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An interview with indie folk-rock duo Hunter & Wolfe

NYC's indie-rock duo Hunter & Wolfe (Michael Maffei and Sundeep Kapur) are a force to be reckoned with: introspective, tight compositions carried by rich, folky instrumentation and strong lead vocals by Maffei. On their most recent release, 2017's Late Then Never, Hunter & Wolfe effectively paint a picture of growing pains. On the opening track, "All The Vultures," the duo channels the symphonic heartache of bands like Arcade Fire and Bright Eyes, making good use of booming percussion, bright keys, and most notably, lyrics that speak of ambivalence toward selfhood, love and becoming an adult. "I've been thinking 'bout the things I've said/I've been thinking 'bout the times I got it wrong/And all the vultures circling my head/I've been thinking that it's time I turn and run." The Deli recently spoke with Hunter & Wolfe about the creative process, their inspirations, and what the future holds for the band. You can catch Hunter & Wolfe at Rockwood Music Hall on April 3rd. Listen to "All the Vultures" below, and read the full interview here! - Ethan Ames

What was your initial motivation to form a band, when you started playing? 

Michael: I couldn't tell you what my motivation was back then other than I loved playing music and was fortunate enough to have a couple friends who shared that passion. I've always loved working with other musicians, though; it's just cool to see how much better a group can be than the sum of its parts. And I still get giddy about harmonizing.

What are the bands you dreamed to be part of, growing up?

Michael: As a kid I always wished I could be in Nirvana, because who wouldn't? I also have this vision of playing with Elliott Smith and Jon Brion on that one episode of the Jon Brion show. They're two incredible musicians just messing around, but they're so damn facile and the vibe is amazing. Oh, and if I could just shimmy my way into Arcade Fire, that'd be great--what's one more member anyway?

Who were you listening to at the time of writing and recording “All The Vultures?” There’s a distinct early aughts feel to it, i.e. Arcade Fire circa 2004. 

Michael: Well Funeral is one of those albums that's just burned into my brain, so whether I was actively listening to that or not, it was rattling around somewhere up there. 

I'm definitely anchored in the early aughts: Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Elliott Smith are all hugely important in how I approach songwriting. I do assimilate some new stuff as I go along, but we all tend to have a particularly liminal time in our lives when music really affects us. I guess it was the early aughts for me. 

As for some more recent records, The National's Trouble Will Find Me and High Violet were (and still are) in constant rotation. Honorable mentions to Mac Demarco's Salad Days, Grizzly Bear (Veckatimest, Shields), Bombay Bicycle Club (I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose), The Districts (A Flourish and a Spoil), and The Walkmen...also there was definitely a smattering of disco... 

As a creative duo, what does the songwriting process look like for the two of you?

Michael: It all begins with me having an idea and convincing myself it's awful. Usually it's some melody that randomly pops in my head or while I'm noodling on piano or guitar. If that awful idea stays in my head for long enough, the only way I can get it out of my head is to send it to Sundeep - not sure why that works. Deep then tells me if it's actually awful. 

From there, Deep and I spend a lot of time demoing back and forth via email before we get to a point for rehearsals. At that stage, we realize that Andy & Eric (drums) and Jeremy (bass) have much better ideas for their respective instruments than we do. We also had the pleasure of working with producers Doug Schadt and Harper James, who whipped us into shape toward the end of the process, which was new for us this time around.

Is “No One Really Wants Me” directed toward any one specific person, or is there a broader meaning behind the lyrics?

Michael: I always refer back to Woody Allen in Annie Hall: "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." My long-term relationship had recently ended and I was learning to deal with the insanity that is dating in NYC. And in spite of being surrounded by wonderful people, I had convinced myself everyone was just being nice. I guess this song was sort of a way to check myself. 

That being said, most of what I write is based on my own experiences, but I do hope that other people can relate. There is definitely a broader meaning; I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling anxious and alienated in spite of all the facts in front of me.

What does creative authenticity look like to you?

Michael: Creative authenticity is creating to scratch an itch. It's creating because it's second nature, almost like you have no choice because it's just what you do. I started writing music because there was something I wanted to hear that I hadn't heard. That's not to say I've succeeded.

People aren't dumb; they know when you're sincere in your message. All I do is say what I need to say and hope that it resonates with other people.

What other artists from the NYC area do you enjoy, these days?

Michael: We created a playlist on hunter & wolfe's Spotify called "The Cool Kids" where we post NYC artists we're into. 

To name a few: Bedlam-Roxbury by Anders RGK (definitely my sleeper pick of 2017), RVBY MY DEAR, Madam West, Pearla, Wet Leather, Wild Manes, Ursae, Twiga, and OxenFree. I'm missing tons because I'm the worst so people should make some suggestions. 

What's on the horizon for Hunter & Wolfe?

Michael: We're playing Communion Records' residency at Rockwood Music Hall (stage 2) on 4/3 @ 10pm - super excited about that. We're also looking to expand into other cities this summer with a possible mini-tour in the works. Other than that, expect to see our first full live performances of the new record on a YouTube near you!

And, as always, I'll be writing more awful ideas and Sundeep will be talking me off the ledge!

header image: 
sites/upload-files/imagecache/review_image/15032237_1287265941346896_7560706574218342125_n[1].jpg
author: 
Ethan Ames
Subtitle (brief and awesome): 
It all begins with Michael having an idea and convincing himself it's awful.
Excerpt (short interesting quote from the Q&A): 
"People aren't dumb; they know when you're sincere in your message. All I do is say what I need to say and hope that it resonates with other people."
   

New Kareem Idris LP Available for Streaming & Purchase

The Year In Color: Book 1​-​Presented To The Drum, is part of a trio of albums from Kareem Idris "that span the process that follows The Year In White for the Iyawo." Narrating with a cool, collected sensibility, the album packs dense, detailed imagery in concise yet loose, lyrical spaces. There’s an eclectic, groove-centic, cinematic vibe that engages, as each song stacks upon its predecessor, building a long-form journey. Let your ears venture into the scenes, and follow the flow of the message.

   

Bo Welland - "Thank The Lord" Single, Supermarket 05.17

Bo Welland is the name of a rock band from Toronto…not the name of any person in the band however. Influenced by many early 2000’s indie rock bands such as The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and the Libertines along with classics like Simon & Garfunkel and The Clash. They have a nice slacker attitude in the track “Thank The Lord”. The lazy vocals and somewhat sloppy guitars float along in endearing fashion. Bo Welland plays Supermarket on May 17th with Fat Chance, The Jones and Charlie Joy. – Kris Gies

   

Foxanne releases EP, plays Rose Gold tonight (04.13)

There is a delicate subtlety to Foxanne’s songwriting that sets the indie-folk trio’s music apart from peers. While the light guitar work and emphasis on vocal melodies comes from a folk tradition, the minimal and airy arrangements that simmer behind Chelsea Gohd’s voice fall more in line with acts like Daughter or Julien Baker. The band is preparing to release its debut studio EP halfling on April 13th and the leading singles pair gentle finger-picking with rolling floor toms that leave room for Gohd’s voice to shine in front. You can catch Foxanne live when the band plays Rose Gold the night of the release along with Andy Cook, who has his own EP out that day. – Cameron Carr

   

Weekend Warrior, April 13 - 15

A grimy, alluring swirl of punk-jazz-noise thrown into a musical cauldron, Taiwan Housing Project melds a diverse range of sounds into a most excellent sonic stew, which will be served up at the batting cages of Everybody Hits this evening. It’s hard to pin down or compartmentalize the band’s collective sound, and in part, that’s what makes things so intriguing. At first, there’s a sweaty, primal force; the assemblage of instrumentation and ideas don’t automatically align. However, as it saturates into one’s system, an alternative circuitry develops. Once those newfound connections are made, torrential affect takes hold. As we await the release of their forthcoming debut LP Covert Contracts, post-punk trio Control Top delivers a calculated fury that’ll actually make you dance. The exuberant, eclectic, experimentation of Oakland-based trio Preening ties this lineup, presented by WKDU, together. – Michael Colavita

Other places to venture to as spring takes hold this weekend…

Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) SAT Soft Crime, SUN Three Man Cannon (Record Release), Yowler, Bobby Barnett

Boot & Saddle (1131 S. Broad St.) SUN The Up Up Ups

Kung Fu Necktie (1250 N. Front St.) FRI Space Caravan, The Stone Eye/DJ Deejay, SAT Cemetery Flowers/Canyon Ride/Fame Lust, SUN Clamfight, Human Shield

Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.) SUN The Dull Blue Lights, Mad Conductor

Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St.) FRI Lotus, Square Peg Round Hole, SAT Lotus, Minka

The Trocadero (1003 Arch St.) FRI L7 Aftershow: Anthrophobia, SUN Long Hots

Electric Factory (421 N. 7th St.) FRI Bok Nero

World Café Live (3025 Walnut St.) FRI Osler Circle Presents: Getting Better All The Time, a Benefit for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The Fire (412 W. Girard Ave.) FRI Misfit Holiday, Sharkbullet, Andhera, SAT The Evergreen Drive, Palatine, The Plibmen, Jac with No K

MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnust St.) SUN iNFiNiEN, Edenspore, NaeemBOT

Ortlieb’s Lounge (847 N. 3rd St.) FRI Sparrow Steeple, SAT Riot Nerd Presents: My So-Called Night, SUN Levee Drivers, Jo Kusy

The Barbary (951 Frankford Ave.) FRI No Remorse For The Fallen, She Pulled The Trigger/Molly Rhythm, Behind Deadlines, Familiar Things

Silk City (435 Spring Garden St.) FRI DJ Sylo, Astro 8000, SAT DJ Deejay

Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St.) SUN Rusty Cadillac

Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) SAT The Side Chicks

Bourbon & Branch (705 N. 2ndSt.) FRI 10th Annual Johnny Cash Night, SAT Voss Birthday Roast: Reef The Lost Cauze, Blackwolf, Mason, SUN Twin Beds, Full Bush, Trash Boy

Voltage Lounge (421 N. 7th St.) FRI Badland Breez, Kir

Frankie Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor St.) FRI Royale, SAT Ian St. Laurent

The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) FRI E. Joseph and the Sparrows, The Fearless Fly, SAT Nakama, Call Me Clever, New Alone, Plastic Shrines

Ardmore Music Hall (23 E. Lancaster Ave.) SUN Nik Greeley, Swwik, Heaven Man

Everybody Hits (529 W. Girard Ave.) FRI Taiwan Housing Project, Control Top, SAT Brother JT, Evil Sword, SUN Data, Ada Babar

The Pharmacy (1300 S. 18th St.) FRI Hoochi Coochi, Vital Stats, Chvnce, Tetra, SAT Atomic Cretins, L.M.I., Pithair/Ice Cold Collective, Kenny Commodified, Charlie Sierra  

Tralfamadore (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI Port Arthur, Georgey V, Lia Menaker

The Sound Hole (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) SAT The Vernes

JJ’s Diner (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI Cherry, Big Big Bug, SAT Hannah Frances, Pastel Williams, Beach Bod, SUN Nowadays, Sleepy Freak

The Mothership (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI Great Weights (EP Release), Tact Ronnie Vega, Cage Flight

The Music Ward (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) SAT Kate Dressed Up, Secret Nudist Friends

Nacho House (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI The Afterglows, Corey Flood

Lacquer (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI Void Vision, Stroker