Interview with We Were Wolves
We recently chatted with Vinc Prihoda (Guitar/ Back up vocals) of We Were Wolves, the emerging four-piece Houston, TX-based rock band about his start, the band and upcoming plans following their EP release.
When and why did you start playing?
I was around eight or nine years old when I started learning the guitar. My mom taught lessons in our house since before I was born, and she saw me take an interest in every single instrument we had. She got me started with an acoustic, and I took it from there. I couldn’t put it down! I really dove into it when middle school ended. If I wasn’t asleep or at school, I was sitting in front of my amp cabinet recording ideas or practicing. I liked the way I could make it my own voice.
Which instruments did you play?
I tried any instrument we had laying around the house. We had a banjo, pianos, an accordion, a clarinet, a trumpet, all sorts of percussion… You name it. I started out taking lessons for guitar, then piano, and then I tried to learn drums; annoyed my neighbors and parents to no end (I’m sure) and then realized my comfort zone was with my hands wrapped around a guitar.
What was the first tune(s) you learned?
As far as my first piece that my mom taught me, I’m sure it was a folk version of ‘They Call the Wind Mariah’ from the Broadway musical ‘Paint Your Wagon.’ By myself, I would study Metallica’s Call of Ktulu from the S&M album. I thought the blend of symphony with that haunting tune was just unfathomably spooky, and I wanted to be any kind of part of it.
Is your family musical?
Inescapably. They all play! I was doomed from the start.
Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.
My mom played in a pop/folk band, taught guitar, and – to this day- teaches and leads choirs all over where she lives. My dad was in school band when he was younger and has some of the coolest and strangest interests in music. It’s his fault that I still site composers as my influences. My sister, Lynne, is a wonderful pianist who would sit and practice every day. Her work ethic is maddening. My other sister, Leslie, is an accomplished vocalist and choir leader. Her voice is just incredible, and she has unbelievable control over it. Not to mention discipline; It’s awe-inspiring. They’re all incredibly supportive of what I love to do.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
James Hetfield. I don’t care how you feel about that guy; he’s been there from the start for me. I wanted to be him. The guys in Thin Lizzy are also a no-brainer. Such control and emotion! I really admire soundtrack composers like Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Ennio Moricone. I wanted to make people feel the way they could with just sound. If the soundtrack can make you cry and you haven’t even seen the movie, then there’s something to admire.
Which musicians have you learned from?
Any and all musicians I have come into contact with, to be frank. If you truly experience someone else playing, you take something from it. Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Refused’s Jon Brännström and Kristofer Steen, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and their impossible list of guitarists (Gary Moore, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson, Snowy White, John Sykes…yada yada yada)… and pretty much any guitar duo worth mentioning. I love watching a band with a guitar team that can ACTUALLY work together to make a powerhouse of tone and grace. The aforementioned duos/trios did just that.
Who was your first teacher or are you self taught?
I learned from my mom, first off. After that, I learned by ear and feeling. That may sound really hippy and love-child, but I ALWAYS hated theory. It made me feel like music was homework. I learned better when I felt something.
Describe your first instrument. Other instruments?
My first guitar was a sunburst Kramer strat copy with three single coil pickups and a neck that felt like it was going to snap at any moment. It was a piece of crap, but I loved it. I still do. I have it in pieces right now. It’s got a kind of Frankenstein’s monster feel to it. I actually toured with it for a while with a Rio Grande Muy Grande humbucker in the neck, and it was a hell of a guitar. Right now, I tour with a Gibson SG that’s been put through the ringer. You know how people send money when you graduate high school so you don’t have to freak out for your first year of college? Yeah. Thanks, everyone. With that money and some I had scraped together, I bought the SG, and I will never be able to thank you all properly for it. I pair the SG with a black Epiphone Dot. When those two aren’t doing it, I have a Gibson V with a back-up Epiphone V that I really love. Dang… I have too much gear.
What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Watching my Mama play guitar for fun. When she wasn’t teaching or practicing for church. Man. That woman can make me cry like a little baby when she plays. In our hometown, every show was always fun. Every single time. Our hometown, Beaumont, knows how to party and how to support their friends. I think our release party for the Lost at Sea EP was one of the biggest turn-outs for a show in Beaumont (for a local band, anyway). I remember looking out over a sea of my friends and other locals sweating, pouring beer on each other, and screaming along with Drew. I was blown away.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
I heard it all at home… Dad loved Creedence Clearwater Revival and my sisters were listening to Michael Jackson’s Bad and Thriller and any and everything Madonna. My mom had to listen to a lot of church music, but she enjoyed Amy Grant and Anne Murray. I think even the most harsh of metal heads feel something when they hear Snowbird.
I love listening through old rock stuff because it’s all there. It’s just waiting to be found. I remember a friend of mine worked at a record shop in Beaumont, and one day he made me buy Quicksilver Messenger Service’s, Anthology. I had to have everything of theirs after that.
How do you feel about the new digital age? Mp3’s as oppose to CD?
Honestly, at first it scared me. I liked it for the easy access to all of my favorite music all at once, but, being in a band that works their fingers to the bone and barely lives comfortably, I wasn’t sure how that would affect us. I guess when you legitimately boil it down, I really don’t care. I like listening to an old vinyl that’s been severely loved, but I also don’t mind an MP3 player in the car. This particular digital age is, like the one before it, inevitable. We’ll all adapt, and then they’ll find some new medium. Whatever. As long as I can hear it, I’m fine.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Haha… with grace and humility! When I was younger, I was very hard on myself, even though I would normally just smile and pretend it didn’t bother me. After playing live shows for more than a decade and a half, however, I’ve learned to make a mistake out to be part of the sound. We’re flawed, and we’ll never be perfect. We’re a rock band, not some E.D.M. group or DJ with everything mapped out. Our imperfections make our sound. Now, when I ‘mess up,’ I smile and actually enjoy it. Zach will point or nod at me and laugh, and that always cracks me up. You try not to screw up, but mistakes are going to happen.
What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Grin and bear it! It’s nerve wracking sometimes. Though it is okay to be scared, letting it stop you is not an option. When I was younger, I was more afraid of everyone when I wasn’t on stage than when I was playing a show in front of people. I didn’t know what to say to anyone without embarrassing myself. Performing was a way to let everyone in without ever having to say a word. My advice is easy to follow; it’s a performance! Things are going to go wrong some times, and you’ll never have full control of anything. Knowing that, just try to smile and have fun. People came to see you and hear your music. You’ve already won.
What makes a good session?
When we can look at each other and all feel that collective accomplishment; that is a good session. If you walk away from a practice with a new song, fully prepared set for the next gig, idea for a video, etc., you should consider yourselves fortunate and give yourself a pat on the back. Creativity isn’t easy, and forcing it can destroy you.
How often and for how long do you practice?
As a band, we practice for hours twice a week. Individually, I like to pick up the guitar at least once a day for a good stretch. The appropriate answer, as always, is ‘Nowhere near enough.’
What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
I play Master of Puppets when I want to exercise. For dexterity, I do different scales up and down the neck until I’ve hit every single fret on the neck. When that sounds boring to me, I try out new ideas for us. It’s all about keeping things fresh and fun. Practice should never feel tedious.
Do you teach music?
I haven’t as of yet. I don’t think I could. I’m impatient, and I know how critical I am of myself, so I think I would have a hard time watching someone else put themselves through that. If I can help, however, I absolutely will.
How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
It’s a great feat for all of us. Everything costs money; albums, touring, gear, rent, bills… All of it is a drain, both financially and emotionally. It’s difficult. We all have jobs that pay for what we love, but also take our time and attention elsewhere. As far as any romantic relationship; they get to watch me at my most masochistic, and I’m sure it’s hard as Hell. I’m organizing every bit of free time to be appropriate for the next big thing we do. It’s so important to me and the rest of my Wolves brothers, however, that I couldn’t see it any other way. It’s what I love.
Tell us a little about your new EP, ‘Ruin Your Weekend’
The EP consists of the title track, Ruin Your Weekend, a driving track called Home, our softer side in She is Alone, and some inner demons getting out in One Eye. It is by far my favorite thing we’ve ever done. We recorded it at the Bubble in Austin, TX with producer Chris ‘Frenchie’ Smith and engineer Sean Rolie, and it was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience. We got to record the entire thing live, which, to us, was nothing short of a miracle. We went in to do two songs, but by the time we had gone through them, Frenchie and Sean wanted more. ‘That’s great! Got anything else?’ We all looked at each other, shrugged in amazement, and played through two more that we were comfortable with. Those two knob-turnin’ SOB’s got some stuff out of us of which I could not be any more proud. They knew just when to push us. Frenchie tore Drew a new one, and pulled some sort of devil out of those vocal cords of his. Jeez. There’s a little monitor in the mixing room so we could watch whoever’s recording in the upstairs room. I remember Zach, Badger, Sean, and I just laughing our asses off watching Drew and Frenchie bouncing ideas off of each other. Listening to Sean and Frenchie talk about all of the records they were a part of was just so humbling. ‘You mean you recorded all of that, and you’re working on this with us?’ It was an incredible experience.
Do you have any plans of touring and when can we expect a full length album?
Once we put out the EP, we’ll begin the touring. While we’re touring, we’ll be finishing up the full length. Once the full length is done, we’ll start it all over again. The idea is to never stop working. This isn’t just some partnership to us. We love to write together. We love to tour together. It’s something we’ve all fought for, and we will continue to do so together.
Interview by: Jared Wingate
Check out We Were Wolves here