Picked to Click 2012: #6. Actual Wolf

Picked to Click 2012: #6. Actual Wolf
Photo by Robyn Schindeldecker
#6. Actual Wolf: 58 points

After getting busted for selling pot, Eric Pollard penned some 70 songs in the anxious months before his court date. Though Pollard had spent his 20s drumming for indie luminaries like Low's Alan Sparhawk and Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, this was his first serious pursuit of his own sound.

"After my bust I had a lot on my mind, and that directly translated to the tunes -- as did getting sober," admits Pollard, 32, who ultimately avoided jail by pleading guilty to lesser charges. "Once things were resolved I was eager to start recording. By that point I didn't have any money, though, due to attorney fees. Luckily Al [Sparhawk] was nice enough to let me record with him for free and just see where it went."

See Also:
Picked to Click 2012: The ballots and complete voter results
Picked to Click 2012: The print edition

Where it has headed so far is the excellent EP Lightning & the Wolf, Pollard's full-band debut as Actual Wolf. Teaming up with a murderer's row of local scene veterans -- Retribution Gospel Choir bassist Steve Garrington, Tapes 'n Tapes drummer Jeremy Hanson, and guitarist Jake Hanson -- the EP finds Pollard drawing musical inspiration from '70s country-rock and lyrical insights from his own troubled past ("Always going to owe you favors/I live life in the red/I can't even sell enough reefer/I can't keep none in my head"). His slightly twangy understated tenor fits the material perfectly, and as a longtime sideman himself, Pollard knows most songs shine brightest when the spotlight gets shifted around, hence stunning guitar solos by Hanson and harmonies courtesy of Haley Bonar.

Given how gaga the Twin Cities has gone over similarly pedigreed acts like Dawes, there's every reason to believe Actual Wolf could break big, and indeed Pollard's tuneful alt-country has already seen significant airplay on the Current. That doesn't mean he's taking future success for granted: Pollard and the band are already back in the studio hard at work on a new record.

"You always have to be working harder than the next person if you want to succeed in music at all," claims Pollard as our conversation comes to a close. "Right now 90 percent of music fans have ADD and will forget about you unless you're giving them constant stimulation. That's why I'm working so hard, that and because it's really boring to be sober in a bar. If I'm going to be in a bar I want to be playing. It's about putting in the work. If you want to make it, you have to get after it."

Actual Wolf's vinyl release show is Saturday, October 27 at Pizza Luce Duluth. More info here.

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