JUNE 9th 2017

Experimental prog-rock/metal group IN THE PRESENCE OF WOLVES will release their new EP, Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and The Cage, on June 30, 2017. The EP is available for pre-order now via Bandcamp. We sat down with bassist/vocalist Vini Stamato to talk about their new EP, influences, touring plans and more!

1: Can you give us a quick bio on the band and how you formed?

In The Presence Of Wolves is a progressive rock/metal band from the South Jersey/Philly area. Established in 2009 and fully realized in 2012, the 4-piece quickly became a staple in the local prog scene and has performed at such esteemed venues as the TLA, Trocadero, Kung Fu Necktie, and The Legendary Dobbs. Musically, the band combines the composition of classic prog rock with the intensity of modern metal and the finesse of jazz, resulting in a sound that is both music fans of many genres and unique amongst the progressive scene.
2: You have Of Two Minds, Stages 1-2: The Ape and The Cage, coming out on June 30th. Can you tell us the concept or concepts behind the album?

All in all, the concept of Of Two Minds revolves around themes of grief and mental illness. The story is about twin brothers. One effected by his family's history of schizophrenia and the other sane and healthy. The story follows the sane brother as he deals with the first two stages of grief (depression and anger) and as he investigates the happenings that lead up to the night his brother took his own life. The characters and happenings are loosely based off a lesser known aspect of the life of David Bowie.
3: You worked with Kevin Antreassian on the album and we wanted to know how he pushed you guys to bring out your best on the new album.

The way Mr. Kevin Antreassian works is kind of in the background and he offers a guiding hand whenever everything is about to fall apart. As a band, we like to go into the studio with our vision already fully realized, but sometimes we don't exactly know how to achieve that vision. That's where Kevin comes in. The best thing about him is he just lets us work and sometimes he lets us make our own mistakes which then ends up yielding better results in the creation process. He also knows how to switch roles between "mature businessman producer guy" and best friend at the drop of a hat. Our music can get pretty crazy at times, so it might take more than one take to get everything just right and sometimes our emotions get the best of us. Kevin knows exactly how to calm us down and make us laugh. Viral videos and comedy routines have gotten us through some rough times in the studio and without Kevin at the helm, I (Vini) don't think the music would sound like it does.
4: What obstacles did you guys come across making the new album?

Believe it or not, things actually went really smoothly with this album. Creatively, it's seemed like most of the songs just dropped into our laps. In my own personal opinion, I think the biggest challenge of the album was completing the title track, The Ape And The Cage. That thing was a pain in the ass from start to finish. It was the first song we started writing for this album and it's the last song we completed. We had most of the song written at one point, but it just wasn't sounding right. So, we kept most of the parts we really liked, which was mainly the chorus and the bridge, and completely rewrote the track. The lyrics and vocal melodies were a pain to write and were one of the last things recorded for the entire album. The original rhythm didn't work over the time signature of the verse, so I had to rewrite them in one night then record them the next day. It was also a pain to mix. Needless to say, we were thrilled when everything was all said and done with that track.

5: What’s the best thing about being in a band like In The Presence of Wolves?

The best thing about being in a band like ITPOW is also probably the worst thing. When in the confines of a progressive or experimental musical mindset, the possibilities are endless. You can take from any genre that inspires you and no one will question it because that's kind of the deal with progressive music. But these same freedoms also prove to be our biggest limitations. Often in our writing process, we come across so many musical options and pathways that we're left at a standstill between our influences and abilities. Due to the possibilities being endless, your mind has no idea what to choose so it often chooses nothing. It’s an audio option paralysis. It's the musical equivalent of having a day off from work in the middle of the week and being able to do whatever you want, but choosing to sit in bed watching TV. But, I have to admit, this makes the reward that much better when we finally find something that fits. We all just sit back and say, "Yep. That'll do... finally."

6: What is your philosophy towards your work?

We don't really have a concrete philosophy, but if we did, I believe it would revolve around a bizarre exploration of "what if" or "maybe." We are open to every influence and you can often hear us saying, "hey, why not?" when we write. But when we create, we are often writing with a purpose. Maybe we're trying to tell a story or maybe we're trying to get a social message across. Regardless, we try our hardest to leave no stone unturned.
7: What are your plans once the album is released in late June?

When the album drops at the end of June, we're going to be pushing as hard as we can to take the next step in our career. I believe that we're starting to realize that we're not old, but we're not at all young anymore. As of right now, we're planning a two week tour out to Chicago and back in late October and we'll be setting up a few weekend runs leading up to September. We also have a six-week college radio campaign taking over at the end of June as well, so hopefully that'll expand our reach both to areas of the US that we've yet to visit and to age groups that have yet to hear our music. The other side of life is constantly knocking at our door. You know, the side that wants us to settle down and get a secure and safe job? It's always there. So, we feel like this is our time to make something happen.
8: Any bands on your bucket list that you would want to tour with and if so why?

I think The Dillinger Escape Plan is a big one because they've been such a huge influence on our music and it would be awesome to hang out with Kevin more. Sadly, they have plans to call it quits soon, so I don’t think we'll have the opportunity, but it would still be awesome. A few other bands would be Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria and Thank You Scientist. I'm lumping these three together because they're all proggy in their own right but they have a definite post hardcore tinge to their sound like we do. I think we'd fit in really well with an audience that'd come to see any of these bands.
9: If you didn't play progressive metal what would you do as an alternative music choice?

If we weren't playing progressive metal music, I think we'd all be pretty happy playing in a straight forward alt-rock band. Though it would be insanely difficult not throwing in the occasional odd time signature!

10: Which famous musicians have you learned from?

Not too many names come to mind, but two that have to be mentioned are Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. In regards to music business, Weinman seems to have gone through huge ups and downs and he's been able to come out standing on the other side. I've watched so many interviews and lectures involving Ben and his knowledge of DIY marketing and development has sustained one of the world's biggest metal bands for a little over two decades. And Steven Wilson seems to have a blatant disregard for what people think and lately it seems like he's doing the exact opposite of what people want him to do. He is truly inspiring and listening to him talk is a huge motivational tool.

11: What’s the most ‘rock star’ thing that you’ve ever done?

We don't get to act like "rock stars" very often, but every once and a while we get our own dressing rooms at larger venues and that feels pretty kick ass. I often find myself saying, "I could get used to this."

12: Tell us anything else that you would like people to know about you.

I guess the only thing left to say is that we're extremely proud about our upcoming release. We worked as hard as we could to mold our sound into something more mature and more expressive. We feel like this album has a lot to say about how people deal with grief and how traumatic experiences can trigger breakdowns which result in mental unrest. We hope that the listeners hear our message(s) and are motivated to show kindness, sympathy and compassion to others who struggle with things in their day to day lives that are beyond their control.