Writer's block and how to beat it with Duke of Wolves

ICMP alumna Duke of Wolves tell us how new artists can overcome writers' block and stand out from the crowd in the current music industry climate...
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Jim, Orlando, Sara, Tom and Rick are Duke of Wolves, a London-based group of rockers who’ve lit up 2017 with festival performances and gigs a plenty.

After big, well-received shows at the Great Escape in Brighton and the Isle of Wight Festival, the four-piece have just released new single ‘Teddy Boy’ and will be launching the release proper with a live show at The Social in central London tonight (31 August)

Led by chief songwriter Jim Lawton, the majority of the band’s members have passed through the doors of ICMP so we joined their 'wolf pack' to learn how they started out, how to beat writers’ block, plus much, much more in our new interview…

For the uninitiated, how would you describe your sound? 

A review by Glamglare described us as: 'This is what the love child of Muse and Queens of the Stone Age might sound like: a big anthemic sound with irresistible melodies, powerful drum and guitar chops, topped off with amazing vocals all around.'

You might also throw in Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, some pop and even a soupcon of disco.

Have you any tips for overcoming writer's block? 

Here's our handy guide:

Don't accept you have writer's block.

  • Accept you have writer's block.
  • PUT THE INSTRUMENT DOWN AND STEP AWAY.
  • Listen to music you might normally hate and try to find something you like about it.
  • When you get that first rush of inspiration, hold it back. Whatever you do in that moment is going to be a disappointment.
  • Read about what's going on in the world, think about what matters to you and write about it, exaggerate your emotions, put yourself in someone else's body, remove all limits and do's and don'ts.
  • Remove expectation; it's impossible to churn out hit after hit but complete whatever you're doing until the bitter end, even if it sounds exactly like something else. For example, turns out I wrote 'Norwegian Wood' the other day...
  • When you realise that your access to inspiration is only policed by your own judgements, preconceptions and fears, you will have unlimited access.

Far too often there are rock bands who only listen to rock music and 'hate' pop or classical music, or whatever; you're allowed to have a favourite drink, but why stop yourself from trying other beverages? 

What's the most bizarre thing that's happened to the band since you started out? 

A sound man at a very famous venue in London blamed me for the microphone shocking me ... apparently I'm 'just electric and should talk to my doctor'.

This soundman was also nowhere to be seen throughout the whole gig ... perhaps he was the ghost of professionalism past? There have been a few other peculiar occurrences but the weirdest is probably the strange influx of 'strangers' to our gigs ... definitely not complaining about that though as they're now firm members of our wolf pack!

Outside of music, what's the biggest influence on the group? 

It sounds like a bit of a cliche, but the state of the world. We're all politically conscious and a lot of the songs reflect that, sometimes explicitly, sometimes through metaphors.

What is best venue you've played and why? 

The Big Top at Isle Of Wight Festival 2017, because THE BIG TOP AT ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL!! It was just an incredible experience and we all felt very comfortable up on that huge stage; all in all instead of getting freaked out, it just made us 1,000 times more determined and hungry!

Have you any tips for emerging artists and bands? 

Don't expect anything to be given to you. If you present yourselves badly, or have an ego while you're still playing your first gigs, or treat anyone badly then STOP IT!

Music has changed, so forget about trashing places, looking down on people or thinking you just haven't had that 'lucky break'; there's a lot you can do to increase your chances of a 'lucky break', so don't wait around for a manager to do the admin and get you the gigs, email, research, go to gigs, pester, update your social media and collaborate rather than competing. Being good at writing or playing isn't good enough anymore, nowadays you have to be the label, management, studio and PR company. Most of all though, stay positive and develop kevlar skin;  if you believe in it with your heart and logic then it will happen...whatever 'it' is!

Duke of Wolves launch their new single 'Teddy Boy' at the Social in central London on 31 August. Visit the Facebook event page for more information. 

Listen to 'Teddy Boy' via the Duke of Wolves SoundCloud page below. 

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by Jim Ottewill
October 2, 2017
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