A DECADE after the original line-up of Wolfmother imploded, the power of the band's pull remains undeniable.
In October and November, Wolfmother has top billing at Scene and Heard Festival, which this year expands from its home in Newcastle to travel to Cairns and Brisbane as well.
It comes after a run of gigs across the US, Europe and the Middle East where they played sell-out headline shows and some of the summer season's biggest outdoor festivals, such as Mad Cool in Spain, Lollapalooza in Stockholm, and Hurricane in Germany where they whipped the 50,000-strong crowd into a frenzy (check out the footage on YouTube), before heading home to Australia to play to a packed amphitheatre on the main stage at Byron Bay's Splendour In the Grass.
The offers keep rolling in. That's despite the fact Wolfmother's latest album, Victorious, is already three years old.
"Everyone does theorise 'Why are people coming to your shows?'," frontman Andrew Stockdale says with a laugh.
"My theory is that because we have been touring consistently for 15 years, we've developed an international following and we are a lot bigger than we are aware of. I think the songs have become bigger over time - I think Joker and The Thief is up to almost 100 million streams on Spotify. I think the music has really become ingrained in people's lives.
"You don't want to be continually banging on about how big you think you are because it sounds like you're giving a hard-sell, but people are astounded by it. And so am I."
A glance at the band's most recent set lists confirms one thing: Wolfmother's breakthrough self-titled debut album is the drawcard, with the inclusion of seven of the record's tracks (Colossal, Apple Tree, Dimension, White Unicorn, Vagabond, Joker and The Thief, and Woman). The album propelled Stockdale and founding members Chris Ross (bass/keys) and Myles Heskett (drums) onto the international stage in 2005, selling more than 1.5 million copies worldwide and setting the band up as the biggest act to emerge out of Australia in decades.
Hailed as the saviours of rock with their '70s-inspired sound which drew comparisons to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the three-piece from Sydney became the first Australian act to win a Grammy award in 25 years for the track, Woman.
They embarked on a vigorous tour schedule, playing 270 shows in 2006 alone. At their peak they seemed unstoppable, but the demands of touring eventually worked against them.
In August 2008, Ross and Heskett left the band, citing "irreconcilable personal and musical differences" with the singer. Reflecting on the split 11 years later, Stockdale says the pressure of the band's success ultimately led to their downfall.
"Look, if you want to break up a band, try and do 300 shows a year and see how you feel about each other at the end of it," Stockdale says.
"I almost think that everyone was slightly shell-shocked from that. I think it was a post-traumatic stress disorder thing just from that experience. I think maybe adjusting to that altitude, we were all kind of quivering on the edge of liking it and liking that adrenaline and liking that challenge and the lifestyle, and then wanting to retreat and take it easy."
These days, Stockdale is Wolfmother. The 43-year-old father of two lives in Byron Bay where he writes the songs and demos the parts himself, including new material for the forthcoming Wolfmother album that was recorded in Los Angeles earlier this year at the Foo Fighters' Studio 606.
If Stockdale has his way, Wolfmother will be out on the road for most of 2020 to support the album's release.
"In 2016, I did 220 shows. And the more I do it, for me now it's my lifestyle," Stockdale says. "I like doing five shows a week."
A revolving door of musicians has performed under the band's name over the years, with the latest incarnation bringing together Brad Heald on bass (ex-The Vines), Lachy Doley on keys (who splits duties with Juulz Driessen), and Hamish Rosser (also of The Vines fame) on drums.
Incredibly, Rosser joined the band for all of the dates in the US and Europe despite recently undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer. He has since been given the all clear.
"He had another check up and he is fine. Everything is good. The cancer is gone," Stockdale says. "I think, you know, maybe doing 30 shows on a tour bus is good for your health!"
Wolfmother headline Scene and Heard Festival at Wickham Park on November 10. Tickets at oztix.com.au
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