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Published: 2012/11/23
by Mike Greenhaus

Woods: Not Your Everyday Jamband

Let’s talk about your current tour. You’ve been across the country and back. What have been the highlights?

*JT: All the Northwest like Portland and Seattle, it just rained all the time—a blanket, you know. It was pretty wild, the shows were good, pretty fun. Oakland was insane.. The most manic sound I’ve ever felt in my life. We just had fun with it, and had a good show. We invited people up on stage to dance, which is very, very not us but it seemed appropriate. We had this crazy sound guy: it just like too crazy of a situation. Things were cutting in and out onstage and you can’t beat the crazies.

We just played Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s new club in San Francisco. Elvis Costello just played here, too and a few other people like that. We didn’t get to play with Preservation Hall this time but we were talking back in the motor lodge about trying to hook that up for the future.

In terms of your setlists so far, have you been able to translate all the songs on the album into the live set, or are there some that you guys are keeping back and some that work better into the live show?

JT: There are some that work better live than I thought would. But this is the first record that we’re capable of playing all the songs live if we wanted to, which is nice. Before we could only perform four songs per album live, just because we’re touring so much we don’t have time to switch up personnel, but we didn’t really find the right fit. So we found Aaron, so that kind of worked out.

It is interesting for a while your albums were filled with so many sound-collages the songs couldn’t be performed live and now, for the first time, you have to decide which songs fit in the set and which don’t?

JT: The softer stuff is a little trickier live because if the setting isn’t right you can lose the crowd. It’s weird…rock clubs. Sometimes if it can work, we can do at least like one acoustic song—or maybe two—sometimes in these stellar rock sides, you just want to go for it, don’t know. You just want to go for it. You just want to turn it up.

Sometimes it’s the songs I would never expect to be playing live are the ones that are good in a set that we haven’t not played in a live set for two years, we always play it. We did this show [update] at the Storm King Arts Center this spring, and we got the Widowspeak drummer to play a couple songs with us. We did this long version of “I Was Gone.”

“I Was Gone” is a song that just came out of thin air [in the studio] by putting the mic over the drum set and putting the mic in front of the guitar. And I really love the recording of that—and what it’s become live is just so different.

JE: Yeah, in the recording process we can’t help but experiment in the studio—it’s probably the most fun part of recording. Sometimes, I’ll record a really sparse song when it’s just vocals and guitar, but rarely. It’s just so fun to get in there and just carve out and try new things. It would be boring if we just did a record that’s completely straight up, no experimenting.

That being said, since your new album has a such a live feel, would you want to document the live band in the studio?

JT: Yeah, I mean I think next time we want to do a more studio/live band thing. Kind of in the way the song “Bend Beyond” was recorded. I like that we can stretch out a little more. I mean invariably we always will probably write and arrange songs in the studio on the fly kind of songs. And of course we’d like to release a live album—it is something we talk about every day [Laughter.]

Have you recorded certain shows with that intention?

JT: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of live stuff taken around that we need to go through. Really randomly, people show up at a show and say, “Hey, I’ve been here for three hours and got a seat next to the soundboard and I have a multitrack of the show.” We are like, “Really? Tonight?” [Laughter.]

Your taper section is forming…

JT: Yeah I know, it’s growing! But I’d like to go through all that, and that’s something that’s definitely on the horizon. If we get something that we think makes for a fun listen we will put it out.

Jarvis, you have also developed into the house producer/engineer for Woods’ old studio Rear House. I know you recently recorded Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band the Freaks there. Do you have any other studio projects coming up?

JT: Mostly it’s just a lot of Woods touring and, you know, being on tour talking about the next year ahead of you and more touring. So hopefully some more great projects are ahead. Kevin’s got the Babies album coming out soon, so that’s pretty exciting.

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