Werewolf Club is a band you want to be friends with. Musically, the band combines rockin’ excitement with moody atmosphere, dance rhythms and catchy melodies. They look stylish, but don’t look like they’re trying to look stylish. Singer Steve Storm has a great voice, a porn star mustache, and a general air of affable depravity.
The band made its live debut in March at the Loving Cup on California Avenue, and, if you happened to arrive at the bar right after their set finished, you would have discovered a room still buzzing with a pleasant satisfaction that was downright post-coital. It was like walking into a room where everyone was sweaty, smiling and putting their clothes back on.
In addition to Storm, who also plays keyboards, the band consists of Erik Skjelstad on bass, drummer Jonathan Hatjakes, and his brother Matthew, who plays guitar and keyboards. The musicians took the band name Werewolf Club directly from the name of a wifi network at Reno Public House, a local watering hole. The band members are now a little sheepish about lifting the name, but it’s a solid band name that fits them well, so let’s just call it a nice homage to a great Reno bar.
The band’s careful balance of seemingly disparate elements—disco drums, nearly Gothic keyboards, rock energy, poppy melodic craft—is partly a result of the fact that they all listen to different kinds of music. Skjelstad, for example, is a hip-hop head. Storm is a metalhead who was previously best known around the local music scene for his spot-on Ozzy Osbourne impersonations in a Black Sabbath tribute band that went through a couple of different names, the best of which was Blacked-out Sabbath.
The band members describe their sound as “rock ’n’ roll you can dance to,” and a familiar reference point is New Order, a band that achieved worldwide acclaim in the early ’80s with a similar balance of rock, pop, mood and dance. Of course, fine tuning that carefully calibrated sound is why it took the band more than two years to play its first show and why the members' last band, Slang Humor, which had an additional guitar player and a less developed sound, never quite worked. An interesting hybrid is just a misplaced gene or two away from a grotesque mutant.
The band’s songwriting is collaborative.
“It usually starts off with a guitar line from Matthew, then I'll come up with a bass line, and Jon always comes up with a really awesome drum track,” Skjelstad said. “And then Steve comes up with vocal lines on top of that.”
Storm writes almost all the lyrics. “I always change it up,” he said. “It’s either late-night partying or girls, love, that kind of crap, being sad—whatever I’m feeling.”
The members say that the next step for the band is recording an album. But they’ve been enjoying the positive responses and good turnouts at their live shows.
“Werewolf Club started a year and a half ago, and we wrote this new set and practiced for a long time and figured out how we wanted to sound—and we’re getting there,” Matthew said. “And we played out in March at Loving Cup and actually got really good feedback.”
“We’ve got good fucking friends who like our music and come out to shows,” Storm said.
Often, bands play their first gigs, and the reaction is that it seems like they might be good in a couple of years if they manage to figure out a sound. Werewolf Club is not one of those bands. They didn’t play out til they had a real set and real sound. And now it’s a club everybody wants to join.