Vulfpeck is an American funk group founded in 2011. The band has released four EPs, six albums, and a silent album on Spotify titled Sleepify, royalties from which funded Vulfpeck's admission-free tour in 2014. The band's most recent album, Vulf Vault 005: Wong's Cafe, was released in January 2022.
The band's first release was titled "Beastly". It was released in April 2011 as a YouTube video. The track was noted for its bass performance by No Treble, an online magazine for bass players. The band released its first EP, Mit Peck, in December 2011, and a second EP, Vollmilch, in December 2012. In 2013, three band members backed Darren Criss on his national tour, and Katzman was the musical director of the tour. In 2013, Joe Dart was ranked as No Treble's 5th-favorite bassist. Vulfpeck's first live performance was at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan, followed by a performance in New York City at the Rockwood Music Hall in October 2013. The band released its third EP, My First Car, in August 2013. The EP features Antwaun Stanley on the band's first vocal track. A review of My First Car called it less energetic compared to the band's first two EPs but "still a fitting addition to a unique catalogue of music".
In March 2014, Vulfpeck released Sleepify, a ten-track silent album on Spotify, in order to raise funds for an admission-free tour. The album generated $20,000 in royalties over a two-month period. Subsequently, Spotify removed the album stating it violated their terms of content. The band's royalty generation scheme received international press coverage. In July the band received the royalties and announced that they would follow through and organize a tour.
In August 2014, the band announced the Sleepify Tour and released its fourth EP, Fugue State. The EP's second track "1612" is styled after Wardell Quezergue's works and features Antwaun Stanley on vocals. The song's title was inspired by the entrance code to an Airbnb Stratton was subletting. The admission-free Sleepify Tour was scheduled for September 2014. Tour locations included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor and New York City. In 2015, Stratton proposed a more equitable model for Spotify payout distribution in which each artist's payout is based solely on that artist's listeners, rather than every listener using the service.
Studio albums and Live at Madison Square Garden
Antwaun Stanley performing with Vulfpeck, 2017
Vulfpeck released Thrill of the Arts in October 2015. The album featured contributions by several artists including David T. Walker, Charles Jones and Blake Mills. Jim Fusilli of The Wall Street Journal called the music "gritty, in-your-face, not-prettified funk played with fire" and a homage to old-school funk and soul. The album debuted at number 16 on the U.S. R&B Albums chart. The album's second track "Back Pocket" was used on a TV commercial for iPhone. The band and Goodhertz Inc. released a production plug-in called Vulf Compressor. The band performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in November 2015.
Vulfpeck's fourth album, Hill Climber, was released in December 2018 and featured Cory Wong, Joey Dosik, Antwaun Stanley, Ryan Lerman, Larry Goldings, Mike Viola, Monica Martin, and Louis Cole. In 2019, the Music Man guitar company introduced the Joe Dart Bass signature guitar, and subsequently the Joe Dart Jr. and Joe Dart II bass guitars. Dart was ranked first by Bass Guitar magazine as the coolest new bassist.
In September 2019, the band headlined a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, one of the first to do so without a manager or record label. Recording of the performance was released as the band's fifth album Live at Madison Square Garden in December 2019, along with a full concert film. The live performance featured touring partners Stanley, Wong, Dosik, and guest artists Charles Jones, Chris Thile, Dave Koz, Nate Smith, Mark Dover, Richie Rodriguez and others.
In 2020, the band issued a compilation album of eight songs featuring Antwaun Stanley, and a compilation album of eleven songs written[b] by Woody Goss. In August 2020, the band auctioned off the record space of the tenth track on their sixth album The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate to the New York City-based band Earthquake Lights. The album was released in October 2020. In 2021 the band issued vinyl-exclusive compilation albums highlighting the works of Katzman and Dart. In January 2022 the band released an album of original recordings titled Vulf Vault 005: Wong's Cafe. Highlighting Cory Wong's work, produced by him and released on streaming under his name, the album includes contributions by Eddie Barbash.
The band's production style is modeled after live TV performances of the past, such as The Midnight Special, The Old Grey Whistle Test, and Beat-Club. The band aims for a simple and minimal sound where each instrument contributes and does not dominate. Recordings are done live with real instruments, and seldom are different takes cut and mixed. Improvisation is a significant part of song development. The compositions are modeled after unconventional song structures of the past, such as "Ooh Child" with an A and B section where each section provides a lift, and "If You Want Me to Stay" with a repetitive eight bar progression.
In 2013 the band's label, Vulf Records, released a solo work by Rob Stenson on clawhammer banjo titled Gold Mountain. In 2018 the label released an EP by the Fearless Flyers quartet consisting of drummer Nate Smith, bassist Joe Dart, and guitarists Cory Wong and Mark Lettieri, with contributors Sandra Crouch, Blake Mills and Elizabeth Lea. In 2019 the label released a second six-track record by the quartet, titled The Fearless Flyers II, featuring Chris Thile and Joey Dosik. In 2019 band keyboardist Woody Goss released A Very Vulfy Christmas, a compilation of eight jazz-style rearrangements of Vulfpeck originals. The tracks feature drummer Dana Hall and bassists Matt Ulery and Joe Fee. In 2020 the Fearless Flyers released a full-length album, titled Tailwinds, featuring a horn section consisting of saxophonists Grace Kelly, Kenni Holmen and Alekos Syropoulos. A six-track record by the Fearless Flyers, titled The Fearless Flyers III, was released in 2022.
Woody Goss grew up in Skokie, Illinois, and started on piano at age 7. He was influenced by Thelonious Monk and gravitated to jazz. He was later drawn to funk. In college, he gigged with several bands. In 2021, he released Gravy in My Coffee with singer Jeremy Daly.
Theo Katzman grew up on Long Island, New York. As a teenager, he played drums, guitar and wrote songs. In college, he was a member of My Dear Disco. His solo work is rock and folk based. In 2020, he released Modern Johnny Sings: Songs in the Age of Vibe.