Woods: Not Your Everyday Jamband
I remember back in the MySpace days—when many actual jambands were trying to keep the media from calling them jambands—you listed Woods as a jamband.
JE: Totally, I mean we kind of thought it was fun to push that from the beginning. Because we did jam, we were a band. Not your everyday jamband. We’re not really in the scene of Phish and stuff, but coming out of where all modern blues bands came out of, which was Greatful Dead and that world, we were right there. It felt right, it felt fun to do.
I know you grew up listening to a lot of punk music but did you also listen to a lot of jambands when you were younger?
JE: I grew up listening to that music, especially in high school. I got into a lot of other jambands from the Grateful Dead. I’d go to Phish concerts and stuff like that—I was really into MMW. But The Dead was the one that got me. I had Phish records, but it wasn’t quite there for me. But the Dead were sort of with me my whole life.
In terms of the band’s ethos, the band Woods started as a recording project and, in many ways, actually still is a recording project. But I’ve felt that when the shows have taken up a more rock energy to them that’s not as loose and jammy as the Dead, but more of a live feel. Do you think that developed out of the fact that you guys are touring more or because you guys have had a more stable lineup for the past few years?
JT: Yeah I think that’s pretty much it. Like really getting into it because even if we’re trying to go into more of a live feel, things being a little off, like a little discombobulated. We dig that feeling a lot. It’s kind of the backbone of our playing and touring over he last three years. We are starting to having more fun on stage that way, too. I’m back on an instrument I feel really comfortable on. And the live shows are just a blast. You know, I feel like I can go anywhere, do anything. And kind of move together as a unit more. The format is just so rigid, you know. If I drop the beat it’s all over.
Jeremy, do you think that having been in a band for years and starting Woods in your late 20s made it easier for you to figure out your vision for Woods?
JE: Maybe, I don’t know. I think it being so fresh to me and not really doing it for too long, I think it just started to come out easy. But I don’t know if it has anything to really do with age. I still feel really young. It’s funny because I meet people who are like 21 and I never make the connection that like, “Oh wow I’m like more than 10 years older than them.”
We’re all 34, and Kevin is almost 10 years younger then us. When we met him, he wasn’t even 21 yet. I remember when he turned 21 and that is really cool. It spices things up and gives us some younger energy.
Jarvis, though you and Jeremy have been responsible for most of Woods’ recent studio albums, your core live band included Kevin on bass and G. Lucas Crane on tapes for a number of years. At this point are they still part of the core band?
JT: Kevin’s still playing with us. He has his own band The Babies, too and when we get home he goes out with The Babies ten days later. Lucas has still been doing tapes for us but he’s not out with us on this trip. He was on the last one with us, though. [Crane recently moved upstate where he got a job fixing vintage keyboards and opted to take this tour off].
How did Lucas become involved in the band?
JE: We went to college together but didn’t play music together. I later started hooking up with him again in Brooklyn where he lived in this old house, DIY space called Fort Awesome. Then, he became really involved in the underground, experimental music scene. Everyone kind of reconnected around the band Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice. Jarvis and Lucas both played in that band during the peak of their touring days and I played with them every once in a while.
That was kind of my first experience with a more DIY venue space in Brooklyn. I think the scene definitely evolved and once we met [DIY] promoter Todd P it just seemed to open up a whole new world. He seemed to be great at finding spaces and putting on great shows for a ton of bands with a variety of musical genres. It was pretty amazing.
From your perspective, now that you are playing all these songs, playing them live probably hundreds of times, playing on drums and playing on guitar, do you ever go back in your mind and relearn guitar parts for songs that you helped write and recorded over the years?
JT: Yeah, definitely. But guitar is my first instrument, so it’s pretty easy for me. And it’s the thing that I’m good at, in life. And it’s pretty easy for me to switch back over. I mean it took a while for it to lock in totally, but that’s just a normal thing I think in tour.