Meanwood

Meanwood

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
BandRockGarage Rock

Garage and soul. It's good for what ails ya.

Band Press

The Schomberg Fair featuring Meanwood & The Unquiet Dead @ The Silver Dollar Room, Toronto October 12th, 2012 – Spill Magazine

Meanwood is what your mother tried to warn you about. Meanwood is as sexy as sin, and almost as much fun.

Band frontwoman, Viktoria Belle, is a diminutive, brazen hussy with a voice like velvet and vodka; and yet her all-male bandmates can more than keep up, making for one hell of a powerful show. They opened with the aptly titled “Sister Sin” and “Mercy,” and the crowd loved it, despite some technical challenges that allowed the music to overpower the vocals. But by “Queen Mab” the tech issue was tamed and Meanwood got their funk dial on ‘crazy’. The band tore through “Pijos,” “Secret Lives,” and “On A Train” wearing shit-eating grins and obviously having a blast along with the crowd. “Small Town Hearts” was fantastic, irresistible, hyped-up swing. The audience was rewarded for their enthusiasm, as Meanwood finished off with the debut of “Half-Blood Blues”: a dark, gritty, and of course, sexy, growl that pretty much brought the house down.

The Good Folk of Meanwood – Provocative Penguin

Often associated with cowboys and hillbillies, country music was an energetic form of folksy expression through most of the 20th century. Subsequently trampled on by the likes of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain in the 1990s, some people may have been left to feel as if the best of country had hung its hat in Tennessee and died. However, over the past several years, the genre has found a new home within indie rock culture. Local acts like The Sadies and Cuff the Duke are attracting large followings (and Juno nods) and it’s not just because their sound is familiar. It’s that they’re playing a type of music they love and doing something different with it. It’s in that exact vein that Meanwood steps in.

How did you guys find each other?

Steve: I was looking for the escape hatch to this town when I heard Belle sing for the very first time. While she was abroad, she sent Mike and his lovely wife a video cover of a Gillian Welch song for their wedding present. I was floored by her talent… So, when by chance Belle and I met again at a party, I approached her about getting some songs together and she agreed. We both had some skeletons and [such], so we made them dance, put them to music, recruited our favourite people to help us make the sounds and here we are.

You’d want Meanwood powering the soundtrack for a good ol’ fashioned western. It’s easy to get lost in the vibe from the moment they hit the stage to moment they leave, smiling and dripping with sweat. Between the hair-raising, sweet twang of Belle’s vocals and the undeniably solid instrumental harmony of Steve, Mike, Eric and Harley, it’s impossible not to notice that Meanwood is quite simply impressive. Whether it’s an uncomfortably packed crowd at The Crawford or a distracted bunch at the El Mocombo, people’s ears perk up and they turn to attention when the band starts to play.

What are your top 5 influences?

Belle: Leonard Cohen has always been my biggest song writing inspiration. He’s pretty much the voice of God. And as far as women go, there have always been two: Judy Garland and Janis Joplin. They are untouchable.

Harley: If I just had to pick one it’d probably be The Band. They can do it all and it’s so casual, no pretense, just a bunch of dudes hanging out playing sweet tunes. The Constantines are/were the modern day equivalent of that for me as well.

Mike: Stones, Dylan, Elvis (in their early years) and the Beatles. These bands completely changed the game and have had a hand in everything that’s come after in some way, shape or form. They all had raw skill, perfectly-a-little rough around the edges. Music then had a pulse.

Steve: Rev. Gary Davis, Cuby and The Blizzards, The Pretty Things, The Impressions, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Neil Young to name a few. Honestly, I could fill a double bound book with all my influences.

Eric: I listened almost exclusively to Nirvana and early Sabbath until about the age of 13, but since then, I’ll listen to just about anything and try to glean something enjoyable or useful out of it. That can be like squeezing water out of a rock, but even the vilest of pop music says something to someone, even if it’s just all production value on top of a formula.

Their debut EP Trials, much like Meanwood’s live show, is a diverse mix of fervent jams, mellow grooves and stirring stanzas. Sexually charged and ready to dance, it’s most definitely worth picking up. Songs like Sing To Me and Mercy are sure to bring about the country-rockin’ soul in just about anyone.

The Good Folk of Meanwood – Provocative Penguin

Often associated with cowboys and hillbillies, country music was an energetic form of folksy expression through most of the 20th century. Subsequently trampled on by the likes of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain in the 1990s, some people may have been left to feel as if the best of country had hung its hat in Tennessee and died. However, over the past several years, the genre has found a new home within indie rock culture. Local acts like The Sadies and Cuff the Duke are attracting large followings (and Juno nods) and it’s not just because their sound is familiar. It’s that they’re playing a type of music they love and doing something different with it. It’s in that exact vein that Meanwood steps in.

How did you guys find each other?

Steve: I was looking for the escape hatch to this town when I heard Belle sing for the very first time. While she was abroad, she sent Mike and his lovely wife a video cover of a Gillian Welch song for their wedding present. I was floored by her talent… So, when by chance Belle and I met again at a party, I approached her about getting some songs together and she agreed. We both had some skeletons and [such], so we made them dance, put them to music, recruited our favourite people to help us make the sounds and here we are.

You’d want Meanwood powering the soundtrack for a good ol’ fashioned western. It’s easy to get lost in the vibe from the moment they hit the stage to moment they leave, smiling and dripping with sweat. Between the hair-raising, sweet twang of Belle’s vocals and the undeniably solid instrumental harmony of Steve, Mike, Eric and Harley, it’s impossible not to notice that Meanwood is quite simply impressive. Whether it’s an uncomfortably packed crowd at The Crawford or a distracted bunch at the El Mocombo, people’s ears perk up and they turn to attention when the band starts to play.

What are your top 5 influences?

Belle: Leonard Cohen has always been my biggest song writing inspiration. He’s pretty much the voice of God. And as far as women go, there have always been two: Judy Garland and Janis Joplin. They are untouchable.

Harley: If I just had to pick one it’d probably be The Band. They can do it all and it’s so casual, no pretense, just a bunch of dudes hanging out playing sweet tunes. The Constantines are/were the modern day equivalent of that for me as well.

Mike: Stones, Dylan, Elvis (in their early years) and the Beatles. These bands completely changed the game and have had a hand in everything that’s come after in some way, shape or form. They all had raw skill, perfectly-a-little rough around the edges. Music then had a pulse.

Steve: Rev. Gary Davis, Cuby and The Blizzards, The Pretty Things, The Impressions, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Neil Young to name a few. Honestly, I could fill a double bound book with all my influences.

Eric: I listened almost exclusively to Nirvana and early Sabbath until about the age of 13, but since then, I’ll listen to just about anything and try to glean something enjoyable or useful out of it. That can be like squeezing water out of a rock, but even the vilest of pop music says something to someone, even if it’s just all production value on top of a formula.

Their debut EP Trials, much like Meanwood’s live show, is a diverse mix of fervent jams, mellow grooves and stirring stanzas. Sexually charged and ready to dance, it’s most definitely worth picking up. Songs like Sing To Me and Mercy are sure to bring about the country-rockin’ soul in just about anyone.

10 Things I Learned at NXNE from the Perspective of the Promoter/Sponsor at Rancho – Dan Wolovick/Two Way Monologues

When Meanwood hits the stage everything changes — a glorious drunken dance party breaks out every god damn time and its the most awesome thing ever! I don’t know if its the infectious nature of the music, the great attitudes of the band, the “witching hour”, or all of the above but Meanwood is quickly converting this city one raucous live show at a time.

10 Things I Learned at NXNE from the Perspective of the Promoter/Sponsor at Rancho – Dan Wolovick/Two Way Monologues

When Meanwood hits the stage everything changes — a glorious drunken dance party breaks out every god damn time and its the most awesome thing ever! I don’t know if its the infectious nature of the music, the great attitudes of the band, the “witching hour”, or all of the above but Meanwood is quickly converting this city one raucous live show at a time.

Meanwood - Trials – Rotten Folk Records

These guys shared a bill with Daresay in Toronto sometime last year and they tore the house down! They were one of the tightest bands I have seen in a long time and their singer had an incredibly articulate singing voice. They write swampy country songs. Check em’ out!!!

NXNE 2012: Meanwood – Pete Nema, Sticky Magazine

I arrived early at the Rancho Relaxo for Meanwood's 1:00am set on the Saturday of NXNE without any idea what to expect.

There was some milling about between sets and as the band prepared to take the stage, only a few people made their way to floor space near the stage. The band started into their set, with friends of the band cheering loudly. Band members weren't dressed to impress — they took the stage looking more like they were there for a rehersal. It was a friendly atmosphere, and the performance started out in the same vein... friendly.

As the band warmed up, more and more people filtered into the venue and many, like me, found it difficult not to move to Meanwood's country-rock music (even if not " dancing," exactly). Sincere cheers could be heard in response to sections of the amazing vocals from Viktoria Belle and, slowly, the performance started to change; Belle and the rest of the band started to feed off the energy of the crowd that now filled the floor, and in turn the crowd fed off the increased strength in the band's performance. The atmosphere changed from an NXNE showcase to a music party, happening both on and off stage. There's no doubt alcohol played a part in some of this, but mutual enjoyment of each other seemed to be the true driving force.

By the time the band belted out an expressive and brilliantly performed "Sister Sin", the level of fan/band interaction peaked. It felt like something that can't quite be explained was being exchanged between the band members and the crowd, a sensation that happens at some of the best concert experiences. Whether or not this was a one-time thing or an atmosphere the band is able to recreate frequently is yet to be seen, but I'm definitely willing to spend a few more nights out with Meanwood to find out.

Banjo's duel and guitars twang in Meanwood – Pete Morey, CBC Radio 3

If you get your kicks watching Spaghetti Westerns, then Meanwood’s blazing country music might spur you on today.

Meanwood sound like they’re from a rattle snake infested border town, but they’re actually from Toronto and are a newly formed bunch of Canadian guitar slingers.

Steven DaSilva and Harley Haskett are responsible for Meanwood’s trademark twang. On "Sister Sin" they trade lick for lick in an electrified guitar duel, while Viktoria Belle’s vocals cut through the gunpowder smoke like a bullet.

Banjo's duel and guitars twang in Meanwood – Pete Morey, CBC Radio 3

If you get your kicks watching Spaghetti Westerns, then Meanwood’s blazing country music might spur you on today.

Meanwood sound like they’re from a rattle snake infested border town, but they’re actually from Toronto and are a newly formed bunch of Canadian guitar slingers.

Steven DaSilva and Harley Haskett are responsible for Meanwood’s trademark twang. On "Sister Sin" they trade lick for lick in an electrified guitar duel, while Viktoria Belle’s vocals cut through the gunpowder smoke like a bullet.

Meanwood, Trials – Stage Door Reviews

Wow….Meanwood kills. The band’s description of being a mixture of “Country, soul and rock ‘n’ roll” is spot on and if this is a trial run, I can’t wait for the full length. Opener “Sister Sin” is a definite highlight featuring a killer guitar duel, while the bands gypsy flavoured rhythms will have you doing the cha-cha. Viktoria Belle’s otherworldly voice cuts through the mayhem only adding to the mystery. Follow-up track “Sing To Me” again features some beautiful vocal work, but the dreamy lullaby goes trippy by end, making for one helluva ride. “All The Others” makes me feel all nostalgic – reminding me of when I first heard Dolly Parton – the cheeky lyrics and that 70’s country vibe is pure gold. “Mercy” is a battle between lovers that will remind listeners of Twilight Hotel and album closer “Fisher” is the perfect closing song – a sad guitar ballad that numbs the pain of neglected love. (Independent) ~ 4 Stars

First Wave of Rancho NXNE Bands Announced. – Two Way Monologues

For many of us, Meanwood’s set at Canadian Music Fest at Rancho in 2012 was the highlight of the fest at the venue. It had everything: a place packed to the rafters, a floor of people completely enamored in the performance, and a bass player who’d been hit by a streetcar earlier in the week dragging himself up on stage in sling to play a couple of songs with the band while in significant pain. That we get to do it again (hopefully minus the streetcar part) just a few months later is unreal!

Can I Get A Little More Meanwood Please!? – Music She Blogged

Set the scene: The Dakota in Toronto, a flashback to country bars of the past. You almost picture all the city folk decked out in cowboy boots and hats, and you can almost hear the saloon doors swing shut as you enter.
The perfect place for Meanwood's EP release.
How I'd never heard about the rockin' bluesy alt-cunt band before now is a crying shame.
They are everything my little heart desires. They are like the love child prodigy of Buffalo Springfield and Neko Case (Virginian era) - who Meanwood's singer sounded SO MUCH like - combined with all of my favourite elements ie: banjo, harmonica etc etc etc, clap-alongs, sing-alongs, and even foot-stomp-alongs.
I fell in love with the beautifully awkward singer (Not Neko I'll call her) as she talked about clenching her butt and jokingly drew attention to my boyfriend (WHY NOT MEEEE) in between songs. Hilarious. #Heartz. And obviously her voice was incredible to merit comparisons to Neko Case, a fact proven all over again when she whipped out a flawless Etta James cover.
Not to forget about the rest of the band and their revolving door of musical instruments, and barnfulls of talent.
Everything about them was fantastic.
They played two sets, the second of it I was debating staying for due to work the next morning, but when it came time for the break in between there was no question that I was staying to hear the rest. You don't walk out on a band like that. It's like the spurs on your boots are stuck in the floor.

Meanwood - The Drake – Lonely Vagabond

Combining traditional country music with elements of folk, blues and vintage rock, Meanwood is steeped in the heart of the past and infusing it with a modern touch. The band is four skilled musicians fronted by the strength of Viktoria Belle’s vocals, combining grace with soulful power, bolstered by the rich twang of dual guitars, banjo, accordion, warm harmonies, and lively energy. From the enticing “Sister Sin” and blues-funk of “Queen Mab” to the rousing spirit of “Mercy”, the band has proven themselves adept as performers and songwriters. With their debut EP to be released in January, it undoubtedly won’t take too long for they gain a larger audience.

Meanwood - The Drake – Lonely Vagabond

Combining traditional country music with elements of folk, blues and vintage rock, Meanwood is steeped in the heart of the past and infusing it with a modern touch. The band is four skilled musicians fronted by the strength of Viktoria Belle’s vocals, combining grace with soulful power, bolstered by the rich twang of dual guitars, banjo, accordion, warm harmonies, and lively energy. From the enticing “Sister Sin” and blues-funk of “Queen Mab” to the rousing spirit of “Mercy”, the band has proven themselves adept as performers and songwriters. With their debut EP to be released in January, it undoubtedly won’t take too long for they gain a larger audience.

MARK "BBQ" SULTAN AT THE SILVER DOLLAR – NOW Magazine (Joshua Kloke)

With old man winter refusing to relax his grip, Saturday night's theme was clear: dance your troubles away.

Local sock-hoppers Meanwood captivated the crowd with a raucous, blues-heavy set. Lead singer Viktoria Belle was part Janis Joplin, part Rachel Nagy and all charm. Her throaty snarl was a force, and when she jumped into the crowd to shimmy with those up front, the rest of the Silver Dollar was envious.

Her band didn't just lurk in the shadows either. Both guitarists treated their monitors like personal launching pads, standing atop them for those in the back to see. The Wanda Jackson/Elvis Presley medley was a definite highlight.

Montreal-based garage rock veteran Mark "BBQ" Sultan was both intimate and boisterous at once. Sitting alone behind a kick drum with his guitar, Sultan fired off a plethora of back catalogue hits (including standouts he's performed with King Khan like Waddlin' Around). By this point the crowd had become rather sloppy; between overt makeout sessions and scuffles, Sultan provided running commentary. "I don't know why you guys are fighting," he said.

In turn, Sultan's approach became sloppy as he rushed through tracks in what felt like double-time. But you got the feeling that this kind of hedonistic atmosphere is what Sultan thrives on. That is, of course, until they put his monitors at risk.

"I'm not Pearl Jam," he barked. "You want to be jocks, you want to mosh, you piece of shit? Get out of here. Police yourselves."

Sultan may be showing a bit of grey under his trademark newsboy cap, but he hasn't lost his ability to light a spark in a crowd.

Meanwood brings attitude with new lineup – Windsor Urbanite (Jamie Greer)

Rock and roll isn’t a sound or a progression of chords. It’s an attitude. Toronto’s Meanwood not only exudes that attitude, but they deliver it to you in a package that teases at roots rock like early 70s Stones and the best of The Band.

Lead by frontwoman extraordinaire Viktoria Belle, Meanwood has been tearing up Toronto’s eclectic music scene for years with showcases at such festivals as NXNE and Canadian Music Week. On Nov. 8, Meanwood returns to Windsor for their first appearance in over a year, following the release of their amazing debut EP, Trials, in 2012 and a lineup change that almost ended the band. The Urbanite caught up with Belle and guitarist Harley Haskett as they continue work on their highly anticipated follow-up album.

YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN STAPLES ON TORONTO’S INDIE SCENE FOR A FEW YEARS NOW. HOW DID YOU GUYS GET TOGETHER TO START MEANWOOD?

Belle: I was writing while living in England, I came back with some ideas and I knew I always wanted to be in a band with Mikey (our drummer) – we’ve been friends for years. So I called up some friends and Meanwood happened! Looking back a lot of booze was involved as well …

Haskett: The whole thing was definitely a quick connection as far as immediate friends and friends of friends go. The final piece of the puzzle was the low end side of things and Eric came into the fold quickly to lock in all that bassy goodness.

YOUR RECORDINGS ARE FANTASTIC IN THEIR OWN RIGHT, BUT LIVE YOU’RE A DIFFERENT ANIMAL. DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE ON STAGE?

Haskett: If you can take a similar approach to recording as you do with a live show that result is far better. That being said, it’s really hard to capture what it’s like to play to a packed room where we’re feeding off of each other on stage, feeding off of the crowd, the crowd feeds off us, and then it just keeps cycling. I think what we do will always be way more at home on the stage.

Belle: We feel the most in sync and the most natural when we are on stage, we’ve been lucky to recently record in a way that will capture our grit and translate what we do live.

YOU’VE GONE THROUGH A SLIGHT PERSONNEL CHANGE SINCE YOU LAST PLAYED IN WINDSOR. HOW HAS THE LINEUP CHANGE AFFECTED THE VIBE AND ENERGY OF THE BAND?

Haskett: The state of the band now reflects where the songs are going stylistically. Things are a bit more stripped down but just as loud, if not louder. It’s been a push to really look toward simpler tunes that are hook laden and fun to play and get a crowd riled up, more than anything.

Belle: The way this band is now, Harley, Mikey, Eric and I, is how Meanwood will be forever more. It’s a perfect balance and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d steal a marble rye for any of these dudes.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOUR LAST RECORDING (2012’S TRIALS EP). WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THE NEXT RELEASE?

Belle: We are really excited to release our self-titled 7” in the next few months along with some demos of new songs! We will be recording our full length this winter. It’s gonna be pretty darn excellent!

Haskett: We already have a stack of great new material that we’ve road tested a bit and are excited to lay down ASAP. And Windsor’s gonna get a good taste of it all!

Introducing Canadian rock band Meanwood – Rebel Magazine (Kat Harlton)

There’s not a lot of Country/Soul/Rock coming out of Toronto these days, which makes Meanwood both unique and amazing. There’s some vintage sounding blues, a little bit of folk, banjo, dual guitars and a ‘no holds barred‘, ‘fire in the belly’ energy. I love this band, and can’t say enough good things about them.

Lead by their fearless, female vocalist Viktoria Belle, Meanwood has been bringing their brand of twang since 2011. Currently working on new songs and pressing a 7″, this rock-a-billy group is worth investing both your time and money in.