Call of the Wild
by Kevin J. Elliott

Brooklyn trio Call of the Wild is a band that is easy to fall head over heels in love with. What they do is not complicated, it’s simply rock tradition taken to a gleeful extreme. And though they call the epicenter of hipness their home (in fact forming at dive bar Daddy’s, the fountain of hip) and perform as if they are mocking the tenacity of power trios of the past, there is not an ounce of pretentiousness to be seen. This is sincere stuff. It is blood and heart, sweat and tears, shit and cum profusion. Fist pumps and sing-alongs are required in order to participate.

As opposed to other locals’ recent penchant to pilfer hardcore and punk tropes, Call of the Wild’s debut, Leave Your Leather On, takes on lightning quick solos, actual melody, and pummeling riffs and fights them head-on, tooth and nail. In their world, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead share top billing. The precision of early Scorpions and the reckless abandon of the Germs are adored with equal zeal. Like I said, it’s not all that complicated. Their live fast, die young, learn from your elders approach to aggressive, velocity-enhanced metal-boogie is something to be admired in an age when virtuosos are shunned. Lead guitarist Johnny Coolati is the exemplar of that attitude, and in a recent conversation I learned just how a band this pure came to be.

How did Call of the Wild come to exist?

Johnny Coolati: It’s a long history of people who have always partied together. The actual truth is that Allison (Busch, the band’s drummer) and I were going through some serious life changes. We were breaking up with our boyfriend and girlfriend, and I was thinking of moving back to Detroit. My friend Greg, who works at Daddy’s in Brooklyn, called me and I told him I was thinking about moving back. I was in Nashville at the time. He told me that Allison just started working happy hour there at Daddy’s. So I went to drink there one day and Allison pretty much volunteered to play drums with me. I was sold because Allison was a good friend, and I loved Awesome Color. I met Max (Peebles, bassist) when he was playing with Turbo Fruits. I had always known that Max had the chops and the cool shit going down. With Allison’s insistence, I immediately moved back to Brooklyn.

Did you know what Call of the Wild would sound like, or how you wanted it to sound, before starting the band?

JC: I knew I wanted it to be a trio and I knew I was ready to start singing. But to be honest, I had no idea what it would sound like. Max and I just sat down and started writing songs together. It came really easy. Four or five songs were written in a matter of hours. I knew I wanted to do something aggressive, something hard, basically because I was pissed off the love of my life bailed on me. I was really bitter about that and the last band I was with. I don’t want to talk shit, but they fired me, or the “girlfriend” fired me. It was total bullshit. I was just sitting in Nashville with my dick in my hand, not knowing what to do with myself. Once we formed the band, we started partying really hard together.

I can definitely hear the aggression, especially on “Breakin’ Shit.” Regarding that song, I’m curious if there’s any parallel between that and the Limp Bizkit song?

JC: I totally forgot about that song. Our song is about me coming home from Nashville and partying in our old practice space. We were getting crazy fucked-up, drunker and higher than you can ever imagine. I was with a bunch of friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. We just started breaking everything in the practice space. There was a bunch of stupid guitars and junk, and we started bashing the shit out of it. Eventually a chair went through a wall and we had to redo the drywall the next day. Part of an air conditioner was hit and Freon starting spewing out, so we left the room thinking we were all going to die. It’s really just about reuniting with old friends. It’s not so much angry. For me, it’s not angry at all. It makes me think of this moment that was super fun. We were breaking shit for fun.

What I love about you guys is that I see so many of my favorite bands feeding into what you do live and on the record—from Thin Lizzy to Megadeth. I’m wondering if you catch any slack for focusing more on precise leads and those metal cliches as opposed to the more punk and hardcore aesthetics adopted by a lot of bands in Brooklyn these days.

JC: First of all, Thin Lizzy is my favorite band of all-time hands down. Thin Lizzy took over my life for two years. I’ve always been a punk kind of dude, but Thin Lizzy changed that for me. Fuck that punk attitude. Sometimes it’s okay to cheese it up. Sometimes it’s cool. Thin Lizzy sang about freedom and that’s what’s important to me. We are a punk band, but we also love Motörhead and early Metallica, and we embrace it. That’s something that bugs me: when bands don’t admit to liking things because they are trying to live up to some image. If you love Cyndi Lauper, tell the world you love Cyndi Lauper. I love Cyndi Lauper. We are just trying to do our own thing. We love what the hardcore and punk bands do, but we do something completely different. The album really reveals our intentions.

The three of you were in countless other bands before this, so how did that experience factor into Call of the Wild?

JC: In any of the bands we were in before, we didn’t have the freedom like we do now. What we said didn’t mean as much as it does now. And that’s okay. Again, I’m not talking shit. Those were all good bands, and they’re all good friends, but when we formed Call of the Wild we decided it was a community with no leader. It’s not a dude writing songs and getting people to be his rhythm section, it’s a band. It’s like Van Halen, where everyone has equal ownership of the band. I think that’s really important. You don’t want any resentment. That’s annoying and it creates complete bullshit in a band. It truly is a tri-force. We’re this crazy dysfunctional family that just wants to have a fucking good time. We do everything together.