When Wolfman & the Airship Captain first launched in late 2010, the group's concerts were often as fantastical as its imagination-stoking name.

When Wolfman & the Airship Captain first launched in late 2010, the group's concerts were often as fantastical as its imagination-stoking name.

Onstage, the band members tended to dress in outlandish outfits - red military jackets that looked like holdovers from a holiday production of "Babes in Toyland," excessive leather, and the kind of puffy, pirate-style shirts that were the scorn of Jerry Seinfeld - and frontman Gus Dieker performed under a mystical stage name: Constantine Xilver.

"It was more escapist. [Constantine] was kind of a character, and I wore crazy rock star stuff … and lots of leather," said Dieker, 23, who joined drummer Jack Lynch, 23, for a mid-September interview at a downtown coffee shop. "But we've been doing this so long it's become a part of me, and it doesn't feel escapist anymore. It's just a part of my life."

As the band's stage presence has tamed - comparatively, anyway - its music has grown wilder, taking on increased complexity and character. So while early efforts sometimes sounded like by-the-numbers Strokes retreads ("Crystal Earth," off the 2012 three-song teaser Wolf Baby), the music on Wolfman's new EP, Models, is far denser and more atmospheric, shifting from dreamy numbers like "Nobody Breathe" to comparatively urgent tunes like "Slave," which builds on a shaggy guitar riff and electronics that mirror bursts of steam escaping pressure release valves.

Throughout, Dieker sings about living on the edge and growing anxiety, his claustrophobic words often running counter to gorgeous soundscapes that open up into airy vistas - a dichotomy the band purposefully built into its music, according to Lynch. "I want that all to come out in the music: happiness and sadness, pressure and laid back [vibes]," the drummer said. "Because that's the way it works in life; life is never just one thing."

"It's trying to find balance in this storm of all these weird things that are going on," Dieker said.

For the bandmates who perform Friday at Skate Naked as part of Worst Kept Secret Fest, this includes everything from the normal stressors associated with navigating one's early 20s - "Some of us were just finishing up school at that point, and friends were moving away. [Models] was a way of exploring those feelings," Dieker said - to broader concerns over things like the lack of privacy in the digital era.

"[The EP] speaks to the general unease or paranoia people might feel but don't know how to express," Lynch said. "It's such a new feeling, and people have never been so exposed."

"We're not thinking about where we're heading with some of these advancements," Dieker continued. "I feel like we're just going along with it and building something we don't understand. I don't know. Maybe I'm just too paranoid."

Photo by Maddie McGarvey