Words with Timberwolf

Adelaide’s Timberwolf has a cracker of a record in the works. A cohesive narrative unfolding over 14, maybe 15 songs, charting a journey through the shades of love, powered by an underlying vibe of open vulnerability, Timberwolf’s Chris Panousakis is taking his time to get this record just right, for good reason. There’s no title as yet, nor a release date, just a powerful vision shaped by a generous intention. “Man, if my album was able to empower someone to embrace vulnerability, then I’d be really happy,” shares Chris. “That’s the ethos behind the whole record. That’s what I would love.”

Scrapping an earlier batch of “8-9 standard-issue songs written in a ‘folk-rock funk’”, Chris began a new version refreshed by the influence of co-producer Jackson Barclay. “I came out my shell with Jackson,” he says. “I was writing the same type of stuff and getting bored with it. I thought, ‘Let’s just wipe it clean and start again.”  While touring in North America, Chris was also pumped with inspo thanks to songwriting collabs with Jim Fairchild (Granddaddy,  Modest Mouse), Tommy King (Haim) and Sydney Wayser (CLARA-NOVA) “I even found myself in a few massive mansions in the Hollywood Hills a few times, sitting there coming up with chord structures,” he laughs, incredulously. “I learned so much from some really incredible people.”

New songs Hold You Up and Washed Out emerged from this motivating mileu, the second written with Jonathon Boulet and Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson. Both songs effortlessly convey a renewed sense of scope, vigour and stepped-up confidence, just listen and you’ll feel it. “I’d had a new way to put together my music revealed thanks to these other excellent musicians, producers and engineers who helped me get outside myself,” explains Chris. “Once I’d broke that invisible bubble around the way I was seeing things, it all became much more exciting.

Now back in his Adelaide home studio, momentum and flow is more easily maintained thanks to support from partner and singer-songwriter Bree Tranter. Having self-produced her own brilliant debut album Another Night On Earth and toured extensively in Matt Corby’s band over the past year, Bree is well within her power to contribute support and expertise. “She knows a whole lot more than I do!” he confirms, proudly. “It’s great to have her by my side.”

Bree, a previous WildnFree interviewee hanging with Chris as he chats, jumps on the phone to say a quick hello. She’s promptly asked for her take on both the album and the artist.  “Oh man, I’ve never met someone who knows themselves so well, they know they’re strong enough to make an album,” she replies. “I’ve also never seen someone so young compose themselves so well in a studio. He runs the whole deal while letting others musicians be completely part of it, while staying really calm. He’s freakin’ talented.”

Chris takes back the phone proclaiming that Bree has “embellished that a little!” Shifting the convo back onto the record,  he reveals a little more about the storytelling vision lying deeply at heart. “I’m really determined for it to fit a particular narrative, to come out as a full story in an old-school 70s kinda way,” he says. “I wanted to take it through all the different shades of love. It’ll take 14 or 15 to help it make sense as a collective story, which is why its taking a little more time to finish.”

To help foster a sense of openness, Chris has chosen to make the lyrical content raw, honest and transparent. “I’ve stripped the metaphor, the smoke and mirrors, away from how I’m delivering the messages,” he says. “I hope that inspires people to reveal themselves in the same way, as that’s pretty cathartic and healing.” This very process of vulnerability has also made the album trickier to wrestle into shape completely. “It’s been hard to finish the record,” Chris says, “because when you’re being vulnerable and transparent, you need energy to do it, and you need to give yourself a break from going to those spots all the time, and you need time to heal as much as you need time to express.”

His recent tour supporting Amy Shark solo across sold out, packed out dates around Australia brought its own valuable lessons. “It was a steep learning curve for me,” says Chris. “I’m used to sharing in a band on stage, but, going with the theme of vulnerability, being alone onstage is a whole new level of exposure. I think I really quickly got to know myself as a performer, plus how some crowds respond and how they don’t.” With this experience under his belt, plus the album by then surely closer to completion, Timberwolf’s three July solo shows are likely to be honest and compelling indeed. Go along if you’d like to feel inspired and empowered to explore your own vulnerability.

Grab tickets below and look out for the album sometime at the end of winter. A good deadline always helps.

Enjoy Hold You Up:

Fri 14th July, 2017 – Jive Bar, Adelaide
Sat 15th July – The Workers Club, Melbourne
Fri 21st July – Leadbelly, Sydney
tix on sale Friday 17 March from HERE

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