The current trend in the roots country world is "beards and banjos" as Moose puts it but Wolf Willow, he explains, draws on different traditions including Western swing. He goes on to say, "We're also trying to bring back more of the honky tonk elements like you might have seen with Buck Owens and The Buckaroos. Our drummer Slick Steve has an encyclopedic knowledge of Hee Haw episodes from 1981-1984. The rest of us are real geeks for the old Buckaroo show."
The band’s two songwriters are Moose and Stoneface Stanley who had a fascinating career as a minor hockey player before embarking on his musical journey. Moose says, "I spent a lot of time traveling the roads in the rural parts of Saskatchewan so I write story songs. Stoneface Stanley writes songs in a classic love song kind of vein. We write the songs but having Mitsy interpret them and bring them to life in a different way makes for an interesting dynamic. In a lot of projects the band is the person is the songwriter is the singer. We're more about being a collective."
He adds, "It's the same way with arranging too. For example, I'll sit down and sketch out a horn part and the horn players will take it and turn it upside down, this way and that and collectively we'll end up with something we're pretty proud of."
There's a hunger for the type of music that Wolf Willow is offering in Moose's opinion. He points out, "In these days of iPhones and people spending all their time on Facebook, this kind of music is really about people connecting socially and evoking nostalgia for this older style of music. We're trying to bring back an art form that's 50 or 60 years old but I have a feeling that there's going to be lots of people coming on the journey with us."
Saskatchewan's roots music scene is strong in Moose's view. He says, "We're seeing a bunch of younger groups who are really pushing it forward. For example, Kacy & Clayton just opened for Wilco at the East Filmore down in San Francisco. Lots of these bands are doing really well so the scene and the appetite for this music is really strong."
One observation made by Moose is that opportunities outside of the usual folk festivals and indie music events are beginning to present themselves. He says, "A brewery opened in Swift Current and they wanted to throw a party so we played at that event. We got asked to play a barn dance last August in Saskatoon. We're going to see more of this hunger for roots music in the sense that people want things that reflect nostalgia. I'm not talking about nostalgia in a pejorative sense but about nostalgia that reflects a desire to be connected and slow down."