MARQUETTE - While they do toss in a cover tune here and there, the greatest satifaction in playing live music for the Drone Wolves comes from their own tunes.
"Our shows are about 90 percent original music," said band member Nolan Krebs via email. "We occasionally cover songs by bands that we consider infuences but for us, the most fulfillment comes from writing and performing our own music.
"We all share a collective appreciation for garage rock bands from the late 1960s and '70s like The Kinks and The Animals, and psychedelic rock bands like Cream and the 13th Floor Elevators, so sometimes we'll cover songs from those bands."
The Drone Wolves, from left, Brad Grear, Nolan Krebs, Guy McCarthy, Collin Gaudard and Steve Goulding, performed at the recent Playing for a Cause benefit at Upfront and Company. The event raised funds for the Medical Care Access Coaltion. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
In addition to Krebs, who grew up in Midland but most recently lived in Portland, Ore., members of the Drone Wolves are Brad Grear and Guy McCarthy, both of Geneva, Ill.; Steve Gouldin, a Kentucky native who grew up in Grand Rapids; and Collin Gaudard of downstate Lake Leelanau.
The five were drawn together as Northern Michigan University students who love music.
"Drone Wolves started out as Collin, Guy and myself putting some songs together in the basement last year," Grear said via email. "There have also been many changes in the lineup over the past year before getting the current one of me, Nolan, Guy, Collin and Steve."
The members bring different levels of experience to the mix.
"I got my start in music at a very early age," McCarthy said via email. "Not exactly sure what made me start, maybe the fact that my uncle is a percussionist. Began taking drum lessons at the age of 8 or 9. Was studying weekly with my uncle who would be my teacher and mentor until high school.
"In middle school and high school, I played drums in jazz bands and percussion in concert band," McCarthy said. "I was in marching band on the drumline all throughout high school and also played on NMU's drumline in the fall of '09. (Was) never in a band of my own until Drone Wolves."
Gouldin also was an early music starter.
"I played piano throughout my early childhood," he said in an email. "As a kid, a light-up keyboard directed me through various pieces, some of which I still play today. I started playing percussion in sixth grade and stayed in the school band program through graduation. I enjoy drumming, keyboard and guitars."
Grear's start came later.
"I got my first guitar after eighth-grade graduation and never played it," Grear said. "I started jamming with friends again at the end of high school and have been dedicated to playing ever since."
Grear plays guitar and bass in Drone Wolves and mandolin and other instruments outside the group.
Although Krebs comes from a musical family, his start was a bit later as well.
"My older brothers are both really involved in music; one of them operates a recording studio in Montreal, Quebec, and the other has just been a great instrumentalist for as long as I can remember," Krebs said. "I started playing the guitar two years ago, when I was 19, figuring it was about time to start, the experience of playing and writing these really abstract, psychedelic blues songs with Drone Wolves has really helped me progress as a musician much faster than I would on my own.
"That would definitely be some advice to any beginning guitar players: Find a band and play with them every chance you get."
Krebs enjoys songwriting with his bandmates.
"We have a pretty cool songwriting process," he said. "Whoever writes a riff or a progression that they like will come to the other guys with it, and it's pretty much on everyone else to pick up an instrument and write their part for the song.
"It's been a process," Krebs said of the band's development. "We were pretty rough when we started writing songs, but things have gotten a lot smoother as we've sort of discovered our sound."
The Drone Wolves have been well received and are moving forward.
"It's been going great," Krebs said. "We'll be touring Michigan and Illinois in May and recording over the summer."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org