In the mid ‚80s there was a burgeoning heavy metal scene in South Jersey/Philadelphia area. Bands such as Cinderella and Britny Fox made a big impact on the national scene, and many lesser-known bands tried in vain to follow in their footsteps. One of the bands that did manage to break through and gain notoriety for themselves was a group called Wolves.

The group originally started in 1984 under the name Metalwolf. The members included vocalist Dave Fife, bassist Billy Riker, guitar player Jay Janns and drummer Brandt. In 1988, singer Timmy Fitz joined, and with Dave moving over to guitar, the band changed their name to Wolvz.

The band’s stronghold was in Philadelphia clubs such as the Empire Rock Club and the Trocadero. They also became popular at Hammerjack’s in Baltimore, New Jersey clubs such as Bonnie’s in Atco and the Menagerie in Pennsauken, and New York metal hotspots such as the Cat Club and the Limelight.

It wasn’t long before the group caught the eye of A&R maven Jeff Miller, who worked with Grudge Records, a division of RCA/BMG. He saw the band at the Cat Club, one thing led to another, and soon the band had their first album out.

Wolvz did tours that included shows with acts such as Y&T, Jason Bonham, and Kix. “We did some big shows,” recalls Dave. “Since we were from the same circuit, we played a lot with Cinderella.”

The group’s music was based on walls of guitars and solid grooves, with a lot of melody. They started playing all their own music right from the beginning. “I don’t think we ever did a cover song,” laughs Dave.

Dave was the first to leave, moving to Hollywood, where he started a band with the original bass player from Steeler, Yngwie Malmsteen’s band. The group, called Bush Pilots, played the Sunset Club circuit for three years, before Dave decided to come back east.

Tim, meanwhile, had joined with some of the members of Adrian Dodz to form Pushin’ Up Daisies, who played extensively on the Philly Circuit, and hit many North Jersey clubs as well, such as the Fireside in Debville and Rock The House in Wallington. Tim’s antics caused many on the scene to think the next Monte (the infamous front man of DogVoices) was making his appearance. But some of the antics, including visits to police stations in Morristown and all-night parties, helped cause the new sensation in town to be a short lived one.

Just as Pushin’ Up Daisies was breaking up, Dave returned from Hollywood and called Tim to do some duo gigs. They continued for a while, until they put together a new version of Pushin’ Up Daisies for shows around Philadelphia and at the Jersey shore.

Today, Dave plays in a duo called “Dave and Dante”, while Tim works as a computer technician, and occasionally comes out to join Dave at some of the duo gigs.

Billy went on to earn his computer science degree form Drexel University, while Jay and Brandt have put Metalwolf back together. They have an independent CD coming out soon, and have kept the same type of sound for which they were known.

Although they ended up going their separate ways, the band members have remained friends, and still talk with each other regularly. And they will always be remembered by their South Jersey and Philly area fans for the great times they provided during the ‘80s metal heyday.

Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.

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