based quintet been part of a scene or the hipster's band of choice. They are iconoclasts by
virtue of their music, rock 'n' roll survivors in thrall to the genre's power and
energy. And they're damn good at it, even if they are a dying breed. "It's strange to
feel like you are one of the last of your own kind," says Gene, the band's dynamic
frontman and lead singer. Thus, "The Loner," Gene the Werewolf's third studio album.
The band, formed in 2007, is comprised of 5 native Pittsburghers. With self-released albums "Light Me Up" and "Wicked Love" under their belts, as well as 2012's worldwide release of
"Rock 'n' Roll Animal" on Frontiers Records, the band is ready to deliver their
knockout blow with "The Loner". In a perfect world it's music that should be
blasting on car radios from Asbury Park to Hermosa Beach, on jukeboxes in
dives and biker bars. Posters of the hirsute Gene and his band mates--
guitarist Drew Donegan, bassist Tim Schultz, drummer Nick Revak and keyboard player Aaron Mediate--
should be on the walls of kids from Seattle to South Beach. Put
Gene the Werewolf on stage at the Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip or The
Troubadour in West Hollywood in 1989, and they'd kill. But times have changed.
These guys don't have access to a time machine. The next best thing is an album like
"The Loner" that takes you to those halcyon days when rock 'n' roll was hip
and cool and fearless. If you yearn for rock music that echoes Motley Crue, Alice Co
oper and Guns 'N Roses, with dashes of Whitesnake and Winger in the mix, "The Loner"
deserves your attention.
The album features 10 tracks of uniformly excellent quality. In a musical climate
dominated by drip-feeding content, single-by-single, the band still takes great pride in making a conventional album. "We wrote and demoed close to 25 songs for the
album, so there was a lot of variety and unique ideas being kicked around," Gene
says. Those ideas were fleshed out at Red Medicine Studios in Pittsburgh,
where producer Sean McDonald has become one of Western Pennsylvania's most
respected musical alchemists. Having worked with The Clarks, Jim Donovan
(formerly of Rusted Root) and many other of the best musicians in Pittsburgh,
McDonald helped the band reach its full potential. "It seems a cliche to say
this, but Sean really was a sixth member of the band." Donegan says. "He worked as
a songwriter, engineer and producer, elevating our craft to levels we didn't think were possible."
There are no duds on "The Loner." The first song, "The Walking Dead," is Gene's take
on a zombie apocalypse and features two dazzling guitar solos by Pittsburgh native Reb Beach, who currently performs with Whitesnake and Winger. The final track, "The Best I Can" showcases the honky-tonk piano of Randy Baumann of WDVE-FM and slide guitar by The Clarks' guitar maestro, Rob James. Sandwiched in between
are eight songs that will satisfy the most discriminating rock 'n' roll fan. And then
there's Gene himself, who is merely the best rock 'n' roll singer too many people
have never heard. He sings, he wails, he screams, he hits notes that haven't been
reached since Vince Neil was a pup. In a perfect world, he'd be a star, as would the
band. But we all know the musical world is a fragile, fragmented and dam
aged place where stars are manufactured, not earned. Not that Gene the Werewolf cares about stardom. Give them a stage, let them play. That's all they want to do.