Some can be guilty of pigeonholing blues music, scared to leave their comfort zone, but that’s something that can’t be accused of Canadian-born blues-rocker Wolf Mail.
“Doing blues music, you get a lot of people that are constantly saying ‘blues is supposed to be a 1 4 5 progression, it’s supposed to sound like John Lee Hooker or BB King’. The stuff that I do is slightly different from that and sometimes people give me a hard time about it,” explains Mail.
With the release of his new album Above The Influence, Mail solidifies the reputation that he is one of the world’s most unique bluesmen.
“The idea was to write a blues album that is still blues but it’s not necessarily your regular progression and traditional music. In the media some people say that blues is meant to be a certain structure, I tend to disagree, blues is about an emotion, a feeling, rather than a bunch of chords put together. People like to compare all the time to things that they already know,” Mail says.
It’s hard to deny that with any form of music there will always be hints of certain influences – a reason for starting. Mail has a fair few of them.
“Definitely Elmore James, Albert Collins, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Ralph Davis, characters like that. Blues is a matter of feeling than anything else,” says Mail.
The recording process took Mail to the Netherlands, France and the US, in what was a truly international effort. Something that Mail believes has really added to the finished piece.
“You get an input from people with different culture and different experiences and I think that helps to get an objective view of the actual product. It’s good to get out of your circle because sometimes you’re surrounding yourself with people who always say it’s ‘great’ so being able to be exposed to people with a different view helps to get a better end product,” explains Mail.
Relocating from his home of California in 2006 to our shores, Mail spends most of his time touring overseas, but is back every couple of years gracing Australian shores with his world renowned guitar tone. Mail feels at home here and definitely has a love for Australian music.
“A lot of the music that I’ve encountered here has been raw, live and spontaneous and that is what I really like about Australian musicians,” concludes Mail. (AH)
Oct 18, The Basement, 7 Macquarie Pl, Sydney, $30-35, thebasement.com.au
BY ANDREW HODGSON