What do you get if you cross Woody Guthrie with Western Swing whilst taking a small hat tip toward the Grateful Dead? You get today’s Track Premiere ‘If You Haven’t Met The Wolf‘ which must rank as one of the politest chidings on record. On it Sam Platts tries to sympathise with the rich kid, but finds it hard to do: “Rich boy you say you’re filled with empathy / And for your lack of hardship you’d like some sympathy / Well I bet it was real hard watching your buddies mow your yard / And I’m sad to say I don’t have time for you.” As he explains “If you haven’t met the wolf / you ain’t a friend of mine / if you haven’t spent your time on the poverty line / You’re lookin’ down your nose wantin’ me to fall in line.”
The band have an authentic connection to their music, having spent the last decade honing their craft on the live circuit and quite literally living the oft-romanticized “Western lifestyle” outside of music prior to that. The band are led by husband-and-wife duo Sam and Lilly Platts, fifth-generation residents of the plains — Wyoming and Montana, respectively — with their ancestral roots in homesteading.
Speaking of the song Sam Platts told us “Like most of my favourite songs I’ve written, this one was done in ten minutes. It’s a song celebrating people who work for what they have.” Lilly added some thoughts on the band’s philosophy “I think the Montana/western/ranching element makes things more complicated because people like to romanticize it. It sounds cool to say someone is a “cowboy”, which has happened to Sam many times even though he has never said that, and it’s really important to us that we aren’t identified as something we aren’t. We’re proud of the western element of our lives…but there’s so much more to it. Overall, it’s a nuanced thing that can be hard to explain to people who are removed from the west and agriculture, but we identify the most as westerners. The way we were all raised, our roots, etc., are all strongly connected to the west, which is not the same as the cowboy thing. That directly translates to the music we play. Western swing isn’t necessarily cowboy music. There is crossover, but it’s more of a cultural thing. We are really proud of our western roots and involvement in agriculture, but we are not trying to ride on that exclusively.”
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Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan’s music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That’s not much to ask, is it?