Blues/punk songstress Freya Wilcox came of age in Australian mining country before relocating to New York at age 19.
After spending some time performing around the city on her own and releasing a collection of stripped-down acoustic blues/rockers titled “Dirt Music” she joined forces with bassist Craig Shay and drummer CJ Dunaieff, for a new project under the perfectly-fitting moniker, Freya Wilcox & The Howl. The trio released its EP, “Bareknuckle Love” in May, 2015, which showcased its knack for spirited, high-energy pop punk as well as smoldering barroom ballads, with Wilcox’s hard-hitting voice tying it all together.
Armed with a ‘70s Gold Top Les Paul, which she runs through a Marshall JCM 900 and an 1950s-model Gibson BR-9, Wilcox and co. recently completed recording their debut full-length with Will Harris at Sabella Studios. Titled Tooth & Nail, the album is slated to come out this fall, though no official release date has been set. “At its core it turned out to be a bit of a heartbreak record but the guitars are huge, the rhythm is tight and the color in the vocals is more developed than in our prior releases,” Wilcox says. “The songs on Tooth & Nail were definitely written to be played by a band unlike the tracks on “Bareknuckle,” which I was in the habit of performing alone. I have more room to flourish on the guitar, it takes up more space, it’s more complex and there’s a lot more emotion behind the wheel.” Keeping in tune with the record’s retro vibe, Wilcox was able to tap into the studio’s vast collection of vintage gear. “Sabella Studios is effectively an amplifier archive with a healthy spattering of the kinds of guitars that typically come with a ‘Do Not Touch’ sign. I’m stoked that it was these songs and these sounds,” she says.
Just before tracking was about to start, Quebec-based pop punks and longtime friends Oh My Snare asked the group to join them for a split 7” on For the Love of Punk Records and a tour. The decision was a “no-brainer,” says Wilcox. They wound up contributing two songs: an upbeat punk track titled “I Beg” and an electrifying cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.”
“I Beg” was pulled from the tracklist of Tooth & Nail but its roots go back to the early days of Wilcox’ musical journey. “I Beg” was probably the first straight-up punk song I ever wrote,” she says. “I was 14 and playing guitar while having a meltdown. It’s about being really frustrated with lots of people in my generation becoming scarily reliant on the approval of others in this growing current of collective narcissism that we’ve all decided is totally chill… basically it is about being beaten with narcissistic personalities, exacerbated by limitless channels for selective self-representation because that’s the deal now, and telling them to “gtfo” because you’re done with their shit.”
Through it was written years ago, the song’s themes of recognizing and breaking away from other people’s negativity hold true today, both for Wilcox’s generation and everyone else. “I think a lot of women have asshole friends or lovers that they are scared to get rid and I’ve certainly made myself miserable begging them to stay. But calling yourself on your own self-destructive shit is literally the least you can do, and you’re always going to feel liberated when you make a choice that affords you some peace of mind, you know?”
Check out “I Beg” below, purchase the split 7″ when it comes out on August 19, and get ready for Tooth & Nail this fall.