Sunwolf was born in Washington D.C. to songwriter and bassist Rob “Kalani” Tifford in the midst of the post-punk and garage rock revival movements of the new millennium. Tifford got his start working at the famous 18th Street Lounge, a historic club that constantly exposed him to great musicians. In the club’s prime, Tifford was immersed in the very scene the club created as it emerged.
Soon he began to write. At Sunwolf’s start, Tifford recorded the Sun and Sea 7”, a modest effort that debuted singles “Sun and Sea” and “Nothing Left To Do,” which were produced by Federico Aubele (ESL Music). “That [EP] was all me playing everything. Once I got my first live show, I got the band together.”
Tifford brought on a few friends to form a full band, and before they knew it, Sunwolf was opening for Deathfix, Ty Segall, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. These shows turned riotous and quickly got out of hand. Sunwolf ultimately stripped down to a three piece: Kalani Tifford, guitarist Tom Bunnell (Felt Letters), and drummer/producer Jerry Busher (Fugazi, French Toast, John Frusciante) to bring the band toward a tighter, more unified vision.
Bunnell and Busher both bring uncanny minimalism and honesty to the band’s sound. They recorded the Angel Eyes EP in 2013, and the band’s chemistry became clear. The single “Push It” received the critic’s praise. Busher, who produced the EP, “ was key in helping us define and discover our sound,” recalls Tifford.
“I play what makes the song work and no more,” says Busher. “My approach to drumming is to always serve the song first.”
Guitarist Tom Bunnell traces the band’s chemistry to its source: “Sunwolf has always had about as many musical influences as a tree has leaves. We tend to love all music that is coming from a real place. Each song that we write is sort of a new adventure.”
“It’s an alignment of our experiences,” adds Tifford. “It is more of a feeling. I have been fortunate enough to find a band that shares this idea and belief in the immediate.”
Now the band is ready to debut their first full-length record, Follow The Dreamers. Recorded at The Cave in Washington D.C., the new 13-track effort is the band’s most complete, and their most fearless. “I’ve got big feelings that I keep to myself,” broods Bunnell on the album’s opener. On “Contender,” the howling vocals blend mysteriously in unison over a mechanical voice that deadpans the lyrics in unison. Sunwolf’s energetic, experimental sound is dynamic: the band has two lead singers with different styles, a characteristic that takes their sound toward a combination of garage and avant rock.
“…It just goes back to the idea behind Sunwolf, which is that it is more of a feeling,” continues Tifford. “You couldn’t plan this, it just happened, and that is what makes it really special for me. It’s this feeling I want to create with music. That feeling of the immediate and the moment.”