Razed by Wolves

How Michigan noise machine Wolf Eyes grew to become the leader of the "New Weirdness"

New York City, Spring 2002

It's nearly 1 a.m. Across the bar, the members of Michigan noise-rock trio Wolf Eyes cavort like drunken monkeys with their entourage of New York scenesters and old Midwest pals. The whole thing is just absurd. But I'm enduring it because I followed Wolf Eyes to this establishment, Daddy's, a hipster bar in Brooklyn, on the promise from members Aaron Dilloway and Nathan Young that I'd get some interview time for a piece I am writing (which never came to fruition). Little do I know that they'll put me off for over three hours (and counting). Bored out of my skull, I've been sitting here at the opposite end of the bar knocking back tumbler after tumbler of Jameson's. "Farrar, get your ass over here," Dilloway yells, just as I'm about to order another.

Muttering to myself, I hoist my tipsy ass up off the stool, stroll on over to the booth, and plop down directly opposite Dilloway and Young -- two gangly, long-haired dudes, the former an incredibly talented guitarist and all-around great musician and the latter possessing one of them ungodly, beastlike wails.

Bang Thy Head Noisily: Wolf Eyes' John Olson.
Bang Thy Head Noisily: Wolf Eyes' John Olson.

"John, get your ass over here," Sue Pieschalski (a close friend of the group who's sitting next to me) hollers at the third and newest member of Wolf Eyes, John Olson, attempting to lure him away from another table where he's talking to friends. He ignores her. I really don't think Olson cares to participate in this interview. He has yet to acknowledge my presence. I press "play" on my recorder and lay it on a table covered in beer puddles, but a hand quickly snatches it.

"So, we are sitting here with Nathan from Wolf Eyes. Nathan, how are you doing?" Some anonymous young goon -- an old friend of the band -- begins waving my recorder around and asking mock interview questions.

"Olson, get over here," Pieschalski again screams and again is ignored.

"Get Morgan over here," Dilloway tells Pieschalski.

"Morgan? He ain't even in the band," she quizzically replies.

"Aaron Dilloway, member of Wolf Eyes, what's up?" The young goon proceeds with his mock interview, as more of Wolf Eyes' entourage congregates around the booth, crawling all over one another and producing a cacophony of intoxicated chatter that leads me to believe these folks, when they were kids, all listened incessantly to License to Ill. Their speech and mannerisms are very white-ironic and faux-hip hop.

"Olson, c'mon man. Get over here," the young goon shouts.

"What?" Olson snaps back.

"He's gonna interview you," the young goon retorts as the drummer for Black Dice pulls a chair up to the table.

The young goon then stuffs half my recorder into his mouth and begins growling and yelping like a dog.

"So, go ahead and ask a question. Yer the pro," some other mouthy wiseacre demands of me.

"You guys are doing just fine," I reply, provoking a succession of drunken snarls from the entourage.

"Ask a damn question!"


"What the fuck?"

"Ask a fucking question!"

Olson saunters over and takes a seat next to the dude from Black Dice.

"So, why don't your records sound anything like your live shows?" I finally pipe up, launching the crowd into a frenzy that generates no real answer.

Ignoring allmy questions, Olson chants repeatedly, "Black Dice are my soul brothers," then he exits the interview along with most of the entourage, which then, in the middle of the bar, begins practicing wrestling moves: body slams, full nelsons, camel clutches, etc.

Twenty minutes later, Dilloway follows Olson's lead, leapfrogging over the back of the booth, which leaves just Young and me sitting there eye to eye. We tussle for an additional 20 minutes until he terminates our conversation, shouting in my face, "I build barns for a living. What do you want from me?" He pounds the table with his fist. Bottles tumble to the floor. A sly smirk flashes across his face before he dramatically climbs across the table and storms into the bathroom. More bottles crash to the floor. I'm the last one left in the booth.

San Francisco, Summer 2005

My supervisor called in sick today, which is a total stroke of luck because I need the company's time and phone to call up Olson (who nowadays seems to be Wolf Eyes' primary spokesman) and ask him a few questions for this article that's now three years in the making.

As I set up the recorder and fish Olson's digits out of my bag, I think back to our first volatile interview and ponder the ways in which our lives have changed over the past three years. Wolf Eyes, which started out releasing nothing but handcrafted, limited-edition cassettes and CD-Rs, put out, last year, its first record on Sub Pop, Burned Mind. But, despite making an album for such a high-profile label, Wolf Eyes hasn't abandoned its underground-noise roots, continuing to self-release (at a feverish pace) tapes and discs packaged with post-hardcore, Xerox-produced collage art. In fact, to date, the Wolf Eyes discography stands at roughly 200 releases. And there now exist hundreds, maybe thousands of bands around the planet that are all profoundly influenced by this act and its unique approach to music production and distribution. Arthur columnist Byron Coley has even anointed the group the leader of a movement of droning noise-rock acts that he refers to as the "New Weirdness." And I have yet to mention Wolf Eyes' opening slot on Sonic Youth's nationwide tour last year.

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