It has not been the easiest time for the music industry during the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced things to come to a screeching halt with the cancellation of numerous tours and of course the summer music festival circuit.
Many artists have been forced to find some very new and unique ways to share their music, as well as, connect with fans, as this deadly pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide. Artists are urging their fans to practice social distancing and providing plenty of stay-at-home content to keep us entertained. They have been performing living room concerts, acoustic performances, and even Netflix watch parties.
Bad Wolves is just one of many bands who were forced to cancel several upcoming summer performances, however, they recently launched a Patreon page as a way to stay connected to fans and are offering exclusive content like interactive live rehearsals, as well as live stream acoustic performances, q&a’s, live check-ins and exclusive merch only available to the die-hard Wolf Pack members!
We had a chance to catch up with Bad Wolves Tommy Vext to talk about the Live From Quarantine shows via the Patreon page, new music and more.
When speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, Vext told us “It’s definitely been an interesting situation and an unprecedented time. For the most part, it seems like people have been nice to each other and at the grocery store, everyone is staying six feet apart. My friends and I talk every day and we have our support system for each other and there are all kinds of things like recovery meetings and I’ve been using Instagram live to call fans randomly and check in on people. I don’t really have the words for what is going on right now, it’s just so hard to describe. It’s like the whole world is on house arrest.”
Vext goes on to tell us that their first Live From Quarantine performance was taking place at Howard Benson’s studio out in The Valley saying, “It’s a beautiful space and we went and checked everything out and got the lighting situation figured out. It’s a really cool place and a lot of major records have been made there, so it is a very legendary studio.”
Vext also explained their decision to create the Patreon page saying, “We made the three tiers two dollars, five dollars, and ten dollars and we made it so, obviously, a roll of toilet paper is two dollars, so we made it so people could afford it and just have some entertainment and for us, we had to cancel our May tour and we canceled the show with Godsmack in April. I think that largely we felt the need to do something, to give people something to watch and listen to and connect with so the other things that we are going to be doing on the Patreon page are that we have a lot of unreleased songs … we have original songs, there are covers, there are all kinds of stuff … we have music videos that haven’t been released yet, so basically we are going to put all this info and this music on the Patreon site to stream so people have something new to keep them busy.
We’re also going to moving our live streams, meaning our personal live streams, over to Patreon because what I was experiencing was … before the band took off I was a drug and alcohol counselor and I worked as a sober companion/sober life coach … a lot of times just doing Q&A’s for social media I can’t get to everybody, so I think this is going to be a good way for people to connect that really need that time and attention. They can just log on and the band’s Facebook has half a million followers, 280,000 on Instagram and I have about 120,000 personally, so there is a lot of pressure to try to answer everybody and it gets a little disorganized so I think it’s going to be a good way for me and Doc and Chris and Kyle and John to directly talk to our fans who really need us!”
When speaking with us about the band’s fanbase referred to as the Wolfpack and working with the charity foundation Rock to Recovery, Vext revealed, “That was really cool because we were just trying to raise …I think our mark was 10,000 … and we put up a limited edition hoodie with the release of “Sober” the music video and our song is featured in a film called “Snow Babies” which is coming out and that film is about adolescent drug abuse and it attacks the whole opioid epidemic. When the film came to us and said we would like your song to be a part of the soundtrack, we were like ‘oh, yes, absolutely’ and we then did a revision of the music video including the footage from that film and did a relaunch. We agreed that we would do something for charity and I’ve worked with the Rock To Recovery foundation almost since its inception and they do music therapy for people in rehab and also veterans with PTSD and all kinds of really cool stuff, so we put the merch links and we thought it was going to take a month or so, but within only four days we raised the money and got to call them up and say ‘hey, man check it out!’ … it just all came together.”
We pointed out that music is so important to us on a theraputic level , especially now given what is currently going on in the world. Vext comments, “For me, that’s all I’ve been doing! I’ve been practicing social distancing, but I’m also in the studio recording. I try to get into the studio once or twice a week and it’s just me and my engineer, so we make sure to stay six feet apart, as I’m in the vocal booth and he is in the other room and we wipe everything down. As a musician I need to play, but as somebody who is a fan of music I need to listen, so I’ve been listening to all kinds of new material. I’ve gotten to hear what my dear friend Dorothy is working on, which I believe she plans to release at the end of this year, I got to hear some of it and it is just breathing life back into me. She is like if Chris Cornell were a beautiful woman … it’s insane … I’m envious of just how much vocal range she has and how much emotion she’s able to push though the songs.
I have also been going back to old stuff, like 80’s and 90’s and that is what inspired going in and working on the Tears For Fears song and Nirvana, we’ve got a bunch of stuff that’s going to be out. I play snippets on social media and people are like ‘when are you going to put this up?’ and I’m like ‘It’s never going to go up’ … that stuff can’t go up on Spotify or iTunes because of all the legalities. We have to put it on a site where you can listen to it, but you can’t rip it down.”
We just had to know the direction that any new music from Bad Wolves was going to be taking and Vext told us, “We are pretty bipolar creatively; it’s like if we write too many rock songs we need to add some metal songs. I think “Disobey” was leaning more towards the metal band and “N.A.T.I.O.N” was a bit more of us opening up and experiencing what kind of songs and material work on the tours that we were doing, it definitely helped influence us. I think now the band is … you know we did some shows with Slipknot and Lamb of God in Europe … so we were like, let’s write some heavy sh*t again.
Some of the stuff is really, really heavy which makes me excited and then some of the other stuff is lighter, as I wrote two acoustic ballads. I wrote one after a friend of mine was murdered in February and I don’t know if that one is going to come out on the album, but I’m talking to a couple of guest artists who were also friends were her to see if they would participate in that song. I did another song that’s just an acoustic song and it feels like “Hurt” the Nine Inch Nails cover by Johnny Cash, as it’s just vocals and guitar. It’s really emotional and we talked about changing it a bunch of times, but for some reason just the way that it is it just seems to be a thing. I think when it comes to music we don’t have any rules anymore. I grew up listening to all types of bands and genres of music and all the other guys did as well.
Before our shows, if you come backstage, you might hear in our dressing room before we are about to go on, some Behemoth, but you also might hear Huey Lewis and the News.”
Of course diversity is of great importance to bands, as they wouldn’t want to find themselves boxed into one particular genre or another. Vext says, “I think what happens with bands is that sometimes bands do that and then they want to break out of it and their fan base doesn’t want to accept it, so I think that you should always be willing to take risks. I think bands like Faith No More and System Of A Down and Deftones, they started out taking risks so it was not a surprise to the audience when they were like, ‘oh, we’re trying this or oh, we’re trying that’ it’s like when The Beatles did “Yellow Submarine”, some people just didn’t get it, but they said we’re doing it anyway.”
Obviously, we are living in very uncertain times these days, so when asked what was planned for the rest of 2020 for Bad Wolves, Vext tells us, “As far as right now, we are going on a full summer tour with Disturbed and Staind and that is supposed to start mid-July. Nothing has changed for us as far as that goes, we had two tours we were supposed to do, we were supposed to do Australia in the fall with I think we were talking to Papa Roach and I think that had to change now, we might be going by ourselves because Papa Roach’s tour with Five Finger Death Punch got postponed till September and we were supposed to do a co-headliner in Europe. We started out the year going straight to Europe with Megadeth and Five Finger Death Punch so we just got home from Europe at the end of February, so March we were home already and had nothing going on, so we really only had to cancel one show in April and a May tour, so hopefully the system gets back up and running, so we can get out there and see everyone this summer. It’s affecting everyone and we are trying to do our part to keep people distracted and hopefully inspired.
This thing is weird, as there is a beginning, a middle and an end and I think we are somewhere in the middle of it now and we’ve got a couple of weeks left of it … I saw a meme the other day that said, ‘remember when you wished the weekend would last forever?’ Well, here you go! (laughs) Just remember to take care, wash your hands, avoid crowded places and stay six feet apart from everybody!”