Aspen Times Weekly: Reignwolf, Raw Energy & Heavy Blues
with Crass Mammoth
Tuesday, April 29
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird-flipping, jet-fueled Canadian blues-rocker soaring through the foggy lights — and even he doesn’t know exactly where he’ll land.
“Sometimes I don’t realize how high up there I am,” says Jordan Cook, the wild-eyed, infectiously enthusiastic singer and guitarist for Reignwolf, a Canadian rock band rooted in the blues, but blown unceremoniously out of the fully maxed distortion channels into a maw of crunchy hooks and deliriously raw string twists.
Cook has been known to climb atop his personal kick drum and huck himself as high and far as his road-weary legs will take him. “In Seattle I took a pretty nice spill,” says Cook, from aboard the Reignwolf van as it crossed the thawing Canadian tundra, headed to their next arena show in Edmonton, opening up for none other than Black Sabbath. “You don’t think about that, though. It’s in the moment. You just go for it,” laughs Cook, whose stage dives were so agro on the massively staged Sabbath tour that they set up a net to catch him at one recent stop.
The word surreal comes up in conversation fairly often when speaking with Cook, and for good reason. In just two years, Cook has gone from the musical incubator of a long winter at home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to moving to one of the most music-friendly cities in the world, Seattle, Wash. There, Cook performed solo shows – just his whiskey-gravel voice, a guitar turned all the way up through a stack of distorted amps, and a kick drum/launch pad — until he found his backline of drummer “Texas Joe” and bassist “Stitch” playing out as a twosome.
United in grit and gain, the trio has quickly ascended from humble rawk ‘n’ roll beginnings to the point that they have recorded their debut record (out “sometime in the next year”) at folk-rocker Ani DiFranco’s house and are opening up for their musical heroes in some of the biggest venues in the world…and not just opening up, but in reading some of the comments from the main act’s social pages, Reignwolf has been leaving grizzled jaws on the floor all across the Great White North with their energetic, edgy performances well before Ozzy has recalled the exact location of his leather pants.
“When you look out at an arena crowd and see so many people…new people, new fans…freaking out to your music, it’s totally surreal,” enthuses Cook. The band has also supported the Pixies and Edward Sharpe and the Magnificent Zeroes in recent months. Those shows were a distinctive turning point for Cook and his mates. “The Edward Sharpe shows stand out to me, because their fans are on the young side. I was looking out at these stunned kids and it was almost as if they’d never really seen a rock ‘n’ roll band before. They were like, ‘what the hell is going on here?”’
Reignwolf digs in deeply into their “J” influences, from Jimmy Page to Jimmy Hendrix to Jack White.
Head down, eyes cemented shut, pouring sweat from his bangs, Cook wails on his axe more as an emotional tool than as an instrument. His lead flourishes are wild and unbashful. The backline fills in around his distorted, bluesy fragments like defibrillator jolts. The raw energy produced in one show is enough to light up half of Canada for a year.
Cook eschews the highly produced sounds of modern music and leans on the band’s sonic output and old-school feel as a path to attaining success. “It’s been a really long time since a band has been doing that heavy blues rock sound,” says Cook, speaking as he chased the bus that hauls the very originators of the genre. “We play loud and we leave it all out there on stage. When you are on, the energy really just takes over. When that happens, the crowd is IN the band. They are giving it to us and we’re giving it back that much more.”
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