You don't often think Canada when you think of the alt-country genre. But 2007's When Lost at Sea by the Toronto based band The Wooden Sky was one not to be missed. The genre hasn't seen an album quite as solid since possibly Whiskeytown's Strangers Almanac. The group is currently in the process of recording their next album, and lead singer Gavin Gardiner recently gave us some time for an interview.
The band is in the process of recording a new album. How's that going so far??
Gavin: We're still in the very early stages of the process. There's lots of songs to pick and choose from but as far as having something tangible that we'd all feel comfortable releasing I think we are still a few months away. It's a strange thing when you sit down to create something that you know other people are going to hear, and the challenge becomes remembering the vision that you had before other people got involved.
Are there any noticeable distinctions in the sound the band is heading in as compared to the last album??
Gavin: On the last record Wyatt and I wrote and played the majority of the parts but since Simon and Andrew came on board I feel like we are becoming more and more of a band. I don't know exactly how that is going to change the sound of the band compared to the last record but I am excited to hear the results.
It seems like every new band i'm getting turned onto lately is coming out of Toronto, Ontario. What's in the water up there???
Gavin: There's a lot of music that goes on here, though I doubt anymore then any other major city. But it is great when you can go and watch your friends play music and be genuinely excited about the work they are producing.
How much did the success of the (Friends in Bellwoods) fundraising compilation help get the scene off the ground??
Gavin: It's hard for me to gauge the impact of that compilation. It certainly has helped many of the bands that are on the record. We get e-mails from places we'd never expect who picked up the FIB compilation at another bands show and found us on there. As for getting a scene off the ground, I don't think that was the projects aim but it is certainly not a negative side affect.
You spent the better part of 2007 and early 2008 touring in support of the album "When Lost at Sea". Looking back are there any highlights from the past tour that standout??
Gavin: This past year was the first time we had all gone on the road together so every night was something new. People are so great to us when we come to their town and it sort of makes every night stand out. But if I had to pick only one it would be dance party's in parking lots.
Having changed the name of the band after the original album release. Did it have any negative affect on the band?? No regrets?
Gavin: The only real negative effect it had on the band was that it drew attention to the name of the band as opposed to the band itself. It really put us on the spot and we had to answer a lot of questions about what the new name meant and took some flack from people who didn't like it. Eventually we just put it behind us and reminded ourselves that it's just a name and hopefully is transparent enough to have minimal bearing on the music that we make.
What's your writing process usually like?
Gavin: Usually I write a song, or a bunch of pieces of a song and then Wyatt and I will shift things around and piece it together. Then we take it to the band and it changes some more.
The song "North Dakota" has a little different vibe than the rest of the songs on the album. Is there a story behind that song?
Gavin: That song was inspired by a story I read in a Reader's Digest at my grandmothers house. It was a story of a group of Nuns who were running drugs across the North Dakota/Manitoba border. I remember a classmates parents being busted for that when I was in Junior High (in Manitoba) and it all came rushing back when I read that story.
What kind of music did you grow up with?
Gavin: I grew up in a small prairie town so I listened to the radio, which was mostly shit (Can-con!). I had my Mother's record collection but I never really got any deeper than the Beatles and Richie Valens. I tried to get into Bob Dylan in high school but hated it...I was a shit head in high school apparantly.
Last cd you actually bought??
Gavin: Townes Van Zandt - Our Mother the Mountain
Favorite movie to watch while on the road??
Gavin: Tom Petty - Running Down a Dream
what's your guilty pleasure song?? one that if someone knew you listened to it you'd be embarresed??
Gavin: I'm not embarrassed by it, but guilty pleasure non the less...Destiny's Child - Bootilicious
What's up next for The Wooden Sky??
Gavin: There's a lot of plans, but as they say talk is cheap. But so am I so here we go: we're working on a 7" which will be out soon, writing for the next record and hopefully making a video for another song from When Lost at Sea.
The Wooden Sky on myspace.