Emily Wolfe Talks Roe V. Wade, Producing, and Playing Live (9/17 at Silk City)

“I love Philly!  Gimme that cheesesteak all day!” says guitar virtuoso Emily Wolfe, adding, “I really love playing there, the audiences are really attentive.”  Emily Wolfe has played the...

“I love Philly!  Gimme that cheesesteak all day!” says guitar virtuoso Emily Wolfe, adding, “I really love playing there, the audiences are really attentive.”  Emily Wolfe has played the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection several times since the return of live music, including Halloween 2021 at Kung Fu Necktie, a date supporting Neal Francis at The Music Hall at World Café Live in February of 2022, and a show opening for Dan Adriano & The Bygones at First Unitarian Church last May.  The dates were all in support of Wolfe’s second studio album, Outlier, which dropped in June of 2021 and was produced by Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman, which had the guitarist straying a little bit from the blues rock for which she was known, and embracing her love of pop to a newfound degree.

The last time I spoke with Emily Wolfe was in October of 2021, shortly after she and her band had made their return to the road, and during our most recent phone chat, she tells me those past two years or so of touring has been a major highlight of her career: “[Shortly after lockdown] we had 60 people in San Francisco, which isn’t a lot, but to me, it felt like a whole stadium was there.  It was pretty amazing…  I toured with Dan Adriano from Alkaline Trio, and supported Gaslight Anthem for like a month, and got really close with Brian and the whole crew, which was a huge highlight, because I’ve listened to them since high school and have all their CDs!”

Last month Emily Wolfe released her first new music of the year, “Walk in My Shoes,” via Crows Feet Records.  The song was inspired by the overturning of Roe V. Wade, and a reaction to the decision Emily got to experience firsthand: “I was on the road when Roe V. Wade was overturned, but the next day I got home, and my friend was like, ‘Do you and your wife wanna go to this protest?’  And we were like, ‘Yeah!’ and we went, and it was the most people I’ve ever seen at a rally in Austin.  It was really powerful to hear the chants of the women and men and allies and everybody there.”

The singer/songwriter recorded the sounds of the protest on her phone, which went on to become the foundation of the song: “The sound of that crowd was just so powerful to me… and I had this main riff… and I dragged and dropped the riff into the recording of the chants, and it was the exact tempo!”  She tells me that frustrations of this ongoing debate are something that she has to face every day, both as a touring musician (“I tour a lot of different cities and a lot of them are liberal, and more of them are not.”), and also as a devoted aunt: “I was thinking about knowing my niece could get into a situation where she could not get an abortion, and that broke my heart.”

Since her tour with The Gaslight Anthem wrapped in May, Emily Wolfe has spent much of the summer playing headlining shows, which will run into 2024, including a stop at Silk City on Sunday, September 17th.  These dates see Wolfe touring with a slightly new band: “I have a new drummer, Johnny Radelat, who played with Gary Clark Jr. for a number of years.  And I have the same bassist, Evan Nicholson, but he’s expanded his rig to play bass, slide guitar, and keys all at the same time.”  And she says that the three of them are already really gelling and starting to experiment: “We get really locked in and super tight, so after we’ve been touring for a little while, we’re like, ‘How do we spice up a few of these songs?’”

The shows have also seen Emily Wolfe introducing a handful of new songs, including “Walk in My Shoes,” which has already become a crowd favorite: “In Detroit, a lot of women knew the lyrics already and pumped fists!  There are a lot of people that believe that your bodily autonomy is just a basic human right.”  Although “Walk in My Shoes” is just one of a handful of tracks that have recently been debuted, including “Dead End Luck,” Emily’s latest single, which dropped today.

These new songs can be found on forthcoming full-length The Blowback, which drops October 20th (Crows Feet Records/The Orchard), and sees Wolfe taking on some new responsibilities: “The thing about this record is that I produced it myself.  I learned a lot from Michael Shuman, who produced Outlier, about production and arrangement and tone.”  She tells me that the experience has been very liberating: “There wasn’t a producer over my shoulder saying, ‘This should be more pop,’ or, ‘This should be more rock.’”  She says that her latest work has been very influences by the 1990s: “It’s a step in an alternative direction, compared to my last record.”

As far as what can be expected of Emily Wolfe’s upcoming Silk City appearance, she tells me fans can expect a bit of everything: “It’ll be like an hour and 15 minutes…  I like to mix my favorite songs from all three records, some new stuff, some old stuff, some covers…”  And when I ask if she has a favorite setting to play, she admits, “The dream is always to play arenas,” but says that venues like Silk City always prove to make for a great night: “I love to play a small rock club that is just completely packed.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.