When Bad Wolves announced that they’d signed with Eleven Seven music last fall, metal fans were pretty excited. With veterans of bands including God Forbid (Doc Coyle), Divine Heresy (Tommy Vext) and DevilDrive (John Boecklin) among their ranks, it was assumed that this group of all-stars would create an album that would be heavy, but with limited appeal outside of the genre. However, their choice of a cover song, The Cranberries’ 90’s alt-rock hit “Zombie,” took on a life of it’s own when that band’s vocalist, Dolores O’Riordan, died the day before she was set to contribute vocals to the cover. The band released the single and a video as a tribute, donating proceeds of the cover towards the singer’s children. Since then, not only has it become the most popular rock single on iTunes, but the most popular download of any format. It’s threatening to be #1 at active rock radio and could even cross over to Top 40. We caught up with Coyle to talk about the the band’s debut album, Disobey, due out on May 18th, as well as the success of the cover, and the formation of the band.
It’s been some time since God Forbid have broken up. How does it feel to have Bad Wolves going and what kind of feedback have you received from the fans since releasing two singles and the bands cover of “Zombie?”
It feels great to have all of this momentum behind Bad Wolves. I’ve been playing with the band for almost 2 years, but most of the work has been happening behind the scenes. There was a lot of heat on the band pretty much since we released the music video for “Learn to Live” around a year ago, and everything has been an uphill, positive trajectory since that point from signing with Eleven Seven to the huge success of the “Zombie” single. That song has become a global hit, and to be honest, it’s been overwhelming. It’s a wide variety of people that are getting into the band, because we have some really heavy stuff, and more accessible material like “Zombie” allows us to cross over in a big way. I’ve never had people react like this. We’re the first metal band to ever hit #1 on iTunes, and we did it in multiple countries, the single just went gold in Canada and is closing in on 100 million streams across all platforms. It’s nuts.
How did the band form?
Our drummer, John Boecklin, started writing the music even before he quit Devildriver, and that was right around the time I moved to LA. He has been my best friend since I moved out here, and to be honest, I wasn’t too keen on doing anything too metal at the time. I heard the whole project evolve over a time, and when he got Tommy Vext to start singing, it really changed my mind. They needed a guitarist, and I had just gotten off the road with a band that didn’t have anything coming up. It just seemed like a great new challenge, and I knew it was the coolest and freshest heavy music I heard in years. I knew it was special. Our other guitarist, Chris, was there before me, and Kyle rounded everything out after a pretty exhaustive search for a bassist. This line up is as good or better than any band I’ve played with. Everyone works their ass off and is committed to crushing it live.
The band recently just played on the Late Late Show in Ireland. How was that experience?
Like with most of the success with “Zombie,” just getting the offer was extremely surprising. I think every time something out of the blue comes up, it just feels surreal. It is definitely nerve-wracking because I am used to grinding it out in the underground, and these are just new experiences – being invited to play on TV, doing acoustic performances for major tech companies, getting played on pop stations. It’s overwhelming, but I think as we knock down each challenge, we are just getting more comfortable. I think overall, we were just humbled to be asked to perform in Delores O’Riordan and The Cranberries’ home country. That’s the biggest talk show in Ireland. It means a lot that the cover would be embraced by those who would and should be most critical. I was very nervous, but I thought we did well, and now that it’s out of the way, hopefully, we can do some more television appearances and get more experience in these avenues often not available to heavy bands.
For fans of God Forbid and Devildriver how would you explain the differences and similarities to Bad Wolves?
When it comes to heavier side of Bad Wolves, I don’t think it’s too far a stretch and I think you can include Tommy’s old bands Divine Heresy and Westfield Massacre’s fans as well. The biggest difference is that it is mostly singing, and I would say it has a modern, prog vibe to the writing, whereas John and I’s old bands were more thrash and extreme metal based. I think both of us felt maybe a bit limited in what was acceptable from our old bands, but I really feel like Bad Wolves could do any kind of song, because we have insanely heavy tracks as well as ballads on the record. The band is more accessible, but that’s what we like. Our favorite bands, be it Metallica, Pantera, Faith No More, or Slipknot, all are accessible and can really do anything. Versatility is key.
Coming from more of an underground band how is it to get the publicity you are now?
It’s weird, to be honest. We are doing lots of very mainstream press. Morning television, pop radio, big newspapers. When you have the opportunities, it’s just a lot more work. On some level, I knew that, but I guess I just didn’t see anything like this happening so fast. Tommy and I have been the ones doing the international press tours, doing acoustic performances, and we just have to be on top of our game. The days are long, and they keep us busy. The main thing is to stay in the gratitude mentality because opportunities like this are once in a lifetime. We have to take advantage now. It could set us up for years. All I can do is the work, keep my head down, and try to have some fun.
What are your expectations on the upcoming tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown and Starset?
I expect two very massive tours for a brand new band right out of the gate. That type of exposure for a brand new band is unheard of, so it’s on us to go out and put on a great show, capitalize, and make fans one at a time. That’s the part of the gig that I am used to. The real job of a performer is to go out there and try to connect with the people. Find someone in the crowd, and make them feel like they are the only person in the world. I just can’t thank our manager Zoltan and the rest of Five Finger Death Punch enough for going to bat for us, and putting Bad Wolves in a position to succeed.
The Debut album Disobey will be out May 11th. How was the writing process for the bands first album?
We don’t really disclose how the secret sauce is made, but I can say it’s a collective effort, and although I joined the band a bit late in the process, I was able to contribute to the end product, and I couldn’t be happier with the end product.
What can fans expect from Disobey?
A modern, very heavy, very groovy, but very listenable and hook-laden metal album that in my opinion is a real game changer. Most heavy bands aren’t that ambitious anymore. They are happy to be the king of anthills. We shot for the fences, and I think we have a great shot to make a big impact. I’m fucking pumped up. For real.
Bleeding Through and Light This City have recently reunited. You’ve recently had some history with both bands so how do you feel about them putting out music again?
I am fans and friends of both bands, and I’m always happy to see people doing things they are passionate it about. I had Brandan from Bleeding Through on my podcast, and that guy only does stuff he is passionate about. If you still have that fire in your belly, then go with it. I can always tell when bands aren’t doing it for the right reasons. MOst of us won’t ever make much money doing this, so the passion is what drives the entire scene. Also, both new tracks I’ve heard from both bands are fantastic. Hope to jam with them both soon.
Bad Wolves debut Disobey can be preordered on iTunes, Amazon, or you can get merch/perk packages on https://www.pledgemusic.com
/projects/badwolves or badwolvesnation.com
Follow Doc on Twitter and Instagram @DocCoyle and check out his podcast, The Ex Man, where he interviews musicians like Tosin Abasi and Robb Flynn about their careers.