by Joe McNulty
On Saturday night, 14th May, I caught up with New Valley Wolves before the Dublin leg of their Irish tour. But, when I first saw them play last year on the eve of Electric Picnic, I have to admit I was slightly sceptical. I knew nothing about the band, except that they were recommended to me by a friend, so when I arrived at Cork’s Crane Lane Theatre and noticed the stage set for just guitar and drums, my initial reaction was, “where’s the rest of the band?” My next thought was, would their sound be enough or would it be empty in the absence of a bass. Within seconds all these notions dissipated, as I was taken aback by the raw rampaging energy which ensued. Guitar gushing with riffs and licks as filthy as they are loud, and crashing drums bigger than Charlie Sheens coke tab, New Valley Wolves deliver on all fronts. Described as having a sound as big as a bomb, the duo of Jonny Lucey (Guitar, Vocals) and Baz Joyce (Drums) will more than satisfy anyone’s insatiable appetite for unadulterated Rock n’ Roll.
The bands dynamic was never a conscious decision, and their formation came as Jonny put it “Out of a want on my behalf and Baz’s behalf to just play”. Despite their accidental union, an undeniable chemistry fashioned and with it, a glimmer of hope for a rock revival of sorts.
They jokingly remark that their dynamic works so well due to having “just two” egos to contend with, as opposed to 4 or 5. But what’s most important, Jonny explains, is their similarities when they get on that stage, with both men playing as if their lives depend on it, and that’s what they appreciate most about each other. Passion in equal measure, is what they see as the necessary component for success, enabling them to play the genre they love without having to conform to contemporary musical trends. With the current music scene awash with electronic music, NVW’s uncooked blues angled, sinister sounding rock, offers something that doesn’t necessarily break the mould , but in the scheme of things, is certainly unique, as they lead the rock renaissance on these shores . Who would of thought, a rock band, unique.
Last year was a major breakthrough year for the lads, with the release of their debut Album Refusal is Our Weapon at The Workman’s Club, Dublin, followed by the experience of playing the likes of Sea Sessions, Body and Soul, Knockanstockan and Electric Picnic. Although, it didn’t end there, and the night they played the Crane Lane in Cork, they were approached by a booking agent for Applepop Festival in Holland, who gave them his details. Following up on this, they never anticipated what it would yield.
The experience they had at Applepop is something that will live long in the memory as Baz recalls: “we were treated like royalty, and the best thing about it was, we went over there thinking we were nobodies, and that nobody would know us, but there was a massive crowd there for us, it was crazy”. A crowd of 10,000 plus turned out to see New Valley Wolves, it was otherworldly compared to anything they had ever experienced, and they reminisce how it was the realisation of a dream to play to such a big crowd. So big, in fact, that Baz couldn’t make eye contact with the crowd until the second song. “I just couldn’t look at them”, I just couldn’t, ” he laughs. Jonny concludes that Applepop is now in the past, “We’re always about the next big thing, that’s in the past, we did it, we want the next Applepop, just bigger and better.”
As I speak to them, they’re in the middle of their Irish tour as they get ready to unleash in Sin É on Dublin’s Ormond Quay, and New Valley Wolves are not ones for resting on their laurels, they’re well aware of the work that needs to be done to get ahead in this business. Despite their relative success, their feet are firmly on the ground, and their humble nature will serve them well on this journey.
Next stop is Kilkenny’s Brewery Corner, before they return to Sea Sessions 24th June where they play the Main Stage on Friday, something they cannot wait for. On top of that they will play Rockathon August 20th, and Canalaphonic in September but not before a trip to Stradbally, and Electric Picnic. What New Valley Wolves lack in numbers, they make up for in quality and through the blood, sweat and tears of their performances. Likened to Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and Wolfmother, their presence in the Irish Music Scene is a welcome one. With a new track “Trouble” already laid down and more on the horizon, these are exciting times for the lads from Portmarnock, leading the way in the rising rock resurgence.