In 2016, standing out in Australia’s heavy music scene is a profoundly difficult task. Between old staple groups coming out of mosh retirement for anniversary or reunion shows, and new up-and-comers taking a crack at everything from djent to pop-punk, staking your claim on stage and making it last has never been more important. However, in only a few short years, She Cries Wolf have made a name for themselves off the back of their blistering, discordant metalcore sound, and have gathered a hefty reputation for their frenzied and unhinged live shows. An impressive feat for a bunch of easy-going larrikins from the glitz and glamour of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
As we meet up with half of the band – guitarists Daniel Belic and Kyal Franklin, along with new drummer Luke Gal – for a few cheeky mid-week beers, we take our seats in a packed, Brisbane shopping-centre pub and let loose on a few rounds to warm things up. After wetting our collective whistles, we get ready to put these affable young gentlemen under the microscope. Pressing record and checking the volume levels, Gal and Franklin speak at a comfortable room level, saying “Test, test,” just over the din of the bar, before Belic bellows out, “Daddy’s teeth!” at a far higher register (much to the chagrin of some nearby tables). And all this after just the first round, too. Something tells us that Belic has never had a problem standing out.
In any case, with the band recently finishing a short run of dates in towns like Mackay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, which sit slightly off the capital city circuit, we ask how this North Queensland run went down. “It was fucking awesome!” says Belic with a proudly cheerful tone. “We had more of a response this time around than we did last time. Considering as well, that in Mackay there was the East Street markets and a lot of festivals and stuff happening, which had an attendance of about 9000 people while we were playing that same night, we still had over 150 people rock up to our show. We played Rocky to a crowd that we’d never played in before. There we had around 50 or so people rock up, which isn’t that huge, but it was still a really good foot in for a place we’d never played before.”
As we knock back the next malty round, the assembled trio seem undaunted at the prospect of the early morning flights that await them. The band are all eager to join up with Sydney hardcore crew Justice For The Damned and Melbourne mosh purveyors Void Of Vision, for their ‘Children Of Chrome’ Australian tour. For Belic, talk of getting back out on the road gets an emphatic “Yeah, fuck yeah,” while Gal remains “pretty excited,” but needs “to get over the pre-started ‘tour AIDS.’” Self-inflicted illness aside, the band’s North Queensland run sounds like a whirlwind of debauchery and good times. Hardly surprisingly for a band notorious for their own party ethic.
When we ask about tour shenanigans, the trio trade glances and raised eyebrows before Franklin declares the “Backstreet” story to be worthy of yarn. Belic explains. “A band that we went with were called Sanctum & Solace, and one of their guitarists went and picked up some English backpackers after one of the shows. So we were sitting outside our room, having a smoke, and when I went inside there was about three bands worth of people, plus all these English backpackers. And then I see Luke [Harriss, vocals] jumping up and down on the bed, screaming the words to ‘Everybody (Backstreets Back)’.”
While there’s certainly no denying said tune’s catchiness, we get the sneaking suspicion that the reason for Harriss and bass player Dom Harper not making tonight’s meet-up, might have less to do with ‘tour AIDS’ than it does with synchronised dance moves. “You know that final heaven scene in This Is The End?” asks Belic. “It was exactly like that, but with a bunch of random backpackers chucked in the mix.”
Now, playing to new faces is a tough order for any band, but it’s also a necessary step for bands looking to turn a would-be hobby or pastime into something more substantial. Based on outside appearances alone, a She Cries Wolf show has the visage of barely-contained chaos: a flurry of flailing limbs, shouted lyrics, wildly careening members and jagged instrumentation. What is it then about She Cries Wolf that appeals to newfound fans and curious onlookers alike? “I think it’s just the live show really, that’s our main drawcard. I think we’ve never really tried to forcefully appeal to a particular market in general,” admits Belic. “It’s by no real coincidence that we formed together as a band, with our shared influences and what we want we listen to. So, there’s something already there, connecting us to our idea of music. We all know what our sound is, and we just keep maturing that sound as we go along.”
Whether they’re playing to packed All Ages venues or barflies at a regional pub, She Cries Wolf are fiercely determined to make each show a visceral experience, and it’s that penchant for intensity that makes them the wildcard on every bill. “It’s something I was thinking about during our last show on tour,” says Gal, who’s spent the last decade hitting the skins for now-defunct (and criminally underrated) melodic hardcore heroes Fires Of Waco, and Brisbane Poison City punks The Gifthorse. “There were only about 50 payers, so it was going to be a small show. But I just kept thinking, ‘Let’s go hard and beat the fuck out of everything.’ Just like we normally do, and then hopefully next time around its 75 payers, or 100.” Belic empties his beer and nods in approval, offering up a similar anecdote. “One of the bands that really inspired me in that way, was when I first saw Jack The Stripper play about ten years ago. I remember seeing them at the Ipswich CWA, and it was my old band and the sound guy that were left,” he says. “The whole crowd and the previous bands on that bill had all gone home, and their guitarist was running across the wall of the venue and doing crazy shit. And I was like, ‘That’s fucking awesome. If I’m ever in a band, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.’ Regardless of how many people are at your shows, or what the vibe is, have fun and perform like you are.”
It’s this sense of genuine passion and excitement which She Cries Wolf bring to their live show, that continues to resonate with audiences across the country. And Belic attests that the band have no intention of changing what they do to ride bandwagons and ‘sell out.’ “People aren’t dumb. People do pick up on when a band changes their sound when they’re maybe only an album deep, just to accommodate a sound that’s trending,” he says. “Just enjoy what you’re doing, then success and everything else will follow.”
The question then becomes: how did this band find their sound? The answer as it turns out lies with Franklin and his choice of apparel. “Before the band, I rocked up to a party that Luke [Harriss] happened to be at, and I was wearing an Every Time I Die shirt and he was like, ‘Fuck yeah man. That’s sick. We should jam sometime,’ he recalls. “He asked me what my influences were as a guitarist, which were like ETID, Norma Jean, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, and then we sat down in my room one time and he said ‘Write a song.’” As soon as talk turns toward writing and recording, Franklin – who up until this point in our conversation, has been quietly sipping his beer, letting Belic field most of the questions – rapidly switches gears. It’s clear that while Belic may represent the life of She Cries Wolf’s party, it’s Franklin who acts as the band’s motor and heart. “I’ve never been able to write music like that before. I don’t know what it is about Luke [Harriss], but something he does and the way that he pushes me, makes me not implode when I’m writing.” When asked directly if he functions as the band’s principal songwriter, Franklin gives an affirmative, if not humble nod, confessing that he “writes all the music, while Luke [Harriss] writes all the lyrics. Belic just exists.” At this gentle chiding, Belic flashes a devil’s grin before declaring, “Yeah, I just party”, before Franklin jumps in to ease the blow. “He’s also starting to take over all the band emails and management with Gal; they’re both spearheading that. So, everyone has their part, and if they didn’t pull their weight, we wouldn’t be a band.”
It’s this collective focus that’s allowed the band to deliver their second full-length album ‘Doubt’: a blitz of heavy riffage, pummelling beatdowns, breakneck drum fills and Harriss’ tortured vocal delivery.
Coming only 18 months after the group’s debut album ‘Divorce’, certain strains were evident for Franklin as the band’s token riff-machine. “The first album, we had something like 20 songs, but not for this album. I had extra songs written, but they weren’t ‘album ready’ and time just got way ahead of me” he admits. “It was definitely like ‘We’ve done the first album. Let’s move on and make that next mark.’ Luke [Harriss] said ‘Let’s record by this date,’ and for me, I normally work well under that sort of pressure. He sets me a deadline, and I get it done” laughs Franklin. “I just push myself to the point where it just comes out, then I show it to the other guys and they decide what’s sick.”
With the band being fortunate enough to record their second album with Troy Brady (former guitarist for The Amity Affliction), it’s clear that Brady’s experience in the metalcore realm, coupled with his talents as an engineer and producer, helped She Cries Wolf trim the fat and emerge as a leaner and more vicious beast on ‘Doubt’. “I recorded all the songs at home and took them all to the studio and gave Troy the stems,” says Franklin, reflecting on the recording process. “Then he’d go, ‘Alright, let’s record all of the scratch tracks from the beginning.’ So, as we worked through each song, Troy and I arranged them differently in places, and I got a lot of insight into how the structures came about.” The result is a greater sense of cohesion and use of melody on ‘Doubt’, where tracks like the anthemic ‘Distorted Youth’ or the pummelling ‘Midnight’ show She Cries Wolf weaving more metalcore elements into their already dissonant and chaotic sound. “I don’t really notice it, but apparently, I’m a very “progressive” songwriter and I don’t have very many repeats in my songs,” confesses Franklin. “With Troy, he came through and was like, ‘Let’s cut this, repeat this, repeat that, etc.’ So, he definitely helped to bring a more traditional songwriting structure to the album.”
Now that ‘Doubt’ is out for all the world to hear (and has been for a while), what comes next for She Cries Wolf? After wrapping up their part on the Void Of Vision tour in the coming weeks, where will they go from here? Despite his party-boy aspirations, Belic is a realist at his core. “It’s one of those things, where you ask yourself, ‘Would you want to be in a band that’s so big, it pays all your bills and buys you houses and stuff?’ And the answer is yes – a million times over – because, of course, that’s the ideal dream,” he admits. “But being realistic, if the band got to the point where we could cover costs for international touring, and go overseas to places that we’d never been to before, then I think that’s a perfect outcome.” And it seems this desire for wanderlust is a strong one, shared by all three members this evening. “I don’t think we’re ever going to be the type of band that becomes the next Metallica, or play Ozzfest,” says Franklin, “But international touring for me is a pretty sick goal.”
If She Cries Wolf can continue to destroy stages across the country – and having fun while they do it – then they might just get there. “I think that’s my personal goal, and definitely our collective goal as well,” concludes Gal. “Just being able to go to places we’ve never been before, having never met any of those people, yet have them come to a show, know the songs, know the lyrics and be keen on having us.”