New Zealand cinematic rock band Written By Wolves doesn’t just want their music heard, but their voices. Through explosive lyrics combined with notes of rock, alternative, electronic and pop, Michael Murphy (lead singer), Davie Wong (lead guitarist), Bahador Borhani (guitarist), Karl Woodhams (drummer), and Oli Lyons (percussionist) transform their challenges with the music industry, along with tragic world events into positive messages for fans worldwide.
Written By Wolves stands for individualism with songs that demonstrate the ‘fight to be you.’ What experiences have led each of you to contribute to such a strong message?
Mikey: All of the members of Written By Wolves have been a part of the music industry and involved in different bands for a long time. I think a lot of the initial lyrical content came from frustrations with the music industry and the constant struggle to be heard—that feeling that you are working your ass off, but not really getting anywhere. As we progressed, we started to hear these sentiments echoed by fans, and whilst their frustrations were aimed in different directions, they were the same. I felt like we could get a positive message across—to take these frustrations and use them to rise above a lot of the horrible things that are happening in the world.
What is the most notable difference, if any, between United States and New Zealand rock bands?
The main difference is size. New Zealand is a country of almost 5 million, whereas the United States is sitting more around 325 million. With the population base being that much smaller, it is harder to do things on a large scale. But in saying that, we do a pretty good job, and there are some incredible bands and promoters doing some incredible things. We were part of the sold-out Storm The Gates Festival in Auckland, N.Z., where four local bands played alongside Limp Bizkit, Sublime With Rome, Suicidal Tendencies and Hed PE and that’s when you realize that there’s not too much of a difference between U.S. and N.Z. bands—apart from accents…
In an interview with Tearaway Magazine, you said that touring in the U.S. with your previous band (5Star Fallout) made you realize just “how high a standard of bands and musos” there are in N.Z. Can you explain what you meant by this?
For a lot of bands here in N.Z., we see the U.S. as the pinnacle; it is the industry we are all trying to break into, and in most cases, kind of the end game. I absolutely loved being over there, playing to U.S. audiences that were so open and giving to a band from N.Z. that they had never heard of. But, being over there and playing with amazing bands like Quietdrive, My American Heart, Just Surrender and Daphne Loves Derby, we really realized that what we are doing over in N.Z. is working, and there are so many bands in this country that U.S. audiences would absolutely love.
In addition to Written By Wolves, what employment opportunities do each of you pursue?
Unfortunately, WBW isn’t quite paying the bills yet. One day hopefully. For now, Davie is production manager for top N.Z. streetwear brand, Federation (check them out at federation.co.nz; their stuff is badass), Bahador is an architect, Oli is halfway through med school, Karl manages a large chain of plumbing supply stores and I, (Mikey), am a session singer for adverts and corporate events in N.Z.
Collectively, can you recall a moment on stage most memorable to you?
I think Bay Dreams festival this year was a real breakthrough for all of us. It was our first big festival and was a moment of realization that people were starting to take notice of us. The production was huge. We were on early in the day, and as we were playing, the crowd got bigger and bigger. It was amazing and was definitely a day none of us will forget any time soon.
If you could share a stage with a musician or band of your choosing, who would you choose and why?
Our influences are so wide and varied, the answer to this question could change every other day! After seeing Machine Gun Kelly at Bay Dreams Festival, we would kill to do a track with him—so much energy and such an entertaining show. We are all huge fans of Hans Zimmer and the incredible scores he creates. A few of the guys saw his show on his tour last year. Maintain, it was their favorite show they have ever been to. I think if we could, somehow, perform with him one day, that would be pretty incredible.
You manage accounts for a variety of social media platforms, plus a plethora of music channels. What difficulties have you faced promoting yourselves, and how do you continuously stand apart from other musicians?
The internet has really changed everything. We can now connect with fans from the other side of the world while we are sitting in N.Z., but that is exactly it; it can be near impossible to cut through and be noticed. The biggest thing for us is trying to make that connection with fans. If they take the time to write to us, we think it’s only fair to write back. We try and reply to as many comments and messages as we possibly can, and I think our fans really appreciate that. We have also, from day one, tried to release as much content as possible with new singles and videos every few months. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and we are trying our best to make sure people don’t go forgetting about us too quickly.
What lessons have you learned as a band about how to improve?
Organization has been a real key for us. We are currently self-managed and have done almost everything ourselves. The big thing there is coordinating our releases and making sure we get them out on time. We don’t have a manager cracking the whip to get things done, or a big team making sure deadlines are met, so the five of us working as a team to get things done on time has been a big learning curve.
Thus far, Written By Wolves has released 12 singles, the most recent being “Follow Me,” released in February. Are there plans to release an EP in the near future?
We have big plans for a release this year. Watch this space!
What goals have you set for Written By Wolves to reach by the end of 2018?
This year has already been pretty big for us, and our goal is to build on that as much as possible. We are currently writing and recording tracks for our debut album and working on plans to play our first shows in the U.S. All going to plan, we should be seeing you sooner rather than later!