THEATRE | Give 'Em Enough Lycanthrope

Raised By Wolves play the silver ball

Curtis Woloschuk / Terminal City / August 2005

The wolf plays a major role in various mythologies. An Aesop fable tells of a wolf that rejected domestic spoils for the freedom of the wild. In alchemy, antimony is known as "the wolf of metals" and symbolizes the animal nature of man. Greek legends portray the wolf as a nurturer who fostered Mars' offspring Romulus and Remus. The nefarious Genghis Khan commonly claimed to be a descendent of a blue-grey "chosen wolf." Closer to home, British Columbia's Haida believe that two gluttonous wolf pups were banished to the sea and became orcas. Meanwhile, Vancouver's own Raised By Wolves possess a belief system guided by a holy trinity of pinball, motorbikes and rock 'n' roll.

Seated atop a stool at the back counter of Save-On-Meats, singer and guitarist Billy Bones savours a bacon cheeseburger and attempts to expound upon the significance of the band's name. "Our wolves are the television, the government, American foreign policy and institutions in general." He claims, "We've all been raised by these wolves that have made us into wolves ourselves."

At his side, keyboardist and wife Krista Bones smiles and suggests, "I don't know if the rest of the band would know that."

"There's also the primitive, feral children aspect," continues Billy. As hinted at with his preliminary explanation of the group's moniker, the frontman admits to a fiercely political past. However, he's since "taken a break" from such tactics. "I've seen so many people who just burn out [on politics] and swing like a pendulum to the opposite end. I don't want to do that," he states. "Sometimes a guy just has to have some fun. To me, fun is pinball and riding motorbikes." Both pursuits are championed on "I Like To Howl," the opening track on the five-piece's recently released Hot Blood album. "To me, howling is just going out and doing that stuff."

"It's also about Billy's taste in music," offers Krista. She goes on to disclose that her husband once hosted a radio show in Kamloops where the playlist was dictated by only one guideline: "It had to feel like rebel rock 'n' roll." With twelve songs clocking in at just over twenty minutes, the band's ferocious debut (recorded with the illustrious JC/DC) provides precision strikes of savage rock. Diverse influences include Otis Redding, Toy Dolls, Hazel Atkins, The Clash, The Pointed Sticks and Jerry Lee Lewis. "Billy likes motorbikes, pinball and those bands," Krista states. "To play something like you mean it, you have to believe in what you're saying. That's where his heart is right now. Those are the things he's passionate about. That's how he can be believable."

For his part, Billy also exhibits wholehearted faith in the healing power of the silver ball. Amongst his favourite pinball machines is one based on The Who's Tommy. "You can hit different things in the game and it plays songs from the album," he explains. Recently, when one of the couple's two children was suffering a tantrum, their father recalled a meditative practice seen in a movie in which an individual chanted, "Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean." When a re-enactment of the scene failed to appease his frayed nerves, he instead imagined himself playing the Tommy game. "I heard the voice from that song saying, 'Smash the mirror,'" he recollects. "In my mind, I kept hitting the mirror. I calmed right down."

Bursting into laughter, Krista comments, "There's no counting to ten in our house."

The song "Rats Are Gonna Ride" finds the band classifying the Honda CB750 as a "fine little motorbike," but it's just one indication of their collective admiration for motorcycle culture. The heavy influence of the classic 1953 film The Wild One is evidenced by Raised By Wolves' choice of album title-lifted from the film's original name-and artwork-a "wolverized" scene from the film depicted by cartoonist Darren Merinuk. On the whole, the band seems to revel in obscure references. Krista divulges, "We have a secret symbol for the band that comes from an old Twilight Zone episode." (Note: Intrigued parties should investigate the 1964 episode "Black Leather Jackets".)

Despite a blatant appreciation for "Angelsploitation" films and the like, Billy admits, "I'm just not that tough. At the end of the day, I'm a family guy who likes to play pinball. I'm a really soft-spoken, nice guy." Such congeniality has translated into an admitted inability to turn down shows. Consequently, an eight-day period will see the band playing a show in support of their new split 7-inch, a release event for a friend's DVD (containing vintage motorcycle footage) and Geared-to-Go-Go with '60s stalwarts The Seeds. The myriad of pursuits has taken its toll on the Wolves as they've just witnessed the departure of a valued member. "Some of that stuff is what cost us our drummer," Billy confesses. "We're pretty stoked to play with Sky Saxon and The Seeds. That's amazing. We keep taking these shows because we're playing with people that are icons to us. But [the shows] don't really pay the bills, [our drummer] was driving down from Kamloops every time and they're not exactly icons to him." Even without an Okanaganite on drums, the band still possesses a bassist (Monkey) who resides in Bellingham and a guitarist (Marty) currently living in Germany. It's meant an abundance of cross-border commuting and a revolving cast of temporary members. However, the two lead Wolves refuse to let such complications deter them. As Billy matter-of-factly states, "It's not like you're going to say, 'No. We're not going to play with The Seeds.'"

Raised By Wolves
w/ The Seeds, The Fiends and The Tranzmittors
Saturday, August 13