Posts tagged one on one
Posts tagged one on one
E - Grammy award winning producer John Shanks has said you are a “singer-songwriter in the true sense of the word” What do you think defines a singer-songwriter particularly in the new music era?
JD - I think what he meant was that I had a classic sensibility to what I did, kind of like the earliest folks in the singer songwriter genre - Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan. They were all each a self contained unit just with a guitar and a voice, meaningful lyrics, and they could pull off a peformance without the fanfare and the band etc. In this current era of music it seems to have gone back to the pop stuff that is all about image and marketing, being the most successful. Just go on youtube and see which videos have 300 million views.. I think to be a singer songwriter today you still have to care about the song and being honest in your music as your central focus and not disguise a bad song with beats to make it seem good.
E - You live in Tennessee but are originally from the UK. What do you find the biggest difference is between North American and European music markets?
JD - In America, audiences are a lot less loyal to artists they enjoy. They are influenced easily by lights and colours and once one big thing displaces the last thing they liked they leave the old big thing. Also in the USA its all about the “beat” of a song whereas in Europe its all about the song itself. That happened because radio sells advertising and faster, peppier songs are less likely to be channel changed. So it’s evolved into people needing to write more upbeat, conservative songs, which is a bad direction in my opinion. A bad thing about Europe is they are more influenced by fashion and image, so you can have a mediocre band that has a few hit records because they look good in skinny jeans but then they are forgotten soon when skinny jeans go out of style.
E - What drew you to Nashville opposed to other major American cities known for having pounding music scenes such as New York or LA?
JD - My wife and I tried out LA, I liked it (I love it out there) and she didnt, I think she liked New York but I didnt (too similar to London for me). Our families both live in Michigan and Indiana so this is a good location to be close and also better standard of living (cheaper) than LA/NYC.
E -You just recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel on August 23rd. Do you feel late night shows still have the same power to promote new music as they did say back with the Ed Sullivan show?
JD -Well, not like the Ed Sullivan Show, because literally that was the only thing on and EVERYONE was tuned in. Now everything is saturated with internet and everything else. I think TV shows are getting a handle on it because they are providing content in different ways that are being consumed by people - its not just about the one off show now, its about the youtube clips of the show the next day and what the fans post about it, the itunes episode if you want to buy it to your phone, the tweets about it etc. Hey, we’ll see if it makes a difference to my career - this isnt a one off for me, my team is prepared for this to be a springboard for other opportunities, other TV, getting on a big tour etc.
E - You are the former front man of the Dum Dums which gained large success opening for Robbie Williams and being well known through BBC. Was it hard making the leap from band front man to only man solo artist?
JD - Well a lot of Dumdums songs started with me in my room writing them by myself, so in that way it is similar. Either way the buck stops with me - as the frontman of a band you are the focus just as a solo artist is the focus. Its just as hard in that sense. Its easier being in a band because at the beginning we would help the cause work towards common goals— one guy was great at organising practises, another guy was a peacemaker etc. You need organisation to get anywhere as a flighty artistic type and luckily I now have a management company who work with me to get it all together, but before I was on my own and it was harder.
E - In your song “The Meaning of Life” you have a very strong lyric - “All of my life I’ve been afraid of myself.” Is this a feeling that’s aided or erased by being a performer? Does this make you more or less afraid?
JD - Funny, I dont really analyse my lyrics after I write them, I just write them and hope people “get it”, yknow, deep down. That line is really about being afraid to look at yourself beneath the surface, to see what makes you tick. I think that is scary for people because they dont know if they’ll find that deep down, say, they are just like their mother, or maybe they realise they act like they have high self esteem but they hate themselves inwardly because they are addicted to something and out of control. In my case, the next line says “been putting on a mask for everyone else” and I feel that all too often, the different masks I wear to different people. I feel like being a performer is the real “me” its the “me” I want to be but in a sense I am still putting on a mask - no one is seeing my angry side or my cruel side. I think being a performer is like any other mask you wear, say, for friends, family, workmates, lovers, and it is always scary to get to the bottom of yourself its easier to just live superficially and pretend…
Though this mid show epiphany probably won’t result in seeing the mixed roots siblings holed up somewhere in the Toronto anytime soon, it’s safe to say The Wood Brothers are welcome on Canadian soil anytime.
Originally growing up in Boulder, Colorado, the Wood Brothers, Oliver and Chris, came to Toronto’s Hugh’s Room, June 25 to support World Literacy Canada’s Satya Concert Series.
Hosted by musician turned Member of Parliament, Andrew Cash the event brought together dedicated musicians and their followers as a fundraiser to support the World Literacy foundation.
Taking the stage after opener Chris Assaad, the brothers and percussionist Jano Rix launched into covers and traditional pieces featured on their new live album, Volume One: Sky High to Wood Brother’s staples such as “Where My Baby Might Be.”
With the crowd warmed up, the two brothers hit a very personal note with the introduction to “Lovin’ Arms”. “This was written about our mum”. No stranger to how wonderfully poignant, vague and heartbreaking this song can be, as a regular on my playlists, even I felt a whole new level of intense warmth when hearing it live.
With percussive guitar and upright bass combined with mashed up rhythm, their sound comes across as if a hootenanny side stepped into a jazz club that got high jacked by a pots and pan blues band.
This genre-crossing is really what makes up The Wood Brothers live show and what they claim makes up Americana musical culture.
“To have all those things from music that we can draw from with our own experience and try to make new combinations,” said Oliver just after eating a post show dinner above the venue.
“It’s fun to go back to the roots of things and then go back even farther and really see where things come from. Then you can add another level of your understanding of the general concept of Americana which has such a vast foundation”
The Wood Brothers jumped from one genre to the next but never losing their crowd with diehard fans scattered throughout the set, enthusiastically singing along to “Postcards From Hell.”
Although there’s no blood relation between the brothers and Jano Rix the percussionist’s sentimental placement in the group whether on drums or vocals was undeniably cohesive.
A standing ovation to the end their set, they invited Chris Assaad and Andrew Cash on stage for their encore. Add another standing ovation and the night finally came to a close.
Looking at The Wood Brothers reaction to Canadian breweries, the crowd’s reaction to the band and the fact this has been only part of a handful of gigs they have done in the Great White North, one can clearly see there’s enough pull to bring these wandering organic brothers back north.Follow @ElyseSimpson