Wolf Gang is a British alternative and symphonic rock band with Max McElligott as lead vocalist. Having played with different musicians, McElligott settled on the current live set up in late 2009 which includes Lasse Petersen (drums) previously of The Rakes, Gavin Slater (guitar), James Wood (bass), and Jamie Jones (keyboard).
Was this the first time you'd done an arena tour?
Yes it was, we've played to large crowds for one-off supports with the likes of the Killers or at festivals, but this was the first time where each night our workplace was a huge arena!
How was it playing in these big venues?
Well let's just say it really gets the adrenaline going... you can't see everyone's face like at a smaller show, but you still feel an overall presence that is quite empowering.
Despite his enthusiasm for theory-based genres, McElligott has had little formal training; it's all in the ear and the heart. "Trumpet was the only thing I had teaching in.I find it it very hard to read music." However, lack of instruction was no obstacle for McElligott's true calling. "I play everything I can get my hands on, really; I give everything a go. Haven't quite conquered the string instruments yet, but I'd love to give that a crack someday."
Effortlessness is the name of the game, and from there on solid little pop gems are tossed off like they’re nothing, from the sweeping, romantic vista of ‘Something Unusual’, McElligott pleading “Why won’t you lay down your little heart for me?/We’d be something out of this world, never seen before”, to the strutting, Talking Heads romp of ‘Stay And Defend’ with its vibrant belter of a chorus. ‘The King And All Of His Men’ is a high-cheekboned glammy stomp that knows ridicule is nothing to be scared of, duelling with Adam Ant on high table, while the lush, loose-hipped ‘Back To Back’ changes pace with a moody, heartbroken depth and a seductive three-note bass line.
THE KING AND ALL OF HIS MEN
Well you can ﬁght it but you know that you won’t get your way in the end
Too many people, the King and all of his men
And if you’re dealing a line of cards
Won’t you take me to the queen of hearts?
And if you’re trying to tear down what you see
Pack up the stars before you come for me
And if you’re dealing a line of fate
Who’s going to tell her the reason I’m late?
You took her soul, so incomplete
Why don’t you stop ﬁghting me?
You’re in control so why should you be
Fighting me? Fighting me? Fighting me?
How to be sure that what you say is the truth
When I see ﬂaws in everything that you do?
And if I’m passing a sentence on you
I would give you the crown for a fool
And now you’ve lost, there’s nothing left to defend
You came so close to the King and all of his men
And if you’re dealing in a trick of the light
I need to see her face for one last time
McElligott also explained what 'Suego Faults' means:
It sounds like a place but it’s totally imaginary and came out of my subconscious. I had a dream I was trying to escape this place called Suego Faults. It was this utopia, a romantic, other-worldly, quite fantastical place.
The singer and multi-instrumentalist said that one track on the album, 'The King And All His Men' was based on another dream about a terrorist attack.
“The title of the thesis was, ‘Is the Notion of Romanticism a Western Construct?’” explains Max, who grew up with two sisters and attended a girls’ school where he was one of only two boys. “It was an exploration of the concept of falling in love and finding a partner, and of such eternal questions as, ‘Is monogamy a social construct?’, and ‘Does love exist in a universal form, or are our ideas of love a luxury that only Western culture can afford?’ Does a Bendjele tribesman of the Congo, for example, have similar romantic thoughts to an Irish farmer?”
Still only 24, Max moved around a lot as a child because of his historian father’s work, from Hull to Ann Arbor near Detroit in the States to St Andrews in Scotland. It was there that he joined a local pipe band where, in his kilt, he would march down the cobbled streets. “It was,” he recalls, “very rousing.” Another factor that contributed to his love of the symphonic and grand was his violinist mother’s tendency to take her son to concerts as a child where he would watch her play with a full orchestra.
For young British rocker Max McElligott, the classical and legacy music of his childhood permeates his retro soul. "My sister's a violinist, and my mother's a violinist, so I was dragged around to concerts as a child... I find a lot of inspiration in classical music. I like heritage artists. I like my parents' record collection. People from back in the day, like Bowie, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix... I listen to a lot of music from that era, and some from the '60s as well."
What is your favourite and least favourite track on ‘Suego Faults’?
I don't have favourites actually, retrospectively I think that there are powerful moments and weak moments in each song.
How did you come up with the name Wolf Gang? Would you change it if you could?
My sister came up with the name actually, and for a while it caused a bit of confusion with Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All fans which made me sometimes think of changing it even though we were the first to use it, but that problem has sort of died out since and I'm happy that we are rolling with it. It wouldn't feel right changing it.