By Shaun Christie
Photos Courtesy of Greg Papazian
Firstly let me preface this interview by stating that I intend to use a variety of wolf based puns and secondly, if you were at the Reignwolf show at The Satellite I consider you all family now after we all shared that experience. Jordan Cook is the man behind the moniker Reignwolf and is currently stalking the country as we speak, playing shows and creating his own legend. To say Reignwolf knows his way around a guitar fretboard would be like saying Van Gogh knew his way around a canvas. His modern take on blues and heavy rock coupled with his impassioned live shows prove he is undoubtedly the leader of the rock n roll pack.
After laying waste to the Hotel Café on Monday, Tuesday saw him take to the stage at The Satellite in Silverlake. Phil Spector may have created the ‘Wall of Sound’ but that night Wolf took it and redefined it for himself by quite basically having amps stacked from floor to ceiling. To say it was loud is putting it mildly; 2 days on my ears are still vaguely ringing and it was totally worth it. The lone wolf first took to the stage solo with his black Gibson 335 and his signature bass drum with its instantly recognizable snarling wolf motif.
He wasted no time in getting down to business and bursting ear drums with the fantastic distorted squall of his song ‘Old Man.’ The crowd in attendance were lapping it up like wolf cubs from a river and visible smiles could be seen from the front to the back of the venue, truly a rare sight for an LA crowd. As if the amazing guitar hero styling’s were not enough, on the track ‘Bicycle’ he played a drum solo, whilst also playing a guitar solo. I have seen a lot of live shows but that display of talent will stand as one of the greatest things I ever witnessed on a stage. The fog machine just added to the mythical ambiance of it all. His pedal board looked like something that wouldn’t have been out of place in Doc Browns laboratory.
The alpha wolf however is only a strong as his pack; So he was then joined on stage by his bass/guitar player Stitch and drummer Joseph Braley. If you thought it was loud to begin with it just got cranked up to 11, that’s one louder. They tore through a few quality rock numbers like a wolf through a sheep carcass. On ‘Palms to the Sky’ Reignwolf picks up the bass guitar and shows he has riffs for all types of instruments. He played a new track which had utterly filthy riffs that even Tom Morello himself would be envious of. The wolf has marked his territory and his territory is all the guitar strings and frets of every guitar ever made. That’s it; they’re his now, so just give up and go play a ukulele or something. But not a mandolin because you guessed it, he plays that instrument too (shreds would be a better description of his playing style on it though). You would think it would be hard to make a mandolin sound like a heavy rock axe, but between Stitch’s riffs and Braleys thunderous backbeat, the wolf made the mandolin sound pregnant hippo heavy. Not content with just prowling the stage sometimes Reignwolf would jump into the crowd, or hop up on his bass drum and jump nimbly into the air and come crashing down, a move I have come to dub ‘The Airwolf.’ If I were to try sum up his sound the best I could come up with was Rage Against The Howlin’ Wolf.
Once the set was done the crowd was visibly jubilant, I even saw people high fiving. It was that good. If music is the food of love then we should all ‘wolf’ this down. Now that I have all the wolf based puns out of my system let’s get to the interview with Jordan Cook aka Reignwolf –
Atlas Jams: You’re clearly no stranger to playing a guitar, when did you first start practicing?
Reignwolf: When I was 2 my dad had this Fender Stratocaster that I liked to just hit and play about with but then he didn’t want me breaking his so got me one of my own, and I just went from there. When I was about 5 or 6 my dad would take me to this place where you could get up on stage and jam with other musicians. I’m from Saskatoon Saskatchewan and at that time a lot of great blues player were coming through there like Muddy Waters. Muddy and those guys would come by this place where we jammed and my dad would put me up on stage with them, so I got to jam on stage with Muddy Waters. It was a great way to grow up!
Atlas Jams: Where did the name Reignwolf come from?
Reignwolf: There was no real reason for it other than I really think it flowed with what I do. It just seemed to fit you know and it feels right. I like it.
Atlas Jams: When can we expect to hear a new record from you?
Reignwolf: We will have a new EP that will come out on November 20th followed by the full length that should be out early 2013. We are very excited to share this with everyone.
Atlas Jams: Will you be releasing the EP and album yourselves or taking the label route?
Reignwolf: Oh were definitely going with self releasing at this stage. There’s so much we want to do and I think releasing it ourselves affords us that freedom. A label can be your best friend or your worst enemy. We’re certainly not against working with labels just don’t think it’s right for us at this point so were happy to keep doing what we’re doing. I have a great team and things are going really well for us.
Atlas Jams: You multi-task like a pro on stage. A prime example being you ripping on a guitar, howling out vocals and playing the drums all at the same time! Was it something you practiced or just sort of fell into?
Reignwolf: That’s it exactly, I just sort of fell into it. I was on tour with Matt Chamberlain (session drummer extraordinaire) and Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden bass player) and we were discussing how we could close the show. I just ended up jumping behind the drum kit and it sort of went from there. Its great fun and people always respond really well to it when I do it live.
Atlas Jams: As well as performing solo you also bring a very capable band along with you. How did you put the band together?
Reignwolf: We are all friends who ended up in Seattle and just hit it off. We started jamming together and it was really good. So now when I hit the road I like to have these guys with me as we can really tear it up with Joseph hitting skins and Stitch swapping duties from bass to guitar. We are having a great time playing for everyone who comes out to see the shows.
Atlas Jams: Your guitar skills are bound to impress every guitar player out there. What sort of gear do you use to get that awesome heavy blues sound?
Reignwolf: I was invited to Gibson showroom in Seattle to come check some guitars out and that’s where I met the black Gibson 335 you see me playing on stage and in those YouTube videos. Funny thing was once I got that guitar I went over to the UK and it got dropped and it broke a bit. I got it fixed, and then it got dropped and broke again. So it’s firmly in my possession now. When I first came to the states I didn’t take any gear with me because the borders are so strict. So really I was just borrowing gear or using whatever was on stage. Actually when I first came to LA I got a residency playing so I bought this pawn shop guitar to use, nothing to special but by the end of the first night playing it someone stole it. I use lots of different amps as well. One of the amps has my Reignwolf logo on the head as I have a friend, who builds and repairs them, and he put it on for me and people are always asking me where they can buy that amp.
Atlas Jams: – So let’s talk about your influences, clearly the old blues guys play a part, any modern artist’s influence your playing at all?
Reignwolf: Yeah the old blues of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were huge for me. I don’t listen to that much music though when I do get spare time I am usually making it myself. I recently saw Radiohead play and love what they do. Soundgarden of course were a huge band for me too. We have recently been listening to Shellac in the tour van and I heard Steve Albini was rumored to be stopping by our show in Chicago which would be awesome.
Atlas Jams: – You certainly have showcased your aggressive side will there be any restrained even dare I say it acoustic numbers on the future releases?
Reignwolf: There won’t be on the EP but there is a track call ‘In The Dark’ that I have a version of that I may put on the album but it’s totally different to how it’s played live. At this point we just want to go out there and play hard and fast. When we hit the stage it’s just GO GO GO! Lots of energy and that’s the show we like playing for now.
Tour Dates –
Oct. 12 Austin, TX @ Stubbs
Oct. 13 Austin, TX @ Lamberts Downtown Barbque
Oct. 19 Seattle @ Laser Dome
Nov. 9 Philadelphia, PA @ Ortlieb’s Lounge
Nov. 10 Boston, MA @ Cafe 939
Nov. 12 Washington, DC @ Red Palace
Nov. 24 Seattle, WA @ The Neptune Theater
Dec. 5 Chicago, Illinois @ Schubas
For more info on Reignwolf go to http://reignwolf.com/