With such a busy 2018, The Bad Flowers went through a Doctor Who-style regeneration at the tail end of the year to become Wolf Jaw. And since we’ve talked to them a few times over the course of their career, it was only right we caught up with vocalist and guitarist, Tom Leighton, to discuss last year, what they’ve got coming this year and the ins and outs of a band making a name change.
You’re right, it has been very busy indeed, and with so many highlights to choose from! Playing at Planet Rock’s Winter’s End as part of our tour with Stone Broken at the beginning of the year was great, and definitely a stand-out moment for us. We had an amazing crowd, our debut album, Starting Gun, had just been released and we were firing on all cylinders. Being on that stage was great, but even better was coming off it to learn that the album had hit number 17 in the UK rock charts! Definitely what we’d call a good day.
The elephant in the room, why did you choose to change the name of the band?
There’s no elephant there, we’ve tried to be as open as possible as we feel that our fans deserve it – we’ve got a really loyal fan base and we’re extremely grateful for that. We needed to grow into something new, there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes and in a way we were held back a little when it came to shows and what we could book.
I don’t think it’s gone unnoticed that there’s a band from the USA that have a similar name and are doing considerably well for themselves. We want to go to the USA in the not-so-distant future so we thought we’d change it now before we put any more music out there. Nobody told us to change the name, it’s a decision we didn’t take lightly but we felt the time was now to crack on.
When was the decision made to change it?
It’s been on the cards for the last 6 months or so, but we decided around November of last year, I think. We wanted to start 2019 fresh, write new songs and put out another record under the new name as soon as possible, to cement this in people’s minds.
Obviously, naming a band once is a hard task so the second time must be harder. How long did it take to settle on Wolf Jaw? What were some of the other names considered?
It was about a week, I think. We wanted something with a grittier, darker edge. There were a few names being bounced around but the wolf theme definitely stuck. It sounds strange, but I can’t recall any of the other names really… Of course, there was the odd silly one. If you’ve ever met Dale you know what he’s like!
You’ve also just released the first music under the new name – lyrically, it’s rather dark. Musically, you’re aiming to make a more aggressive sound, are the lyrics going to reflect that too?
Yes, “I Lose My Mind” is a bit darker and a bit moodier overall. We’ve tweaked the sound a bit, but I honestly think we’d have been writing this way even if we hadn’t changed the name. We’ve always wanted to try and keep things fresh and put our own spin on things. As for the lyrics and the writing… I’ve always been a very emotional songwriter, and much of what you hear me singing comes from the heart. There’s been a lot of ups and downs this year; I think you can tell that from the song.
How have the fans taken to the new song?
They seem to have taken to it really well. There’s been a lot of demand for it and it’s racked up a bunch of streams in the first week, more than I was expecting, to be honest! We’ve had some great comments from fans, and the couple of times we played it live it’s gone down a storm, so we’re happy with that.
Three-piece bands can make such a raw, killer sound. Could you ever see the band expanding to add a second guitarist?
Hell no! It’s always worked perfectly as a three for us, the dynamic is spot on. We write well, we get along great and I think with a few tricks and knowing how we all play, we fill the sound out pretty well. We like to be loud.
We’ve spoken to you a few times over the years and you’ve mentioned your love for Rival Sons and Monster Truck. Has there been any other bands that have caught your attention in the same way?
Well, I think Rival Sons’ new album speaks for itself, that’s just magic. I’ve been quite into All Them Witches recently, I really like their take on the blues rock side of things. It’s pretty dark and can go from super heavy to slow and soulful really easily. In fact I think they have the same producer as Rival sons, Dave Cobb. I’d love to work with him.
How does it feel to be playing Download this year?
Oh man, it’s a dream come true! We don’t live to far from Donington so have frequented Download often. Just thinking of all the great bands we’ve seen there over the years, it truly feels special to have been invited to play there ourselves. I also have to pinch myself a bit that we’ve done this ourselves. We have a small team of great and amazingly talented, passionate people that we work with, but there’s no record label support…it’s all off our own back. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved.
Aside from that, what does 2019 have in store for the band?
We have a few more festivals, Teddy Rocks, Amplified and Rockwich which we can’t wait for and we’re working on a summer tour too. We’re writing loads at the minute and deep in planning for the new album. It’s going to be a fun year!