It’s hard to believe it’s almost been three weeks since The Wolfe Brothers released their fifth studio album, Kids On Cassette to the world. But it’s true and everyone is clearly loving it, as it currently sits at the top of the ARIA Australian Country Music Albums chart for the second consecutive week!
Since their second place finish on Australia’s Got Talent in 2012, the Tasmanian brothers have taken home two CMC Awards and four Golden Guitar Awards, been nominated for two ARIA awards as well as one AIR Award. They have recorded with Brad Paisley and toured with the likes of Canada’s Gord Bamford, Lee Kernaghan, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Jody Direen and Christie Lamb to name a few.
They have earned themselves a solid reputation for their catchy singles and dynamic live shows, while constantly pushing the envelope with their songwriting and delighting fans with their honest approach. All four of the band’s studio albums have debuted at #2 on the ARIA charts and #1 on the Australian Country Music Album Charts. Kids On Cassette is the follow up to their award-winning album Country Heart.
Kids On Cassette reflects back to their origins, as the names suggests, and captures the vibe of music brothers Nick and Tom grew up with. Predominately recorded at Nick’s studio, Wolfe’s Lair, and produced by Nick Wolfe, the party album features collaborations with LOCASH, Amy Sheppard and Jack Jones as well as their #1 singles No Brakes, Anybody Ever and their current smash hit, Startin’ Something.
To get to know the album even better, we grabbed Nick Wolfe to talk through each individual track, their creation, sentiment, and everything in between.
1. Kids On Cassette
As we all know vinyl has made a huge comeback in recent years, but much of the soundtrack of when we were kids was on tape. We had Walkmans and boomboxes as kids and cassette players in our first cars. We’d play those things till they got chewed up and we’d have to pull them out and try to salvage them by winding them up with a pencil. So much of the music that we absorbed into our DNA and shaped us as musicians came from cassettes. We wrote this song with Erik Dylan who we also wrote (our single from the Country Heart album) Ain’t Seen It Yet with. In my opinion, he’s one of the best lyricists in the entire world and we’re just so happy that we got to share creating this song with him.
2. Anybody Ever
This song actually changed quite dramatically from the way it was first imagined. It started out as a 70s song, then got a trip in a DeLorean to the following decade jam. In the context of the rest of the album, it made sense to make it feel more from the cassette-era than from the vinyl era. I think also we were watching a lot of the show Stranger Things during the recording process and that may have seeped in. It’s definitely a little bit quirky and we could have gone a lot safer with the production, but hey, where’s the fun in that?! Despite the 80s production, country radio embraced it and it sat at #1 for several weeks for which we’re extremely grateful. I’ve always thought the song was extremely catchy melodically and lyrically, I love what it says too.
3. Startin’ Something
Our paths first crossed with LOCASH back in 2017 at a Country Fair somewhere in Ohio. We were playing at a side stage, wedged between hotdog stands and sideshows. We did our set and then got to stand side stage and watch LOCASH absolutely nailing it in the main arena. They just had such a great vibe and energy, and their song I Love This Life, which we loved, was absolutely everywhere at that time! Fast forward a few years and we find ourselves on the same record label. We were absolutely stoked when we reached out, and the guys agreed to record Startin’ Something with us. They’re just awesome guys whose music brings a whole lot of joy to people, that’s what it’s all about. The song is all about getting the party started and from Tasmania to Nashville, we know that’s a theme country music fans well and truly know how to get behind!
4. No Brakes
No Brakes is all about going all in full steam ahead, no second prizes. It’s about a relationship where you meet someone, and they flick that switch in you where you can’t help but act in this way. It’s also a bit of a metaphor for where we’re at in our career. We’re pumped up, sitting on an album of what we believe are great songs, we’re tremendously inspired and ready to work to get to the next level. The single came out last March and we were blown away by the response from radio and streaming! Now over a year on, we’re finally getting to be able to play it to people in real life and it’s feeling even better!
5. Something Good’s Gonna Happen (feat. Amy Sheppard)
Usually going into a write you’ll have some idea of where you’re gonna go with a song, but on this occasion, we had drained our well of ideas completely dry – not a good place to be, especially when writing for the first time with someone new. But when we got into the room at BMG Nashville with Drew Kennedy, we hit it off and out of nowhere Something Good was born. It all happened so quickly I don’t even remember how we started! I think it was basically a case of ‘let’s just write something that feels good!’ When we got the chorus, we knew we had something very cool on our hands and then Drew pulled out the second verse with the Dolly and Kenny references and we were flying! When it came time to record, we thought it’d be the perfect track to join forces with Amy Sheppard, who we’ve got huge respect for and what she and Sheppard have achieved. We’ve been road testing this one live for a while now and I think our listeners will be very happy to hear this finally on the record!
6. Downtime (feat. Jack Jones)
Collaborating with the legendary Jack Jones of Southern Sons was an absolute bucket list moment for Tom and I. We had Jack on as a guest for our Wolfepack live streams and despite Tom and I fanboying to an extreme level, the three of us hit it off like a house fire! So much so, that on-air we decided we wanted to record something together. As fate would have it, we had just the perfect song in mind and a few days later we had Downtime in the can, complete with an extended signature Jack Jones guitar solo outro! To me Downtime is a perfect fusion of modern country and the classic Aussie rock style which has been a huge influence on what we do. We get such a kick out of this song and I’m certain it’s going to become a staple of our live show. We can’t wait to get out on the road and play this one live, especially when we cross paths with Jack and rock it out together!
7. Soundtrack To An Endless Summer
For a while now, we’ve had this idea about writing a song about a song, and we finally found someone crazy enough to help write it with us in Drew Kennedy. Soundtrack was written last year in the height of lockdowns, on a cold frosty morning here in Tasmania and for Drew on the other end of the Zoom on a hot Texas evening, which was a little closer to the summer feeling we were going for. The song tells the story of a guy who strikes it big with a song about a summer love that burnt hot and faded away as the seasons changed. And the reason the song blows up is because of how real and honest it is. This is essentially what we hope to do as country musicians every time we write a song and the reason why we love country music.
8. What You Make It
It was written with our great mate Phil Barton at my kitchen table when he was visiting from Nashville. We’ve written many songs with Phil and usually due to our shared love of big anthems, we usually end up shooting for something in that zone. It was really nice to write something in a different headspace with Phil this time. In many ways this is my favourite lyric on the record. It talks about how things are just things until you attach a memory to them, and then simple objects or places can come to mean so much more. If you’ve followed our band for a while and know our history, I think you’ll see how honest and ‘us’ this lyric is.
9. Small Town Song
This song all started with a very strange dream I had. It was a really vivid dream, set in the 1800s. I’ll spare you the details because you’ll think I’ve completely lost the plot, but in the dream, there was a congregation and they were singing the tune you hear in the chorus. I woke up, sprang out of bed and recorded the melody so I wouldn’t forget it. A few months passed and Tom and I found ourselves co-writing with Aussie music royalty Andrew Farriss at his farm in outback NSW, which was a crazy dream all in itself! The drive out to his place through quintessential small-town Australia got us really fired up and we knew that’s where we wanted to go lyrically. I hadn’t thought about my weird dream or the tune since then, but after a few beers and deep late-night convos about music and life, something tweaked and I sheepishly told Andrew and Tom about my weird dream and tune. It seemed like that melody finally had a home and was a perfect fit to the small-town song we all wanted to write together.
10. Home Without You
They say home is where the heart is, and more often than not it’s with the people you love. So, if for whatever reason those people aren’t around anymore, your whole world seems upside down even though it’s that same old place you’ve known your entire life. Home Without You sits in a dynamic place we haven’t explored much. We’re guilty of going full tilt – if it’s loud it’s really loud, if it’s a ballad we’ll bring it all the way down… but Home Without You sits in a really nice middle ground and puts a focus on the lyrics which I really love.
11. She’s Everything
Call us traditional, but we do love a good old third verse plot twist. In fact, that’s one of the things we love most about country music. Not to give too much away, but if you’ve listened to country music you can probably narrow it down to a few scenarios and one of those includes the girl driving away into the sunset. This song was written back in 2016 and was a near contender for both the Crazy Life and Country Heart albums. We’ve always loved the song, so I’m so glad it’s finally found its home on Kids On Cassette.
12. Time To Be Alive
We swore we wouldn’t write a pandemic song, but it turns out we couldn’t help it. As we all know, the last year certainly has been quite a Time To Be Alive. That said, we refrained from writing about masks, social distancing, riots and political unrest. We’ve all had more than enough of that. Instead, we focused on the notion of how much good there is still in the world, especially in the simple things in life. We wrote this with Phil Barton and Lindsay Rhymes, two guys we have huge respect for and two Aussies who’ve achieved the almost unachievable with their success in the USA. This track and its message of looking around and finding the fun in whatever is going on seemed to be the perfect closing track to close the record.
Which track is your favourite? Stream the album below!