Wolf pack are back and the howl is just glorious
THE music business is full of huge egos, never shying from self promotion and over-hyped belief – perhaps none more so than John Lennon claiming that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
And now, Tamworth's own favourite hard-rock heroes are back, and as they take the stage at the Hard Rock Hell Festival in North Wales, frontman Blaze Bayley proclaims: "We are Wolfsbane – we are here to save the world!"
Ridiculous rock 'n' roll showmanship or a genuine belief? I caught up with the band before the gig to try to find out.
While lead singer Blaze held court elsewhere, I reminded Jase Edwards, Jeff Hateley and Steve Danger that they were once quoted as saying they were 'too stupid to give up'.
"Yeah, and now we're proving the point!" joked Jeff.
Steve added: "We didn't have enough of it last time so we've come around again to cause as much destruction and mayhem as we can."
When Bayley departed the band to join Iron Maiden in 1994, it looked as though it was the end for Wolfsbane. The parting was not handled well, and the band now admits that at the time there was a good deal of bitterness.
Jase explained: "We were bit like Metallica or somebody, there was no side projects, we never did anything other than the band so that was our entire world. So at the time it seemed like a big deal. It was handled badly. I felt it was done a bit underhand and that it could have been done in a way so everyone was happy.
"But there were legal reasons it had to be that way and we understand that now.
"If you put yourself in Bayley's shoes and you get the call from Iron Maiden, you've gotta do it".
So how did the reunion come about?
Jeff takes up the story: "I never thought for a minute it would happen. It was Debbie, Bayley's late wife and manager, who started the ball rolling.
"She made some phone calls, asked a couple of times and we didn't say no, but we were all in different places at the time and doing different things.
"We couldn't quite put it together.
"But eventually, back in 2007, the timing worked for us and we did about half an hour at a charity gig at the Palace Media Centre.
"It was really interesting getting back together because it felt like we'd only had about three months off. We just sounded like us again".
And from there, the pace has quickened. A tour with the Quireboys, then supporting Saxon and on to 2011's EP 'Did It For The Money'.
Now the quartet are on their own headline tour promoting their new album 'Wolfsbane Save The World'.
And they say they're all proud to have made the kind of album they always dreamed of making first time around.
Guitarist Jase Edwards, who has produced a number of bands during the intervening years, said the band's reunion was different from others because most reforming bands returned with their best years behind them – Wolfsbane's best is yet to come, starting with this album, he said.
"We'd love it if someone picked the album up and it exploded and we could give up our jobs and do this again full time.
"More than anything I just think we're happy to have made a properly good record that we all really love so we can just release it into the world and let it go and do its own thing.
"This album has got plenty of manic vibe to it.
"Whenever we've recorded before and something really good has come out of it, we've like run around the car park screaming.
"We're a bit old for that now so we saunter around the car park, but the feeling is just the same".
There is no sauntering in evidence tonight as the band hit the stage at full tilt and don't let go.
Blaze looks happier and more at home than I have seen him in years, and the reaction of the crowd confirms that the decision to return is the right one.
The new songs sit easily alongside old favourites 'Loco', 'Money to Burn' and 'Manhunt', and when the band take their final bows, the smiles of band and audience alike prove the point.
Will Wolfsbane actually save the world? Find out for yourself at one of the gigs the band is lining up, hopefully with Tamworth as one of the stops.
For more information on the band including tours and local dates, or to order the album, go to www.wolfsbanehms.com
REVIEW: Wolfsbane Save the World
This is a strong work, dripping with all the humour, emotion and energy that you would expect from the band, but with a maturity that has polished their sound and filled the tracks with more hooks than a pirate convention.
Opener 'Blue Sky' is as good a feel good rock 'n' roll song as Wolfsbane have ever spawned, with Edwards' searing guitar work and a punch-the-air chorus.
The sparkling effect of 'Starlight' changes the pace, while the twisted, hypnotic 'Illusion of Love', which Danger lists among his favourite Wolfsbane tracks, will be in your head for days.
'Smoke and Red Light' has the sort of attitude and chaotic melody that other bands try but rarely do this well, while 'Everybody's Looking for Something Baby' rolls along like tidal wave searching for a city to destroy.
So, if like me and the band, you believe that the world needs to be saved from Simon Cowell, and that real music is what matters, go to www.wolfsbanehms.com, add this album to your collection… and put Tamworth's greatest heavy metal howlers one step closer to world domination.