The return of the Wolf King...an interview with singer/songwriter Thomas Hentges

BurlapWolfKing is a name all too familiar here on the Midwestern prairie, and  singer-songwriter Thomas Hentges; a mainstay and young elder  statesman of the South Dakota regional music scene continues to pioneer and  revamp his self described "bare boned truth in song" sound.    2009's  psychedelic folk rock gem "the middle" continues to stand the test of time as one of my favorite independent releases of the the past decade and his involvement with the  influential Dakotaland alt. country and roots rock groups The Quaker City Night Hawks and Pasque respectively has earned him enough rock n roll cred to solidify him as South Dakota's  quintessential front man.   Ladies and gentlemen- The Wolf King has returned; and I was all too eager to sit down with him for a brief interview to discuss the release of his new EP chronicling his first new recordings in over four years.  Here's how it went down...

I've been excited by the news that you'll be releasing a new EP; tell me a little bit about the album.
Yes, I am very excited to be releasing five new songs to the public in January, after a near four year absence of recorded material.  I found myself a bit "distracted" with other projects in recent years, which turned out to be a fantastic learning experience for me personally.  I now feel very comfortable and confident as to what my goals and ambitions are for the future of my music, and I can see a very clear path to accomplishing them.
I feel good about the growth of my songwriting over the past few years and I think the variety of genres and moods represented among the 5 songs on the EP represent a step in the right direction.  I do however still see the new songs as cohesive and there is an overall vibe that carries through the EP.
There's an  upbeat quality to the new music that contrasts the overall mood of your 2008 debut "the middle" - does that quality signify a new direction for your music as a whole or is it all relative to what you're currently writing and performing?
I don't desire to be a one-trick pony, so often when I find myself writing songs that have a similar feel to them continously, I try to move on to something different.  I can always come back to those ideas, but there is definitely a conscious effort to try to touch a variety of emotions and ideas musically these days.
The writing and recording for "the middle" came from such a different place and person.  I was dealing with HEAVY issues at the time of that records inception and I was able to process all that heaviness in time.  The songs on the new EP could be interpreted as having more balance, because emotionally I felt a hell of a lot more balanced this time around!  I've grown up some, but I think some of the underlying themes on "the middle" will never go away, which I am more than comfortable with...it's a part of who I am, how I am made up.
A song like "wash away your worries" on the new EP is a song I didn't feel comfortable writing five years ago.  I love being able to convey humor and other elements that were completely absent on "the middle".
Cool.  The recordings have a live/indie or house concert feel in their production approach; Where was the album recorded/produced?
I had been working on recording this batch of songs for a while, and began going about it the way I had in the past, tracking the album over scratch tracks.  One day while listening to some playback I became overwhelmed with dissatisfaction...I hated the performances we were getting.  I decided to give live tracking a go...so I rehearsed the band for a few months here and there when we could get together, and ended up tracking all five songs over a seven hour afternoon/evening in September of this year.  I think it proved to be the right decision.
We recorded in a large parlor of a house here in downtown Sioux Falls.  The rooms wood and other natural elements helped create the sound of the EP.  We didn't use headphones and tried to capture the performances as best we could, not worrying about bleed and other modern recording concerns.  This technique leant itself better to some songs than others and we learned a few lessons on engineering from the sessions, but I would consider using this approach again in the future when I feel it's fitting.
Who are some of the musicians that helped contribute to the recordings? Any future plans to continue collaborating and performing with these musicians in the future?
I was joined on the EP by friends of mine from here in Sioux Falls. 
Adam Jones, who produced and engineered the EP, usually plays drums.  I got to hear Adam play guitar some over the years and felt like his guitar style would lend itself nicely to my tunes.  It turned out to be a great decision and Adam's guitar work on the EP is great!
I was thrilled as always to have Natalie McFarland (who played on "the middle" as well) on board again!  Natalie plays with a sensitivity that I can relate to and I feel works well with what I am doing.  She is someone who I hope to continue to play music with for many years!  Natalie's husband, Matt joined us on drums for the sessions and Matt was a great asset.  I was thrilled with some of the ideas he threw my way as well his working with ideas as well.
Working on this EP was the first chance I have gotten to work with Josh Rieck, who played stand up bass on the EP.  I've admired Josh's playing and his passion for music for several years and it was a gift to have him board!
I also was joined by Louisa Soli-Holt on vocals for a couple of the tracks.  I had spent the spring and summer singing with Louisa and I am grateful for her sharing her talents with me over the last several months.
We will be playing together at the EP release shows January 25 & 26 here in Sioux Falls.  I am not certain what the future holds with this ensemble, as everyone involved is in other projects alongside work and domestic life, so time is limited.  I hope to work with everyone involved again in the future, whenever it may be.
What's inspiring you lately? Any plans for a full length album down the road?
I still find the majority of my inspiration from my day-to-day life, my surroundings, my struggles...
I am writing more these days and do have hope to record and release a new full length by the end of 2013/early 2014.
What, if anything are you trying to convey with your music as a whole? Where do you see yourself as a songwriter and performer in the next few years?
As a whole, I don't know that I am trying to convey anything specifically.  I just attempt to write songs that are relatable, yet interesting.  I don't have any underlying message and would be the first to admit that my outlook and opinions are consistently evolving.  I just hope to be able to continue to find the time to tap into the muse and continue to create and share my work with others.
How can readers purchase the album? Will it be available online?
The EP will be available beginning January 25th, 2013.  I hope to have it available online, though I really like the idea of folks having a physical copy of the EP.  Stay in the know on online availability and other things BWK at Facebook.com/pages/Burlap-Wolf-King.
Finally, anyone interested can email me at thentges@Hotmail.com to get info on how to get a copy
-Md

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.