An Interview with Simon Koch: The Winter Wolves Benefit

Wolves are one of the most metal animals in the world. So, it makes sense that Simon Koch of St. Louis metal band Enflesh (currently on hiatus) would put together a metal benefit in order to support the Endangered Wolf Center. The sole purpose of the concert is to create awareness and give money to the EWC, so that they can further their research and build up their facilities for a better environment. Our very own Angel Kramer, was privileged enough to have a brief conversation with Simon. The goals are to help spread the word about the benefit, get people more involved in supporting the Wolf Center, and bring the metal community together for a great cause. Maybe one day, we will get these endangered creatures the most up to date shelters and further our research in order to save the species. Perhaps one day, our children and grandchildren will know the wolves solely as the majestic creature they are and not as an endangered animal.


Damnation: How did this music festival come about?

Simon: Ever since I can remember, I have been absolutely obsessed with carnivores: specifically big cats, bears, and wolves. I made up my mind a long time ago, that I would have a career that would allow me to work with and protect these majestic beasts. Until my career goals are, in fact, achieved, I try my best to stay active in the field of conservation from where I am now. 

D: I consider myself a wolf advocate, but others might not be aware of the issues. So why wolves?

S: Wolves are the guardians of an ecosystem. They maintain and keep everything in balance, from over population of deer to healthy vegetation and rivers. Where there’s a wolf, there’s a way.

D: Tell me about the first festival for anyone who wasn’t there or didn’t hear about it. What can we expect from the Winter Wolves Benefit?

S: When I first moved to St. Louis, becoming apart of The Endangered Wolf Center was my first order of business. I got in contact with Lauren Toivonen, the EWC volunteer coordinator who coincidentally was into metal as well. After a few times of volunteering, I proposed the idea of having a benefit show to help spread awareness of the EWC’s efforts. Metal and wolves go hand in hand (particularly Black M10403871_10152016380505916_1130752859084955001_oetal), and since Lauren was into Metal too, it was a no brainer. I was already part of the STL metal scene, so finding bands to play was easy since I knew everyone. I could not book the first Metal Wolves benefit at one of the “go to” venues in town (like Fubar), because they already had the date booked with other bands. So, the first “fest” ended up being at Cicero’s Pizza on Delmar. The turn out actually wasn’t bad for the first show. Perhaps it would have been better if it was in fact at Fubar (which is basically THE metal venue of STL), but we pulled it off none the less and made a decent amount of money for the EWC. Speaking strictly for myself, and not the EWC, the lovely people at Cicero‘s took too big a cut from the profits (to rent the room). I’m still pissed about it. That’s why I’m psyched to have it at Fubar. ALL of the donations will go to the center thanks to Robert O. Fancher; that’s just the kind of guy he is.

Winter Wolves is going to be bigger and better than the first. It will take place on January 17th at Fubar and will include 12 bands playing through out the evening and night on two stages. We have a number of locals coming out including: Bastard, Animated Dead, Stormcaller, Xaemora, Quaere Verum, Hemorrhaging Elysium, and Decay Crawler. We also have traveling bands coming, that I am particularly grateful for including: Emaciation (from Cape Girardeau,MO), Savagery (from Chicago), Dawn Patrol (from Memphis)1901790_572845926195554_3420063255637491728_n and the big bands of the night A Hill to Die Upon (from Chicago) and Cycle of Ruin (from Southeast Missouri). From Cycle of Ruin is the one and only Brant Hutchcraft whose vocals will send you in a spiraling vortex to the gates of hell! I probably appreciate having him and Lord Kirby Ray (of Emaciation) on board the most. They played the last show. Both of them are killer guys in killer bands who are personal friends of mine, and who sincerely support the center’s efforts and the metal community.

D: What do the donations and funds go towards?

S: Donations can go to a number of necessities including: food for the canids, providing enrichment for the canids, supporting the educational efforts, and so much more! To quote the EWC: “Our vision is a world where wolves and other wild canid species coexist with humans and thrive in their native habitats, recognized and valued for their vital roles as leading members of a healthy ecosystem.

Our mission is to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. ” The Endangered Wolf Center‘s residents consist solely of endangered canids (members of the dog family) and it is the only facility in North America that specializes in endangered or threatened canids:

1) The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) – the most endangered canid in the world and most endangered mammal in North America
2) The red wolf (Canis rufus) – the second most endangered wolf in the world
3) The African painted dog (Lycaon pictus)
4) The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus)
5) The swift fox (Vulpes velox)

D: Are there plans to make this a regular part of the local metal scene?

S: I would definitely love to make this an annual or even bi-annual event. I’ll just have to see how things play out. I’m always looking for more bands to join in.

D: What can you tell those not in the know about the Endangered Wolf Center?

S: 1. It was founded by Mutual of Omaha’s Marlin Perkins! (who worked at the STL Zoo).
2. Has achieved a number of prestigious awards including -AZA Certified Facility

-Founding member of the Mexican Wolf Captive Management Committee (since 1994 known as the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan)
-Founding member of the Red Wolf Propagation Group/SSP
-Member of the Maned Wolf SSP since 1995
-Member of the Swift Fox Population Management Plan since 1998 (an SSP since 2005)
-Member of the African Painted Dog SSP since 2004.
-Recipient of two consecutive rounds of the highly coveted Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Grants.
-Completion of the IMLS Museum Assessment Program Institutional Assessment (MAP I)
-USDA certified.
3. All of the Mexican and Red wolves alive today can be traced back to the EWC in one way or another!_MG_3095

D: What is your ultimate goal for it? 

S: My ultimate is, first and foremost, to support the EWC and promote their work the best I can. I want these canids to survive in this world for as long as possible. By coming to this show, one would be directly contributing to the survival of a species.

It would definitely be cool to have a bigger band on board to headline an event sometime, but that is easier said than done. Let’s face it, a national act would want a ridiculous amount of money to play. That’s money we need for the center, but I’m not ruling it out. I could see a select few bands doing it, Skeletonwitch for instance. Who knows? Maybe “Metal Wolves” could become an actual festival one day. It’s an inspiring thought. Big things have small beginnings.

D: Are you looking for more bands? How can potential bands get involved?

S: Facebook is meant for two things: memes and organizing shows. If anyone would be interested in becoming apart of future events, they could simply message me.

D: How can others get involved?

S: Visit these sites, then like, share, join, and donate. Anything you can do will help this cause. That would really be the best way to get involved, since there isn’t much help needed just yet. By volunteering at the EWC and donating, you are doing more than enough. If anything comes up, it will be posted on the event page

1.) Adopt, Donate, Volunteer
2.) Like, Share
3.) Join, Share, enjoy some metal!

D: Thanks again for taking the time to sit and answer questions for us. We look forward to another awesome wolf benefit! 

S: No problem. Glad to have someone help spread the word!

For all you out there that are interested in helping out, follow the links posted above! Until then keep calm and donate to the EWC! See you at Winter Wolves Benefit!!

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