Vulfpeck performing in New York City in 2013
|Origin||Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.|
Vulfpeck is an American funk group founded in 2011. Influenced by rhythm sections of the past, the band has released four EPs, three albums, and a silent album on Spotify titled Sleepify – royalties from which funded the band's admission-free tour in 2014. The band's latest album, Mr. Finish Line, was released on November 7, 2017.
The band members attended University of Michigan's music school. They first came together as a rhythm section for a performance at the Duderstadt Center, a university facility that houses an arts library and other resources. After reading an interview with German producer Reinhold Mack, band founder Jack Stratton conceived of Vulfpeck as an imagined German version of the U.S. session musicians of the 1960s such as Funk Brothers, Wrecking Crew, and Muscle Shoals. The idea was to channel that era of the live rhythm section.
The band's founding members are Jack Stratton on keyboards, drums and guitar, Theo Katzman on guitar, drums and vocals, Woody Goss on keyboards, and Joe Dart on bass. Other musicians occasionally contribute such as Antwaun Stanley, Joey Dosik, Christine Hucal, David T. Walker, Bernard Purdie, Blake Mills and Cory Wong.
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 up 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's first track features a vocal performance by Antwaun Stanley – the band's first track featuring a vocal performance. 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 admission-free Sleepify Tour was scheduled for September 2014. Tour locations included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor and New York City. In December 2014 the band released "Christmas in L.A." featuring David T. Walker on guitar and Katzman on vocals. 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.
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 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. Zac Lavender of Zumic noted the album's "funky swagger." The album debuted at number 16 on the U.S. R&B Albums chart. In November the band and Goodhertz Inc. released a production plug-in called Vulf Compressor. The band performed on the Stephen Colbert show in November 2015.
In 2016 Vulfpeck performed regularly with Antwaun Stanley and guest artists including several shows with Bernard Purdie. The band's second album The Beautiful Game was released in October 2016. It featured contributions by several artists including Cory Wong and Adam Levy. The album debuted at number 10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
The band's third album, Mr. Finish Line, was released on November 7, 2017. It features veteran instrumentalists James Gadson, Bootsy Collins, Michael Bland, David T. Walker, and vocalists Coco O., Antwaun Stanley, Joey Dosik, Christine Hucal, and Charles Jones.
The band's production style is modeled after live TV performances of the past, such as Midnight Special, 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 very seldom are different takes cut and mixed. Occasionally tape recording is used for effect. 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.
- Sleepify Tour (2014)
- Spring Tour (2015)
- Wisdom of Crowds Tour (2017)
Released on Spotify
Jack Stratton grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and started on drums at an early age. He was influenced by Bernard Purdie and The Meters. In college he led a band called Groove Spoon. He does most of Vulfpeck's management and production.
Joe Dart grew up in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and started on bass at age 10. He was influenced by Flea. In high school he played in a Phish-inspired jam band. He names Pino Palladino, Rocco Prestia and Verdine White as his favorite bassists.
Theo Katzman grew up in Long Island, New York. As a teenager he played drums, guitar and wrote songs. In college he was a member of the band My Dear Disco. His solo work is rock and folk based. In 2017 he released the album Heartbreak Hits.
Woody Goss grew up in Skokie, Illinois, and started on piano at age 7. He was influenced by Thelonious Monk and gravitated to jazz, and later drawn to funk. In college he gigged with several bands. In 2016 he released the album Solo Rhodes.
- Danny Hazan (May 18, 2015). "Can't Fake the Funk". Medium. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- Tim Specce (January 12, 2014). "Vulfpeck Keep It Beastly". jambands.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Jenn McKee (May 12, 2014). "Vulfpeck's Jack Stratton talks about U-M, 'Sleepify' and Spotify". mlive.com. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Larry Crane (January 2011). "Reinhold Mack: ELO, Queen, Black Sabbath & T. Rex". Tape Op (81): 34–47. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Corey Brown (June 20, 2011). "Vulfpeck: 'Beastly' Live in Studio". notreble.com. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Andy Gensler (April 4, 2014). "Vulfpeck Stands to Earn More Than $18K From Spotify for Silent Album". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Rae Votta (June 6, 2013). "Theo Katzman Tour Diary: A Day In The Life of Darren Criss' Opening Act". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- "No Treble: 2013 Reader Favorites". notreble.com. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Corey Brown (November 17, 2013). "Vulfpeck: 'Outro' Live at Rockwood Music Hall". notreble.com. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Wib Schneider. "Vulfpeck's 'My First Car' – EP Review". blog.ourvinyl.tv. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Kory Grow (April 25, 2014). "Don't Enjoy the Silence: Spotify Pulls Silent Publicity Stunt Album". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Harley Brown (April 26, 2014). "Spotify Removes Vulfpeck's 'Sleepify'". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Tim Jonze (March 19, 2014). "How to make money from Spotify by streaming silence". The Guardian. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "Geld verdienen mit Stille: 'Sleepify'-Album nicht mehr auf Spotify". Spiegel Online. May 8, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- Jared Newman (May 7, 2014). "Silent Album Games Spotify to the Tune of $20,000". Time Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Paul Bonanos (July 22, 2014). "Vulfpeck's Half-Joke 'Silent Album' Made Some Serious Cash". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
- "Facebook: Vulfpeck – August 8, 2014". facebook.com. August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
- "Vulfpeck: 1612". notreble.com. August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- "Archive: Vulfpeck website – September 26, 2014". vulfpeck.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Christmas in L.A. (feat. David T. Walker)". bandcamp.com. December 2, 2014. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
- "Why Does Spotify Pay So Little? [An Analysis]". hypebot.com. March 23, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- Jim Fusilli (October 13, 2015). "'Thrill of the Arts' by Vulfpeck Review". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015. (Subscription required (. ))
- "'Thill of the Arts' – Vulfpeck [Official Full Album Stream + Zumic Review]". Zumic. October 16, 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
- "Billboard: Vulfpeck – R&B Albums chart". Billboard magazine. October 31, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- "The Vulfpeck Sound: Jack Stratton Explains the Story of Vulf Compressor and the Boss Dr. Sample SP-303". Zumic. November 9, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
- "Jon Batiste Joins Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Bowl; Second Show to be Webcast". jambands.com. November 23, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
- "Vulfpeck lives up to the hype at SummerStage". jambase.com. September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Soundboard Matrix Audio & Videos: Rachael Price & Bernard Purdie among Vulfpeck guests in Brooklyn". jambase.com. September 10, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Vulfpeck Releases 2016 Studio Album, The Beautiful Game". jambase.com. October 17, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- "Billboard: Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – November 5, 2016". Billboard magazine. November 5, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
- "Vulfpeck Announces New Album 'Mr Finish Line'". jambase.com. September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
- "Does The Market Reward Musical Talent?: Vulfpeck, Spotify, and the Changing Face Of The Music Industry". Washington University Political Review, WUPR. May 7, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
- Ed Payne (May 8, 2014). "Indie band Vulfpeck pulls Spotify stunt, gives fans the silent treatment". CNN. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Podcast 13: Jack Stratton – Vulfpeck". startupmusician.co. October 2, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
- Kendall Deflin (November 7, 2016). "Vulfpeck's Theo Katzman Discusses The Timing & Inspiration For New Solo Album 'Heartbreak Hits'". liveforlivemusic.com. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- "Vulfpeck's Woody Goss Releases Beautiful Album Entitled 'Solo Rhodes'". liveforlivemusic.com. January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016.