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Wulf Bane represent a struggling breed in Orange County. And they readily admit it’s hard to find a scene for their raw goulash of metal, punk and general sharp-toothed ferocity. But this Costa Mesa foursome still claw their way into local haunts such as La Cave and Tiki Bar, turning unsuspecting attendees into loyal fans. And after only a year together, things are lining up nicely for them. Aside from the upcoming release of their debut album, Ali Baba Motel(named after the notorious Costa Mesa fleabag on Newport Boulevard), the band are prepping for a huge hometown show opening for the Cult at the Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival that runs through Sunday—that will also feature the Damned, Buzzcocks and NOFX, to name just a few. For Wulf Bane’s Mark Blaster (guitar/vocals), Chase Brawner (guitar, keys), Josh Upshaw (bass/vocals) and Dusty Daniels (drums), this dream gig is just another chance to leave a raw, red mark on the OC scene.
OC Weekly: How did you guys get on the Musink lineup?
Chase Brawner: We did the [Musink battle of the bands contest at Slidebar in Fullerton] a couple of weeks ago. After that, I got a phone call from Bill Hardie, who puts on the Hootenanny and Musink, and he asked us if we wanted to play the opening slot for the Cult at 6 p.m. And we were like, “Fuck, yeah. Absolutely!”
Chase, you also work for Gold Rush Tattoo; are you guys going to have a booth at the festival?
Brawner: Yeah, we’re gonna have a booth. I’m working at Musink on Sunday.
You guys played a two-month residency last year at La Cave. How did that go?
Brawner: It’s fun for us to play [there] because it’s tight quarters. I’d rather play an intimate show with a shitty little floor and people right [in my face] than a huge gated show where the people are 15 feet in front of me.
Mark Blaster: Going into it, we’d only been a band for a year, and we thought, “We’ll probably pull it off for two weeks, and then it will be, like, two or three people showing up.” But people kept showing up every week. It was weird.
What’s it like being a metal band in Orange County these days? Is it harder to find bands or venues to connect with?
Josh Upshaw: It’s just like everything else. You have your friend base, and then you start getting out there and finding whatever shows you possibly can.
Blaster: It’s not gonna happen [for us] in Orange County, though. We’re doing okay, but we’re gonna do a lot better north of here.
Brawner: Seattle really liked us, and Portland was awesome.
Blaster: We wanna get over to the U.K., too, because they’ve got bands like the Gallows. We’re kind of in that realm a little bit. I love Orange County, but people around here have “seen it all.” They’re tainted. But if you’re that band and you blow up, everyone wants your backstage passes.
You also collaborated with Death by Stereo bassist Paul Minerto finish up your debut album, right?
Brawner: We recorded five songs with our friend Scott Silletta [of Orange Crush Studios], and Dusty [Daniels] played drums. We were happy with it, but we wanted to record some other songs and try working with my friend Paul [Miner]. We did three songs with Paul.
Blaster: We went in there, and it was like night and day, and we were like, “All right, Paul’s the guy.” Vocally, we completely [improved]. [Upshaw and I] re-sang everything. Paul pulled more aggression out of me.
Brawner: We got it mixed and mastered by him, and our album-release show is going to be March 12 at Surf City Saloon with the Spittin’ Cobras in Huntington Beach.
Can you describe a typical Wulf Bane show?
Brawner: It’s loud. Really loud. There’s some sing-along action with the crowd. And you might just get beat up or pregnant.
Wulf Bane perform with the Cult and numerous other acts at Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival, OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-1500; www.musink.org. Fri., 5 p.m. $30-$75. All ages.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and upcoming show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "Howlin’ Wulf."