Enthusiastic and full of energy, Geraldine Sammut and Sophie Vella talk to student band Juno and the Wolf about their influences in creating their music, and about their upcoming plans.
Juno and the Wolf are Corey Farrugia (left), Samwel Mallia (middle), James Azzopardi (right) and Kristian Schembri (top).
How did you guys meet and what inspired you to start making music together?
Sam: It all started off as two projects. Corey, Kris and I used to be in a separate band. During a few spontaneous jamming sessions, we found that we really jelled well together. James and I also used to get together and have our own jamming sessions.
Kris: Corey, Sam and I decided to branch out on our own, but we needed another guitarist. That’s when Sam introduced us to James.
James: Sam and I had already created new material from our jamming sessions, and Kris, Corey and Sam had material from their previous band. Once we all collaborated together, it all fell into place.
What are your musical backgrounds?
James: I was 9 when I started to learn the clarinet and study musical theory at my local band club. When I was about 15 I became interested in the guitar, and I never really looked back from that.
Corey: I was given my first guitar as a gift by my parents a little before I entered sixth form. Although having been part of various bands such as “Skatenati”, this is the first time where I am mainly playing guitar.
Kris: I was always interested in percussions from a very young age. When I was 6 years old, I started to learn the violin but later I stopped once I had grasped playing drums at the Seminary. Eventually, I joined the National Orchestra and played at various churches. Now I play part-time with the National Orchestra, and play more seriously with the band.
Sam: As for me, I learnt to play the guitar at the Seminary. Two years later, I was given an electric guitar for my 16th birthday, so I started to take it more seriously. I’m mainly self-taught. I learnt to play the bass guitar when the band realised we needed one.
Who are your influences?
James: When I was a child, I was influenced by my father who used to listen to the Beatles. Later, I enjoyed listening to Iron Maiden and thrash metal bands. Then, I really got into progressive and art rock, listening to bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Camel and Rush. The emotional guitar work of John Frusciante is on of my major influences, but I am also inspired by countless other genres and bands.
Corey: My musical roots started in punk rock but I became disillusioned with it. I started to get more interested in grunge and 80s rock music. Then I came across TOOL which resulted in an instant fascination in their brilliant lyric writing, and their progressive type of music. After having experienced this, I started to get more involved in the genre. This resulted in my current interest in desert rock and progressive stoner/ doom rock (namely Godless Funk of Bonanza, Planet of Zeus, and Beehoover). I am currently also exploring hip hop and electronic music.
Kris: My family is quite musical, so I was introduced to classical music at a young age. The more I grew, the more that genre intrigued me. The first band I was seriously interested in was Led Zeppelin. I went on to listen to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and old military Maltese marches. Classic composers like Wagner, Mozart, and Beethoven really inspire me too. Ethnic music and jazz, especially Brian Blade, are also great influences.
Sam: I first got a taste of rock music with Green Day in my early teens, coupled with classic rock like Led Zeppelin. The true turning point was Bloc Party’s debut “Silent Alarm” that introduced me to the alternative/indie rock scene. This is where I discovered acts like The Joy Formidable and Radiohead. I’m also hugely influenced by the 90s Alternative Grunge sound, which led to my most profound influence- The Smashing Pumpkins. Shoegaze acts like My Bloody Valentine and the soundscapes of Post Rock acts like Mogwai also greatly influence me. I’m currently listening to progressive and math rock acts, amongst many other varying influences.
How did you settle on your band name, “Juno and the Wolf”?
We came up with our band name at a gig, but the process took around 7 months. We filtered through various names until we came up with one which reflected the duality of our music. Representing the softer side, we named it after Sam’s cat, “Juno”. She was always loitering around during band practice, so we thought it was fitting. On the other hand, our music carries an aggressive tone, represented in the “Wolf”. Once merged, “Juno and the Wolf” presents an idyllic image – the balance between soft and aggressive effects which creates our sound.
How would you describe your music to other people? What genre would you consider it to be?
Our music changes and adapts to the music that we’re currently listening to, be it jazz, progressive rock, classical music or grunge. Every member of the band has their own musical background and we improvise to create a backbone for our music. It’s mainly about the culmination of emotion and sound, not about any specific genres.
Do you think your music has evolved in any way since you began playing together?
In the past, the technicality of the creation of music was something which we didn’t really take seriously. But now we feel the importance of creativity. Our music evolved a lot and as we progressed, we realised the importance of balancing creativity, simplicity and technique. There needs to be a balance between the more ‘primitive’ essence of music, and the technical aspect.
Have you faced any major challenges as a band? If so, how did you overcome them?
Corey: Since I moved to Budapest for my studies, the framework and communication of the band were tested. But we still make it work by communicating on a regular basis.
James: We have encountered challenges every band faces such as lack of seriousness from tertiary people, technical problems and so on. However, we have always focused our energies on what matters and I believe that we always made the right decisions at the right time.
What are your goals for the band?
Our short-term goals involve creating more songs and doing more gigs. Eventually, we want to record our music and perform abroad on a larger scale.
See Juno and the Wolf live on Friday 16th August at Coach and Horses @ 9pm!