Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 2019 Werewolves is a death metal trio that plays hard and fast, comprising Sam Bean (bass/vocals), Matt Wilcock (guitar) and David Haley (drums). Ripping out albums with the brutal efficiency of their namesakes ripping out throats, the band last month put out their third album in three years, From the Cave to the Grave. I caught up with Sam Bean to learn more about the band.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. It’s an unnerving feeling listening to your new album From The Cave To The Grave. I keep thinking that fire must be falling from the sky, but when I look outside I see blue skies.
Sam: Fire falling from the sky, cats and dogs living together! Heh, it’s my pleasure, I’ve been looking forward to this interview!
This is the band’s third album together. What separates this release from your first two and how do you think the band has evolved between releases?
Sam: We’ve been complete smart arses and told everyone that this album is just like the first two, but better. Which is true but people want more words and explanations than that, don’t they. Problem is, we can’t really explain it better than that. We don’t plan out this music or quantify it, and we try not to get all intellectual and analyse it….particularly as it’s supposed to be this puddle of neanderthal caveman riff-piss.
Best way to put it is this: when we recorded the first album, we all turned up super-experienced already. We had no idea what to expect of the band. Album two, we knew what the band was about. And this album, we’ve just had three years of solid practice writing and playing this filth. We’re getting better and it shows.
Your music is very fast and very technical. Were any tracks especially challenging to nail down in the studio and who do you think had the toughest job during recording?
Sam: I reckon I had the toughest job, haha! Learning Matt’s riffs, coming up with basslines to match, and then writing all the vocals and lyrics, that’s like twice the workload! I personally found Oedipus Tyrannus to be the hardest to play, surprisingly. Matt has this supremely dexterous picking hand and I was doing what I could to lock in with him and Dave. It’s not the fastest song, just the picking hand is all sorts of complicated. Dave didn’t have a problem with anything, he’s a machine that you feed metal and he shits out blastbeats.
Was there anything new from a sound or recording technique point of view that you tried out in the studio for these sessions?
Sam: We tried recording albums three and four at the same time. We figured that we might as well punch through and get it all done. It works great in that you reduce studio time, but it might piss off those purists who want Carcass-levels of evolution between albums. Vocally, I tried preparing more. I found on our second album that the songs I demoed the most turned out the best, it gave Matt and Dave more of a chance to have their say about what works. That’s something I definitely took into the recording of ‘From the Cave to the Grave’.
The three of you in the band have a huge amount of shared experience from other bands. How does Werewolves differ from your other musical projects and what was the impetus behind putting this band together?
Sam: The other bands have this ‘skin in the game’ feeling to them, so it was fun to see if we could take all this experience we have and shit out an album without stressing about it like we usually do. We weren’t even thinking about success or anything like that. Musically, Werewolves is a lot less complex than anything else we do. People think it’s technical, but it so fucking isn’t.
We make up for the lack of thought we normally put into music by replacing it with spontaneity and attitude, lots of snotty fuck-you attitude. I keep seeing people straying into death metal thinking it’s a happy, hand-holding inclusive place, and while I think it’s cool that those areas exist these days, it’s definitely not us. There’s bones in front of our cave.
Every Werewolves album has striking album art — all by Mitchell Nolte if I’m not mistaken. How did this collaboration come about and how conscious has the band been in keeping a continuity to the visual presentation of the releases?
Sam: Mitchell’s a friend of Dave’s from Tasmania and was Dave’s first suggestion for artwork. We don’t tend to question Dave whenever he recommends anyone. I don’t know if it’s continuity on our part or just sheer laziness? The whole point of Werewolves is to quickly and efficiently deliver an asskicking from A to B, and if we find someone who helps us do that and doesn’t fuck around then that’s who we’re gonna use, time and time again.
I was actually born in Melbourne, Australia too — I just haven’t lived in Australia for many many years. What was it like growing up there for you and how did you get steered down the path of getting up to your neck in death metal?
Sam: Oh cool! Where do you live now? [Tom: Düsseldorf, Germany as it happens] I was only in Melbourne from my university years, I think I’ve spent about just over a decade there or so all up. I was so damn lucky, I moved there in 1993 when I was about to turn 18 and it was the start of a few golden decades for Melbourne. It was a really, really easy place to live, totally pleasant, plenty of work and things to do. I was already into extreme metal by then, I started listening at high school, so I’d take what little spare money I had and go see every gig I could.
There were some killer bands back then like Abramelin, Damaged, Christbait, Magnacite, Beanflipper, Public Hanging…everyone doing really different stuff, you didn’t know what to expect when you went to a show! I had a lot of mates who were house music DJs too, so it wasn’t weird to go straight from some demonic gig to a mansion where everyone’s dancing to deep house around a pool.
There were the street press papers Inpress and Beat, dunno if they’re still around anymore. I’d get them the minute they were out, look at the gig listings, and plan my week around them. I lived in a central suburb called Prahran, so I’d walk into Richmond, go to the Great Britain Hotel, pay like five bucks to get into a show, watch at least three fucking amazing bands crush, and have enough change for like a bourbon and coke!
It’s crazy thinking back now….if I had forty bucks for the week, I was a king. I’d buy a secondhand cassette tape, a second hand novel, catch a double feature at the Astor cinema, and have enough left over for a couple of gigs. Maybe even food! Yeah, Melbourne has changed now.
What other underground bands are ripping it up in Melbourne that you want to give a shout out to?
Sam: I’ve got no idea, I live in Adelaide now. I have no idea who’s doing anything or what they’re like. I guess I’m gonna find out when we start doing our Melbourne shows, hey! But I suspect if people aren’t already going “holy fuck, have you seen blah blah blah” then no-one outstanding exists. I’ll recommend Abramelin, Matt and Dave play in that, they’re kind of in their prime now even though they’ve been around for thirty years!
If the three of you had to run from an actual werewolf, who’s got the best cardio and who’s going to get their legs ripped off first?
Sam: Good fucking question! I know Dave and Matt are exercise fanatics, and love doing a bit of distance work. I’m a pretty good sprinter though and reckon I can take most people over 100 metres and let’s face it, you’re not all going to be doing a 10km jog trying to escape a werewolf, it’s gonna be all about that initial get-the-fuck-out-of-here dash. Between Matt and Dave, I’m thinking Matt might survive, he’s built like a greyhound who chases blastbeats. But that fucken werewolf would have to work for its dinner.
Now that the album is out what lies ahead for Werewolves in terms of live shows and other promotion?
Sam: More shows. More blasting. Less mercy. We’ve got two Melbourne shows coming up, one on Friday 8th July and another August 5th at Max Watts. We’ve got our first festival booking at Froth and Fury Fest in Adelaide November 19th. Think I’ll record the vocals for album 4 in August. By that festival gig, I reckon we’ll have a fair idea how far we want to take the live shows…you know, if we’re gonna stay around being some local support weapons or whether we want to take this show out on the road.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Sam: Psycroptic are about to drop a ball-tearer of a new album, go check that shit. And for lovers of satanic and progressive death metal, Matt and I have a new Antichrist Imperium album coming out in September which is going to drop jaws. Seriously, it’s amazing, beautiful, monstrous, and incredibly evil. Shoutouts to our multitude of other bands: Abramelin, Shotgun Mistress, The Amenta, The Senseless, and fuck me there’s probably about half a dozen I’ve forgotten.
interview by Tom Osman
band photo by Rob Brens
Thanks to Sam for his time. Be sure to check out From the Cave to the Grave on the links below — as well as all the other cool projects Sam mentioned in the interview if you’re looking for more music to wet your metal whistle. For any readers in Australia, check out the band live too, if you have a chance.
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