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‘Zombie’ cover gives rise to Bad Wolves

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Bad Wolves frontman Tommy Vext brings up this fitting quote in reference to his band’s valuable association with Five Finger Death Punch, but it also applies to the band’s breakout hit that ascended out of tragedy, the powerful messages in its songs and the underreported appeal of rock ‘n’ roll that resulted in Wolves’ immediate acceptance by heavy metal fans and sold-out shows.

It’s likely that Vext’s attitude comes from a better understanding of how to handle the day-to-day machinations of the music world.

Bad Wolves came together in 2017, comprised of the former members of Devildriver, God Forbid, In This Moment and Divine Heresy.

“We learned that we had to put a band together where people were already friends because we’ve all been in bands with someone who’s a scumbag or drug addict or alcoholic or womanizer,” Vext said. “From past experience, we’ve been in different bands that we know what personalities don’t work and what do.

“Also, the guys are all seasoned. This is the best, solid all-around group of guys that I’ve worked with on a professional level. We all know our roles. We all work together to make the records and shows the best they can possibly be, and everyone’s down to touring, which is important, because a lot of people don’t want to tour. It’s understanding the work ethic.”

Vext was calling from a tour stop in Alabama. The band is playing headlining dates during any breaks on its current tour with Five Finger Death Punch. Those two acts, along with Three Days Grace and Fire from the Gods, combine for a hard and heavy night of music on Wednesday at Covelli Centre.

“They basically broke us last year,” Vext said. “‘Zombie’ on its own could have been a standalone hit, but because Five Finger extended their hand and they brought us out on tour all over the country last year as well as the tour we’re on right now, they gave us an opportunity to play our original music and our debut album had three No. 1 hits on Billboard for rock, which for a brand new band is insane.”

FFDP’s Zoltan Bathory manages Bad Wolves.

The world’s introduction to Bad Wolves occurred last year when the news broke that The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan would add vocals to the band’s cover of her song “Zombie.” Sadly, she died before that recording date. Released as a tribute to her, the protest song against violence resonated with listeners. Bad Wolves pledged to donate the song’s proceeds, which resulted in $250,000 being gifted to her children.

“Nobody could have calculated that ‘Zombie’ was going to be what it was going to be,” Vext said. “It was built almost on the back of a tragic situation that we tried to do something positive with it. It reverberated through the industry on an international level. So we had a responsibility last year to go play her song for all these people all over the world. We were kind of fueled by a sense of duty.

“Once it ran its course, we were left with, ‘Oh, we’ve got to still go to work now. Now, the real work begins.’ So even though we had been working on this album for two years prior, we went right back into the studio. ‘Alright, let’s keep it going.'”

When Bad Wolves was not on the road, its members continuously worked on new material, chipping away at it until they had 12 songs finished for the group’s second album, “N.A.T.I.O.N,” which came out last month. Main songwriters Vext and John Boecklin already have started developing music and lyrics for the band’s next release.

The songs on “N.A.T.I.O.N.” combine heavy metal with melodic hard rock and ballads that offer a respite from the overall intensity.

Upfront about his recovery from substance abuse, Vext works to maintain his sobriety as well as inspire and help others. “Sober,” off the new album, takes the perspective of a family dealing with an addict.

“The song that we wrote deals with what happens when you’re in love with somebody or you have a child or a parent who suffers from alcoholism or addiction, what happens when it’s your best friend or neighbor and you can’t save them,” Vext said. “The second verse is how that person has to deal with the shame of disappointing the people they love.

“As the song builds, we changed it to a major key because we wanted to resolve the song with a message of hope, and it’s about togetherness and it’s about whether or not you have a family member that’s an addict or you’re an addict yourself or you’re struggling with mental health, it’s really about family and it’s about community. That’s the thing that keeps us from staying in the dark. That’s how we recover.”

The band’s focus now is to elevate the interest that came about through “Zombie” and the appeal of its 2018 debut, “Disobey.” So far, the nonstop effort has paid off. Vext proudly brings up that “N.A.T.I.O.N.” was one of the most-widely downloaded releases on iTunes, while charting in seven different countries.

“For a rock band in 2019, that’s a big big deal that people bought the record,” he said. “Once you see that there’s a demand, there’s more responsibility.”

Encapsulating Bad Wolves’ past, present and future Vext stated, “For us, as lifetime musicians, you wait for an opportunity like this or you hope an opportunity like this is going to happen. So, now it’s happening and we recognize it because we worked really hard for it. We’re just happy to be here.”

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