Wolves At Bay
by Interviews

Wolves At Bay is the kind of band with no luck or so says vocalist/guitarist William Hayes. Worried about a possible lawsuit the band changed their names from Dear You earlier this year as they were preparing to release their debut record, Only A Mirror which eventually saw the light of day thanks to Animal Style Records last month. But then just showing up to their record release party with records in hand was no party. Punknews Staff Interviewer Justin Dickman caught William as he was driving home from band practice to discuss all things Wolves; from the band name change, Will's favorite animal and one of, if not the best band on the planet, Jawbreaker and their infinite inspiration to us all. Today, the band is preparing for an upcoming tour that will take them from their homes in New England down the east coast and into the heart of Texas and back in one piece, that is if they can stay away from cracks in the sidewalk, walking under ladders and breaking mirrors.

How was your Thanksgiving?

My Thanksgiving was pretty quiet. My aunt was real sick. Went to my grandmother’s house with my father. My parents aren’t together or anything. So I was with him and then I went back home and went to sleep early. I had to work the next day. I really don’t eat meat. I just had veggies and stuff like that.

You're a vegetarian?

Yeah, I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian for about five years. It works out pretty well.

Do you do the tofurkey thing?

Yeah, actually, they forgot to get me a tofurkey. They did it last year and the year before but this year, I don’t know. I guess they just didn’t have that much time. They were all, "We completely forgot to get you one," which is no big deal. I’m not really a stubborn person when it comes to stuff like that.

How did the band get it’s start?

Wolves At Bay were called Dear You last year, which you guys [Brian selected as an Editors Pick] knew, which was pretty cool. I had been playing with our drummer, who’s not our drummer any more. We started jamming. I met him at community college for just a little bit. He was in a band my old band use to play with you know, so I saw him and asked him if he wanted to jam cause I’ve been writing songs since my old band broke up. So me and him were jamming and my best friend Kevin, who’s in our band. I was like "Hey, let’s record these."

So what I do was record these at my house, but I went through this thing where I was really down and out for six months. I dropped out of college and just sat at home for six months and eventually ended up writing the record that came out. My friend Kirk, he’s in The Tired & True, he was like "I’ve got this studio. I’ve got a mixture studio in this house. I can mix you a demo or whatever." My friend Matt, I know him from going to shows and stuff. He was kind of like having a falling out with his band. This all kind of stumbled upon pretty nice.

Why take a Jawbreaker album title as your band name?

Uhh. That’s a real good question actually. Well, I would say that—I totally shouldn’t be driving right now—when my band broke up, my ex band broke up, this is like five years ago, it’s a while ago now. It’s weird. During the writing process, writing in general to me—I didn’t play guitar for a while and then I started playing again and at the time I was really listening to a lot of that 90s indie, emo, punk rock stuff with a lot of Jawbreaker, Mineral, Texas Is The Reason, Christie Front Drive, all that kind of stuff. I was really—I love Jawbreaker so much. Blake’s lyrics are phenomenal. Blake’s a great songwriter in general. Honestly, everybody loves all the records, but Dear You, when I heard it, even the way it was produced and everything, to me it really blew me away you know. And I was like this album really moves me a lot and I was looking at song lyrics and the whole nine yards and you know this Dear You, it leave you with a notion of being open ended. You know like, Dear Whoever, Dear You, Dear Listener, please listen to my band. I thought everything spinned well with the way I was trying to write. As stupid as it may sound even the feel of the name, I decided to go with that name.

What type of inspiration did Jawbreaker have on you as a fan or musician?

Honestly Jawbreaker, when it comes down to it with my music it may not reflect Jawbreaker a lot but I would say I personally think they were ahead of their time. But that record in particular to me obviously, as I named my band after it. I would say a lot with Jawbreaker, definitely lyrically. [Blake] He’s an English teacher so naturally he’s going to be a good writer but I just think that the way he articulates his words and places them. They’re very clever and very subtle. Sometimes people are real general with their (lyrical) depth. It’s totally cool. It’s how you write. There’s a difference between playing music and writing songs that’s a lot like music but writing lyrics. You have to prove yourself to use metaphors and cover up meanings and symbols, for example on our record I talk about mirrors, which is about self-reflection. I definitely think, lyrically for me personally, Jawbreaker is heavy there. Musically as well but I definitely would sit there reading lyrics and pick them apart wondering the different angles you could go at.

Would you like to see them reunite?

Would I like to see Jawbreaker reunite? I would love to see Jawbreaker reunite. But Blake, the singer, has that new band, the forgettors, and they have that cool 7" thing with a song on each side. It’s annoying to flip over every time but it’s cool. I would love to see them reunite but I don’t know. I’m kinda torn. All these bands are reuniting. But a band like Jawbreaker. I think it’s good that they’re not together. If they got back together it’d be like Kurt Cobain wasn’t dead, you know what I’m saying. They broke up on such a high note, what are they gonna do next? This record [Dear You] is amazing. But at the time obviously, they understood as it is now, just leave it alone. That’s how they wanted their band represented. Years later, I feel that why I why Jawbreaker hasn’t gotten back together is because, I’m sure that a bunch of other personal reasons, but at the same time one part of the singer is like, "that’s how Jawbreaker is represented and I don’t want to spoil that by getting back together and doing some reunion show in 2011." Ultimately, I really wouldn’t want them to get back together. I like them how they’re represented now.

Last year you guys changed from Dear You to Wolves At Bay. Was this due to a legal threat from the Texas based band?

[Laughs} That’s awesome. These are awesome questions. I was hoping these questions aren’t so general that I’m just sitting here for half an hour talking about some stuff. This is going to sound weird. What happened was, our record was supposed to come out a while ago. Let’s just say this person, this person that…

We typed in Dear You that and a couple bands came up that were called Dear You that weren’t really active, including them. Things started to get real quick, let’s say good things started happening, and we started to get a lot of shows and posted places. I mean you guys posted about us and it was awesome. Then somebody told us, "Hey, that band from Texas, Dear You, they’re going to be on the cover of AMP." Granted, we’re all "ah fuck, we’re not some big shots or anything." But we were on notion of getting signed, a couple of people had hit us up so we were kind of like, ah you know, maybe we should change our name cause we don’t want to have a legal issue with this band. So looking back at it I wished I had messaged them saying, "Hey, we have the same name. How active is your band?" Cause still to this day I really don’t know how active they are. It really wasn’t like a legal thing. We can leave it at Dear You but eventually down the road, [assumingly] they’re an active band they’d be like "Hey, we have the same name. What’s up with this?" So we decided to change it. Plus when you type in "Dear You" in a search engine like Google the Jawbreaker album comes up. The first page is literally about Jawbreaker and stuff like it.

How Did you come to pick Wolves At Bay?

This question is very easy to answer. Well, we were tossing around a couple of names. At the time I was sitting around reading a bunch of band’s lyrics. I was listening to As Tall As Lions "You Can’t Take This With You," and the title track I was really feeling it. I really liked it a lot, the vibe of it. One day I was reading the lyrics and in that song he uses the line, "I feel it’s much to late, you can’t keep the wolves at bay…" and I was like that’s an fucking awesome line and I wrote that name down. We had a list of names that was weird that was all like [over the place]. We narrowed down like three and after sitting with Wolves At Bay for a couple of weeks this name, after first it was all right but now it’s cool. We all backed it. That’s how we got it. It’s All [As Tall With] Lion’s songs to answer your question.

How would you react if you had to change names again?

I would basically blow my brains out. [Laughs] Nah, I would totally be—I wouldn’t be surprised cause the plate for our record broke so, our record release show is on Friday so they were supposed to be done weeks ago but the plate broke. Matt from Animal Style, the greatest guy ever seriously, I don’t know what I would do right now, he called them up and was like "I really need these records by Friday." What I’m basically trying to say is we have so much unfortunate luck. Our drummer just quit and he’s playing his last show with us on Friday. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened but I would totally second guess myself, I’d be like, did I break 30,000 mirrors, is that why I have so much bad luck? I’d definitely freak out if we had to change our name again.

Is the wolf your favorite animal?

{Laughs] Ironically no. Uh, yeah it is. It’s pretty graceful. Yeah, I could say that. That’s one of the cool things, you know. I think wolves are pretty cool. They’re pretty strong-minded.

Where I live we have a bunch of Grey Wolves up in Yellowstone.

Oh yeah, my phone was like, you’re from Wyoming and I was like "Oh gosh!" You’re on Mountain Time buddy. So, do you live in like a pretty desolate area?

Central Wyoming. Population is around 10,000 people.

That’s pretty gnarly, right?

For shows I usually have to drive to Denver or Salt Lake…

Denver dude. There are tons of shows in Denver, right?

Yeah. If you could be an animal, would you want to be a wolf or something else?

If I could be an animal? [Laughs] Uh, I guess it wouldn’t be too bad to be a wolf. They get pretty pissed though. They get pretty mad.

What would you want to be?

I want to be my little cat. Because all he does all day is sleep, and jump… That's what I want to because I clean my house all the time. So my house is always totally clean. He’s never out getting all dirty. He sleeps all day then at night he just runs around my house while I’m trying to sleep. It’s like, alright I got home real late from a show or something—the other night we played a show in Binghamton, NY and I drove five hours back and had three hours of sleep and I get home and my cat is wide awake. I had to lock him out of my room. I hear him upstairs running back and forth and jumping and everything. His life is awesome. He seriously just wakes up, he looks out my fucking window, plays with a feather and he’s like good for the whole day.

So, you’re debut record Only A Mirror came out two weeks ago. How stoked would you say you are?

I am really happy that it finally came out. We recorded it—holy shit, what is it? It’s almost December. We recorded it last December. We recorded this record forever again man. Things happened. Honestly, I didn’t think this record was going to come out because of the way things were going. The feedback we’re getting back from people is amazing. People are telling me how much they love it, they’ve been listening to it for the past two weeks. And all this awesome stuff. I’m not a person who thinks very highly of myself or anything like that but to hear people—some girl on facebook added me, I had no clue who she was, she messaged me, "I know this is really weird but can you send me all your lyrics? I listen to the CD a lot and some parts I don’t know what you’re saying." You know, that is awesome. That makes you feel great. I’m not anybody. I’m a kid from Hamden, CT. I like to buy really crappy shirts and show support for my friend’s shows. I’ve had a really horrible year. I’ve been through a lot of bad shit. That’s why that records means so much to me. A lot of people will just write, and I’m not pointing anybody out again but there’s a lot of fabrication I feel like, with music. Writing especially. I sing and play in my band. When I go see a band or get a band’s record I’ll read the lyrics respectfully enough cause they took the time to write them, so I’m going to read them. A lot of times, it‘s like people really don’t have much to say. It’s like they’re just trying to say something so that people can perceive them a certain way, you know. Me personally, if you hear my record and are like this is garbage, I’d be like "whatever." I understand your open to your own opinions but as far as I go and how I feel I’m not ever really too proud of anything but literally this record means the absolute world to me. Every lyric. Every thing. I honestly worked so hard on it. A lot of those lyrics written were written at four in the fucking morning and I couldn’t sleep; I didn’t have a job. I was just not doing good. My friends would call me up every day asking, "Are you alright? What’s going on?" I was just going through a lot of crappy stuff.

It’s really awesome. I’m really happy with the way things have gone with the record.

So the record was finished in February, what is the reason for the long wait for its release?

I have to answer this question? Cause I don’t want to get in trouble. I have to think of a way to appropriately answer this question.Wait, how did you know it was done in February?

Your tumblr.

[Laughs] Dude seriously, I wrote that it was done in February?


Wow! So I shouldn’t even bullshit right now. You totally know it was done in February. We were having… creative differences with… another label. About things. Creative differences about certain things with the record and ultimately it was a big headache for a lot of months. Since February it was done, it was completely done since February. Nothing really has been different at all. Certainly the artwork. We were going back and forth a lot. We weren’t meeting eye to eye on anything. It’s funny because this is my band’s first record but all this stuff that went on during that time, but you never know because our record wasn’t out, you know. Which is unfortunate, I guess. It was supposed to come out on something else [different label] but there was a bunch of back and forth about the way this sounds, this, this, this. After a couple months of that going on it was just like, "Yeah, we’ve can’t…" We both agreed to disagree more or less.

At the time, after that whole scenario I met Matt from Animal Style and I was like, "What do you think of our band’s record?" He was into it. He was like, "I can’t put this out next month but I can put it out in a couple months." We were all kinda like, what’s the difference? At the time it had to be five or six months after February so you know, what’s a couple more months gonna do?

We got it remastered too. And redid some stuff cause we had a big gap. My friend Nick who recorded it was, "You know what? Let’s go all out. Let’s like add some stuff. Just add some stuff. We’ve had it here for so long and it’s finally gonna come out lets get this dude really stoked on your record and add a couple things to it." So that’s what happened. That’s why it took so long.

Is there going to be a supporting tour coming up soon?

Actually, that is an awesome question Mr. Justin. We believe the Wildcat Agency [is booking it]. They are fucking awesome. We were talking to—there are two Tuckers—there’s Tucker who owns the Wildcat Agency and there’s Alex Tucker who’s actually booking us.

We have a tour coming up in January. January 13th we leave for two weeks with The Tired and True. We’re going all the way out to Texas; I think we’re going to Florida and Texas. And then I think in March, Tucker told me, he was checking the routing, but we’re going out with I think they’re called, His Day Has Come. I always get their name mixed up but they’re really good. They’re real awesome and I’m real happy to go out with them. That’s in March and I think that’s another two or three week tour.

How has music saved your life?

I’m gonna get a little personal. When I was younger, like five or six, my parents got divorced. My mom wasn’t such a good mom. She would like abuse me a lot. I was real upset and going in and out of therapy. It was hard for me to talk to a therapist. Ugh, I don’t know. Through all the different things going on I would just write songs. I would just sit in my room by myself cause I was always getting grounded or something stupid like that so I would just sit there and I’d be really upset so I would just play my guitar. My dad got me a guitar when I was in elementary school. I would just sit there in my room. I went to lessons and after lessons I would learns different songs from bands I liked. I would just write and write and granted the lyrics of a 13-year old kid writing lyrics is absolutely horrible. But it helped me, you know. Writing definitely, honestly I can say if I didn’t write songs or anything like that I don’t know where I’d be right now. I definitely wouldn’t be even partially mentally stable right now. And I wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. It just gets everything off my chest. I’m able to think a lot clearer.

For example our record, I listen to that. This is the past five years of my life and how fucked and shitty it’s been. And that is how I feel. When we play these songs live and I sing, when I’m in my house by myself and pick up my guitar and I sing these songs, it takes a lot out of me. It makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. That is how honestly it has helped me out. It really did save my life, as corny as it sounds.

I have a bittersweet thing going with the "taking weight off my shoulders" and taking things out of my head. We’ll play a show and it’ll be awesome. Sometimes we’ll play a show and I’ll sing the songs it reminds me sometimes, it’ll bring me back to the scenario that I would originally sing the song about. It takes a lot of out me sometimes. Sometimes literally, after we play a show I’m like "Wow!" I’d physically and emotionally be worn the fuck out, you know, but in a good way. It’s like "wow, I can’t believe I just did that," and I’ll think the rest of the night about what I wrote that song about. It’s bitter/sweet man. It helps me out but sometimes it gets me down. Especially if I’m like, "This song is about someone I used to care about," then I sing the song and I’m like "aw fuck."