The first time that Reignwolf played Houston, it was at the tiny Continental Club opening for a Beatles cover band. Just a couple of years later, they’re back. But this time, the Canadian hard rockers are sharing the city’s second-largest performing venue with the real Who. That’s almost as big as leap as the British Invasion band took across the Atlantic to get to these shores.
“It’s unbelievable. I grew up with my parents blasting The Who in the house. And seeing them still doing it after 50 years gives me hope of doing this for a very long time,” singer/guitarist Jordan Cook says last week from backstage at the BB&T Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the band has just loaded in.
“Pete [Townshend, Who guitarist/vocalist] has been at sound check every day and coming over to talk to us. And that’s when you go ‘Oh my God! This guy is a legend! He knew Jimi Hendrix!’” he says. “And they and their crew have been very sweet to us. Pete himself has been responding to our Instagram posts every day. I mean, just to think about him using Instagram is legendary!”
Reignwolf – which also includes S.J. Kardash (bass) and Joseph Braley (drums) - landed the high-profile gig stint after favorable reaction opening for Black Sabbath on that band’s farewell tour. Their manager and The Who’s promoter began to talk, and dates were offered fairly quickly.
In between shows during The Who tour, Reignwolf also plays their own headlining club show, and even opened for rap collective the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s exposed their music to three very different audience demographics spanning three generations.
Cook hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (also home to The Sheepdogs). He led a blues rock band as a teen and later released a solo record. Relocating to Seattle in 2012, he took on the name “Reignwolf,” which he performs under as both solo act accompanying himself on guitar and kick drums and with Kardash and Braley.
He says upon first meeting him, Ozzy Osbourne asked (or, more likely, mumbled) “Is it a man or a band?” And Cook responded “It’s both,” which got a laugh from the reality TV star/Prince of Darkness. Earlier this year, Reignwolf (the band) released their debut record, Hear Me Out.
As to how growing up in Canada affected his music, Cook says it’s all about wide open spaces. “There’s not a lot to do up there, especially during the winter months where you don’t want to be outside. So focusing on creating art is a natural progression,” he offers.
“Everybody there is so close. You can’t leave your house without someone knowing about it. But when we travel, there’s so much physical space between [shows]. The next big city to Saskatoon is a good five or six hour drive, so you get thick skin. When you’re born into that, you don’t think differently. It’s much closer in America.”
Reignwolf’s music has a basis in hard rock, but also has an experimental and ethereal sheen to it, akin to what the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is doing. Many of Cook’s vocals and guitar pedals have effects on them – though he says that just hours ago, he decided that they would begin to play more songs sans distortion.
It’s not a sound that would ever make the Top 40 (or Top 100) charts in 2019, of course, but Cook is more focused on bodies in front of him and challenging himself than any rankings.
“I celebrate the fact that we’re in a time where a band like ours can tour with The Who and also the Wu-Tang Clan. People seem to be a little bit more open. And I see parents going to shows with their kids – and even grandkids - which didn’t used to be the norm,” Cook says.
“And even during The Who shows, I’ll do a few songs just by myself. So it’s the best of both worlds. And the same song can sound different from night to night.”
For the future, Reignwolf has more Who-based and one-off dates through late October, then will head over to Europe for headlining shows. They’re already at work on material for their second record, and songs have been popping up at soundcheck and even in their set list.
But going back to that first gig in Houston, it’s explained to Cook that the Faux Four cover band was not booked specifically to open for them, that it was probably just local band Beetle’s regular weekly gig at the Continental Club.
“I think that was the most bizarre show we’ve ever played!” Cook laughs. “But now that you’ve explained it, it kind of makes a bit more sense!”
Reignwolf opens for The Who at 7:30 pm on September 25 at the Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information, call 866-4447-8849 or visit ToyotaCenter.com.$35 and up.
For more on Reignwolf, visit Reignwolf.com
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