Artist Discovery Series: Reignwolf

By Dan Caffrey

With a steadily growing number of two-person bands, blues-rock has become more raw and more minimal. But Reignwolf beats out the likes of The Black Keys, Deap Vally, and even The White Stripes (R.I.P.) in the latter department by having only one member at its core: an easygoing Canadian named Jordan Cook.

To be fair, Cook is sometimes joined onstage by two additional band members. But he mostly flies solo—stomping a kickdrum with two guitars slung around his neck. During an especially haunting rendition of “The Chain”, he alternates between boxcar acoustic and ghost town electric, capturing Fleetwood Mac’s tortured emotionalism while adding muscle with his laryngitic howl. Stacks of amps loom behind him — shadowy monoliths that crackle with every bend, strum, and pluck. 

During his self-penned “Electric Love,” Cook redefines the concept of a one-man band by taking a seat behind a full drum kit with guitar still in hand. He keeps the kickdrum steady while continuing to riff. Easy enough.

Then things get a little nuts.

He pounds the floor tom and rides the cymbal. The hi-hat opens and closes like the maw of a Venus flytrap. He rolls on the snare. And the guitar just keeps on going. The blow of mercy comes when he starts playing his axe with a drumstick, moving back and forth from the set to the strings. This sort of relentless showmanship has earned Reignwolf an explosive cult following, an audience that’s sure to add even more to its ranks by the time Lollapalooza rolls around.

Not bad for a Canuck who hasn’t even released an album yet.

Getting LOUD with REIGNWOLF on the road

Jordan: When going on tour, there is usually an array of music that gets thrown into the Reignwolf tour van, and/or Winnebago. Texas Jo, Stitch, and I have pretty different tastes in music and influences that would most likely drive anyone insane after long travels.

01. “Head Down” — Soundgarden
The band and I met in Seattle well over a year ago; our good friend Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden introduced us at an SG reunion show. Ben is one of our favorite bass players as well as one hell of a songwriter; “Head Down” is one of my favorites. I remember begging to play this song out on a tour, along with skin killer, Matt Chamberlain. Ben and I didn’t end up jamming the song, so I played the riff at one of our first Seattle gigs that Mr. Shepherd attended. :p

02. “Evil” — Howlin’ Wolf
If you’ve heard of W O L F bands before, there is no better than my favorite Wolf! Mr. Evil himself.

03. “40 Day Dream” — Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The band took us out on the road for shows a few months back. These shows were our favorite on the road thus far. We had blasted “40 Day Dream” a few times before the tour, but have since been digging into their material even deeper.

04. “What’d I Say” — Ray Charles
Ray always WINS and the unreal drumming in this song.

05. “The Clock” — Thom Yorke
I heard him play this on The Henry Rollins Show, that’s a whine I can relate too.

06. “Mannish Boy” — Muddy Waters
This was probably the first song I ever heard. I recently heard a version that Erykah Badu performed; it was “Damn sex”!

07. “Goin’ Out West” — Tom Waits
This is DIRTY.

08. “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” — Gnarls Barkley
On a “forty hour” drive from Saskatchewan to Boston I wrote a melody I was anxious about. I called my cousin, Peter Bjornson to sing it over the phone; turns out Gnarls Barkley got this one first.

09. “It’s Bad You Know” — RL Burnside
Had a show with RL Burnside and John Lee Hooker when I was 15 years old in Ottawa; neither of them showed.

10. “Squirrel Song” — Shellac
We usually will put this on when one of us is trying to make a point.