The Untold Truth Of Bad Wolves

From Five Finger Death Punch to Bad Wolves, the world of melodic metal features no shortage of talent. The Bad Wolves — in particular — captured mainstream attention in 2018 with their insatiable cover of The Cranberries' iconic hit "Zombie." It isn't the only cover the Los Angeles, California, group has done either, as they also produced a tantalizing version of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home" later on. However, Bad Wolves remains more than just a cover band as they have released their own catalog of smashing singles and alluring albums, helping them secure coveted slots on big music festivals and tours with established artists such as Papa Roach and Volbeat.

Like any other metal band, though, they have had their fair share of drama and controversy. From the much-publicized and ugly departure of original vocalist Tommy Vext to becoming fodder and a punching bag for internet trolls, Bad Wolves has had to bare its teeth and stand their own ground on the odd occasion. Throughout it all, the band evolved from its initial vision (and original name) to become a different beast altogether, once again proving that no one knows what the future holds when starting something new.

The band's original name was pretty weird

The name Bad Wolves rolls off the tongue quite easily; however, the group could have had a much different — albeit weirder — name if left unchecked. Thankfully, they owe a debt of gratitude to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "Teen Wolf" for helping them avoid a name that's more evocative of an extreme metal band with an undecipherable logo.

Speaking to Metalshop, ex-vocalist Tommy Vext explained how drummer John Boecklin had christened the band Eye of the Tongue before the singer joined up. Vext admitted how he hated the name from the start, and they went back and forth about it for a while. One evening, they went out for pizza and discussed an idea for a music video in the same vein as Jackson's "Thriller" music video and Michael J. Fox's "Teen Wolf" movie where they would have dressed up as basketball-playing wolves. Vext can't quite remember if it was he or Boecklin who came up with the Bad Wolf or Bad Wolves moniker; however, they eventually settled on the latter as a new name for the band.

Bad Wolves sounded more like Tool and prog metal bands in the beginning

Considering Bad Wolves' members came from previous bands, such as Divine Heresy, DevilDriver, God Forbid, and In This Moment, it would be expected for them to have a wide range of musical influences to pull from. This does come across in their songs as they veer from hard rock to metal while also incorporating elements of rap rock and pop. However, as ex-vocalist Tommy Vext revealed to Forbes, Bad Wolves sounded far more prog metal in their initial stages of development. Before Vext joined the band, drummer John Boecklin and guitarist Chris Cain laid down a handful of demos that were slightly different to how the music sounds now.

"They were on the cusp of being like a Tool-Animals As Leaders vibe, and when I joined the band a lot of the songs had like six, seven, or eight parts, and they were really long songs," Vext said. "For what I wanted to accomplish it was a lot of trimming, so ... taking these really intricate musical ideas and then placing them into traditional Beatles-Nirvana song structure."

Vext added how they all collaborated and worked together on these songs to find their own unique sound. In an interview with Backseat Mafia, he explained how the band draws inspiration from Faith No More's eclectic approach to songwriting, while his own vocal influences range from Muse to Justin Timberlake.

How the band came to be managed by Zoltan Bathory

Metalheads will be familiar with the name Zoltan Bathory, as the rhythm guitarist is synonymous with groove metallers Five Finger Death Punch. However, Bathory also has a side gig managing other bands and helping them excel. Two of the most prominent artists under his care are Fire from the Gods and Bad Wolves.

Having played in DevilDriver for many years, Bad Wolves drummer John Boecklin knew Bathory through the music scene. However, Boecklin explained to Live Metal that Tommy Vext and Bathory had a closer bond, so when Vext brought up the idea of Bathory managing the band, Boecklin gave him the go-ahead to further explore the opportunity. After Bad Wolves released the music video for "Learn to Live," that's when the wheels turned faster and Bathory officially took them under his wing.

"That's when things started formulating," Boecklin said. "That's when things really took shape for the entire band. Once Zoltan agreed to manage us, he brought us in to [music label] Eleven Seven, presented us there. He was able to strike a deal there."

Doc Coyle thought music as a career was over after God Forbid

In the early 2000s, God Forbid rode the wave of the metalcore movement. The band might never have had the monumental success as the likes of Killswitch Engage and Trivium, but they established themselves as a staple of the scene. In 2013, though, the group announced its break-up; however, they regrouped nearly a decade later in 2022.

Considering how God Forbid had been on the cusp of the big time but never quite made it, it's understandable that guitarist Doc Coyle believed the time had come and gone for his musical dreams to prosper. However, even he is surprised that Bad Wolves gave him a second chance. "I am amazed to just still be here doing this," Coyle told New Transcendence in 2018. "I had resigned myself to be making money outside of music and doing music for fun, so this band taking off really took me by surprise."

In a separate interview with Metal Insider, Coyle explained how their previous bands didn't possess the accessible and adaptable nature of Bad Wolves. While the group is capable of producing heavy music to fire up the mosh pit, it also knows how to pen radio-friendly tunes for the wider audience to enjoy. As a result, they are able to draw more listeners to their music.

How the idea to cover The Cranberries' Zombie came about

When it comes to cover songs, the rule of thumb is: If an artist can't match the quality of the original or do it better, they shouldn't bother. Fortunately, Bad Wolves delivered the goods with their poignant cover of The Cranberries' "Zombie." The track shot to number one on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 2018, solidifying them as one of the hottest rock bands in the world.

At the same time, the release of the song coincided with the tragic death of The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan who had been set to sing on the Bad Wolves' cover but passed away before she had a chance to record with the band. Following the success of the cover, Bad Wolves donated $250,000 to O'Riordan's children.

In an interview with AntiHero Magazine, Bad Wolves' ex-singer Tommy Vext explained how the group decided to cover the song in the first place. "I was the one who brought the song to the band to cover," he said. "I've listened to The Cranberries since I was a kid. And so, I was actually writing lyrics and working on material in a coffee shop in LA when I heard 'Zombie' on the radio and I came to the studio and I was like, 'Guys, we gotta do this song.'" Vext added how Eleven Music (now known as Better Noise Music) CEO Allen Kovac connected them with The Cranberries to receive their blessing for the cover.

Bad Wolves doesn't think the internet is an accurate representation of a band's success

The internet connects the world, allowing the opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate what they love — as well as hate. Bad Wolves experienced their own share of critics after the success of "Zombie," with the vocal part of the fandom lambasting them for supposedly selling out by reaching the top of the radio rock charts.

Speaking to Loud, Bad Wolves guitarist Doc Coyle acknowledged the criticism of his band, equating it to the stick that Nickelback usually receives online. The musician elaborated on how the internet creates a warped perception where commentators dogpile and talk smack about successful acts, but they are still selling out concerts and merchandise offline. For some reason, commercial achievement remains frowned upon by certain music fans.

Coyle added how it's important to shut out the dissenters at times, since success always attracts higher levels of criticism. "But you can't take the negativity personally, because it's not real," he said. "It's an illusion. This is real — we're in the reality. That's why so many people I know, the more successful they get, they stay off social media, they get off the phone, because it mostly poisons you."

Diamante missed class to record a song with Bad Wolves

Hot off the heels of the success of "Zombie," Bad Wolves released another single in the form of "Hear Me Now," which features singer Diamante. The sizzling duet combining the powers of Diamante and Tommy Vext caught the attention of fans as the band delivered a scorching ballad that hit number two on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

Appearing on "Loudwire Nights," Diamante revealed the backstory of the collaboration. She explained how the label, which she and Bad Wolves were both signed to at the time, contacted her about the opportunity to guest on the song. After she heard "Hear Me Now," she agreed to it. Then, one day, she received the call to go into the studio and record the track, but there was a major problem: She was stuck in class at the University of Redlands.

"That's when my manager called me in the middle of class and said, 'You have to get to LA right now, they need you in the studio to cut the song,'" Diamante said. The other issue was that the studio was a few hours away from her location, so she feared she wouldn't make it in time. Nonetheless, she made the journey and managed to record the track — much likely to the chagrin of the lecturer whose class she bailed on.

The deeply personal nature of Remember When

The best art comes from a personal place, and Bad Wolves dug deep for the track "Remember When," which is off their 2018 debut album "Disobey." Ex-vocalist Tommy Vext explained how the lyrics took him eight years to write, as it's a song he wrote for his twin brother who was in prison.

"We both took separate directions in life," Vext told Loudwire. "I wound up doing music and getting sober. He stayed involved as a drug dealer and became addicted to drugs. And in 2010 he broke into my apartment, and I came home to a home invasion. And he struck me with a crowbar, fractured my skull, broke my arm, and beat me up until my spleen burst."

Vext testified against his brother in court, which resulted in him receiving a 17-year sentence for attempted murder. The singer admitted to Kerrang! it wasn't easy to sing the song in the recording studio, but it was also part of the healing process for him.

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The band had considered DL before Tommy Vext's departure a while earlier

In January 2021, Tommy Vext left Bad Wolves. The departure was far from pleasant, as Vext filed a lawsuit — which was eventually resolved in October 2021 — and there was simmering tension between the former bandmates. On May 24, 2021, Vext leaked the news that The Acacia Strain's ex-guitarist Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz would be the new Bad Wolves vocalist. The news was officially confirmed by the band about a week later.

In June 2022, drummer John Boecklin appeared on "The Garza Podcast," where he discussed a plethora of topics related to the band. One of the points of discussion centered around DL's addition to the group and how Bad Wolves came to work with him in the first place. Boecklin explained how DL had assisted the band on the 2019 album "N.A.T.I.O.N." where he played a part in the chorus for the track "The Consumerist."

However, Boecklin revealed that there had already been issues between the band and Vext as far back as 2019, and they had considered him as an option to replace Vext then.

DL wasn't worried about the drama of replacing Tommy Vext in Bad Wolves

There are few bands that go throughout their entire existence without a member change or two. However, replacing a singer almost always brings about more scrutiny, since they are the literal and figurative voice of the group. In Bad Wolves' case, DL had no involvement in Tommy Vext's departure whatsoever, but he would be coming in and facing the music — in both senses of the word here.

Speaking to Knotfest, DL revealed he never had any hesitation in joining the band, regardless of the drama and tension surrounding Vext and Bad Wolves. He said, "I just saw it as an opportunity to make music I've always wanted to make with a group of extremely talented guys that I've known for a long time."

On an appearance on "Loudwire Nights," he explained how the situation was no different than the one that Killswitch Engage went through when it replaced Jesse Leach with Howard Jones, then vice versa. DL understood there would be people who would prefer the older material, others who would like the new songs, and several that appreciated both. He only urged the fans to give him and this new version of the band a chance to at least prove themselves.

The one cover song Bad Wolves still wants to do

After the release of the "Zombie" and "Mama, I'm Coming Home" covers, many fans wondered what other popular songs Bad Wolves could be adapting in the future. According to guitarist Doc Coyle, they tend to gravitate toward the '90s for the bulk of their ideas, since that appears to be the sweet spot for the band.

In an interview with Wall of Sound, Coyle revealed they considered another possible song around the same time when they decided to cover Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home." That track was Living Colour's anthemic and riff-heavy "Cult of Personality." Of course, the Grammy Award-winning song achieved renewed success in the modern era after professional wrestler CM Punk utilized it as his theme song in both his AEW and WWE runs. Living Colour also had the opportunity to play the song live at WrestleMania 29 before Punk headed out to battle the Undertaker.

Speaking about the song, Coyle discussed how they would approach it like they do most of their covers and admitted it to do it. "Taking something and making it sound a little more modern, and make it sound more like Bad Wolves," he said, "that's always a fun experience because I don't ever wanna do a cover that's kinda like doing the same thing."

Tommy Vext wants to make amends with his bandmates

To call the rift between Bad Wolves and Tommy Vext messy would be the understatement of the century. Ever since the singer's split with the group, stories about the behind-the-scenes drama leaked and painted a picture of a band in utter disarray. Yet, time continues to be the great equalizer, healing all wounds and band disputes.

In September 2023, Vext posted a video to address his fans. In a lengthy message, the singer opened up about the tumultuous period and what transpired between him and his former bandmates. He discussed how the issues affected his own personal mental health, while also acknowledging what it did to others and the severe impact it had on them.

The musician explained how he is on a journey of making amends and already had conversations with his former label head Allen Kovac as well as ex-Bad Wolves guitarist Chris Cain. In closing, Vext expressed gratitude for his fans and asked them to not engage in harassing his former bandmates any longer.