Expectations never mattered to Bad Wolves. Instead, the Los Angeles band fused unpredictable metallic intensity and impressive instrumental proficiency to arena-ready hooks, transforming from underdogs into elite platinum-certified hard rock contenders without compromise or apology. Since 2017, the core group—John Boecklin [drums], Doc Coyle [lead guitar, backing vocals], Chris Cain [rhythm guitar], and Kyle Konkiel [bass, backing vocals]—have consistently subverted expectations and accomplished the seemingly impossible. In 2018, the band earned a platinum plaque, topped iTunes, and ruled Active Rock at #1 for three weeks straight. This momentum also propelled their debut album, Disobey, to a Top 25 debut on the Billboard Top 200. In between performing to sold out audiences on multiple continents with heavyweights such as Five Finger Death Punch and Megadeth, 2019’s N.A.T.I.O.N. yielded their fifth straight #1 at Active Rock, “Sober,” and brought their total stream tally past the half-billion mark—unprecedented for a modern rock band. Not to mention, LoudWire hailed it among the “50 Best Rock Albums of 2019” as Billboard and Consequence of Sound chronicled their rise.
In the midst of 2021, they welcomed Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz—previously of The Acacia Strain—as lead vocalist, ushering in a new chapter with their third full-length offering, Dear Monsters, [Better Noise Music].
Once again, the only thing to expect is the unexpected…
“In terms of how we started four years ago, the album was definitely a return to form,” observes Boecklin. “We went back to making a more complex record musically, while incorporating our rock side. We eventually found the right mix of everything. There are some really heavy moments, and there are some more anthemic moments. It’s just Bad Wolves.”
During 2020, the band started to write new music in Los Angeles. Boecklin took the reins as co-producer alongside Josh Gilbert [As I Lay Dying]. Simultaneously, he also contributed more lyrics than ever before. As music materialized, they engaged the search for a vocalist. A year prior, DL had actually helped with the chorus to N.A.T.I.O.N. standout “The Consumerist,” and he graced every band member’s “singer wish list.”
“Obviously, we knew we should try him out,” recalls Boecklin. “Of course, it’s hard to bring on a new singer. DL had a strong presence though. We spent a lot of time with him. We hung in the studio, took him out, and really caught a vibe. It was just comfortable. Plus, he could pull everything off. He was the one.” That comes through loud and clear on the first single “Lifeline.” On the track, palm-muted guitar and finger-snaps underscore hypnotic verses before slipping into the chantable chorus, “Reaching out. Give me a lifeline. I don’t know if I can carry this on my own.” It all culminates on a hummable guitar solo.
“It’s about the highs and lows of success,” admits Boecklin. “Sometimes, you’re on top of the world. Other times, you need your lifelines. You realize you can’t do this alone. I’m not as secure as I thought I was—hence what we went through this whole year as a band. Success comes and goes, but you have to keep pushing forward.”
Speaking of pushing forward, the opener “Sacred Kiss” twists and turns through airy claps, head-crushing off-kilter riffs, and rapid-fire drums towards a soaring refrain, co-mingling gnashing groove metal, fits of rhythmic experimentation, and chanting gang vocals. “It’s got a little bit of everything we do in one track,” he exclaims.
Then, there’s “If Tomorrow Never Comes” where the percussive bounce bulldozes a path for a question. “It asks, ‘How would you be remembered if you die tomorrow? What regrets would you have? What would people say about you? Do you think you’d be remembered well, or would they talk shit?’,” he ponders. “The thought is to help detour you from bad decisions.”
“Springfield Summer” marks a major evolution. Lithe acoustic guitar wraps around DL’s clean vocals as the lyrics unspool a story of leaving a smalltown, “I’m waiting for the day when the devil comes calling me again…Springfield summer’s pouring rain on me again.”
“I grew up in Massachusetts, and DL is actually from Springfield too,” Boecklin elaborates. “I’ve had that riff for a long time. After doing songs like ‘Sober’, it felt like we could do this kind of tune. Thematically, it’s simply about getting out of that shit hole town.”
The bludgeoning “Classical” confronts insecurities every artist faces by pairing ironclad riffs with clever implementation of terms from the musical lexicon. Penned by Coyle, “The Middle” channels nineties-style harmonies into a tribute to the guitarist’s late parents. Meanwhile, the insidiously infectious “Comatose” finds a menacing sense of melody in its emotional intricacies.
“It doesn’t sound like anything we’ve done before,” Boecklin goes on. “It’s the darker side of Bad Wolves. It’s a sarcastic look at losing yourself in drugs and alcohol in L.A. It’s one of my favorites.”
In the end, Bad Wolves deliver much more than anybody could’ve ever expected on Dear Monsters, serving up their definitive body of work to date.
“We went into this with zero expectations, but we fucking love it,” Boecklin leaves off. “We know it’s the best it could be, and it’s a new beginning.” – Rick Florino, July 2021