Interview: Beta Wolf

luke kalamar is hungry like the wolf…

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If you were to compare the music industry to a pack of wolves, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Both are lead by alpha wolves who are the strongest of them all and whose word is essentially law. In regards to music, these leaders are those who release the biggest albums, get the most attention, and always dominate the charts. Everyone looks to them for both guidance and inspiration. The alpha wolf isn’t unstoppable though, and can very easily change to become less fit to be a leader. Sooner or later, these changed alpha wolves get pushed away and are forgotten. So who takes over when the alpha wolf is no more? The beta wolf, and this Beta Wolf in particular is lead by front man Grant Arnow.

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“In the way that I see music, and even pop culture, is that these alpha wolves are temporary and they are getting killed off,” Arnow said. “For me, the concept of being the beta wolf is always more exciting. The beta wolf is something that’s always there. It’s a concept that’s constantly taking care of things. If the alpha wolf is up front, and the alpha wolf gets killed, the beta wolf is there supporting the whole time.”

Beta Wolf is an alternative rock band from Los Angeles with some lofty goals. According to their biography on Last.FM, the members of Beta Wolf desire to lead the music industry and bring back its former glory. For Arnow, too many new bands care more about looking cool as opposed to writing quality music. They have a hollow center and no longer care about actually making art. In his eyes, this is what the alpha wolves have become. He doesn’t believe this applies to all new artists, but enough to make a huge difference.

Grant Arnow
Grant Arnow

Arnow first noticed this when he signed onto a major label for the first time. While getting onto a major label can usually lead to a huge breakthrough for a band, Arnow wasn’t as fortunate. It didn’t help when the creative team that signed up with Arnow left during the album making process. This is when some unfortunate truths came to light.

“What I realized is that the particular label we were signed to didn’t give a shit about rock and roll,” Arnow stated. “For us, we saw the writing on the wall, especially after seeing a few rock bands release records prior to what our release date would be that nobody cared about. Making music and being in a band is a lot more than ‘let’s see what happens.’ You pour your soul into making music, and then to see the release structure of the label skew against you, it didn’t seem like the right environment.”

Arnow soon left his label in hopes of forming a band with people who shared his vision. It was in the massive city of Los Angeles that he found the people he needed and Beta Wolf was formed. The next step was trying to form a new band and create a definitive identity in the one of the most well known cities in the entire world. Normally this would be a daunting task, but not for the members of Beta Wolf, who found inspiration around every corner. According to Arnow, inspiration came from the massive Hispanic community and the Watts Towers, amongst many other things.

“It’s important for us to not just be surface level residents here,” Arnow said. “Seeing that stuff and sort of digging into what the identity of Los Angeles is and feeding off the artistic energy that’s here helped us form our sound.”

A couple EP’s and several live albums later, Beta Wolf has gained quite a following throughout the country. Their popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed, and on March 10th they were the opening act for the one and only Andrew W.K. A.W.K., himself has had quite the year with the story of him gaining (and subsequently losing) the title of Cultural Ambassador of the United States for the Middle East. Once I found out about this show, I couldn’t help but ask about it. Turns out, Arnow absolutely loved the entire experience.

“Dude it was amazing…I’ve played a lot of shows but I’ve never played a show where the fan base was as committed to the experience of the headliner,” Arnow exclaimed. “It was like finding a secret club and everybody was just a total believer.”

He also had nothing but nice things to say about the Party Metal rocker.

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“He creates such a vibe in that room, you have to see it to believe it. I have a lot of respect for the guy; he’s truly a great front man. I’ve never seen people more excited to be at a show, ever.”

When I spoke with Arnow in December, Beta Wolf had released their Live in Danbury and The Slaybell Sessions Vol. 1 albums only a month before. With 2013 looming on the band’s horizon, he detailed plans for a possible studio album and a tour in the early months. The band is currently in a very creative mode and recording a lot of new tracks, according to Arnow. As for touring, most of Beta Wolf’s shows have been in the Central and Western United States, but Arnow couldn’t help but express his love for the East Coast.

“The East Coast is so varied and different; people are so cool and unique,” explained Arnow. “We can’t wait to come back there. We want to be on the road non-stop, so there are a lot of places that we’ve been that we want to go back to, and a lot of places we haven’t been that we want to see for the first time.”

With big plans and a powerful sound, Beta Wolf has a lot going for them. Keep an eye out for these guys from Los Angeles in the coming year!