIT nomination for International Breakthrough Act.

In December 2016, Wolfmother completed the world tour of its fourth album, Victorious, and spent a well-earned Christmas break at home in Byron Bay.

Stockdale turned to Axl Rose's vocal for inspiration for Wolfmother's White Unicorn track.

Stockdale turned to Axl Rose's vocal for inspiration for Wolfmother's White Unicorn track.

Now, they're opening for one of the biggest rock bands of all time, one which inspired their sound.

When writing White Unicorn, Stockdale found himself unhappy with the song's original vocal style, then he found himself thinking, what would Axl Rose do?

"Axl Rose is one of the greatest voices of our time, I like those singers like Axl Rose and Rob Plant [from Led Zeppelin], singers that really go for it. If you look around these days, it's like everyone's trying to sound like they're from Dublin," Stockdale says.

Guns n' Roses' plane pulls up at Wellington airport on Tuesday.
MICHAEL LANZENBERGER

Guns n' Roses' plane pulls up at Wellington airport on Tuesday.

"It's like they're all sitting there having a Guinness, and singing 'Oh Mary, won't you be mine and come back to me', or everyone's doing this Cookie Monster voice and it's like, no one's singing, no one's writing riffs."

Stockdale feels you'd be hard-pressed to find a current rock band that can really sing.

"I don't get it, they just sound like they're either doing the Mumford & Sons' Irish vocal, or they have these really sort of, I don't want to say 'wimpy', but it's almost like getting a lawyer or accountant to sing a song to you.

"Axl Rose is one of the greatest voices of our time, I like those kind of singers like he and Rob Plant [from Led ...
YULIA GROGORYEVA

"Axl Rose is one of the greatest voices of our time, I like those kind of singers like he and Rob Plant [from Led Zeppelin], singers that really go for it," says Stockdale.

"It's like people wearing white shirts and pretending, 'don't worry, you're in safe hands, because we're firmly middle class, and I have no affectations in my voice, and I'm going to sing very clearly about compasses, and paper aeroplanes and hopscotch, and everything is okay'."

It's a shift Stockdale stays clear of, he says.

"I thought steering clear of that was the whole point? Steering away from that kind of stuff, that that's what made rock and roll cool, or sexy, or different in the first place."

Opening for Guns n' Roses means a lot to the band, but mostly it means playing to a whole lot of people who like rock and roll.

Which nowadays, he says, is a bit of a rare thing.

But the stadium tour will be a bit different to their usual style of show, of which the production values don't go too far beyond a backdrop and in-house lighting, he says.

They decided to get a lighting specialist for the Victorious tour, but he didn't last very long.

"He quit after the first show cause he wanted to have his own room, and we were like, it's going to be two to a room, man, sorry, and he said 'well, I quit'.

"We said, 'well, you know what, it doesn't even matter, because nobody at our show cares. We'll get someone else to turn the lights on and off'.

"Seriously, at our shows, when everyone's moshing and going nuts, I don't even think they care if we're on the stage, no one's even looking at us. I'll be talking about my new vintage boots and haircut and realise no one's even paying attention, but that's good, because they're there for the music."

He recalls being on tour with Pearl Jam in 2006, and being woken up on the tour bus by someone throwing a CD on his bunk saying, "Eddie Vedder wants you to sing Hunger Strike with him on stage tonight".

But he can't see something too spontaneous like that happening with the tight-ship, mega production that is Guns n' Roses.

"They don't want to see a band going 'Hey guys, any requests? Shall we do All Along the Watchtower?' it just doesn't work like that."

He is looking forward to playing for Guns n' Roses fans.

"It's not like a serious, black t-shirt army, military drone operation, Guns n' Roses fans are open-minded and there to have a good time."

The tour will mark the first time that Guns n' Roses founder Rose and former members, Slash and Duff McKagan have played together for New Zealand fans since their infamous 1993 Use Your Illusion tour.

Limited VIP tickets are still available to the Wellington show on February 2, see Ticketek.co.nz. See Ticketmaster.co.nz for Auckland's show on February 4.

 - Stuff

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