New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Big News! Emily Mann to retire as McCarter Theatre's Artistic Director following 2019-2020 season
Click here for the story!

Company of Wolves

By Gary Wien

originally published: 05/22/2017

Company of Wolves

Company of Wolves was a popular rock and roll band in the early 90s in the tri-state area.  They made some noise nationally with a self-titled record on Mercury/Polygram that included “Call of the Wild”, “The Distance”, and “Hangin’ By a Thread” - all of which charted on AOR (album-oriented rock) stations. The band just released its first single in 20 years and is playing a reunion show on June 3 at Club 66 in Edgewood, MD.

The band’s original lineup consisted of John and Steve Conte (who grew up in Matawan, NJ) on bass and guitar, lead singer Kyf Brewer, and Frankie LaRocka on drums.  Tom Curiano will be on drums for the reunion as LaRocka passed away in 2005.

When New Jersey Stage heard about the reunion show, we contacted Steve Conte to get his take on the band’s history and to see if the reunion might last longer than one night.

How did the idea for a reunion show come about? Well, here’s the timeline.  The band got together in 1988. We recorded the first album in 1989 and it came out in 1990. By 1991 we did a second album and by 1992 we left the label.  A year later we all started our own bands.  My brother and I started Crown Jewels and Kyf did his solo thing.  We didn’t play together for years. But we did play one more show sometime in the late 90s in Baltimore.  Kyf is from down there and he’s played the area for years with the band The Ravyns. They had a song (“Raised on the Radio”) on the soundtrack of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and a couple of regional hits in the Baltimore/Delaware are, so he’s got club owners always after him. 

This guy at Club 66 had been after him for a while.  Finally Kyf said the guy wanted a Company of Wolves reunion. I think the time has come where we can feel good about it and have fun.  It’s been way too long.  We’ve been playing in rehearsal and we had good songs.  It was a shame what happened.  It happened to so many bands that got signed to major labels - the same old story: the A&R guy changes and the new guy comes in and says ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ and drops them.

The article continues after this ad


It’s not like anybody has ever written a song about Mercury Records… Exactly.  Graham Parker did it for us (“Mercury Poisoning”).  We all sing it and not feel the guilt.

What do you remember about the early days of the band? My brother and I always wanted to have our own band.  We wanted to be like the Fogerty brothers - a band like Creedence or the Beatles or the Stones - that was our thing.  We wrote our first songs and made an album in our family’s living room when we were like 9 or 10 years old.  That was the dream and we did it.  We played local talent shows and dances and stuff in Jersey.  When we got old enough we left home and went to the city.  Once we got to New York it was like ‘Oh shit, we’ve got to make a living!’

Company of WolvesI could play guitar for other people so I began putting my name out there.  I’d do sessions and started going out - it was way before cell phones or beepers.  I’d just go out with my guitar, check my answering machine with quarters at pay phones all day to see if anyone was calling for a session.  And I’d run from one session to another; fifty bucks here, hundred bucks there.  I did that for a bunch of years. My brother had joined a new version of Blood, Sweat & Tears in the 80s.  It was all young guys, fresh out of school.  The only original guy was the singer.  He pulled me into that.  The guitar player was sick one day and John said, “Want to do a gig?” He sent me a cassette tape and some charts - no rehearsal.  I learned it on the plane on the way down to Miami.  That’s when I realized I’m a pretty quick study at learning other people’s shit.  After that I played with Glen Burtnik, Jill Jones (singer in Prince’s band The Revolution), BushRock (a band with Delmar Brown who played with Sting).  It was like a lot of stuff going on, but not one big band to hand my hat on so to speak.

We had this blues band called The Hudson River Rats and we would play every Wednesday night in 1988 or so at the ACME Bar & Grill in East Village.  All kinds of people came down to jam with us - Cyndi Lauper, Phoebe Snow, Carole King, Willy Deville, Buster Poindexter, Julian Lennon, and Kyf Brewer came down one day.  The guy who was in charge of the jam told me, ‘You should meet this guy Kyf, he’s a good songwriter.’  I had been saying I wanted to start my own band.  I was tired of playing behind all of these other people.  So Kyf came and we met, and we got together the following week.

I think the first two songs we wrote were “The Distance” and “Everybody’s Baby.”  It was like let’s keep getting together.  We wrote about five more songs and thought we should start a band.  I said I know a bass player and he said he knew a drummer.

I don’t think Kyf had been doing anything other than sessions.  My brother and I were still doing session work, but Kyf was doing another level up.  He was getting paid well.  Frankie LaRocka (the drummer) had played with John Waite, Bryan Adams, and Scandal. He was an A&R guy for Atlantic Records at the time.  It seemed like we were moving up to another level and it didn’t take the band long; we had a whole set of material within six months of writing together.  We played around for about a year and then there was the bidding war that used to happen in the 80s.  We did a showcase and a bunch of labels came out.  I think there were five labels there and we were offered three different deals.  We went with Mercury because the guy who was managing us at the time was also working with Kiss and Cinderella and they were both on Mercury already, so it was a no-brainer.

Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you took one of the other deals? Umm… it could have been worse! The one we took seemed best because they didn’t have anyone like us with a record coming out at the time.  So, we though we had a window of opportunity here.  Our record would come out when there’s no Bon Jovi record, no Scorpions record, no Cinderella or Kiss record in the quarter.  It seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing.  We’d get right in there and boom! Of course, shit happens.  I don’t know, it could have been better, but it was what it was.

Company of Wolves

If you search online, Company of Wolves listed almost as a hard rock/heavy metal band.  Did you see yourself that way? Well, in the beginning we were just a real rock and roll band - not metal, not hard rock, not too pop, just straight up rock. Of all the bands that were coming out at that time, we were into the Georgia Satellites because they were just a rock and roll band.  We liked Aerosmith and the Stones, Cheap Trick and AC/DC and people can probably hear all of that stuff in our first album, but about as heavy as we got was Zeppelin and AC/DC, which is still just rock and roll.  We weren’t metal.  We didn’t have any songs about kings and castles like your Iron Maiden types. We saw ourselves as a straight ahead rock and roll band like Creedence, Satellite, Aerosmith, Stones. 

The only place Mercury’s publicity department could get us press was in the metal magazines like Metal Edge.  They said straight up, “You’re not pop enough for Rolling Stone and you’re not big enough for magazines like that.  You’ve got to start smaller.” But there were no magazines for start up bands besides the metal mags.  So for our first couple of interviews we’re wearing jean jackets, cowboy boots, and t-shirts.  We looked rock and roll, but we weren’t all glammed up or anything.  As the tour went on, we met people who owned boutiques and we met chicks who wanted to do our hair. We loved it.  People wanted to give us free shit like purple psychedelic shirts and we started incorporating all of that shit into our look.  By the end of the album cycle, our hair was gigantic and we were wearing psychedelic clothes!

We never had a uniformed look like the Ramones.  We just kind of floated and did our thing and it wound up biting us in the ass because people said, ‘Hair metal!”  I remember Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements were in the audience one night when we played.  I saw them before the show, but halfway into the show I looked at the booth where they were sitting in the club and they were gone.  I ran into Westerberg a couple of nights later and said, “I saw you at our show the other night” and he goes, “Yeah man, we saw your hair and we got scared and left!”

You scared the ‘Mats!” Yeah! And the Replacements did their 15 minutes of hairspray too.

Company of WolvesIs the reunion show a one-time thing or is there a chance of a show in the NY/NJ area? Yeah, we’re talking about it.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to go well and we’re going to want to do it.  That won’t be the deciding factor because I’m sure we’ll want to.  We could book it right now, but we would want to make more of a big deal about it.  We just released a new single.  First it’s like let’s do a gig. Then it’s like if we’re going to do a gig, let’s release a single.  And if we’re going to release a single, why don’t we do a photo shoot.  It keeps building.

Have you guys done any writing? Or mostly jamming? At the rehearsals we’re mostly playing material from the first album, some from the ill-fated second album, and a cover or two.  All in all we have 3 different albums out there.  We have the first self-titled album from Mercury, then we have Shakers and Tambourines, which were the demos that got us signed to Mercury.  And then there’s Steryl Spycase, which has a lot of the songs written for the second album that didn’t come out on Mercury.

We had a drummer who used to mix words up backwards.  He would say, “I went to this party the other night. It was outrageous man, the house had a steryl spycase and everything” - instead of spiral staircase.

So, those three albums and we actually have new songs written over the years because we’ve stayed friendly.  My brother and I and Kyf have written a handful of songs over the last 10 years.  I think there could be something in the future.

Company of WolvesIt used to make me laugh.  I’d go, “Somebody needs money, reunion time!” But we weren’t that huge the first time around, so I wouldn’t expect a huge payday to come from a Company of Wolves reunion.  It would be nice if it did, but a reunion would be more for the fun of it because we love what we did.  We sold about 100,000 records, which is respectable these days but back in 1989-90 that number was a failure because everyone was going on double and triple platinum.   If you didn’t at least go gold you were a loser.

But you have people paying you to do a reunion show 20 years after you broke up. And that’s pretty cool...

For more by this author, click here

Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.

Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.