BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

#BRUTALK: WINTER WOLF

INTRO | ROCK ROOTS | INFLUENCES/EVOLUTION

       

INTRODUCTION

Nicole Kali is here with Harlem horror-punk band Winter Wolf!

Jay: [Howls]

Jerome: Yes, yes.

Nate: Yerrr!

NK: Jay, Jerome and Nate join us for Halloween. How are you?

Nate: I'm livin', I'm good.

Jay: I'm amazing. Amazing!

Jerome: I'm good, all things considered, in the middle of a pandemic and there's a spike going on right now, but everything's great.

NK: Good to hear, yo! Black Rockers United has been super-excited to talk with you in this ongoing unity/expansion in 2020 of the scene that has started to represent us more, and be more about Black punk. I believe Flora called it the "Black punk Renaissance"...

Jay: With my people, my friends, my family, you know and they look like me. And it's been amazing, you know?

Nate: Yeah, same. It's been such a joyous thing to be a part of this Renaissance. These are the sort of things like, I dream about [laughs]. I used to dream about when I was a kid—

I was getting into punk and metal and stuff, seeing more shows and more bands that look like me and let alone actually PLAYING in them. So it's like, you know, just being part of something that's important for us as a Black community.

NK: 100%.

Jay: Mm-hmm!

Jerome: Me as well, you know. The Renaissance, reawakening, a repetition of what's happened before! You know back in the day. And now it's coming to the forefront once again so to be a part of this Renaissance is truly an honor.

Jay: True, true! We never left!

Jerome: Yeah!

Jay: Black people never left rock, we just got pushed to the back!

Nate: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jay: We just got pushed to the back.

Jerome: Yeah!

Nate: And now we're just making it known that we still here. So...

NK: Yes! Yes. Y'all are all so insightful for saying that because it's important to know we're central to it. We're not on the outskirts of it.

Jay: No!

NK: We are the originators of it.

Nate: Oh, yeah.

Jay: An essential part of it, an essential part of it.

Nate: A big ol' part of it!

Jerome: Right!

NK: So feel free to share your individual stories! When did everyone became a fan of rock as it relates, and perform rock music?

WINTER WOLF ROCK ROOTS

Nate: I got into rock, I would say around 10? The first band I ever heard, I found myself listening to was Korn 'cause I was born around that nu-metal era.

And you know, of course being raised in a Jamaican household, rhythm, groove—that's like a big, big thing in our culture!

NK: It is.

Nate: So when I started listening to nu-metal, it was like Korn, Linkin Park, all of them, I was like really fascinated by how they just demonstrate really heavy music.

And they added these groove ensembles. Hardcore and a lot of just punk music so like, Agnostic Front, Biohazard, a lot of those bands!

NK: Heavy!

Nate: Those bands, honestly, I would say hardcore influenced me way more till who I am now because it's fast, it's heavy, it's from New York. You know, me being from New York? I love that representation so it was amazing. But when I REALLY discovered Bad Brains.

That's that part of me that was missing 'cause when I was listening to a lot of this music (Korn, Linkin Park, non-Black bands), I was like "I love it. It's cool but somethin' doesn't feel right. Somethin' doesn't resonate!"

NK: Yeah!

Nate: So then I started listening to the bands like Bad Brains, Living Colour, 24-7 Spyz, a lot of those bands, I was like "Okay, this is EXACTLY what I needed!"

NK: I love it!

Nate: And never, did I ever think even when I started playing music, even when I started playing drums, even when I started playing drums or saw myself being in something like this...because it wasn't something I could foresee.

It's probably one of the greatest things that I've ever done 'cause I get to play music with my family, with my Tribe. I get to travel with the people. Playing with Winter Wolf is one of the greatest experiences of my life!

Jay: Aww!

Nate: Because I get to just play the kind of music that I just grew up listening to—the kind of music that I love. I get to experiment with them. Everything, you know?

NK: Er'thing!

Nate: I love it! Words can't describe it, everything is just amazing.

NK: I love that, Nate.

Jay: I'm from a family with a LOT of musicians. And like, I never grew up thinking that I would be a musician. I just know that music is something we all did just for fun, you know? We'd write songs as kids just for fun. I've always been attracted to it!

It's like, I call it a disease, it's something I can't help [laughs]!

Nate: [Laughs] You can't help it.

Jay: I'm doing it. I don't feel like doing it even though I don't wanna do it, I'm not feelin' good today. But I'm gonna do it because it's what I do.

NK: That's real.

Jay: It's just 'cause I'm compelled to do it and because I love to! A lot of musicians run in my family, uh, from gospel all the way to hip-hop. We have R&B artists, blues, and all that. I took that all growing up and found that in rock.

I found the gospel, I found jazz, I found the blues sadness. I found the great chords. And I found that it all coalesced for me in rock! And just fell in love with it because that's my natural path, you know? That's what I was naturally attracted to.

And uh, growing up in New York, in the New York hardcore scene and even like, the Long Island hardcore scene. Jersey scene. I was into anything I could get my hands on, honestly. Anything I can get my hands on!

And I tried to listen to as much music as possible. But I've always been attracted to you know, short, fast punk songs. I mean a minute and a half 'cause it's so passionate. It's so passionate! It's all about passion.

NK: It's about the love.

Jay: Yes! And that's all I give.

NK: The love and the passion!

Jay: The love and the passion. So it just all coalesced for me.

NK: Yeah, in rock!

Jay: In rock.

NK: How about you, Jerome? What's your rock-story?

Jerome: [Laughs] Actually my rock-story began at age six 'cause I was a gospel child! My parents, they met uh 'cause they had their own gospel groups. My father had his gospel group back in the '80's, and my mother had her gospel group back in the '80's.

And she was in a group with my aunt: the Stevens Singers! The gospel Stevens Singers in New Jersey. So the story that I was told was, they met in 1985...then you know, that's how I was born.

So growing up, going to their rehearsals separately—my mother had rehearsals on Wednesdays. My dad had rehearsals on Tuesday nights. So being around that type of energy in gospel, they call it the quartet.

You know, it's like a hard thumpin' foot gospel making the shout.

Jay: Yeah, that! [creates backbeat]

Jerome: Yeah, so—Yes! You know, big influence was Sister Rosetta Tharpe!

NK: OH, yeah!

Jerome: So once I got in tune with her and you know, going to these gospel shows with my family and seeing groups like Willie Neal Johnson & the Gospel Key Notes, the Royal Travellers. You know the gospel legends had a big influence on me!

And so my father—I would always wonder "Where did this music come from?" and he would always just say "Come on, listen to this song. Come here and listen to that drop, listen to this bridge" [laughs].

NK: Dig that.

Jerome: And so, yeah, it would be Prince, Jimi Hendrix, uh, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Bo Diddley.

NK: So cool!

Jerome: Joe Montgomery, all those old-school blues type players so I'd always be crate-diggin' in his tapes or his records when he was at work, to see what I could get my hands on and influence me. But what really got me into rock and just wanted to dive deeper, was when I heard Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Jay: Oh, really?

Jerome: Age 13! Yeah, so after that it was like "What is this, how can I become this?" And then you know, years in high school being the only one listening to punk rock music 'cause I come from a time where that was y'know, "not cool! You're listening to that white boy music [mocking laugh]!"

And it was like "Damn". But then when I got to college, in my first year of college, connected with people who were about the same lineage, the same energy and just divin' deeper.

Listening to the Beatles, listening to Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone and it didn't happen until I was 27. I was supposed to go to a lecture in Harlem but that didn't happen, so I wound up going to Namaste Bookshop to collect some things. And that's when I met lead singer...shout out to her.

And I started following them for a while. And then they had a show at the Delancey, I believe with Rebelmatic. That was my first time seeing Rebelmatic and it was like "[Laughs] Oh my God."

Jay: Yeah, yeah! It's so real.

Nate: Yeah, same.

Jerome: They look exactly like me! They look like a couple of dudes that come from the projects that I come from. And so I was like "How can I connect with this band?"

And I connected with Creature—shout out to him. He's like my big brother, my mentor. Creature from Rebelmatic.

Jay: Yes!

Jerome: And then they had a show after next with Winter Wolf, I think it was 2018 or the beginning of 2019.

Jay: I don't know! I don't remember [laughs]

Nate: I don't remember now. Yeah, yeah, we did.

NK: That's amazing. So cool!

Nate: We did. That's what happens when you play too many shows! You're just like "Wait, which one..."

NK: That's what I'm saying. Y'all have a big catalogue of shows that you've done.

Jay: That's—we've done a crazy amount of shows. It's so ridiculous!

Nate: [Laughs] Like we actually got to a point where we all just looked at each other and was like "Okay, I think we need to chill".

Jay: "Yeah, I think we need to stop" [laughs].

Nate: Once it got to the point where it was moreso where we were playing at, where it was like "Okay, I think we need to stop now" [laughs].

Jay: Yeah, yeah, you look around like "Yo, this is a basement..."

Nate: [Laughs] "We need to chill now".

NK: Jerome, your rock story starts the youngest actually at six?

Jerome: Yep! I was asked to write a book in 2016 about it.

Nate: Oh, for real?

Jay: Really?

Nate: [Excited] Damn, I didn't know that!

Jerome: Yeah, I tried to keep it on the hush until it's done, I wanted to surprise everybody but yeah! The cat's out the bag now [laughs].

Jay: [Laughs]

NK: I'm so proud of you, Jerome!

Jay: I'm gonna be askin' you about this book every damn day now.

Nate: Me too!

NK: It's a story worth hearing! That's beautiful, Jerome.

Jay: I'm hype for it!

Nate: Shoot!

NK: Absolutely.

Jerome: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you, I appreciate it.

NK: Yeah, respect to you, brotha. Nate, you shared your Caribbean roots. And Jay, and Jerome, you shared your gospel roots. How does that pour into Winter Wolf?

INFLUENCES/EVOLUTION

Jay: It definitely comes out in the sound.

Nate: It does!

Jay: In our sounds, in our jam sessions! When we all get together, you can tell we have some type of gospel influence or something is there.

Nate: Yeah, 'cause we all come from the church. We all come from there.

Jerome: Yeah.

Nate: I come from a Pentecostal background, and we play a lot of traditional gospel stuff. But we also combine like, reggae, calypso-inspired music.

NK: Right!

Nate: So...

NK: Okay! Nice.

Jay: Sometimes you just wanna get funky! You know? We do play a lot of hardcore too.

Nate: No, yeah, yeah, we do a lot of hardcore. That's like, the foundation of our music. It's always going back to like, New York hardcore. We take [influences] from others, so New Jersey hardcore and Long Island hardcore.

Jay: Right, right. I like to think of it as "neo-hardcore", you know what I mean? I've always aimed to be like the OutKast of punk rock! So—

NK: I can see that.

Nate: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

NK: It's a mood!

Jay: I LOVE Outkast. I love OutKast.

Jerome: They're a big influence.

NK: I love them, dude, me too. They're so, just a huge influence on me.

Jay: Yeah, yeah. Me too.

Jerome: Yeah, exactly!

NK: [Laughs] Harlem is very hardcore, you already know. And our scene runs the overall city and underground anti-status quo.

Jay: Mm-hmm.

NK: Winter Wolf, Maafa, Rebelmatic are great! You're part of a movement. What are your thoughts on that?

Jerome: It's an honor.

Jay: You know what, I think you got the right people at the front: especially you got Flora in Maafa, and you got Creature in Rebelmatic. You got the right people!

Nate: Yeah, absolutely.

Jay: If you're gonna pick somebody, these are the people I would pick and trust with the movement, with the leadership, with a vision. You know what I mean? And you got the right people at the head of it.

Nate: Yeah!

Jay: So just trust in them. And they'll make good calls and life decisions. So that's about it.

Nate: Yeah, Flora and Creat', they've been like just mentors to everybody.

Jay: Yeah, to everybody! Absolutely.

Nate: ...Who's been coming up after them.

Jay: 'Cause they're so experienced, you know?

Nate: You know, they share a lot of their stories with us, you know. And we learn from them. We learn a lot from them and then we come out to support them. They've always come out to support us.

And this whole thing started because we all just shared each other's stories of being that outcast group of Black people at punk shows.

Jay: Yeah, we always have. Everyone has been through that. Mm-hmm.

Nate: And/or being told like you're too Black to be listening to this and I've experienced that whole thing where going into high school? You know, I used to hide my punk CD player when CD players was still a thing [laughs]!

Jay: [Laughs]

Nate: You know 'cause I was always afraid.

Jerome: Yeah [laughs]!

Nate: And now it's like I can go up to people and just be like "Yo, I listen to Sick Of It All, I listen to Death"!

Jerome: Speaking of Rebelmatic, they just pulled up.

Nate: Rebelmatic [laughs], you know, "I listen to Rebelmatic". Even like, being in Maafa. It's one of the greatest feelings in the world because you feel...you feel like you're a part of history. You're a part of something special.

NK: You are.

Jay: Yeah! Yeah.

Nate: The minute you have—someone comes up to you and says "You have influenced me" or you know, just, they tell you their story. And they relate from it, you know you did something right.

Jay: Right, right, yeah!

Jerome: Yeah.

NK: I'm so proud of you.

Jay: True! Absolutely. Absolutely!

Jerome: It's an honor. I never thought growing up 'cause I was never a religious even though we went to gospel quartet shows, this would be one of the things: being part of a family, a movement, you know. A Renaissance! A Tribe, that's why we call ourselves a tribe. That's our family.

You know, sometimes we can't talk to our mothers or our fathers, or our nieces and nephews or our cousins. People in our immediate family so it's like when we go out OF our immediate family, you know.

We find people that connect with us, that relate to us, that don't judge us or nothin'. It's so remarkable to the soul, so refreshing to the spirit. I shout at hardcore shows! I come from the church, I shout.

Nate: Yerp!

Jerome: We doin' this, we gonna shout.

Jay: [Laughs]

Jerome: And you know who came up to me? Flora was the first person who said "I'd never seen anybody shout at a hardcore show before, but I love it!" I was like "What?!" People are like "Yo, that's dope, man!"

Jay: Because it fits! It fits, it fits so well.

NK: It does!

Nate: It's actually because of Jerome, I can't look at gospel the same way again.

Jay: Yeah!

Nate: Shout out to The Muslims, everyone, shout out to them.

Jay: Yeah, for real.

Jerome: Yeah.

Nate: Jerome made a video for them, for "Blame It On Mohammad".

NK: Wow!

Jerome: It was a shout video compilation.

NK: I love that video!

Nate: It was a whole shout video and they used it for their album release (Gentrifried Chicken)! And the song itself already had that sort of—

Jay: The (back)beat!

Nate: Yeah, it already had that Southern gospel feel?

Jay: Yeah.

Nate: But combining it with the video that he made? It was like...

NK: It was on fire! I had no idea that you made that, Jerome.

Nate: I couldn't look at it the same way because gospel is punk now!

Jay: It makes you realize, it all comes from the same place. It's all from the same source!

Jerome: Yep.

Nate: Yeah, homie made me a believer now. I was like "All right"!

NK: Us, how we do!

Jerome: I see that video, you know, Nate, Flora, Creature, Rebelmatic, the whole Triibe. You know, use it, don't be afraid to use it. You never know who's watching you!

Nate: You never know.

Jerome: Who you could inspire. It can inspire that one person who inspires millions. Then we're doing our job that way.

Nate: Yep! Yep, yep.

NK: Y'all do your job everyday!

Jay: Oh, yeah!

NK: It's the constant evolution in the art and relevance in your latest EP. Care to share about that? New music!

FUTURE

Jay: Oh, we got some riot songs comin' at you! [Laughs] We got some riot songs.

Nate: Yeah.

Jay: After you know, these protests and I just had to write a couple of songs about it. You know?

NK: I feel it.

Nate: Yeah, it needed to be written.

Jay: Yeah, the feeling, I had to take that feeling and put it into music. And I think we accomplished in the song, it's called "Blue Lights". And it's all about police brutality and being afraid of you know, fearing for your life.

NK: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. Honestly this EP was influenced by like Jay said, you know, everything that's been going on with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, even everything prior to that. You know and seeing how it all just transpired.

I forgot where I heard this from but umm, this is our '60's (civil rights). This is a time where we as young Black men, young Black women, Black individuals. We're just like, tired of the BS. And without any Facebook planning or anything, we just—

Jerome: Without that stuff.

Nate: People just got out in the street.

NK: They just got out!

Nate: And they just tore it up.

Jay: Yeah!

Nate: And we wanted the music to reflect our emotions. Yeah, you know, we got the riot songs but also you know, songs that just reflect how we've been feelin'—

Jay: At the moment, at that time.

Nate: At that moment, at the time...

NK: And going through it.

Nate: What we're going through especially even for me. Going, you know, I've been in quarantine so messed me up! Completely just messed me up [laughs]

Jerome: Mm-hmm!

Jay: I gained like 30 pounds!

Nate: Yeah, yeah, I gained weight. I had to just look in and find a way. We just got together in the group chat and was like "Yo, we need to write about this. We need to get this out there!"

And honestly shout out to Rebelmatic,as soon as they dropped their album Ghost in the Shadows that was our green light to just go ahead.

Jay: Yeah, that was our green light. Definitely.

Nate: Honestly at that point, it's like we started writing, Maafa was already, you know, gettin' ready for what we're gonna do! Literally all the bands that I've been seeing.

Watch the rest on YouTube!

Winter Wolf is on      !


HOME  MEDIA