Imagine if The Monkees started with just two members in the band-as children-became TV stars, and then grew up a little and got into alternative rock…and, they were really, really awesome. That’s about the story of Nat and Alex Wolff.
Famous as ‘The Naked Brothers Band,’ from their starring hit show on Nickelodeon, recording artists and actors Nat and Alex Wolff were- according to this line from their label-destined to be stars from the very beginning of their lives, and they have the credits to prove it. And who could disagree? “Black Sheep,” their very first album as Nat & Alex Wolff, was produced by Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, Faith No More, O.A.R., The Replacements) and shows these two young stars developing powerfully with massive songwriting, singing, and musicianship behind them. And by developing-I mean increasing in their own ability from where they were. As for being compared to others-well, they were miles ahead of any peers their age before, and they are perhaps light years ahead of most of their peers or even many others twice their age now-for that matter. The point being-these guys are majorly talented-in a big way.
Their debut solo album with their new sound as Nat and Alex was released on October 11th, 2011 on SaddleUp Records via RED Distribution. Fans of the guys loved the new sound, and so they did what any American teenager does coming off of a hit TV show releasing a hot new record- they went on a world tour.
The first single off “Black Sheep” and video for the track “Thump Thump Thump,” which premiered on Entertainment Weekly features Academy Award Nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Alex Wolff. The video for the second single, “Maybe” (featured below), is an infectious modern rock anthem which hints of Nirvana, Bob Mould, and more of rocks’ landmark pop rock hitmakers. Each uniquely talented and each with a unique, unmistakable voice that is truly skilled for any age, Nat and Alex have proven yet again why they are where they are-they deserve it.
“Black Sheep” was written entirely by Nat and Alex and is a step in a different, more sophisticated direction for the duo as evidenced by the release of the first two singles, “Thump Thump Thump” and “Maybe.” The two have cited their major influences for the album as Bob Dylan, Green Day, The Velvet Underground, and The Rolling Stones. It’s evident in this release and in their influences that these brothers have done much growing up in the years since their last album alongside their fanbase, allowing them to continually remain relevant, on their own terms, and with some seriously cool roots learned in rock and roll.
Eldest brother Nat Wolff was only in pre-school when he formed his first band, ‘The Silver Boulders,’ and younger brother Alex had learned to play the saxophone by the age of three. After begging their mother and father, actor and screenwriter Polly Draper and jazz pianist and composer Michael Wolff, repeatedly for the chance to be be in showbiz, they finally agreed-after much protest-to let them record in the studio with their father. While in the studio, Polly came up with the idea for a mock documentary, treating the boys’ band as if they were already huge like The Beatles, and thus ‘The Naked Brothers Band’ was born. Originally the stars of Nickelodeon’s The Naked Brothers Band, the series went on to have an incredible run with other performers added, and garnering Nat and Alex many accolades including a 2007 BMI Cable Award for their work on the show (making them the youngest award recipients ever), a nomination for best band at the 2009 Australian Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, and a performance at the Song Writers Hall of Fame at the request of John Sebastian.
After the successful multi-year run on Nickelodeon, two full-length albums, a DVD, cross-country touring and appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and The View among more, the brothers were ready to shed their former title as child stars, and skyrocket to the next level. Nat & Alex Wolff was born, and now the talented duo has since traversed the country, playing everywhere from Pop-Con 2010 alongside Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to New York’s 2010 Earth Day concert. For the past two years, the brothers have been hard at work on their first album as Nat & Alex Wolff. Recorded in LA and New York over several weeks in 2009 and 2010, the album, titled “Black Sheep,” released on October 11, 2011.
An Exclusive Interview with Nat and Alex Wolff by Bruce Edwin
Nat Wolff: Hey there Bruce, how’s it goin?
Hollywood Sentinel – Bruce Edwin: Hey there Nat, real good, how are you?
Nat Wolff: I’m doing great, Alex is here too…
Hollywood Sentinel: Oh Alex, hey Alex how are you?
Alex Wolff: I’m doing well man how are you?
Hollywood Sentinel: Awesome, real good guys, so I am recording now already…
Nat Wolff: Awesome.
Hollywood Sentinel: I’m sure you realize this now-that your parents are super cool, but when did you first discover that ‘Wow! I’ve got a pretty cool life?!’
Nat Wolff: We haven’t yet (laughs). No, I think from the very beginning, we grew up and you know-all our parents friends were musicians and actors, and artists, and so we kind of grew up thinking that everybody was like that you know?
Hollywood Sentinel: Wow!
Nat Wolff: I think you know a lot of times people have to push to get in to art and things like that, but the weird thing (for us) would have been to be pushed to be like a business man or a different path, would have been different, whereas for us, we grew up around all these people who were really creative…
Hollywood Sentinel: Cool. Many parents just don’t want their kids to go in to the entertainment industry…
Nat Wolff: Well actually ours didn’t want us to either, you know because they didn’t want to be stage parents and they didn’t want it to be too hard you know? My Mom wrote this kind of fun movie about it and the kids just started getting really in to music and stuff and so it kind of evolved on its own you know, and we just didn’t stop it.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s cool. Have you already played music?
Nat Wolff: At a really young age I was a huge Beatles fan, and I would learn all the songs, and the thing that really interested me the most was songwriting until I could play piano or guitar, but I was kind of making my way through the instruments…
Alex Wolff: I was kind of banging on the piano then…
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s awesome. Do you guys read or write sheet music?
Nat Wolff: Yeah, when I write songs, I don’t usually write sheet music, I usually write out chords and then I just write down lyrics and the chords.
Hollywood Sentinel: What did it really for you with the Beatles that changed your life or at least your musical life?
Nat Wolff: My favorite album is ‘Revolver’ and that’s the album that kind of transformed the way I looked at things, like its just the most different and interesting album to me in my whole life.
Alex Wolf: I love ‘Revolver,’ for me it’s also my favorite album, but the one that’s meant the most to me, I’d probably be different without it, is ‘Rubber Soul.’
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s cool, and I read you are also influenced by Nirvana, Coldplay, and the Killers among more…
Nat Wolff: Yeah, that’s true, I love Nirvana, I love all that, I think I’m really into the 70s, like folk rock, singer songwriter (work), I’m really (into) Neil Young, and James Taylor, but actually one of my favorite songwriters ever is Jackson Brown. And Jackson Brown, he actually kind of like became a fan of our music, and he came to our show last night-which was really cool.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s awesome. Were you guys home schooled or were you private schooled or what?
Nat Wolff: We go to a school in New York that’s kind of let us leave when we need to. We used to not go to a school like that which was a problem, but now that we go here, it’s kind of easy to do our stuff.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s great.
Nat Wolff: Alex does amazing in school. He’s really good. I’m O.K. I kind of fake my way through it, but he’s really good.
Hollywood Sentinel: You’ve done alot, and accomplished a lot at a very young age. Is this your main path? You’ve done TV, you’ve done film, you’ve done music. What else is there on the horizon, anything else creatively or otherwise you want to do?
Alex Wolf: At this point I want to do music and acting. I also want to write. I think hopefully we’ll always make music, and then we’ve been able to do a lot of cool movies and stuff and that’s been great, and you know, hopefully just being able to balance a lot of things because we like to do a lot of things. Everybody always asks if we could pick one thing to do…and it’s like why? Because we love doing many things.
Hollywood Sentinel: Yeah exactly, why limit yourself?
Alex Wolff: I write a lot of screenplays. I wrote a lot over the summer, I wrote like three or four. I wrote two plays that we did, I did one at school, and then we did one at this street theatre, and I cast that…
Nat Wolff: He didn’t make the audition though!
Alex Wolff: But yeah, that’s actually one of my favorite things, and then I’ve wrote this short film that I made and it was super fun, so that’s one of my favorite things to do too.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s cool, now you guys have had some pretty hot videos, now obviously coming off of Nickelodeon, you’ve had experience on T.V. and that, do you really enjoy making videos? I mean you did the one with Abigail Breslin…
Alex Wolff: That one was really fun.
Nat Wolff: You know what’s funny? We’re good friends with Abby and her brother Spencer, and your voice sounds so much like Spencer’s voice, I’ve been thinking that the whole time.
Hollywood Sentinel – Bruce Edwin: No way…
Nat Wolff: Yeah, he’s one of my best buddies, and he sounds a lot like you.
Hollywood Sentinel – Bruce Edwin: Right on, that’s cool, my voice is really thrashed right now…
Nat Wolff: Alex hears it too, now that I’ve said it…
Nat Wolff: Yeah, when we do the videos, the videos are really fun, we kind of did them like instead of doing really like dancy kind of stuff (…) my Mom worked on them, our manager worked on them, and kind of messed around and had lots of fun and came up with silly ideas, and then we got you know my friend Abby (Abigail Breslin) who’s awesome, you know-she’s famous-and it was great to get her in the video so, we used our dog, and it was fun.
Hollywood Sentinel: Excellent. I feel like with the demise of MTV not really playing music any more, that’s led to some of the demise of music video as an art form, but I think your work and some others are helping to bring some of that back so that’s cool.
Nat Wolff: Thank you. A lot of cool music now is done kind of home based, and cheap and from one’s own creative standpoint, as opposed to you know, a record company putting millions of dollars into it, you know we didn’t want to do that.
Hollywood Sentinel: Back in the day, bands wanted to get signed to major labels and that was the goal. Now some say that is not the best idea. What is your advice to new musicians starting out now, just blow up big on You Tube, or what?
Nat Wolff: Things have really changed now, the music is just music and it’s not really controlled by anything so you can put it out yourself-distribute it. We go through a label but we go through Red Distribution (owned by Sony, the company distributed for many earlier indie labels and distributed Metallica’s first two albums, as wells as works by Nine Inch Nails and Danzig among more – editor), and that’s our main thing, they’re awesome. They’re Sony distribution, but we had offers to kind of go with bigger labels but they were offers where we had to relinquish control and it was not worth it you know? So I think this way is better.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s cool. Yeah, if you can maintain artistic control but still get the major distribution, that’s key.
Nat Wolff: It’s kind of the best of both worlds.
Hollywood Sentinel: Yeah, definitely.
Hollywood Sentinel: That ‘thump thump thump’ video was cute and a lot of girls probably really like that. Are girls just crazy about you now? do you just have to fight girls away that are obsessed with you?!