A Talk With
NICK LAYTON (Guitars)
Questionnaire by Officer Nice
Hello guys, here Rico, aka Officer Nice from the METAL TO INFINITY webzine (and Rico Hellishstar at Facebook). How are you guys doing? I have some questions for you, hope you’ll enjoy them…
Q: First obvious question… I know Firewölfe but the band is still unknown to many people. So introduce us to the band and tell us more about the history and the members.
A: Hi Rico, I’m excited about doing the interview! FireWolfe began in the spring of 2010 after a conversation between (then guitarist) Paul Kleff and I (Nick Layton). We had a vision to create a new band that sounded like the bands we loved listening to in the 80’s. We wanted to see if we could put a band together and create an album that had that same magical feeling as bands like Dio, Judas Priest, Savatage, Accept and Iron Maiden, and put our own twist on it as well. Paul and I already had some demo material ready to go, we just needed to find the right singer.
Not an easy task! But, I felt confident in our vision and that we would find the right voice. I contacted David Fefolt via email to gauge his interest and sent him the material we had been working on. He responded the same day and said he loved the material and wanted to work with us. Soon after that we found drummer Jay Schellen through a mutual friend and Zack Uidl to lay down the bass tracks. We kept writing and refining the new songs until we had a complete album. We released our debut self titled album in July of 2011. Since then we had a couple line up changes with Bobby Ferkovich taking over bass duties and Paul Kleff leaving the band.
Currently the band is:
*David Fefolt: Vocals *Nick Layton: Guitars *Jay Schellen: Drums *Bobby Ferkovich: Bass
Our new album “We Rule The Night” was just released with this new line up on Limb Music October 31st, 2014.
Q: Some of the members we might know from other bands. Tell us more about it.
A: David has been the vocalist in Valhalla, Masi, Hawk and Angels of Babylon (with David Ellefson from Megadeth on bass). Jay has played in Hurricane, Bad Finger, Asia and Unruly Child. Bobby has played bass for Presto Ballet, Heir Apparent and the Pamela Moore Band.
Q: The new album is finally there, some years after the debut. What happened since the very first album was released?
A: Even though we had great reviews for the debut album, and signed a contract with Japanese label Rubicon Records in the autumn of 2011, things started falling apart within the band. 2012 was a difficult year for FireWolfe as there were line up changes, disagreements and no clear direction for the future.
During this time David stepped down as vocalist and Ronny Munroe (Metal Church) joined the band and we basically wrote an album’s worth of material in the summer and fall of 2012. But once again things weren’t feeling or sounding quite right and both Ronny and Paul left to pursue other projects. Finally in early 2013 David rejoined the band with renewed energy and passion and we began writing the new record immediately.
Bobby joined on bass in the summer and we were off and running. Some people wonder why it took three years to come out with our second album but there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. Even though there were some pretty bleak times we never let the FireWolfe dream die, and now it’s stronger than ever.
Q: Did you read my review? Agrees or disagrees?
A: Yes, we read and loved your review. It’s always a pleasure for us when someone really understands where we are coming from musically. We were very happy to see that you loved the album and we appreciate all of the kind words and great analysis in your review!
Q: Firewölfe is a very talented band and we hear that any single instrument is technical played, without being Progressive. How important is it to mix melody with this kind of skills or in other words, tell us more about the songwriting?
A: For us melody is the most important ingredient of all. If you don’t have good melodies you can’t have good songs. So when we write songs we start with a basic outline of a tune, usually riffs or chord progressions, and start building the song up from there. Even though I thought the first record had some great melodies on songs like “Unholy” and “Back From Hell”, we really made a big effort to have even stronger hooks and melodies on the new record, and I think we accomplished that.
Q: The new album is full of melodic Heavy Metal tracks and the music is inspired on the mighty Eighties movement. Do you agree that nevertheless the guitars and the specific sound of David makes Firewölfe unique?
A: Yeah, I think the band would all agree that the core sound of FireWolfe has always been David and I because we are the primary songwriters. Even on the first record we wrote 80% of the songs, and 100% on the new one. Dave has a unique voice and I think that stands out in a crowd of metal singers that all try and sound alike. My guitar writing style is influenced by bands like Dio, Savatage, Yngwie, Queensryche, and those kinds of bands, but we don’t really sound exactly like any of them, and I think that’s how it should be.
Q: How were the reviews worldwide until now?
A: So far the reviews have been amazing! We are blown away that so many people seem to like the new record. Even though we in the band all love it you never know how the public, or especially the “music critics” will like what you’ve done until it’s out there. For the most part it’s been very good!
Q: Music and lyrics are very varied. It makes, along with the typical sound, the skilled arrangements and the unique vocals a “must have” album to me. But tell us in your own words why our readers should buy this record, if you want you can describe this song by song.
A: Fans of hard rock and metal who like heavy riffs and melodic choruses will hopefully find a lot to like on the new record. We’ve all spent nearly our entire lives honing our craft on our respective instruments so the skill level is very high, but the songs most importantly are very strong and memorable. Much of this album lyrically is about overcoming negativity and following your dreams. “We Rule The Night” is heavy riff wise but filled with passionate vocals. Dave sings, “Leave all your fear, you’ll touch the sky, just look at me, we rule the night.” Musically there are some cool guitar harmonies and even a short bass solo in the middle of the song by Bobby. We thought it, along with the howling wolves, was the perfect way to start the album.
“The Devil’s Music” is a tongue and cheek title and is about people who think metal is evil, or from the devil, and by association the people who are in metal bands must be evil too. For sure, there are some bands that try and project that image, but we don’t and none of the metal bands we love ever did either. There’s no reason why metal can’t be a positive force in the world and in people’s lives and that’s what we are all about!
“Late Last Night” has one of the catchiest choruses on the album. It’s moody like some of those old Queensryche or Dokken tunes and has an interesting instrumental section in the middle. Lyrically it’s the saga of a rock star on the road who misses his girl and when he can finally fall asleep he has a recurring dream that she is with someone else and doesn’t remember who he is.
“A Senator’s Gun” is a song that tells a true story about Dave’s cousin’s 13 year old son who was found shot dead behind their house with a pistol laying by his side that belonged to the Pennsylvania State Senator who lived next door. It never was determined how he got the gun as the senator wasn’t home but his 16-year-old son was but denied being with him. The police also couldn’t determine if he shot himself or was murdered. It ruined his cousin’s life (his mom) and she became an alcoholic. Musically it’s haunting and atmospheric during the verses with a powerful chorus and melodic solo sections.
“Long Road Home”—this seems to be an early favorite for many people that we’ve gotten feedback from. The chorus is very powerful and has a great hook. Musically you can hear little nods to Iron Maiden and Dio but it’s definitely got it’s own vibe as well. If we were releasing a single this would definitely be in contention.
“Who’s Gonna Love You” is the closest thing we have to a ballad on the record. This one is a little bluesier than the other tracks. We love bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Whitesnake and you can hear that on this track and little bits here and there on other tunes.
“Ready To Roll” is our pissed off tune on the record. This song is just about rising above the realities of life and kicking ass! Solo wise this one is pretty ripping.
“Betrayal’s Kiss”—This is another moody track with a bit of a Middle Eastern vibe. Lyrically it’s the biblical story of the betrayal of Christ by Judas. Cool lyrics by Dave and we worked hard to make sure to get the right atmosphere on this one. Killer drums by Jay here as usual!
“Luck of the Draw”—this was the first song Dave and I wrote together for this record back in January/February of 2013. Has kind of a Deep Purple sounding Hammond intro and then it launches into a cool riff fest. One of the simplest tunes on the album but considering many of the tunes are fairly complex this one helps give the album some nice variety.
“Dream Child”—this was the last song we wrote for the album and it almost didn’t make the cut. It was originally written in a different key and it just wasn’t working. We ended up changing keys and rerecording certain sections and then I scrapped the original chorus music and came up with a new chorus riff…once we made those changes everything fell into place. This one is about following your dreams in life. I think it’s a great way to close the album out musically and lyrically.
Q: I talked in my review about the first album and the “Air Attack” track. I really adore that specific track! Did the American military pick this one up (lol)? Nevertheless, tell our readers short something about the first album.
A: I agree that’s a perfect song for the military to pick up. We’ve heard from a lot of military types about both that song and “Armed Forces” from the first album. Both Dave and I have had members of our family fight in wars and serve our military so we are huge supporters of our troops and we love the fact that many of them like our music! Looking back on the first album I think it holds up very well and we are extremely proud of it. We also learned a lot of lessons in the process of making that record that served us well when it became time to write a new one.
Q: After the debut Firewölfe signed a contract with Limb Music. Tell us more about it.
A: We knew we needed a label for the new album to reach as many people as possible. A newer band like us can only reach so many by ourselves with our own resources. So we actively looked for a label that understood metal and could distribute and promote our album globally. We reached a deal with Limb Music in mid 2014.
Q: Satisfied by the way the label supports Firewölfe?
A: Limb has been great! Not only do they love metal, they also work very hard for their bands. We know we made the right choice!
Q: Some American true Metal bands made it to Europe this year. Are there any chances we’ll see you guys on a tour next year? Any bands you can advise us?
A: We are very much hoping that with the success of this new album we’ll be able to get over to Europe and meet some of you crazy metal heads over there!
Q: How about the True Metal scène in the States lately? Still deep in the underground or is there a revival, like in the UK?
A: To be perfectly honest I don’t know much about the scene in the US. If there is a True Metal scene here it must be underground because there aren’t very many bands like us doing this kind of metal right now that I’m aware of.
Q: We’re almost at the end of the year. So yes, give us a few great albums you purchased this year.
A: I love talking about hard rock and heavy metal so we could be here all day!
But I’ll keep it short with a few my favorite albums from 2014:
*Riot—Unleash the Fire
*Gus G—I Am The Fire
*Evergrey—Hymns for the Broken
*Michael Schenker—Bridge the Gap
Book of Judas—Self-titled. This is actually an EP with some really cool Rainbow influenced music with great vocals and musicianship. The bass player is FireWolfe’s own Bobby Ferkovich and the singer and guitarist is former Fifth Angel guitarist Kendall Bechtel. Great stuff, check it out!
Q: Where can our readers find the albums, merchandise etc.?
A: You can find all the links at www.firewolfe.com
Q: Any last words for the readers and the fans? In Metal, Officer Nice
Thank you Officer Nice and a sincere thank you to our fans and supporters in Belgium! We want to come and rock your faces off as soon as possible! In the meantime come and give us a like on our Facebook page to stay up on the latest—www.facebook.com/FireWolfeBand