Jordan Cook, who performs as Reignwolf, took the Seattle rock scene by storm in 2012. Though national buzz followed, Reignwolf's debut album never materialized. Until now.
For a while, it was part of the Reignwolf lore.
Almost a decade ago, a scruffy leather-clad Canadian who played guitar like a man possessed turned up on the Seattle rock scene’s doorstep, presumably reeking of sweat and fog machine. Armed with a kick drum, fuzzed-up riffs and a co-sign from Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd, Jordan Cook quickly made a name for himself with wild-man club shows and talked-about appearances at 2012’s Sasquatch! and Bumbershoot festivals under his Reignwolf moniker.
Despite not having an album out, the local buzz became national and rowdy festival-circuit shows preceded a 2014 tour with Black Sabbath. All the while, the blues-rock hellion was reportedly working on the band’s anticipated debut. But it never materialized.
“The first few years of Reignwolf, it was celebrated not having a record,” Cook says, breaking from his band’s lone rehearsal before a run of club dates starting Friday, March 1, at the Sunset Tavern, where Reignwolf played its first show. “I really enjoyed being in [arenas] with Black Sabbath and having everybody shaking their heads, like you’re doing it wrong. I loved that. I was like, you wanna know what? We’re doing it our way. There’s no rule here.”
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The hype train has since left the station, though the steady legion of fans who have continued filling his club shows have wondered if that long-promised album would ever come. At long last, the album drought ends this week, as Reignwolf unveils its first full-length, “Hear Me Out,” Friday. On the eve of the release, the trio plays an in-store show at Easy Street Records (9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28).
“I didn’t know how this would feel,” Cook says. “And the second that I sent it to mastering, I felt like we all had this excitement, like this is turning a new stone for us.”
The former child prodigy guitarist cites a variety of factors as to why an album didn’t come sooner — burnout from touring, sessions feeling forced, his tendency to overwork songs to death at times. But the stars finally aligned last November after the band wrapped a fall tour, which included a Showbox date. Fueled by hearing crowds sing along to songs never properly released, and the chemistry of the band, which added Cook’s childhood friend S.J. Kardash on bass in 2016, they quickly “banged out” the recording mostly in Kardash’s home studio in their native Saskatoon. (Two songs were recorded at Seattle’s Avast! Recording Co.)
“Before, it seemed like we were being told to make a record and I didn’t like that idea at all,” says Cook, who’s always seemed to thrive on spontaneity. “There’s something about when you’re being told to do it and unfortunately that’s not when the best stuff happens.”
Rather than record songs the band’s been touring on for years, “Hear Me Out” is largely composed of newer material Cook’s been jamming on behind closed doors. In a way, it’s like recording their second album first, Cook notes, though it continues Reignwolf’s tradition of bruising blues rock. With its unshakable groove, “Over & Over” might be the most hard-rock-radio-ready, while “Alligator” evokes a heavier Black Keys with pit-scuffed boots.
Cook still keeps his old room in Seattle, where Reignwolf drummer Joseph Braley is based, though Cook rarely lays his head here since inheriting his childhood home in Saskatoon. Still, it’s fitting that he christen the self-released new record in the city that quickly embraced him. Besides Shepherd, Cook found an early champion in Easy Street’s Matt Vaughan, who helped him make a splash at that 2012 Sasquatch! When Cook feared no one would see his early afternoon set, Vaughan suggested he play an impromptu set atop the Easy Street van, lifting power from a nearby Starbucks stand, the night before.
“Before I could even say let’s roll, we were already on the van driving,” Cook says of the stunt that became something of a local legend. “At that moment, Matt became a king to me. It’s like, oh that’s one of my guys here. He’s been waiting for this moment for a really long time, to have a record. He’s bugged me about it even more than the fans.”
The upbeat Cook congenially skirts the question when asked if he thinks the delay hampered his career, though he says he didn’t “get caught up in” thinking about how it would be received after all this time. Regardless, Cook is clearly excited for Reignwolf’s next chapter.
“Now I kinda feel like we’re on a roll,” he says before returning to the rehearsal. “Even in this jam, I gotta tell you what’s really exciting is we’re playing the new songs and already we’re jamming on newer things. There’s no stopping it now, because there’s this energy of ‘Let’s go, let’s do this. Let’s start swinging!’ ”
9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28; Easy Street Records, 4559 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; free with CD purchase; easystreetonline.com
9 p.m. Friday, March 1, Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; sold out; sunsettavern.com.