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Interview with Marco Pirroni & Chris Constantinou – The Wolfmen

Terry Lane - Wednesday 15.12.10, 13:34pm

Marco Pirroni & Chris Constantinou - The Wolfmen
Marco Pirroni & Chris Constantinou – The Wolfmen

Marco Pirroni and Chris Constantinou formed The Wolfmen in 2005. Marco’s first live performance was at the 100 club Punk Festival in September 1976 playing guitar with Siouxsie & The Banshees. He also played guitar in Rema Rema and enjoyed great commercial success as guitarist / songwriting with Adam & The Ants.  While Chris Constantinou (bass & lead vocals) formed Jackieonassid after working as a bass player with Adam Ant and Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow).

The Wolfmen’s first projects were soundtracks for Bravo TV’s ‘I Predict A Riot’ and for two hitherto-silent early 1990 fetish films for the ICA/MoMI’s inaugural Fashion In Film Festival.

Early Wolfmen records were released through Damaged Goods. These include a mixture of limited edition EPs and vinyl singles, all of which sold out and gained praise and radio airplay from Jonathan Ross (BBC Radio 2), Mark Lamarr (BBC Radio 2) and Phil Jupitus (BBC 6Music).

The Wolfmen have also worked with several other artists including Lou Reed, Sinead O’Connor and worked with Primal Scream on a cover version of Screaming Jay HawkinsI Put A Spell On You’ for an Alexander McQueen catwalk show.

The band’s debut album, ‘Modernity Killed Every Night’ was released in 2008 and a second album will be released next Spring.

Buzzin Music recently spent time with Chris Constantinou and Marco Pirroni asking about the past, present and future.

Buzzin Music: Chris, did you first meet Marco Pirroni working together on Adam Ant’s solo material?

Chris Constantinou: Yes – I was signed to RCA records with my band, Drill who Chas Chandler (of The Animals, a former manager of Jim Hendrix & Slade) was producing and managing and it had come to an end.  I saw an advert In the NME ‘bass player wanted – must be able to stand and deliver’ Claire Russell from RCA records (who later managed me and Annabella Lwin when we signed to S2 records ) said they had been through loads of bass players and were sick of auditioning people but she managed to blag me an audition I turned up and It was just Adam and Marco at Nomis Studios sitting behind a raised bench In a rehearsal room with an amp and a chair In the middle.

Adam asked loads of stupid questions and I had to fill in a questionnaire – did I drink, do drugs, have any criminal convictions, did I like kinky sex…that sort of thing.  Marco was just scribbling on a bit of paper like he was taking notes but I later found out he was just drawing some silly shit. It was an audition to take over for Gary Tibbs In Adam and the Ants.  I forgot about it and then a few months later the phone rang and it was Adam.  He apologised for the delay in calling and asked if I would like to go on a world tour with him. He said he was going solo & would I be ok with changing my name to Chris De Niro (Adam thought I looked a bit like De Niro in the film Taxi Driver).   I toured with him for 4 years or so – doing all the television performances and videos and then we made the Vive Le Rock album with Tony Visconti.  It was fun for a while.

Buzzin Music: How did The Wolfmen form?

Chris Constantinou: I had a band called Jackieonassid in which I was singing and playing bass guitar and was trying to find a guitarist who could play like Marco. We had a session booked at a studio in North London with Harvey Birrell and I asked Marco to come play guitar on the tracks.  We got talking and he said he wanted to put an album together for his label and so we decided to join up and do an album together.  That’s how The Wolfmen started off and the first album ‘Modernity Killed Every Night‘ came about.

Buzzin Music: The latest single, ‘Marilyn Monroe’ comes with a “JFK” mix.  This follows a previous single “Jackie, Is It My Birthday” & ep track, “Jackie Says”.  Is there a JFK thread going on here?

Chris Constantinou: Not JFK exactly, no.  Strangely enough I was in a band called Friends of Jack with Bob ‘ the count’ drummer on Vive Le Rock – then I wrote this song called ‘Posing As An Angel‘ while in Jackieonassid, which later became ‘Jackie Is It My Birthday? ‘ featuring Sinead O’Connor.  Then some of the Jackieonassid songs ‘Andy Warhol‘,  ‘Plastic Charm‘, ‘Jackie Says’ and others have a ‘Jackie’ in them. I don’t know … maybe I just need therapy to find the answer to that.

Buzzin Music: Am I right thinking Marco Pirroni & yourself worked with Ari Up on the recent Revenge of the Killer Slits album?  Were you aware she was ill or did her death come as much of a surprise to you, as it did to me?

Chris Constantinou: Yes we did that at Edwyn Collins studio. Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols was on drums, me on bass, Marco on guitar and Ari Up on vocals.  I then did more work on the tracks at Marco’s, post production and mixing.  Actually I’ve never even heard the finished mastered EP because no one gave me a copy!  I’ll go download it on ITunes later if I can.  Ari Up was a real live wire.  An amazing character, running around the studio vibing herself up for the takes.  Really, really great performances.  I was impressed, and a decent person too.  No, I wasn’t aware she was ill so it was a shock to me.

Buzzin Music: The second Wolfmen album is due out in early 2011.  Will there be a UK tour supporting the album release?

Chris Constantinou: Yes, The Wolfmen will tour.  It’s about time.  The album is called  ‘Married to the Eiffel Tower ‘. Steve Musters produced the album and Courtney Taylor-Taylor from The Dandy Warhols and Jacob Portrait handled post production and mixing . It’s out in May 2011.

Buzzin Media: You’ve also recently written with other artists, most notably Lou Reed, are you currently working on other projects apart from The Wolfmen?

Chris Constantinou: Yes we’ve written some tracks with Sinead O’Connor for her new album and she sang with me on our single ‘Jackie Is It My Birthday‘.  We’ve also co-written some tracks with another artist that Sinead’s manager looks after called Rosie Vanier who’s great and  and produced an album with Indian pop star Daler Mehndi which is a crossover album of new wave and bangra. Daler sent us his vocal files and we wrote and played Wolfmen type songs.  Somehow it worked.  Stephen Pooch made a documentary when Daler came over for a few days.  It’s on YouTube.

We also wrote and produced three tracks with Namgyal Lhamo.  We’ve also been working with some young, developing artists who are really good that Sony-ATV our publishers have introduced us to; and we’ve also written music for films, adverts and tv stuff which has been a bit of fun.

Buzzin Music: Can you name one contemporary artist that you would like to work with & why?

Chris Constantinou: Cheryl Cole.  We could write and produce a real sleazy VU (Velvet Underground) type track for her to sing on.  She would have to write the lyrics and melody herself and we would insist on no auto tune. It would be funny to hear her say ‘you wolfmen absolutely smashed It’  or ‘you wolfmen are right cheeky chappies’ Seriously though, I’m not sure which current artists I’d to work with.

Buzzin Music: Marco, the first thing I know you were involved with is playing guitar for Siouxsie & the Banshees at the 100 club gig in September 1976 supporting the Sex Pistols.  How did you hook up with The Banshees, was it always going to be just one gig, and was performing 20-odd minutes of the Lord’s Prayer as awful as it sounds?

Marco Pirroni: We just hung around the same set of people in the Kings Road, our paths were bound to cross and no it was never meant to be more than one gig and; as far as it being awful, I’ve never heard it since but I remember it
sounding great!

Buzzin Music: Was there ever talk of becoming a permanent member of Siouxsie & the Banshees?  Was it something you would have liked to been involved in?

Marco Pirroni: They never asked me but I don’t think I would have done it anyway.

Buzzin Music: Of all the bands you have been involved with, Rema Rema is probably the least known or spoken of.  But members went on to form three bands (if you include you forming the new Ants with Adam, along with Wolfgang Press & Renegade Soundwave).  What was it like at the time and how do view the Rema Rema songs now?

Marco Pirroni: I can’t really remember what it was we were trying to do now.
I think we thought we were very clever and groundbreaking and in some respects we were.  But I haven’t heard that stuff for years.  As soon as I have finished something I don’t tend to ever listen to It again.

Buzzin Music: Were you surprised when you heard what the other members of Rema Rema went on to do & do you still stay In touch with them?

Marco Pirroni: I saw them all a few months ago and its bizarre because nobody’s really changed that much.

Buzzin Music: Gary Asquith (singer with Rema Rema & Renegade Soundwave) once told me he felt Rema Rema could have gone on to bigger things if it wasn’t for Adam Ant ‘headhunting’ you to join Adam & the Ants. Do you feel the same?

Marco Pirroni: I can’t see what they ever could have done with or without me; and Adam didn’t headhunt me I was already out of Rema Rema when he called me.

Buzzin Music: How did you get to know Adam Ant & how did you feel when he asked you to join him in a new Ants line-up?

Marco Pirroni: I knew him through Andy Warren who was in the Ants at the time and I was very interested with working with Adam, especially as he said it was a whole new project.

Buzzin Music: How did that song writing partnership work with Adam Ant?

Marco Pirroni: Like a very classic writing partnership.  Two guys with guitars in a room swapping ideas.  A bit like Father Ted when they are trying to write ‘My Lovely Horse’.

Buzzin Music: From outside looking in, it looked very much like everything to do with the Adam & the Ants look, sound & direction was completely controlled by Adam, is this true?

Marco Pirroni: Not really.  Musically it was Adam, (Chris) Hughes and myself.  Directionally it was both of us.

Buzzin Music: How did you feel when Adam decided to go solo but still wanted you to write the songs with him?

Marco Pirroni: I was very happy.  I wasn’t interested in performing anymore so it was a perfect situation for me. I really don’t like being in a band.  But a working partnership with one or two other people suits me fine.

The Wolfmen’s  second album ‘Married to the Eiffel Tower’ is scheduled for release in May 2011 and will include their current single, Marilyn Monroe and the 2009 single with Sinead O’Connor,  ‘Jackie, is it my Birthday? ‘.

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