By: Campbell Petschke
Currently Listening to: Headcase by Day Wave
If you’ve known me for any period of time on a musical level, you most likely know that I am a ride or die Spotify user. I thoroughly enjoy how much detail goes into their special curated playlists and how much they give back to the listener throughout the year and at the end of the year. However, I do use a free Apple Music trial whenever the opportunity arises because they unlike Spotify they are terrible at creating playlists specifically to your taste. I’ll listen to 15 minutes of The Strokes and get the “if you like The Strokes” playlist which contains All American Rejects and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Huh?! It makes no sense, but believe it or not I have found some gems this way. White Reaper is one of my favorite modern rock bands and I found them in a random playlist for listening to My Chemical Romance, no correlation whatsoever. This is also the case for Raised by Wolves by Voxtrot.
It was my cousin’s wedding day in 2018 and I was sitting on the couch at home awaiting instruction from my parents on what the plan was for travel. I would be driving separate from everyone else because work couldn’t give me the day off so I would have to leave the reception early while my family stayed out there in a hotel. While I was slumped on the sofa in my baggy sweat shirt and athletic shorts I realized that I hadn’t used my free trial on Apple Music so I thought, what better time to redeem this and inevitably forget to cancel it a month later than now. Through 20 minutes of solid listening I heard a few songs that really resonated with me, Can I Call You Tonight by Dayglow (that’s right I knew about this song before TikTok, catch up society) and Freaks by Surf Curse, which will receive this treatment sometime in the future too.
After a few misses comes this magnificent opening of “I was going hungry and lazy here when you stopped me in my tracks, I was going crazy I was desolate and ready to kill”. What follows is a soothing guitar driven track that relies heavily on the lead singer Ramesh Srivastrava (you have no idea how many times that auto-corrected to Sriracha) and his passionate, almost desperate vocals. I was really digging the playful, very 2000s sounding ballad, but wait what’s this? The song switches flow out of nowhere! Is this the same song? Most definitely. This isn’t the last time that the song pulls that too.
The nearly five minute track around the three and a half minute mark hits the bridge which is my favorite of all time, the buildup with the increasing clashing of the cymbals to the emotional pleas of desperation that feel as though he is removing his heart to the listener and shoving it in one’s ear holes. It is a beautiful moment in indie pop. After that follows a very jangle-pop closer (the other sound switch I was talking about!) that almost reminds me of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac even though the two songs don’t sound much alike. The song ended, but the goosebumps followed after.
Why This Song Stuck With Me
Voxtrot had always been a band that just hid in the background for me. I had just seen their short lived career on my dad’s iTunes library back when I used my iPod Classic which if they modernized I would buy it in a heartbeat. Around that time I was just listening to fairly mainstream alternative and 2000’s pop punk so in between my shitty Green Day songs and Fitz and the Tantrums I didn’t have time for what seemed like just another indie band. I wasn’t exactly into paying attention to lyrics at the time yet either, that would take me a few more years, so I am grateful for coming across Raised by Wolves when I did. Plus if I did come across this song back then I would’ve compared it to Raised by Wolves by Falling in Reverse which I probably would’ve thought was better at that time.
2018 was easily the worst year of my entire life. My mental health was at an all time low, school wasn’t going in the direction I had hoped and had to sacrifice my summer to retake a class I had failed, and I was beginning to realize what life was like after high school. Lonely, cold, and expensive. Those 4 for 4’s at Wendy’s add up quickly believe it or not. Those reasons mixed with a few other complications made me a more vulnerable person I think as a result. When it came to music though it was almost like this newly-found emotional state was my super power. I thought every heartache, strife, and struggle someone sang about deserved shouts of “yes they get me!”. They didn’t. I didn’t understand what they were going through and let alone myself until looking back on it years later.
Raised By Wolves just happened to say the right things at the right time. The relationship I was in at the time confused me and made me question a lot of my own personal feelings and perceptions. I felt as though this song guided me through the journey of his fractured relationship. The song starts by telling the story of a man who compares his desperation for love and attention to that of a hungry wolf and the supposed love interest is his prey. The issue? She wants nothing to do with him. She is leading him on because she doesn’t know what she wants and therefore doesn’t commit. What follows is a string of lyrics that journals his attempts to make her fall in love with him since she isn’t giving him reason not to do so. Whenever he goes in for the kill though, she resists and ghosts him. How could she?!
Ramesh then goes on into the chorus to say that he will never live like her, but she will probably die like him “all lovelessly and empty”. He is fed up with her bullshit, but persists. The kind of lyrics that make you wanna scream ‘don’t do it man!!’. She continues to toy with his emotions and he finally releases that gut punch of a bridge:
And oh, don’t you wanna love?
And don’t you wanna feel?
I remember, you were reckless, you were hungry, you were real
You were so uptight
Listen, I don’t mind
I feel like I’m watching a car crash
And oh, this is how it ends
You will watch your friends
Take a moment, take a nothing
Then they’ll put it in again
The second time I heard this I had to stop and evaluate my situation. I felt as though I played the role of both characters without even realizing. I was only around my former significant other because it was convenient, I preyed like a wolf and struck to feel ‘complete’. I had no clue what I wanted. I was only thinking about what would distract myself from the pain I was going through long enough. I gave my all while simultaneously deep down giving nothing at all for myself. It took me a long time to figure out that lesson and learning to sit with my thoughts and figure out what I wanted and what I needed. I felt like how the song suggested, young and stupid.
The Real Reason of Why This Song is Great
As stated earlier, when I first discovered this masterpiece of a track it was my cousin’s wedding day. I listened to that song twice and it was stuck in my head the entire day even through the songs at the reception. For whatever reason the Cha-Cha Slide didn’t hit me on an emotional level that day. What this song does symbolize for me is change.
I practically had 0 to do with the whole wedding, I had no role to play other than sitting in the chair and being there for my cousin and his wife, yet it felt like life changed that day. Maybe it was because it was the first official wedding I had ever attended and I was in awe. Maybe it was the fact that my cousin and his wife were moving out of state. Maybe it could’ve been that this was the first time I had driven to an event of this proportion by myself and not with my family. Whatever the reason may be I do remember that day note for note and it sticking with me for a good few months.
I recently told someone that if music was playing at a certain day or time in the past my memory would be more vivid. I could tell you where I was the first time I heard Mr Brightside by The Killers or Vampire Weekend’s debut. Voxtrot’s Raised by Wolves is the perfect example of that. It is nearly impossible to listen and not think of that June day in 2018 and the lasting impression that it left on me.
I Will Never Live Like You… Again
Raised by Wolves has slowly dethroned The Cure’s Just Like Heaven as my all-time favorite song. I can’t think of more than maybe five songs in my lifetime that have affected me on the level that this beautiful song has. I can’t think of more than two that have made me have an epiphany on the same level as this one either. I constantly refer back to this song as my sign of change. A lot of great things have happened since the first time I heard this song two years ago. I got out of community college and figured out my passions to study, I combated a lot of negative energy and people (not with fists I’m a lover not a fighter), but most importantly I learned how to better accept change.
What really prompted me to write this article was due to a recent listen of the track when it popped up in a playlist. I realized how important it is to not be like the guy or girl in the story of Raised by Wolves. It taught me not to pursue someone that isn’t going to reciprocate those feelings and share your understandings. It also taught me to take a step back more often and realize if what I’m doing is hurting people around me and my own health too. The woman in the song is self-destructive and selfish. She is uncertain of what she wants, but makes that the narrator’s problem too. The narrator is thinking with his heart and not his head. He is desperate to create a relationship and meaning from a foundation of practically air and dust particles.
I can say with confidence that after listening to this song again before writing this entry I truly feel as though the changes in my life that have occurred since first listen have helped me become a person I always wanted to be. I am nowhere close to achieving everything I want in life, nor will I be anytime soon but I have learned to appreciate the journey. The sign of a good song in my eyes is being able to take your own life and experience and apply it to the lyrics or being able to take away something else that may have nothing to do with it at all.
I have finally taken a much needed step back and evaluated what I really needed/wanted out of life. Right now I have a firm idea of where I want life to go and that feels great to just type. Raised by Wolves has paved this path for me that I feel like I was destined to follow. A path that not only taught me not to compensate happiness for acting out of desperation to get a quick thrill, but also to take any change good or bad with stride. I went from being young and stupid as the song suggests and less of feeling lovelessly and empty.
Sure I’m still young and stupid sometimes, but I’m learning. I am forever grateful for the people who stuck around during the duration between 2018 to now. You saw the parts of me that I don’t think anyone deserved to see, not even me. I have nothing but massive amounts of love for those who acted like Ramesh and never gave up on me. I promise I won’t be like the girl and neglect or ghost you or do coke to feel something. I’ll just listen to this song again for that.