Playing Off The Grid:
Scott Metzger Discusses 1-800-WOLF! & The Art of ‘Soundtrack Music’

Words by Corinne Casella

Brooklyn natives, WOLF! came together under inauspicious circumstances. Guitarist Scott Metzger, of Phil and Friends and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth, were forced to create music off the cuff, after their lead singer pulled a no-show at a local gig. Using this incident as their catalyst, the trio went on to fully define their unique instrumental sound. With their latest record 1-800-WOLF!, released October 15th, they have matured their atmospheric medleys with a sense of panache and improvisation. The album, which was recorded in one afternoon at Marco Benevento’s studio in Woodstock and the rest over three days at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn, maintains the band’s extemporized style. Scott Metzger took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the inspiration and the undefinable musical enigma that is WOLF!

Can you please explain in a little more detail the on-the-fly performance aesthetic that lead to the band’s formation?

SM: Early on, we didn’t have much material, but didn’t want to turn down gigs. So when we’d only have 20 or 30 minutes of material, clubs would want to know if we could do a 90+ minute sets or three 45 minute sets at a bar or whatever. We’d be like “Sure thing, no problem.” So we’d have to make up songs on the spot, just to run out the clock. We got really good at it and those situations are where all of our material comes from.

What are the benefits of being in an instrumental only project? What are the drawbacks?

SM: One benefit is there’s no singer with a crazy huge ego to deal with, ha. Just kidding. We’ve all played together in a lot of different situations, so we know each other’s playing so well that it’s really easy to go “off the grid,” so to speak, and take this material into some really interesting places. That’s definitely a benefit. As for drawbacks, people keep telling me that there’s a glass ceiling on instrumental music in terms of how big of an audience can be reached. We don’t really think about that much, but I guess that’s a drawback if it’s true.

The album is a wonderful mix of genres. Can you tell me a little bit about your influences?

SM: Thanks so much. Well, we’re pulling influences from all kinds of American music we love–Soul, Country, Jazz…and soundtracks. Soundtrack music is a big thing for us. Movies in general, actually, are a huge inspiration for this music and our attitudes.

What is your favorite song off the new album, why, and what was the inspiration?

SM: That’s tough. “You are no Longer My Friend, My Friend,” “Oaxaca Ox,” “Furry Freedom” & “Denim Love Affair” are some of my favorites for their unique WOLF!-ness. I don’t hear a lot of bands doing stuff like that.

What next challenge/goal would you ideally like to see WOLF! conquer in the next say five years?

SM: That’s easy. Get on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Apparently, he’s only making two more films, so we gotta get the ball rolling!

With the October 15th release of 1-800-WOLF! from Royal Potato Family and their upcoming area tour dates, WOLF! shows no signs of slowing down creatively. “It takes a lot of guts to get up each night and not know what’s going to happen,” Metzger concludes. “Each night we play is completely different from every other night. I think it comes down to musical confidence and trust. The fact is, we can do whatever we want with this thing. And we’re just getting started.” | RPF