Carley Wolf grew up with a pack of wolf-hybrid dogs on a Texas Hill Country ranch. When she met Jonny Wolf in 2011 and they started making music together, they named their band The Ghost Wolves as a way of remembering the beloved animals from her family who had passed on to the next life.
Blending blues, rock n’ roll, punk and early American music with modern forms, the duo has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working bands and more innovative artists in the current rock n’ roll underground, touring internationally for almost 6 years straight, with nearly 1000 shows between them in 23+ countries including most of western Europe, The USA, the U.K. and Japan.
The Ghost Wolves recently recorded for the first time in two years with John Michael Schoepf (bassist for Night Glitter) in Austin. “We were working on 1/2 inch tape and an 8 track tascam recorder from the 1970’s. No computers or screens in the studio for maximum creative clarity and focus,” drummer Jonny tells us. They’ve collaborated with multiple labels already, and have plans to release new music throughout the fall. Their next release is due in September by a US label to be announced soon. Their song “Bunny Run” was recently released in Europe by Warner Bros Records on a multi-CD compilation “Z66”, which also features Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, The Stooges, ZZ Top, BB King and Janis Joplin.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as the Artist of the Month?
J: For me it feels a bit like being the kitten in a box full of cute kittens who is getting picked to go home with someone nice. Austin is so chock full of great bands, I’m amazed you guys can choose just one per month.
C: I feel like a dog who just got adopted. It’s encouraging.
You’ve spent the past year touring the world – opening for punk legends Dead Boys and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, adding numerous USA and European festival appearances and many many sweaty packed-in club shows across multiple continents. Where’s your favorite city to play and why?
J: I particularly enjoy the out of the way villages and smaller, lesser known towns we get to work in. Sometimes it seems like the people in those places are more appreciative of bands making the effort to stop through, and so we have more fun. The crowds tend to be a little looser and ready to party. You play places like Paris and you can run into the stuck up art-mob types who stand there with their arms crossed analyzing every chord we play. Or sound engineers who think they are God’s gift to rock & roll and try to boss us around.
C: It’s too hard to pick just one but two recent places that stand out in my mind are Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Krefeld, Germany. Both places have a super tight community of rock and rollers. It’s nice to be a part of their scene if only for a night at a time once or twice a year. Lovely people.
Why have you decided to call Austin home?
J: Texas culture is deep and wide. When I came here, it felt a lot like how things feel in New Orleans, where I lived before. The way people dress, walk, talk, dance, eat, drink and make music is so localized and endearing here. I love Austin but I also really like rural Texas, and other cities like San Antonio. Carley was raised in the hill country.
C: Because Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” There are so many gigs here and so much inspiration. Everywhere we go on tour we are asked about Austin. People know and love it. I was born and raised out in the hills around here so it chose me more than I chose it, but of course then I chose to stay because it’s a great city.
You’ve released music with several different labels. Is there a reason you haven’t signed exclusively to one?
J: We’re at the school dance and there are all these pretty dancing partners out there, why just dance with one? Not looking to get hitched just yet.
C: We enjoy many different fruits and vegetables. They are all delicious in their own unique way.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you feel inspired to write songs when you’re on the road? Do you write together?
J: We usually get a few bottles of cheap bubbly, locate the nearest hot springs and go from there. We co-write a lot.
C: We gather inspiration for songs on the road. When we get home we lay the eggs and sit on them, keeping them warm until they are ready to hatch.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
J: My two drum teachers from when I was a teenager…Don Mulvaney and Johnny Vidacovich. My dad, John, because he gave me my first set of drums when I was 12. They’re Japanese from the 1960’s. He bought them at a flea market for $100 and I still play them to this very day. I also really love early rock & rollers like Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and weirdos like Hasil Adkins.
C: I’ve gained great inspiration from those who have come before but greatly value originality and try to remain uninfluenced. Some of my favorite musicians include Iggy Pop, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynnm, Lux and Ivy, Tom Waits, Ronnie Dawson, and RL Burnside. [Their latest release, “Death Bell Boogie,” is a tribute to R.L. Burnside and will appear on a compilation later in the year released by a Texas-based label.]
Outside of music, what other creative outlets do you have?
J: Music is my main creative muse. I can also draw a horse very badly. They usually come out looking like hot dogs.
C: All of them. I’m not happy unless I have a million irons in the fire. I like to throw things at the wall to see what sticks.I have a clothing line called Starwolf (@starwolf.texas on Instagram) and I collaborate with a fashion house in Japan called Hysteric Glamour. [The company is currently selling a line of Ghost Wolves-inspired clothing featuring Carley’s band art in their 45 brand stores throughout Japan, China, and southeast Asia. The line just entered its 5th season] I make art and music videos and try to revive plants when we are home from tour. Working with animals is a passion of mine and I’m an actor and a character voice. [She recently recorded an EP for an animated kids series called The Pikklesticks. She plays Posy, lead singer in an all-kid punk band. The show is currently in production for major network release.]
What’s next for The Ghost Wolves?
J: We’ll be out on the road all of the fall and winter, it’s where we get our adrenaline fix these days.
What advice do you have for someone just starting their musical journey?
J: Only do this if you absolutely have to.
C: JOURNEY ON!!!
How can fans keep up with and support The Ghost Wolves?
J: Follow our messenger pigeons, we have 12 in every US city.
C: Tell your grandmas, tell your cousins, tell your sisters, tell your brothers, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your teachers, GHOST WOLVES!!!! Also, come to our shows and buy our stuff: www.theghostwolves.com. Thanks!
*Austin show TBA
9/11 • Kansas City, MO • Record Bar
9/12 • Cedar Falls, IA, • Octopus
9/13 • Dubuque, IA • The Lift
9/14 • Macquoketa, IA • Codfish Hollow Barnstormers
9/15 • Chicago, IL • Reggie’s
9/17 • Cleveland, OH • Beachland Tavern
9/19 • Detroit, MI • PJ’s Lager House
9/20 • Cincinnati, OH • MOTR
10/25 • Green Bay, WI • Lyric Room
10/26 • Oshkosh, WI • The Howard