My Wooden Leg
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My Wooden Leg

Denver, Colorado, United States

Denver, Colorado, United States
World EDM

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Who’s My Wooden Leg?

S.A.M. – “MY WOODEN LEG IS OUR ROMANIAN LEADER MICHAEL MAFTEAN. MICHAEL TURNS ON MY PROGRAM. MICHAEL ENDS MY PROGRAM. MICHAEL IS RESPONSIBLE FO… “

Michael – “Let me interject here. S.A.M. has some faulty wiring I’ll be correcting very shortly. My Wooden Leg is a stage name used with solo as well as with a collective of musicians, artists, and entertainers I’ve put together to perform live shows and record albums with.”



What’s the story behind the band name My Wooden Leg?

Michael – “Sigh…Go ahead S.A.M.”

S.A.M. – “ ITS MY WOODEN LEG!!! NOT YOURS!”



What are your music influences?

Michael – “Traditional Balkan and Gypsy music of groups like: Taraf de Haidouks, Fanfare Ciocarlia, and Besh o Drom. Newer groups like Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beat Box, Manu Chao and ????????? (Leningrad), even System Of A Down really helped pave a way for me to write and connect towards mainstream audiences.”



What’s your method at the time of writing a song?

Michael- “My ears and subconscious seen to soak up what they’re exposed to. If I listen to nothing but Tejano for a couple days, some song will leak out of me that incorporates the harmonies I’ve been hearing. Things like NPR, science, sci-fi, women, and topical news influence the lyrical content. So there’s plenty there to mull over and get on paper.



The Jealous Disco is your first full-length album. How was the recording and writing process? How you come up with the album’s title?

Michael- “The Jealous Disco title came from a combination of 2 nicknames while in Houston, Texas. Our drummer Joshua Jones was titled Disco Jones, appropriately, and our previous bass player, Jealous Jack. Fun with words put the 2 together.”



For you, what are the PROs and CONs of being a duo?

S.A.M. – “DUO???!”

Michael – “What S.A.M. is trying to say is that there are 2 cores that will always remain “live” when it comes to live performances and that’s the guitar/main vocals and percussion.



Tell us more about S.A.M.

S.A.M. – “I AM PROGRAMMED TO PERFORM THE MENIAL TASK OF A BASS FREQUENCY. AMBIENCE SOUNDS AND BRAINWASHING FREQUENCIES ARE IMPROVISED.”

Michael – “S.A.M. is a “Super Awesome Machine” that we’ve programmed for bass and electronica samples. He’s also got the personality of a bass player with his struggles for control, power, and never ending conquest to secretly destroy the band.”



How you guys feel about being nominated for so many awards and having your music played in some films and TV networks?

Michael – “It feels like hard work pays off when a bit of luck is introduced in the mix. Hopefully, these things will lead to bigger and better avenues on a national/international level.”



You guys are planning to hit the road?

S.A.M. – “EASTERN EUROPE 2013”

Michael – “Yes, we really hope to be in the Balkans this spring or summer of 2013. If you can help in any way, please reach out to us.”



Where can we contact you or find out more about your music?

Michael – “Facebook. You can message us, find links to videos and music, tour schedules, press, all that.”



What’s the message you want to spread with your music?

Michael – “Two things. Question everything and don’t buy the answers until you’ve proved they are the truth.”



What has been one of the funniest moments you have been or took part while touring?

S.A.M. – “THE ONE TIME BEFORE THE GIG IN MANHATTAN I PRETENDED I COULDN’T BOOT UP. YOU SHOULD’VE SEEN THESE GUYS SQUIRRRRRM!!” - Vents Magazine


Once it was time for Michael and Steward to have center stage all to themselves, I was immediately struck by Michael’s disposition.

The leader of the duo, Michael – dressed in snug jeans, a teal v-neck, black vest, and with his black hair gelled tightly right to left – was meticulous in ensuring that his guitar sounded just so and that his setup was just right. There was a burning intensity for the integrity of his music that was clear to see.

See that tattoo on Michael’s right arm? It says “Asculta.” It means listen in Romanian. As Michael told me after the show, the night’s audience certainly did.

How could we not?

The first two songs My Wooden Leg performed featured Michael singing in Romanian. He ended with a couple singing in English. Regardless of language, I got the impression that Michael was trying to inflict as much pain on his larynx as possible with each note that he sang. There was an abruptness to his vocal style, as if trying to cut off the end of the previous word to quickly get to the next.
But it was wonderful to listen to. Michael’s singing perfectly complemented his spectacular guitar play – the man is clearly a genius with the instrument – which was itself complemented itself by Steward’s understated, team-first trumpet work.

Steward’s respect for Michael, and his excitement at playing with him, is palpable. You can see it as they create music together. - Sofar Sounds


Nestled quite comfortably in the Best None of the Above category is Michael Maftean and Joshua Jones of My Wooden Leg. The duo is a little of everything, as heard on their new album, The Jealous Disco, but they call themselves a Gypsytronic Balkan rock band. Below is my interview with lead singer Maftean and his computer, S.A.M., also known as Super Awesome Machine, who is actually a 2004 Macintosh G4 Aluminum Powerbook, and samples the band's bass tracks. The three of us discuss a few very important topics.

Why did you name your band My Wooden Leg?
S.A.M.: Its not your wooden leg, it's mine. Get your own.

How do you feel about being nominated for the Best None of the Above DOMA? Do you think the "None of the Above" part suits you, or do you feel like the redheaded step-child?
S.A.M.: F*&$ing thrilled. What category would a Gypsytronic Balkan Rock duo that sings in Romanian and has a computer named S.A.M. as the bassist be nominated in? We don't know either. My Wooden Leg is unique and to be nominated in the most ambiguous DOMA category, well it fits like a mitten.

What is the best aspect of your band's music, or music-making process?
Maftean: Because of the samples we're using, each live show goes through a pre-production where we piece together the set. So it's always changing and growing into new ideas that lead to more change and musical evolution.

If you could do anything you wanted in a public setting, which you're normally not allowed to do, what would it be and where would it take place?
Maftean: I'd double park on Easy Street.

If you were alone in a room with someone's actual wooden leg, but the owner was nowhere to be found, what would you do to/with the wooden leg?
S.A.M: Go help the amputee laying helpless somewhere. After, of course, trying it on while making pirate noises, matey.
- The Dallas Observer


If you’re not familiar with gypsy rock, you’re starting off on the right leg (pun kind of intended) with these guys. My Wooden Leg is a wonderful marriage of world/gypsy/indie/Americana and pulls out all the stops in everything the band creates. A Circus, the band’s debut EP, is six tracks of whimsical thematic music that puts you right into that old town, hippie circus performing act environment.

- Indie Verse Blog


"My Wooden LeG fuse Rock with a Romany Dance filigree to deliver an instantly engaging sound which intrigues the ears. With the composite influences there is a slightly theatrical sound to the out-put, but on this occasion it doesn’t detract from the sheer inventiveness and currency. With the disparate styles the out-fit is able to take the listener on an always interesting and fun ride of sound. The band is able to throw a spanner in to the works of preconception as the incredible shift between Romany with an overlay of Rock and vice versa creates a completely different impact in the mind. It is this apparent dichotomy of sound which raises the band to one of the must have on my – challenging structures – playlist. I even find myself listening to some Roots Ska as the band slide up and down the balance of influence. In summation – yes please, more of this delicious mix, which does more to evidence the coexistence of different cultures than any amount of Political Correctness... - Indie Bands Blog


"Best None of the Above My Wooden Leg Experimental rock duo My Wooden Leg call themselves a "gypsytronic Balkan rock band." We couldn't come up with a better tag, so they found their way into the Best None of the Above category. Their experimental, sample-heavy sound is a product of two multi-instrumentalists and a MacBook. Guitarist Michael Maftean says that much like their live performances, their sound is ever-evolving. Rachel Watts" - The Dallas Observer


I came across The Jealous Disco many months ago while searching for an indie band to feature. The band struck me because it another outlet described it as “Eastern Europe and gypsy-tinged breakdowns meets roadhouse workouts.” That idea and the ways my mind tried to coil around the possible sound of this band led me deeper into discovery. My Wooden Leg brings exactly what so many jaded music fans seek these days. Self-described as “conceived in Romania, born in Chicago and raised in Fort Worth,” this band acts as a gypsy circus with an outstanding blend of folk and rock floating on a layer of true experimentation, and fun.
What this trio, Michael Maftean on lead guitar and vocals, Joshua Jones on drums and backing vocals and Jacob Martinez on bass and backing vocals, resolves to do with just a few instruments and three bodies astounds because the music is thick and layered like a full-on carnival with drunken hippies communing around a rabid fire.
The title track on the band’s first full-length album, The Jealous Disco, announces itself with a pop beat coated in harmonized vocals that build up until the bass line breaks it down. Funk elements exist in the bass line, but the funk tone immediately shrinks against the darker and raspier vocal line that introduces the next melody. My Wooden Leg creates this constant back and forth of different genres styles seamlessly; one wouldn’t necessarily even notice that he heard such variety before the end of the first track!
Electronic and experimental elements cry out from songs like “O Evadare” where a majority of the lyrics are not in English until a very industrial interlude at the end where samples ring out with phrases like “stabbed him in the head.”
Then, the next track, “Cop City,” opens with a light-hearted bouncy beat accompanied by fast-moving notes and a Romanian chorus opening that translates to “policeman’s state.” The undeniable song meaning calls attention to injustice at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect. The jarring music swings through with just enough bounce that a superficial listener would miss it altogether just be-bopping along. Perhaps that in and of itself is a message to be taken from the song.
The subtly political “Circus” exposes the chaos evident in the United States, especially during an election year. I wouldn’t call My Wooden Leg a political band, but much as I wouldn’t call it a death metal band the fierce growling undercurrent can be heard in some songs.
What I take away, and what I encourage all listeners to seek, is the seamless melding of styles inherent in this melodic yet powerful music. This really is a soundtrack to both drive down the freeway blasting and dance around a gypsy fire to. - Target Audience Magazine


"My Wooden Leg cranks out gypsy-tinged roots music, full of sudden tempo changes, speedy fretwork, and frontman Michael Maftean’s often nasally but always endearing vocal delivery. In person, the trio is a master class in precision and nuance. " - Fort Worth Weekly MUSIC STAFF


I actually think a good comparison for this song is "Silver" by Pixies. They're both this sort of slow, freak-folk type of composition, with a vocal style that was never meant to be for everyone and a certain affinity for the low end of the mix. They're not hard songs, though guitar has its moments, and they're definitely not predictable, polished pop. But that's what makes "A Circus" so enjoyable; it doesn't want to be normal, so it doesn't try, but at the same time it doesn't try to be weird. That just comes naturally. You've gotta respect a band that revels in their oddity the way My Wooden LeG does. - FairwoodStudios, RBN Community


Texas-based gypsy rock outfit My Wooden LeG is another artist brand new to the Rock Band Network today. With the release of “A Circus“, the lead track from their EP of the same name, this trio brings their unique blend of Romanian folk and indie rock to the masses. Comparisons have been made to artists such as Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello, but they definitely make this sound 100% their own. “A Circus” can be downloaded now for 160 MSP! - Rock Gamer Studios


My Wooden Leg: A Circus

A Circus, My Wooden Leg’s new EP, is more or less a mini-concept album in which a deranged ringmaster introduces listeners to a variety of hard-luck characters trying to navigate twisted or heartbreaking situations. That device has been a little over-familiar since the early-’70s musical Cabaret trademarked the leering, decadent master of ceremonies, but My Wooden Leg frontman Michael Maftean, who co-produced A Circus with Joe Tacke, nevertheless makes the device intimate and urgent. Maftean simultaneously fleshes out and tightens up his gypsy-flavored baroque country sound, taking his outfit –– rounded out by Jacob Martinez on bass and backup vocals, Joshua Jones on drums, and Brandon Arthur on violin –– from eccentric semi-novelty act to serious, ambitious band.

The CD is bookended with two versions of the title track, a low-key but grotesque carnival romp that begins with the singer inviting listeners to “Come one, come all of you / You hideous souls.” As the MC, Maftean is in full character mode here, his deliriously eager tone soaking the lyrics like absinthe as he introduces the motley crew. His Romanian folk roots surface most obviously on the wonderful “Igor,” full of swirling gypsy strings and thumping percussion, and his warm, gentle vocals are showcased to graceful effect on the Tom Waits-ish “Lullaby for the Wicked.” The rockabilly beat-driven “Hell’s Half Acre” (a nod to the band’s Fort Worth roots) is the most rocking of the six tunes here, cutting loose on a notorious legendary neighborhood best summed up by Maftean’s gleeful line: “Don’t you know that we still carry guns?” Although A Circus sometimes feels a little hamstrung by its freak-show theme, the EP still proves that My Wooden Leg’s musical chops are as feverish and inventive as its lyrical imagination. Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, A Circus is begging to be expanded into a full-length.

–– Jimmy Fowler
- Fort Worth Weekly


During the past few weeks, I've been hearing a lot about this band called My Wooden Leg, though I couldn't seem to catch it live. The band played the most recent Good Show, but I overslept and missed it. Then it played the Mambo's Webcast, but on a day I wasn't there. I looked the band up online and someone had erroneously labeled it a country-and-Western band. With a name like that, though, I had to go find out for myself.

This was my first trip to the Capital Bar, and -- I gotta say -- I was pleasantly surprised. It's a cool place to see a show. It has this awesome open-air deck upstairs, an outdoor patio area approximately the size of the national debt and a second bar called the Back House (where smoking is permitted). Other than the purple stage lighting and the lack of chilled Red Bull, I had no complaints. I snagged a comfortable place near the stage and watched as My Wooden Leg set up.

At first glance, I was afraid this was another "sing through your nose" and pretend you are in O Brother, Where Art Thou roots band. But then they tore into a song with Romanian lyrics and punchy, punky instrumentals, and I realized this was a different kind of musical critter altogether.

" Papusa is Romanian for doll," the band's frontman and founder, Michael Maftean, explained to me, about the track in question. "Whether you take it metaphorically or literally, it's about this weird obsession with a doll. This guy, he builds a house for it, he paints her face, and she sleeps in his shoe. Those are the lyrics to it, if they were in English.

"That's why I don't sing them in English," he added. - DFW.com


My Wooden Leg Song in Hollywood Movie

JANUARY 11TH, 2011 BY ANTHONY MARIANI
“A Circus,” off the hard-C&W Fort Worth quartet My Wooden Leg’s forthcoming album of the same name, will be featured in Sinners & Saints, a summer-2011 action movie directed by William Kaufman and starring Tom Berenger, Sean Patrick Flannery (Boondock Saints), Kim Coates (Black Hawk Down), Jolene Blalock, and Method Man. The scene: A slab of vinyl spins slowly on a record player, pumping out “A Circus” –– and drowning out the screams of people being burned alive. Hev. Eee. My Wooden Leg frontman Michael Maftean says viewers will get to hear a good two minutes of the song. Maftean got in contact with the director via a mutual friend. Bada-bing, bada-boom, a Fort Worth band’s in a Hollywood shoot-’em-up. To celebrate the release of A Circus, My Wooden Leg will perform on Sat., Feb. 5, at the Chat Room (1263 W. Magnolia Ave., South Side, 817-922-8319).
- Fort Worth Weekly


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

MY Wooden LEG is Michael Maftean blending Balkan rhythms, Gypsy melodies, and hard rock with electronica samples.

2011: MWL released its first E.P. A Circus and landed the title track in both the Rock Band video game, and William Kaufman's action blockbuster, Sinners & Saints.

Nominated for "Best New Artist" by the Fort Worth Weekly.

2012: MWL released The Jealous Disco and was awarded a Dallas Observer Music Award for the best "None of the Above" category.