Little Red Wolf

by Troy Johnson
May 2011

Little Red Wolf

Little Red Wolf

Success is happening fast for Little Red Wolf. The four Madison women who make up the group and have been writing multidimensional folk based pop songs together since 2008. Each member of LRW is well-versed in various instruments and the singers harmonize like a group that has been together for years. With influences ranging from seminal riot grrrls Sleater Kinney to current groups with diverse but traditional sounds like The New Pornographers and Grizzly Bear, listening to LRW develop their sound is going to be a thrilling ride. When asked what groups they would most like to share a stage with drummer Emily Mills mentioned the Ditty Bops and Fleet Foxes. “Both of these groups have taken traditional American music and found a way to put their own, unique and—frankly—awesome, spin on it. I think we’d mesh pretty well with them.” Kelly Maxwell added, “Little Red Wolf with Fleet Foxes would be amazing. I would just die of happiness.”

The four seem to agree that traditional folk music is just a starting point in their quote"collaborative” song writing process. Maxwell said, “Most of the time it starts with something simple and we all add to it: One of us has a riff, we’ll work on it in rehearsal several times with different instruments until it sounds right, then someone will bring lyrics and that person gets to sing it.”

On a recent song they are working on called “Pop Song” that has been in the works for a while Maxwell and Mills described specifically what it’s like for LRW to write. “We were just goofing around in practice and Emily had a very punk drum beat, Meg had this annoying guitar solo riff that was pretty fast, and Laura grabbed the bass and played this walk-down thing, then Em called dibs on lyric-writing right away…the three of us tend to take turns singing lead on any given song and we know pretty early on whose voice best fits the music of a particular track.” Mills adds, “Then Kelly came back from being abroad this winter and we tried a few different instrument variations until she picked up the keytar and it fit in perfectly. We are all conscious of not stepping on each other’s range—if what I’m playing on guitar is the same pitch range as Laura’s viola, for example, we try to change it or have it harmonize with the other.”

Early this year they released ‘If Only We Were Remixed’ a collaborative with other Madison musicians that puts an electronic spin on their debut album “If Only We Were Just Like We Are” and is a perfect example of their eagerness to branch out in their style. On it, LRW’s original and already entrancing folk track “Balloon Song” is remixed three different times. Included is my favorite: Caustic Static Cling’s remix with a spooky trance sound that would fit the mix at any house party. The band is thrilled with how well the project turned out. Maxwell said, “Our genre of music isn’t typically the kind that lends itself well to remixing. We were blown away by all of the artists we worked with, how different the tracks were both from the originals and from each other.”

The band tries to connect directly with fans through their website and Facebook page where they frequently post new material and concert details. Little Red Wolf will be playing at the WORT Block Party on Sunday, May 22 at 12:30 p.m. Maxwell told me how their sound and style can change greatly when they are live depending on audience, venue, the crew that sets up the sound system. “At the WORT block party, you can expect to see a lively, harmony-heavy set of our more up-tempo songs, some brand-new songs, and Little Red Wolf having a great time because playing music is our favorite thing of all.” 

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