When Bad Wolves were set to record their now-omnipresent cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”, they had no clue the song would thrust them into the rock spotlight. In fact, “Zombie” was almost never released.
As the story goes, Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan was set to sing on the cover, and when she unexpectedly passed away in January just hours before she was scheduled to hit the studio, the band shelved it. They eventually decided to release the song with proceeds benefiting O’Riordan’s children, and the rest is modern rock history.
Now, “Zombie” is the only hard rock song of the year so far to go platinum, with Bad Wolves delivering $250,000 to O’Riordan’s children back in June. This past summer, the band embarked on a massive amphitheater tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin and Nothing More.
“Zombie” appears on Bad Wolves’ debut album, Disobey, which came out this past May, and also features the current Top 10 single “Hear Me Now” (featuring Diamante).
Singer Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves caught up with Heavy Consequence to discuss the band’s rise to the top of the charts with “Zombie”, his experience overcoming addiction, and how he uses music to turn negative situations into positive ones. Read the full interview with Vext below:
On the whirlwind experience of this past year and Bad Wolves’ cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie” taking off
I think that for everyone in the band, it’s been an emotional roller-coaster. At first, we were thinking we were going into the studio to record “Zombie” with Dolores (O’Riordan), so we were on this real high and excited about that. It came down to the night before, and as everyone knows, she tragically passed away. So, it was this really tragic, sad situation, and the song almost didn’t come out. We were going to shelve the song, and then we talked with our label about releasing the song and donating all of the proceeds to Dolores’ children. So, we released the song as a tribute. We honestly had no idea what would happen. We didn’t know if anybody would care. The only reason we felt confident in our rendition of the song is because she loved it so much. It turned into this viral moment, and it’s been this crazy whirlwind ever since. We just wanted to do something good with the song. There’s so much negativity in this world, so we thought, “Let’s do something positive.”
On “Zombie” recently going platinum
These are things that for everyone in Bad Wolves are just surprising, because many of us come from an extreme metal background, so the idea of having a platinum record is not a goal. That’s something that only bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Metallica, Slipknot, Korn — those kinds of bands achieve. We never even dreamed of it. It feels good, because it feels like we were going to try to do something good with the song, and so many people supported it. It restores your faith in people.
On Bad Wolves being co-managed by Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch
Zoltan and I have known each other for a long time. Everyone in our band has been in different bands that opened for Five Finger Death Punch. I played him some stuff about a year and a half ago and showed him one of our unreleased videos, and he was like, “These are all of my friends! When did you guys start a band with all of my friends?” Then he asked, “Who is managing you?” I said, “You are!” (Laughs) He and the Five Finger guys have been hugely helpful in giving us opportunities to go on these amphitheater and arena tours, which most new bands would never get. I think the creative direction is different having a manager who is also a successful artist, because we speak the same language. He understands how import it is to have integrity in your art, and he understands that we‘re going to be who we are and not change.
On the experience of this past summer’s tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin and Nothing More
It was like summer camp for rockers! I brought an actual Olympic gym on tour, and we set it up every morning, and you would see guys from all the bands working out on the gear. It was such a great tour. The vibes were so good, and the bands were so great. We were the new kids on the bock, and everybody embraced us.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. We got lucky to be on this bill. Five Finger and Breaking Benjamin are two massive bands that definitely have huge hits, and the way they write those songs is inspiring for us. We would see everybody in the crowd singing ever word of their songs, and It’s crazy to see an amphitheater of people signing every word to every song. We would see that and think, “How can I do that?”
On the story of Vext’s twin brother trying to kill him and how the incident inspired the song “Remember When”
I think it’s important to talk about mental health issues and addiction, because those are key components in what happened in our relationship. I’ve been sober for nine years, and my brother never got it. He got himself into a bad situation in a bad way. It was a very harrowing experience. I don’t not love my brother. Even before these experiences ended up in songs, I was going around the country and telling my story at speaking engagements, and I got involved working at rehab centers and started sober companioning. I worked with a company that coupled me with people who were a little too famous to go to rehab, and I would go on tour with them or go to movie sets and was their counselor. So, I spent the last five years helping people stay sober in that first 30 to 60 days. Whether it’s the counseling or my music, when it comes down to the message, I thought having that out there that was more important than keeping it private.
On whether any new music is in the works following the release of Bad Wolves’ debut album, Disobey, this past May
We’re already six songs into the new record. We’re workaholics! I’m in Australia visiting my girlfriend, and some of the guys went into studio last week and sent me three of the six new songs. We’re go to head to Europe and the U.K. to tour and then have two weeks off. Then, we’ll go back into the studio in L.A. and do vocals and more instrumentals. Hopefully, a new album will be out by next summer.
Our thanks to Tommy Vext for taking some time to speak with us. Pick up Bad Wolves’ debut album, Disobey, at this location, and see the band’s upcoming tour dates here.