Who Is Vulfpeck?
Who is Vulfpeck?
Founder, Jack Stratton, conceptualized the idea of Vulfpeck while attending the University of Michigan. His idea was to create a "German Rhythm Section". At first even Jack probably thought the idea was off-the-wall, and many fans didn't fully grasp until it manifested into the Vulfpeck brand that people know and love today. Their name is based on the phonetically correct way that a German person would pronounce "Wolf Pack".
The other members of the Wolf Pack include Theo Katzman, Joe Dart, and Woody Goss. Vulfpeck aims to emulate the the studio musicians who "made it possible for the famous stars such as to become famous" in the late '60's and early '70's recording sessions. Jack Stratton frequently quotes iconic studios such as muscle shoals as his inspiration to create a band that is primarily a rhythm section with heavy vamping and an emphasis on writing instrumental minimalist compositions. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section aka The Swampers provided the backbone for numerous #1 hits, such as 'I'll Take you There' by the Staple Singers. Read more about the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section here.
Vulfpeck's early albums are made up primarily of songs that were recorded in one take, where all of the instrumentation is done live and simultaneously. In the world of music today, track-recording (recording one instrument at a time) has become the industry standard for commercial music production. They try to break that mold by bringing back the all-or-none mentality that is needed when recording live takes (since mistakes on any given instrument could ruin the take for the entire group). When the stakes are high, this stellar group of musician comes in clutch time after time!
Jack Stratton: Insane or Ingenious?
Jack's quirky sense of humor is a large part of what makes the Vulfpeck brand unique. From his alter ego Mushy Krongold to the grainy videos that look like they were taken in a living room retro enough to be 'straight outta tha 70's', he has created something viral. People who take themselves too seriously may not understand, or be capable of being open to the weirdness of the Vulfmon. However, fun-loving fans and nerdy music majors alike have latched onto his uncanny mix of composing funky-ass-music melded with his strange and eccentric sense of humor.
Jack Stratton has created this persona that truly resonates with people who identify themselves as weirdos. Jack's extensive list of irreverent and downright strange videos posted on the Vulfpeck YouTube channel make it easy to go down the "how weird is this guy?" rabbit hole.
Theo Katzman is the driving force behind the bands spunk and plays well off of Jack's awkwardness on stage. In a recent interview with Theo he talks about his new album 'Heartbreak Hits', Vulfpeck's inception and his first time meeting the other members, and more. Theo has a great collection of his own music from the past that can be found on his YouTube channel.
Who is 'The Beast'?
Joe Dart is the youngest member of the group but his sound is far from unseasoned. He is quickly carving out a name for himself as one of the best modern bassists of our current musical landscape! The way I see Joe is similar to how Woody fits into the group: silent killers. What I mean by this is that Jack and Theo are boisterous enough for the whole group, so Joe and Woody just get to shred and let the others take care of the "Vulfpeck antics" that they are known for at their live performances.
Woody Goss: Solo Rhodes
Woody Goss is the introverted pianist who is to keyboards, what Garth Algar (Wayne's World) is to the drums. He's shy and he rocks. He has an amazing solo album out online which is titled 'Solo Rhodes' and is exactly how it sounds, just a man making sweet sweet musical love to his Rhodes.
'Mit Peck' was their first release and came out in 2011 (the album art can be found at the very top of this page). It featured only the four core musicians listed above and was all tracked live as far as I know. Their second release 'Vollmich' (2012) solidified their comping style and groove to a recognizable sound that they were making their own. Vollmich featured Joey Dosik as a composer and performer on multiple tracks but the "guest list" of artists on the album was still relatively thin compared to more recent releases. Their third release 'My First Car' (2013) integrated Antwaun Stanley into the mix and turned up the funk-knob to 11! His soulful vocals mixed with the extremely talented Wolf Pack created a sensation that is reminiscent of the golden era of soul and funk (just as Jack had imagined and hoped for!). Their fourth studio release 'Fugue State' (2014) is named after the title track, which consists of heavy classical influences and sounds like a bach concerto meets a Dianna Ross backing track. This album also had two songs that have become fan favorites within the Vulfpack: 'Christmas in L.A.' and the uber-catchy '1612' (seen live on the Colbert show towards the top of the page). Release number five, 'Thrill of the Arts' (2015), was where their sound began to pivot away from the raw uncut live tracks of the Vollmich days and they began to use heavier production and the finished product of the album sounds a lot less gritty than their previous releases, but has it's own charm with it's more polished mastering. Their most recent release in 2016 is called 'The Beautiful Game' and the online promo surrounding this album reflects the groups' quirky sense of humor more than ever before. My favorite track off of this album is a story of two lovers and it satirically mocks the idea of people being drawn together by astrology and spirit animals, and it's appropriately titled, 'Animal Spirits'.
It doesn't technically count as an album release but it's worth mentioning 'Sleepify'. An album released on Spotify which was 5 songs long, 30 seconds a piece, and they were all silence. You heard that right, they release a 5 song album with no sound on it and asked their fans to stream it on repeat. The goal was to fund their new album and they asked fans to stream album all night while they slept, hence the name 'Sleepfiy'. They ended up earning upwards of $20,000 in streaming revenue before Spotify removed the album because it violated their policy. Pretty damn ingenious if you ask me!