WHITE WOLF – No Strangers To Danger
Metal Forces, Issue 20 (1986)
If I’d only been able to stay in the US for a couple of weeks more I’d have been able to lig with White Wolf members Cam MacLeod (guitar / vocals) and Don WiIk (vocals / keyboards) in the spacious offices of RCA in Manhattan, rather than making conversation with ’em over the transatlantic hotline. Such is life eh?
From Edmonton, Canada, White Wolf are currently watching the sales figures rise for their recently released Endangered Species album, the band’s second, and it’s doing very nicely for them. Cam: “Oh, in the States it’s doing well; it’s climbing really well in the Billboard charts. As we speak, it’s currently at number 154 and that’s not bad for an album that’s been out for only six weeks. I’m happy with it.”
The video for the single cut off the LP, namely ‘She’, appears to be enjoying some good airplay from what I’ve seen of it on MTV and U-68’s ‘Power Hour’ in New York. Cam: “Yeah, that’s good. The video’s based around the girl who likes to get everything and if she sees something better she’ll go for it. I actually prefer the video for ‘Shadows In The Night’ from our first album better though!”
What made you decide to record Endangered Species in Holland? Cam: “Well the cost wasn’t any factor. Being over in Europe we had more of a relaxed atmosphere and a place that had much more of a feel; in Canada it’s too choppy. Our producer, Shell Schellikens, wanted us to go there because he knew the studio, so that’s another reason. It was a very good learning experience for us and we actually recorded far more songs than those that made the album. We wrote 40 songs and recorded 20. I think we’ll be playing some of the unreleased stuff live as there’s a couple of really good songs in there.”
I’ve got to admit that I was pretty disappointed with Endangered Species, considering the band’s debut album Standing Alone (released in 1984 after delays caused by name changes – the band were called Warrior at one point) was so good, employing a gutsy, raw, metal sound aided with some good use of melody – check out stuff like ‘What The War Will Bring’, ‘Night Rider’ and ‘Trust Me’ for example. Endangered Species seems to be a step back into the ’70s, material wise at least. Cam: “Our first album was really a demo tape, recorded over a three year period done in two sessions with two different producers (Jack Richardson and ex-Hammersmith man Dan Lowe). That album did have a much rawer feel to the production. There are ’70s influences on our second album, we grew up then and that’s definitely where our influences come from, but I think it’s got a very ’80s production.” I’d have to agree with him there, maybe!
So how did the first album do? Cam: “It hit 180,000 in the United States, went Top 20 in Japan and did fairly well in Canada. We reached number 143 on Billboard with very little airplay.”
Did you see the cover art it got blessed with here in the UK?! Cam: “Yeah, we hated it. We couldn’t believe it when we saw it. The US branch of RCA rejected that, it was pretty disappointing to see that it came out with that horrible, sickly looking cover in the UK.”
I don’t think RCA in the UK cared anyway, they never do with hard rock acts, unlike RCA in America who have achieved considerable success with our favourite form of music. Sign up some more eh?
So, at this point Don Wilk comes on the line to have his say. Wilk is pretty much the band’s frontman (the rest of White Wolf is comprised of Rick Nelson – guitar, Les Schwartz – bass and Loris Bolzon – drums), having been with the outfit since its inception six years ago. “None of us have recorded with other bands,” says Don. “We all started together, although I was offered a job with Streetheart a couple of times.”
So how do White Wolf compare live to on vinyl? Don: “It’s pretty close. Obviously there are certain things that we can’t reproduce live, but most of it we can, vocally for instance. I think we’re a lot heavier and raunchier live, the songs can become more direct and forward. On our second album we cleaned things up a bit compared to the rawness of the debut, but times are changing and the raw element in music isn’t really there anymore in the studio. We’re happy with Endangered Species and it gives us room to move, to help to bring the band on to the next level. Catering for a radio sound is very important these days.”
I do tend to agree on this point because in North America radio airplay is usually the medium that makes or breaks a band, unlike in Europe where the radio is far too pop-oriented, so it’s rock magazines that do all the pushing.
Currently, White Wolf are preparing for what Don describes as “a major US onslaught”, planning to tour for a least seven to eight months, intending also to visit Japan where they have built up quite a following. RCA are also negotiating on getting the band to tour as support to one or two major bands, although nothing as yet is being confirmed.
If there’s any indication that White Wolf are intending to sell-out to make it, then I can assure you that it’s not so. Both men feel proud of being in a heavy metal / hard rock band and express a lifelong desire to play support to Deep Purple one day. “We wouldn’t mind supporting Dio, the Scorpions or Def Leppard either,” says Don. And on the subject of selling out he says: “we’re sticking to our roots and those are hard rock bands.” Glad to hear it.
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 20 (1986)
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