An Interview With Mason Maggio of The Republic of Wolves

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Mason Maggio is the vocalist and guitarist of Long Island indie rockers The Republic of Wolves.

Maggio took some time out of his busy schedule on the band's current US tour to talk to Empty Lighthouse about the band's newfound pop sensibility, covering Limp Bizkit, and the upcoming reissue of His Old Branches.

The Republic of Wolves first caught the attention of the alt-rock world when a friend of the band, unbeknownst to them, uploaded some of their early MySpace demos onto YouTube as demos for Brand New's then-unreleased album, Daisy, as a prank that caught on a little too well.

Brand New fans worldwide swore to their authenticity.

The jury is still out on whether the whole Brand New-derivative thing is blessing or a curse, but it undoubtedly distracted from the fact that The Republic of Wolves are actually really strong songwriters in their own right.

In an age of hyper-dismissive and distracted listeners, it's easy to forget that having your MySpace demos mistaken for a hugely influential and critically acclaimed band at their peak is no small feat, and that it might signify that there's something to pay attention to behind all the press chatter.

No Matter How Narrow, the band's latest, sees them trading melancholy for an upbeat feel and should - if there's any justice left in this world - stop the all-too-prevalent Brand New comparisons.

(Check out the full exchange with Maggio, along with tour dates for The Republic of Wolves, below)

Q: No Matter How Narrow sounds a lot more upbeat than Varuna. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is?

A: It's definitely a more upbeat album, which was a semi-conscious decision. We had started to feel like a lot of our material was kind of dreary and exhausting to listen to, so we made an effort to lighten up our sound production-wise without compromising our artistic vision.

It was kind of a balancing act, but we had fun experimenting with some more pop-oriented sounds and concepts. I don't think it's indicative of the direction we're taking as a band in general, though.

??Q: No Matter How Narrow is only your second studio album, but there's been three compilation/EP releases in between. How'd this come about??

A: We've never really had a clear plan for our band, and in general we just kind of do what feels right in the moment. The Cartographer EP was written and recorded at the same time as our first album (Varuna), and we were itching to get those songs out to people, so we ended up releasing it about a month after the album (which probably wasn't the best marketing move).

A few months later we realized that we had already amassed so much material that wasn't formally released- bonus tracks, B-sides, demos, etc., so we decided to put it all on CD along with a live acoustic DVD called In The House Of Dust.

And the Empty Vessels EP was released at the same time as our most recent album, and features acoustic/alternate versions of some of the songs from the album.

We've always really enjoyed making several different versions of the same tracks, to explore how versatile a song can be in terms of style.

?Q: What's the significance of the name The Republic of Wolves??

A: Initially "The Republic Of Wolves" was part of a story being written by our guitarist Gregg for a concept album he had been working on at the time.

When we all started this new project together, one of us suggested it as a possible band name and we all immediately agreed that it fit perfectly. It was one of the few times we've all been in total agreement.

?Q: Whose idea was it to cover Limp Bizkit?

A: We really love covering songs in interesting ways, and at one point I asked fans online to request songs for me to record acoustic covers of.

One awesome person requested "Re-Arranged" by Limp Bizkit, which was challenging to adapt but actually a lot of fun.

We put a bunch of the covers on Bandcamp for people to listen to or download, and out of all of them that's probably my favorite.

??Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the themes in the "Spare Key" video?

A: The narrative of that video is kind of crazy and abstract, but it sort of deals with materialism and wealth vs.

nature and simplicity, and a struggle of identity in relation to that conflict. It doesn't directly relate to the subject of the song, but we felt like it complemented it aesthetically.

??Q: Now that a couple of years have passed since the "Daisy demo" incident, have Brand New ever reached out to you??

A: Nobody ever contacted us about it, no.

We've crossed paths with a couple of the band members since then but never actually got a chance to chat with them. At one point we heard that they knew about the whole incident, but that's all.

?Q: In other interviews, I've read that the Republic of Wolves was on a mini-hiatus due to school. What are you guys studying?

A: Yeah, we kind of stepped back from everything for about two years because we were all focusing on different things- which is why we had trouble picking up momentum at the beginning. Most of us were in school at the time.

I was studying Medieval History, Christian was studying Biology, and Billy was in Film School. We're all passionate about music, but we've always had to balance that with the other things we're passionate about.

?Q: Any concrete plans for after this tour wraps up?

A: We're re-releasing our first EP, His Old Branches, on vinyl, remixed and remastered, and we'll probably put together a couple of release shows where we'll play the whole EP straight through.

We don't have any other concrete plans at the moment, but we'll most likely be recording some more new music within the next few months!??

Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions! Feel free to add anything if you'd like!?

A: Thank you so much for the interview, and thanks to everyone out there listening to our music and coming out to shows! Everyone spread the word about us so we can keep reaching new people!

Check out The Republic of Wolves on Facebook

The Republic of Wolves Tour Dates:
1/23 Hamden, CT The Space
1/24 Smithtown, NY O' Brien's Pub
1/25 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The Legendary Dobbs
1/30 New York, NY The Studio at Webster Hall
3/06 New York, NY Pianos

Photo Credit: John Azzilonna