If there's one thing a band needs to get to grips with from the off, it's stage presence. There's no use coming up with ballsy, audacious songs if you plan to stand in one place like a Topman mannequin with a Les Paul. So long as you have the performance sorted, it might be argued that the music doesn't even matter - but with a group like Three Blind Wolves, you get both combined.
Formed and based in Glasgow, the four-piece have gradually built up a name for themselves over the years with some rather high-profile gigs both in their home city and around the country. Last year was especially hectic for the group, with a successful tour in the Netherlands, a number of performances in the United States - including a spot on the South By Southwest bill - and a second appearance in as many years at T in the Park.
As with all band stories, Three Blind Wolves' history started small - around 2007, three of the band's four members met each other on the Glasgow acoustic scene. Ross Clark, formerly a solo artist making a name for himself in his hometown, discovered David "Davie" Cleary and Kevin Mackay through the delightfully named band Rainbowsheep. The trio shared line-ups with each other for some time before they finally formed a group together, with childhood friend Fheargas Lyon joining on drums.
The resultant band began playing shows in and around Scotland's largest city under the initial moniker Ross Clark and the Scarves Go Missing. After a year spent jamming and cobbling songs together, they renamed themselves Three Blind Wolves. Ross' experience as a songwriter later came into its own, as the group composed their debut record, The Sound of the Storm.
Recorded at the Diving Bell Lounge in Glasgow - also one of several sites favoured by Frightened Rabbit - the 25-minute EP has just the right amount of roughness around the edges to bring out the feral nature of the music contained therein. Relying heavily on harmony, the work clings to a mantra of sounding grandiose yet deliberately kept bound tightly to the ground. Spiky guitars are mashed through reverb filters to prevent the appearance of over-production, and it all sounds well crafted yet very self-aware.
Following the release and relative acclaim of The Sound of the Storm, Three Blind Wolves' next move was to "tour the arse out this record", and that is exactly what they did. A run of shows across Scotland, with a date in Leeds to top it off, was followed by their first tour abroad.
The Netherlands is a country known more for its quirks than its musical credentials: one envisions clogs, windmills and orange football teams at just the mention of the name. The band were understandably thrilled to be able to play to new faces and see new sights. "Travelling to another country is one of life's great experiences. To find new ground under your feet, new smells in your nose, new tastes, new people. You get a sense of how different we all can be yet notice the ways in which we are all alike."
They continued with this spirit into 2011. A tour of the UK, covering Glasgow, Newcastle, Preston, London, Leeds and an appearance at the Southsea Festival, was swiftly followed by a first foray into American territory. Being as tenacious as they surely are, they built an entire tour out of the experience, visiting the states of Georgia, New York, Maryland and Ohio, among others. As the band themselves put it, "to be able to offer our music in return for this fantastic experience is something we are grateful for."
Even while playing shows all over, the group were still letting creative juices flow in their own bizarre way: a drunken bet with a producer that they could not record an album in one day. Forty-eight hours of writing later, the band were in a "friend's bedroom" in Maryhill, recording at full force with members of Admiral Fallow, John Knox Sex Club, Mr Kil and Seventeenth Century. Fellow songwriter Tommy Reilly also lent his hand to the result: an eight-track acoustic mini-album that was christened The Maybe Forest.
Containing both a rerecording of Emily Rose from their EP and a cover of Hank Williams' posthumous song California Zephyr, the album is remarkable in many ways, not least because it manages to completely avoid sounding rushed or disparate. Somehow the eleventh-hour collective managed to come together within a single day and release something not only coherent and well-written, but also as polished as any other record might be. There is very little indication that the work was recorded in so little time, and once more Ross' way with words shines through the reverb-soaked production and make for an enthralling listen.
This year has seen the band's globetrotting intensify. Following a few fundraising gigs - and a brief return to Holland - the group set off for SXSW's yearly showcase in the city of Austin, Texas, where they were virtually omnipresent across the Scottish showcases.
Where next for the Wolves? With a new album in the works and a tour bus gasping for petrol, the band tell us (in rhyme!): "You can expect us to keep truckin' down the the road, more than ever before. New territories both musical and geographical you can expect us to explore. Expect us to to do what we want, like we're doing now, only bigger and more. You can expect us to drink the drinks, smoke the smokes, and jam the jams, until our bodies fall down on the floor."