“People see and hear only what they want, they accept only the information that suits them”. Interview with WOLFHEAD59.

WOLFHEAD59 are a duo from London, UK. Deriving from the DIY punk movement they reach for a different form of musical expression to get their message across. We talked about techno punk, Brexit, pandemic, mental health and future. Their new release “Power Is Not Yours” LP is out soon on Sanctus Propaganda. Before we kick off the pre-order for this record why don’t you listen to a few of their tracks from this album on our Bandcamp page and enjoy the interview.

SP: I guess I find you locked down in London at the moment, correct? So what’s the situation where you live and work like, now? How much does it affect you as an act, your jobs and personal lives?

A: Yes, another lockdown, for me personally it does not change much, I am a key worker so even at the moment I am at work.
J: Every month the restrictions are becoming more severe and I am a bit worried where it will all lead to… I am dealing with extreme and stressful situation quite well, I am currently on furlough, but I am worried that if it takes even longer, I will have no job to come back to … And yeah, as for the band, it quite obviously effected our gigging opportunities, we got our three debut shows canceled last year… But on the good side, the lockdown gave some opportunities to improve and practice our live set, so I guess it will benefit in the future when concerts and stuff are be back.

SP: So let’s start from the very beginning. WOLFHEAD59 are two people with the punk background. What triggered you to start this act, how do you explain the name and why did you decide to reach for techno as a way of expressing yourself?

A: W59 is completely new to me and this is my first time in a band. Thanks to J, who has a huge power of persuasion plus personal charm. I let him persuade me to join the band. He first worked on the music and when he presented it to me, I was impressed: loud, sharp, fast perfect for going crazy and throwing bad emotions away. As I like it. If it comes to the name of the band, we were inspired by the story of Angela de la Barthe from 1230-1275, who was accused of witchcraft and sexual intercourse with devil after which she gave birth to a child with a wolf’s head.
J: Why techno? Or maybe more precisely, why digital hardcore…? That’s true we both have punk background, and especially I was always involved in diy punk scene, my first bands were some classic punk rock acts… But I have always had that weak point with electronic music. When punk seemed to be burnt out in late 90’s I have found digital hardcore as some fresh new alternative to radical message and music. I can honestly say that my loyalty belongs to the punk scene rather than the techno one, which we actually have nothing to do with, but I think electronic music can also be a great expression of rebellion.

SP: That’s interesting what you’re saying, that you do not rather belong to the techno scene. Would it be perhaps your goal to reach techno audience with your music and message or would you rather stick to the punk scene and bring a fresh breeze here?

J: I consider myself as an open-minded person, and that would be a crime to limit our expression to some particular isolated musical scene… I am also expecting that our fans would be some open-minded people, so it doesn’t matter where they come from. The priority is too spread the virus. Sure, for some our music will be too techno for punk and for others it will be too punk for techno, but fuck them…
A: I have never limited myself when it comes to music and I have always been very open about it. I listen to what my mood tells me. I love to mix different styles of music, which I was able to do while organising events and gigs in London. It was my goal to invite and connect bands and artists from all different backgrounds.That’s why the W59 has no limits and is for everyone.
J: Yeah, like Agnes said, it is for everyone! However it is not pop music at all, but hey, you don’t have to pogo to it, you can actually dance to it! haha…

SP: Whatever your knowledge on digital hardcore scene is, can you share your knowledge with us? I know some punks do develop a particular interest in some bands but I rarely see them live or get a chance to buy their records. So before we get to details on WOLFHEAD59, can you kindly introduce us briefly to your likes in digital hardcore/techno punk?

J: I might sound unfair or rude, but essentially digital hardcore is a direct fusion of punk with techno, even though many bands or projects describe their music as digital hardcore, only a few actually play it.. Atari Teenage Riot is the obvious progenitor of the genre, then maybe EC8OR, Ambassador 21, Schizoid… The list is really short! But this is, of course only my individual opinion! First of all, you have to be punk or know punk quite well to make digital hardcore, because it’s not only music, but also a message… It’s not that you put a few bits together on your laptop, then you pass it through some distortion effect and automatically you get digital hardcore, hahaha…

SP: Right. But one more here: Bob Vylan from London who I am sure you must have heard of. Makes hip hop with very punk attitude and not necessarily having punk background, if I’m not mistaken. When I hear of acts like this one I often ask myself – there must be a scene thriving next to the punk scene and we are too limited to notice it or too busy to find it.

J: But except his unique music style he looks and even dresses like a genuine punk! hahaha… Yeah, but you asked us about digital hardcore, as for hip-hop I am not too familiar with it. But it’s not so rare that you can find a proper punk message in any musical genre, even popular one…

SP: OK, enough of other bands. Let’s talk WOLFHEAD59. Your LP is coming out in 2021 on Sanctus Propaganda but you already have a CD out. Tell us about the CD, the label and the difference we might expect between the records.

A: Yes, we got our CD released last year on Canadian label, D-Trash Records! The main figure behind the labal is Jay, I was impressed with his kindness, selflessness, commitment, support and passion for our band! I am very grateful to him for that, his help means a lot to us and without him we certainly would not be where we are now. Now we are ready for another great cooperation, with Polish Sanctus Propaganda.
J: The 12″LP will be be a developed version of the CD , the music has been re-edited, re-mixed and remastered so that it can easily be called a completely new album! Especially since there are three additional tracks that were not on the original CD. For this reason, we decided to give the album a new title, “Power Is Not Yours”, and prepare a completely different graphic design. I think that compared to the material released by D-Trash, the music is now more harsh, sounds more aggressive, we’ve also added some extra drumloops and bassdrums. The vocals has been done practically from the beginning again… Somehow our music has evolved from what we called “napalm disco” into a more digital hardcore sound…

SP: I guess for WOLFHEAD59 having the record released on electronic hardcore label is a great chance to introduce yourself to that scene we discussed previously. What’s the response and fruit so far?

A: We had a very positive response. Only after the music video “Gotta Go” we got a lot of hate from the defenders of the one and only true hardcore formula, haha
J: Yeah, it happened after our video-clip was accepted for famous HCWW channel, and just to clarify, “Gotta Go” is our version of Agnostic Front song.

SP: Ha ha, I can imagine the so-called “true hardcore” hatred. What drives those people? Why do we hate, especially in our own community?

J: They can hate your band for a variety of reasons, but mainly they are driven by ignorance or just jealousy. Usually if you don’t understand something or it does not comply with your narrow-minded vision of something, the easiest way is to to react with aggression, it also applies to many other life situations…
A: At the end the hardcore or punk or any other alternative scene is just a mirror of society. You can find here many good genuine people and ignorants, assholes, all sort of weak people. Listening to some particular music or a dress code does not automatically make you a conscious person, it is more about a personal individual development. Personally, if I don’t like something, it wouldn’t come to my head to waste my energy to hate and laugh at it. I don’t listen to it, I don’t watch it and that’s it.
J: And we accept that our style is quite different from mainstream hardcore punk music, so it wouldn’t be even possible to please every listener’s taste.

SP: “Mainstreem hardcore punk music” …. ha ha

J: Yeah, I actually mean people who only listen to well known established hardcore bands and are not enough open-minded to accept the fact that hardcore music is not a fixed formula but you can also experiment with the thing like making digital hardcore, for example.

SP: Tell us then how WOLFHEAD59 write music and lyrics. Do you first work individually or collectively? Is music first or it’s the lyrics that drive inspiration for music?

A: It’s no secret or surprise that all music is made by J. I don’t know how, hahaha. But J always consults with me every new piece, takes my comments and suggestions into account. When it comes to lyrics, I tend to write long texts that need to be shortened with such music . We often discuss together what exactly affects us, our observations, what is happening in the world and what we want to shout about.
J: Yeah, the lyrics is our collaboration, but since making digital hardcore requires some particular equipment and software to produce it is my dominion, however no single pattern is done without Agnes’ approval, hahaha… Talking about the way I make our music, it is basically FL for beats, Microbrute Arturia synth for some bass and noise, plus a studio editing software to make some final cuts and touches … I also use Zoom R16 a lot, it is very useful for home recording like guitars or vocals.

SP: Let’s talk about a few lyrics then. You are based in London and one of your songs is called “London Is Bleeding”. What do you mean by that? What’s London like from your perspective as immigrants, before the pandemic and in the midst of it?

A: This lyric is about how easy it is in life to lose your balance and lose yourself in a struggle for something and going to a different extreme, often hurting others, even people close to you, just because they think a little differently than you do. Balance is very important to me. I have been practicing yoga for years and it makes it easier for me to survive in difficult times. I translate yoga into my life. Balance on the mat, and in life in thinking and taking decisions.
J: Well, about immigration and the pandemic, there is not some special or particular connection that would distinguish us from any other group living in UK, we all suffer pretty same way… I think it’d be more about Brexit and its impact on our lives. Strangely enough, our rights as immigrants strengthened in the UK, our status was practically equalised with the British, additionally we retained our rights as EU citizens, so the real blow hit the British people, because they are stripped out of some of their privileges in the name of some nationalist fantasies…

SP: Speaking of Brexit. I remember the laments coming from people who had voted for, once it got to them what Brexit actually would mean in their everyday life. What’s the situation like now in the so-called society? Do you think the percentage of Brexit supporters dropped already or no-one is bothered to check it being busy with the everyday chaos Brexit introduced in January 2021?

J: There is silence with Brexit, I think partly because of covid situation. Not many people really talk about it or it seems they do not care much how it did affect their daily life. I think they just accepted the new reality, but i could sense some disappointment when talking with some Brexiters at my work place. They seem not to be so excited or proud of it anymore, especially with businesses getting some extra blow, prices rising to the top in shops etc. Reality bites…
A: I think all these years after the referendum, everyone has got used to the fact that Brexit will finally happen. For 4 years it was the number one topic discussed in the media. And suddenly there was covid, a pandemic, lockdown and Brexit was pressed into the corner. Yes, and now it’s chaos and the prices of everything are going up like crazy …
J: I actually did not believe that Brexit was going to happen until Jeremy Corbyn and The Labour Party got beaten up in December’19 election.

SP: From what you say, it looks like it’s the mainland Europe that feels the effects of that on everyday basis. I, for example, cannot send anything to UK by couriers who say this could last for about half a year before appropriate deals are made again. Which leads us to bands being able to tour (if they are in the pandemic) in the future. Once (or shall I say: if?) we can travel again, I sense that for a band like yours this should not be a major problem, right? What’s your gear if a venue wants to invite you and what would be your conditions? What kinds of shows are you aiming at?

J: Well, British are well hit by Brexit, too. For example, I just read some news saying that Brits are charged 100£ extra for buying EU stuff through amazon… I guess some custom shit. About our band, I don’t think that we will be hit in any way, that’s also because of specific gear that most of digital hardcore bands probably use. We just use a synth, Zoom mini studio for playing the backtrack plus a synth and mics for live addition. What conditions? I think it’s gonna be negotiated individually accordingly to a specifics of a venue and other bands also playing with us. Minding our social background I believe that mostly we are going to play at some punk gigs, but we are open for any situation…

SP: Let’s connect / I wanna feel wet / 1711 … A, do you want to explain the lyrics to this song? Who do you want to connect with? Sound like an invite as well…

A: Yes, an invitation to connect with our music and energy. This song starts our W59 journey . This is where it all began, 1711 is the date, this date and these numbers have often appeared and still appear in my life, it is very important to us, because thanks to this date, W59 was created. I believe in signs and 1711 is a sign from me
J: This lyric was entirely written by Agnes, so I have nothing to add, till this day I was not too sure what she meant there, haha…

SP: In one of your songs you sing “be strong, don’t give up, see the light”. When we look at where we are now with the pandemic, lockdown and social distancing, the message is even more important than ever. So many people struggle with their lives now just because they were deprived of something which I guess is the most important when fighting for sanity, the human contact.

A: Exactly. When I wrote this piece I was guided by my own experiences and my life. I addressed these words to all women who have suffered from violence and abuse and to all who are in hopeless situations, lest they lose hope. It seems that now we all find ourselves in a difficult and new situation, but we must fight and not give up, not to go crazy, take care of our wellbeing, our relatives and family. Trying to find something we can stick our heads in to survive. I know it’s fucking difficult and not everyone can do it but its still worth a try. There is also the other layer of the lyrics, more personal. A very close friend of mine took her own life, this person helped her whole life to others affected by violence, I always think about her when we play this song.

SP: Where does your mentality stand these days? I do not want to get too intimate about it but what I mean is, almost a year ago we lived our lives being quite used to all the good and all the bad. Now, all of a sudden someone has fast-forwarded the tape and we find ourselves in reality where sex pistols “no future” is pretty adequate. At least it occupies my head …

A: I try not to go crazy, it’s a total disaster hahaha, of course, I try to keep my balance, take care of my well-being as much as I can, for myself and for my family. Besides, my job requires a lot from me because I support and help women and children affected by domestic violence, it is even more challenging and difficult nowadays as they are also affected by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.I cannot travel to see my parents, go on vacation somewhere to recharge and really rest. I cannot see my friends face to face, not in video calls, all of this doesn’t help at all. We’ve all been affected by this and we need to find a way to stay sane and hope that this nightmare will finally end, unfortunately I realise that the consequences of all this will be felt for years, mental health, lack of education, work, etc
J: Everybody is badly affected by what is happening now worldwide, some can handle the situation better, others are not doing so well… I don’t want to be misunderstood or I don’t want someone to think that I downplay the threat of covid-19, but we all should stay calm, not panic or get paranoid, and as much as it is possible just try to live normal lives… I believe that my mental state is pretty fine and it helps a lot when you see that your closest and loved ones stay strong, so we effectively support each other.

SP: How do you see unity between people these days? Do you think people can unite to fight for their rights in general or they are too comfortable as long as they have internet connection, sushi and they can fly to Mallorca for their holidays?

J: If I could afford to fly to Mallorca for holidays I wouldn’t be interested in fighting for any rights anymore, haha… Just kidding! Well, answering your question, in general people tend to unite if their rights are endangered everybody knows that the key to win a battle is the strength trough unity. But on the other hand, people also tend to divide, argue or fight about anything, so it really is difficult to give a straight answer… I don’t actually believe that the protest is the poor people domain, because struggle comes from your consciousness, not your financial or social position, however it is true that people who live in extreme conditions are more likely to take an action than these satisfied with their sushi and Mallorca holidays…
A: It’s hard to say, people most affected by the problem protest, and those who have a comfortable life are rarely able to support, of course there are exceptions people who have values, but still not enough of them, or rather there are fewer and fewer of them …
J: We are living in some uncertain times, so many people are scared or paranoid, they choose to submit as it gives them a false impression of being safe…

SP: What about social media and their role in both, our ability to unite and start a protest and at the same time to live peacefully in the comfort of our houses and distance ourselves from the real life? Not to mention the possibilities to repair our ego by posting some cool photos, etc…

A: When it comes to social media, as in everything in life, you need to keep a healthy balance and not lose yourself. People see and hear only what they want, they accept only the information that suits them, I personally use social media for entertainment, although there are topics that will always be important to me and I will shout loudly about them, such as violence against women and children. Thanks to the fact that I regularly write about it on my pages, for several years now I have received private messages from various people asking for help, or how to help someone in such a problem.
J: Yeah, it makes me laugh when I see people who believe that they fight for a better world and real changes on social media… Basically Facebook is good enough to boost your ego and give others a false image of your life. Your life can be boring and miserable, but you can present it virtually as something interesting and meaningful. There are only few silly reasons I am still on social media, but as soon as it is convenient for me I am out of this shit-wall.

SP: Do you sometimes wish internet had never been discovered then?

J: Not sometimes, all the time!
A: Internet has its pros and cons. Unfortunately it is very addictive and can easily get out of hand. It all depends on you how much you can control it.

SP: And on that, kind of a bombshell we will be finishing the interview. So we do not finish on the negative note, I do hope 2020 had some highlights for you in terms of music, art and life in general.

J: The first and what later became as the last event we both truly equally enjoyed was Napalm Death gig in February in London. The place was fully packed, the bands also including Eye Hate God and Rotten Sound unleashed a sonic hellstorm, the pure energy to inspire the joy and purpose to live! Driving back home we did know yet that soon our excitement will end quite rapidly and we all gonna enter the long period of fear and uncertainty… Year 2020 was the worst one yet in our lifetime, so let’s be honest, any new record, book or movie was not able to break through our darkened minds and engage to the point of a proper excitement, that’s a sad but true fact. We are satisfied enough that we have managed to keep our digital hardcore project, WOLFHEAD59 through difficult period and hopefully a reward awaits for the future. The second time we both were excited about something was the protest of Polish women, so called “Strajk Kobiet” against the government imposing laws against basic human rights in Poland. We actively got engaged in supporting protests in London, we again felt alive for a time being! From Napalm Death to Strajk Kobiet, the top two events of 2020…