Jay Munly’s presence can be a bit frightening at times. And with some of the Lupercalians wearing black robes and cone hats and others wearing burlap hoods at their shows, the whole experience treads on the verge of being downright creepy — probably not something you’d want to take your five-year-old daughter to. But if you wanted her, or anyone else, to get a completely different take on the children’s tale Peter and the Wolf, written over seventy years ago by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, just park her between a pair of speakers and have her behold the dark glory of Munly & the Lupercalians’ Petr & the Wulf. There’s still some of the gothic country of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, of which Munly is co-frontman, but sometimes the twang is stripped away in favor of a completely different musical experience that can be as joyous as it is sinister gothic country.
Munly describes Petr & the Wulf as the “prequel” to a story that will unfold over the course of four Lupercalian releases. “For us, the album went fairly quick,” he says of a process that sounds anything but. “It was just a matter of getting the players in place, constantly switching players, getting new people, getting rid of old people, people getting sick of me…”
The album’s thematically linked songs are told from the perspectives of the various Russian folk-tale characters (bird, cat, duck, boy, grandpa, wolf) who inspired Prokofiev’s celebrated symphony for children. And that’s where the similarity pretty much ends.
“I never thought the story was right, so I just felt we needed to tell the true version of it,” says Munly, who uses it as a springboard for themes Grimm enough to make brothers Jacob and Wilhelm uncomfortable.
So how does Munly’s version differ from its predecessors?