The Wolfe Brothers released their album This Crazy Life earlier this year and they have decided to apply that title to their 'mini-festival' tour, starting in Tasmania in early October - dates below. I spoke to Tom Wolfe (at left in photo) about their year so far, their plans - and their parents.
You're in Nashville as we speak, and I know the band has four months in the US before coming back for the This Crazy Life tour. Are you staying in Nashville and radiating outwards from there?
We're based here. We're sort of out every weekend touring, whether it be a festival or at a fair or doing a support slot – we're out of Nashville three or four days a week. When we're in town we're doing a lot of writing with newer artists and lots of different writers around town. It's been great. It's been really busy. We've done some fantastic gigs. We've opened for Dustin Lynch, Eli Young Band, Chris Janson, Locash, played at a country festival that has attendance of over 40 000 people. It's been a pretty amazing trip so far and for us it was all about seeing if what we do translates in this country – whether people understand it – and the reception's been fantastic. Better than we could have hoped. We're over the moon.
It seems like an efficient use of your time, as well, to get that writing done when you are in Nashville and then go and play. An efficient use of time and a good balance, so you're not feeling too cooped up, because I imagine you guys don't like being cooped up.
Absolutely not [laughs]. We love it. It's the town where you can write five days a week – you can write seven days a week if you want to – with different people every day. When you're a creative person it's a fantastic thing and we're really enjoying it. We've written some great new songs. Just working on our craft, you know. I think you can never have enough songs. So, who knows, some of them might pop up on our next album – you never know what the life of a song will entail.
These new songs, do you ever test them out on the road before you decide what's going on an album?
None of these we have, but with the songs for This Crazy Life we did – we had a few that we were working and we felt let's try a few of these out live. I think with the whole of the album we kept to the idea of playing these songs live in our minds a lot more. Playing live is a big part, if not the biggest part, of this band. We really made that a focus and I think we got a bunch of songs that feel great and go over great and are a lot of fun to play live.
The album is called This Crazy Life, which I feel is something of an ironic title because I maintain that you guys are among the best-organised bands in the business. But how is the crazy life going?
[Laughs] It's great. The song 'This Crazy Life', that's kind of what our journey has been for the last four years. We started long before that, of course, in the pubs and bars, and moved to the rodeos and B&S balls. There was a time when we were playing weddings and birthdays and engagements – anything. It was the Australia's Got Talent journey that was the one thing that gave us that little push into the direction we wanted to take the band – into touring, releasing albums, doing all that we've got to do over the last few years. We've pretty much lived out of a suitcase. It's been highest of highs, lowest of lows, but as the song says: we wouldn't have it any other way. That's completely true. It's been an amazing ride so far.
I don't know if this qualifies as a 'low', although I suppose it would be: you've lost one band member since the last album. Do you have a new permanent drummer or do you find one depending on where you're playing?
It was a bit of a low but with Casey we totally respect that he's got a really young family – two boys under the age of three – and he didn't want to miss out on the time with them. Casey does as much as he can with us in Australia, which is great. And over here in the US we've found a drummer, a young guy from Texas. He's a great guy, he's really into the music, and he wants to see us do as well as we can. It is a bit of shame [about Casey] but we totally get it, we totally respect it, and I think it's very commendable to put your family first like that. I think he'd regret it otherwise, down the track.
The tour you're coming back for in October is kicking off in Tasmania – I imagine that was a Wolfe Brothers request.
Absolutely. We want to get home at some point [laughs]. It's going to be something special: seven acts from three different countries. It's a mini festival on the road of new country music. We just what to take it out to people. There's a lot of country fans around Australia so we want to take it to them and we also want to encourage people who don't listen to country, or haven't listened to country in the last ten years, to check this out. You're going to get a great showcase. We're a country rock band; we've got Gord Bamford coming out from Canada. I don't know if Australians realise but he is huge in Canada – he is the man of Canada, you know. Jody Direen coming over from New Zealand – she just won the NZ Country Music Awards artist of the year. We've got Christie Lamb, Golden Guitar winner. Caitlyn Shadbolt, of course, was on X Factor. Troy Kemp from McAlister Kemp and Craig Heath. We really wanted to do something different. We didn't want to just do one show, one support – we wanted to involve a lot of people, just mix it up, take some new music out to people on the road and get them excited about it.
Will everyone play a short set?
Everyone's going to play some of their own stuff then we'll probably jam on things together. We're still working everything out. It's going to be fun and with that many people on stage there's probably going to be some surprises [laughs]. We can't wait to get back home and put some rehearsals together. Bring it on, I say.
The unseen part of touring is rehearsing – good luck getting all of those people together in one place.
It was hard enough organising the tour! We've toured with Christie Lamb before with Lee [Kernaghan] but we haven't toured with a lot of female acts before so that's going to be something new and a different dynamic to the whole show. It's exciting – really exciting.
And, of course, country music is unusual in that there are a lot of female artists and a lot of women in the audience, so that balance should work really well.
Absolutely – and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to give people a real showcase. There are some seriously talented people in Australian country music coming up and if we can give an opportunity to take some of those people on the road and support them and get them out there playing in front of people, I think that's a really positive thing for the fans, for the artists, for everybody.
Now, after all this time touring and intensive time together, do you and Nick [Wolfe, Tom's brother] still like each other?
We love each other very, very much [laughs]. Honestly, it's great – we've all got on really well. We haven't been home a lot at all over the last year – we were over here in Nashville from November to February, just three of us, and now we're back here again. And when we were at home we did 30 to 40 days with Lee Kernaghan. We're pretty used to living with each other. We love it, you know. If there is any tension or anything like that we try to channel it into a new song, being creative, which I think is the smart way to do it. Just the fact that we've done it together for so long – we get on very, very well. I think that comes through. We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise. It's really a lot of fun.
And your parents must be very proud of you both, I'd imagine.
They're over the moon. What we're doing now is kind of what our dad always wanted to do but he never really got the opportunity, with the family farm and stuff, so he's just over the moon that we're going it and Mum's really proud. They've been incredible parents and incredibly supportive over the years. It's been a great ride for us but there's some sacrifices you've got to make to try to live out your dreams and they've been there for us and believed in us every step of the way. Couldn't have done any of it without them.
It seems very much like you honour them by performing so professionally, by running your careers the way you have. My sense is that every opportunity the band is presented with, you say yes. Not recklessly – you see those opportunities, you identify them as opportunities and you accept them, and then do your absolute best with them.
We're all very lucky. It's not just me and Nick – it's Brodie [Rainbird, guitarist] as well. We've both got great sets of parents who brought us up very grounded. We're very proud of what we've achieved so far. As you said, very thing that's been thrown our way we've worked really hard and made the most of every opportunity. We're really proud of that. We've been able to do some amazing things that we've only ever dreamed of and are now coming true. It's bloody awesome [laughs], if I can be really Australian.
Given that Lee keeps booking you up, has he booked you up for next year?
Yes. We're just trying to make that all work. There's some cool things in the pipeline for next year – I think that's also going to be just as busy. Yeah – awesome, fun, and I'm glad we just keep doing it. We love making music, we love being on the road. We appreciate everyone who lets us do it.
THIS CRAZY LIFE TOUR DATES
Friday 7 October 2016 | 8pm
Wrest Point Entertainment Centre, HOBART TAS
Saturday 8 October 2016 | 8pm
Hotel Tasmania, LAUNCESTON TAS
Friday 14 October 2016 | 8.30pm
Kay Street Entertainment Complex, TRARALGON VIC
(03) 5176 0463 | www.kayst.oztix.com.au
Saturday 15 October 2016 | 7.30pm
The Palms at Crown, MELBOURNE VIC
136 100 | www.ticketmaster.com.au
Friday 21 October 2016 | 8pm
Evan Theatre, Penrith Panthers, PENRITH NSW
(02) 4720 5555 | www.penrith.panthers.com.au
Saturday 22 October 2016 | 8.30pm
Wests New Lambton, NEWCASTLE NSW
(02) 4935 1200 | www.westsnewcastle.com.au
Friday 28 October 2016 | 8pm
Twin Towns Services Club, TWEED HEADS NSW
1800 014 014 | www.twintowns.com.au
Saturday 29 October 2016 | 8pm
Empire Theatre, TOOWOOMBA QLD
1300 655 299 | www.empiretheatre.com.au