Wolves & Machines (from left to right): Scott Smith, Trent Elliott, Aaron DeVries, and Levi King

Article by Gina Myers

Wolves & Machines have been playing the local all-ages circuit since 2008, but they are getting ready to reach out to a wider audience with the release of their first full-length album, Ailments. Though the band has had some rotating cast members (specifically bass players), they cite their formation as taking place in 2008 when three of the four current members—Aaron DeVries, Trent Elliott, and Scott Smith—came together. Though the three attended Heritage High School, they didn't become friends until after they all had graduated. DeVries and Elliott began playing together with Kurt Keaner, who later moved to Ohio. After Keaner left, Smith joined the band and the core of the group was founded. The current line-up features DeVries (20) on guitar and vocals, Elliott (22) on drums, Smith (22) on guitar and vocals, and Levi King (21) on bass and vocals.

These young musicians have had little band experience prior to Wolves & Machines, though they all have played music for much of their lives. Smith started out playing saxophone in the fifth grade, and the band jokes about bringing it into the line-up. "Yeah, we're going to become a funk band," he says with a laugh. DeVries, who handles songwriting duties, played guitar by himself for many years. Elliott previously played in another local band, American Modifier, "a sort of electro-Brit pop group," named after a burger at the TA truck stop in Birch Run. Elliott is quick to assure, "Wolves & Machines has a very different sound."

So how would they describe their sound? "Party music," Smith jokes. DeVries first admits to hating being asked this question, but then he answers, "Aggressive progressive indie...I heard someone say that once and I liked it. I thought, that's what I want to be." The band lists Brand New, Minus the Bear, PMToday, Thrice, Every Time I Die, and Anathallo to be among their favorites that they all can pretty much agree on, though they each have different tastes. DeVries says King, who was not present for the interview, would list very different bands for his favorites. In addition to playing with Wolves & Machines, King plays with the Freeland-based metal band To the Barricades.

Though they previously released a three-song EP, the band admits to being a little unmotivated in the past. "We were slow to write new songs. We would play shows and have only four songs," says DeVries. "People would enjoy it and want to hear more, but we couldn't play anything more." In the past year, the band has become more committed, wanting to play out more and to record a full-length album. They decided to head into the studios and put the album out themselves, but then Capeside Records came along. Hooking up with Capeside was fortuitous because the band didn't realize until they were already in the studio that they didn't have enough money to cover the whole project, and if they were to do it on their own, it would take much longer than they wanted it to.

Brothers D-Jay and Kevin Bidwell, who run Capeside, were first introduced to Wolves & Machines by Act As One, another Capeside band. Act As One's bass player, Matt Feith, had formerly played in Wolves & Machines, and the two bands were all friends. In fact, it was Feith who broke the news to Wolves & Machines, albeit a bit mysteriously. DeVries explains, "I got a text from Matt that just said, 'Your welcome,' and I was like, okay, thanks...for what? And then D-Jay got in touch with me."

D-Jay first saw them play at SYS Fest in 2009, and he was instantly impressed. One night this past summer, he and Kevin happened to be sitting around playing Skate 3 on Xbox when he noticed a status update on Facebook from the band. They'd posted a freshly recorded song, and D-Jay had Kevin pause the game so they could give it a listen. D-Jay says, "We were so impressed with the song, we had to sign them."

Ailments officially drops in stores and will be available for sale online on Tuesday, September 28th. The album features 11 original cuts and is already garnering praise as one of the best albums of 2010—or at least that's the word from Capeside Records. "The new album is one of the best CDs I've heard, from the sound quality to their song-writing ability," says D-Jay. "Even if this CD wasn't coming out on Capeside Records, I would still consider it one of the best albums of the year." The CD will be available in select Hot Topic stores as well as online through iTunes and CD Baby. However, this Saturday, you have the chance to get a free copy at Wolves & Machines' show at The Loft in Bay City. The CD is worth checking out, especially if you like bands like The Used and Thrice. And even if you're not into those bands, you should check this group out to say you knew them when.

The official cd release show is Saturday, September 25th at The Loft in Bay City (2535 E. Wilder Road), with special guests Tiger! Tiger!, Take the City, Accidents, and They Come in Waves. Cost of entry is $10, which gives each attendee a free copy of Wolves & Machines' new cd, Ailments. All ages show. Doors open at 6 pm. Wolves & Machines will also be playing October 2nd at The Loft. For more information on Wolves & Machines, visit them on MySpace and Facebook

© Gina Myers, 2010