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Porno Wolves rip into purist sound on new live album

Porno Wolves: Steven Schwartz, Anthony Goremet, Shea Drenkow, Ryan Bachman

Porno Wolves: Steven Schwartz, Anthony Goremet, Shea Drenkow, Ryan Bachman

Last winter, on the coldest night of the year, Minneapolis’ Porno Wolves invited friends and fans to fill the 331 Club as they mic'd-up and plugged-in to capture an evening of love, laughter, and music.

The result is Young Moon Rising: Live, a live album that captures an essence and energy that is not always found on studio albums — a true mark of a band that thrives in a live setting.

When your hometown is filled with singer-songwriters and hip-hop artists, where does that leave a rock 'n' roll band like Porno Wolves? Forging their path, that’s where.

The quartet, consisting of frontman Ryan Bachman, saxophone/guitarist Steven Schwartz, bassist Shea Drenkow, and drummer Anthony Goremet, formed back in 2009 when they were attending Augsburg College. The collection of friends didn't become Porno Wolves in 2012.

“I grew up on bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest,” Drenkow says. “That’s the music my uncle showed me. I don’t get groups like the Decemberists.”

The group never  set out to write introspective songs. The goal was always to channel rebellion.

Poro Wolves' 2015 debut album, Shine Like Gold, consisted mostly songs that Bachman had been hoarding over the years. To fill the time between between studio albums, the band wanted to capture those songs and newer ones in a live setting.

They called up engineers Jason Woolery and Austin Sprynczynatyk to run sound that late January night in northeast Minneapolis. Cramped onto the stage like sardines, the band tapped into their still-evolving live sound to a packed house. 

“Rock 'n' roll is still an uphill battle locally,” Goremet says. “Internally, we’ve all found our sound, but it’s still a fight.”

Schwartz agrees — sort of.

“I don’t think we’ve found our place completely yet," he says. "I think we’re still trying to find it, but now we’re finally doing our thing as a group.”

For Bachman, Porno Wolves allowed him release as a songwriter.

“I did solo music for quite a while before Porno Wolves,” he says. “Eventually I started to hate my own stuff; it was pretty dark, and a lot of the material was from a different era. I could never stop editing and that becomes destructive. With the band, that has not been the case.”

With the band, Bachman found his voice – literally and figuratively. Vocally, he's evoking powerful, bombastic singers he's always admired like Freddy Mercury. Lyrically, the songs are becoming more cohesive and meaningful.

“Riddles in the Dark” is the lead single from Young Moon Rising: Live. It grapples with the aftermath of two losses: the suicide of a friend and death of a former bandmate and friend, Mike Ladman.

But the live album isn't a somber affair. It's full of life and attitude — throwback rock 'n' roll full of life and heart. It’s also a space where four friends can find harmony.

Porno Wolves

With: City of Sound and the Lone Crows

When: 8 p.m. Sat., June 25.

Where: 7th St. Entry

Tickets: $7-$10 door, more info here.