Will Wood
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Will Wood

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Country Punk

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"Will Wood - Broken Man"

Over the last five years in New Zealand there has been a noticeable groundswell of talented alt-country songwriters and musicians releasing albums to rival the best coming from overseas. Tiny Ruins, The Eastern, Aldous Harding, Bernie Griffen, Tami Neilsen, Marlon Williams and Delaney Davidson have all garnered hard-earned critical acclaim and many have links with Lyttelton Records - the label behind Will Wood’s new album Broken Man.

Wood is the real deal in the sense that he’s recorded an album that utilises all the central tenets of country music: acoustic guitars, lap steel, violin, banjo, weary vocals and tales of struggle and woe. That in itself is impressive and delivered authentically but Wood also manages to imbue a streak of New Zealand identity in his songs. It’s hard to pinpoint whether it's the unassuming delivery, or subtle drinking references and familiar place names but it is there, buried just below the surface. ‘Quiet Night’ is a devastatingly honest take on a relationship through the distorted lens of alcohol as Wood and Reb Fountain trade lines such as: “I’m too tired to drink tonight, just go on without me”. It’s an achingly bittersweet moment, lightened considerably by ‘Sweet William’, with Wood taking the female lead amid vaudevillian rhythms and bangs and whistles. Single ‘Sick Of It All’ is catchy as all hell with fast-firing drums and economical playing from all involved, wrapping up the rollicking fun in two-and-a-half minutes flat. Elsewhere, Wood masters the sound of Nick Cave singing country-soul on ‘One Night Stand’, nails hot-wired bluegrass on ‘Broken Man’, and reveals bare-boned vignettes approaching Townes Van Zandt and observational tales with the dry eloquence of Bill Callahan.

With concise and engaging songs, and the ability to present them with heartbreak and/or humour when required Broken Man is an impressive and important album for both Wood, and the steadily growing Americana community in New Zealand.



Read more: http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/review/999/Broken-Man.utr#ixzz3gKFiP1e5 - undertheradar.co.nz


"Will Wood - Well He Would"

Barman, bouncer, tour manager, psychiatric nurse, multi-instrumentalist band member and now solo country/folk recording artist, Will Wood has an attitude, as well as a name, bred for success. Though his newly released album is entitled ‘Broken Man’, as he tells Matthew deKimble, the recording process was the happiest time ever. He’s now dead keen to begin his new life making a living as an internationally touring musician.

Brought up playing classical music on the piano and violin, Will Wood picked up his first guitar in the last year of high school, intending to play guitar in a band. Awkwardly his bandmates did too.
"Me and my three best friends at high school wanted to make a band, but we all played guitar. One said, ‘I'll play the bass’ and the other two were better at guitar than me, so I played the drums,” admits Will. "I realised if I wanted to play in bands, being a drummer would make it a lot easier because everyone plays guitar.”

He fell in love with the drums and behind the kit he stayed until a couple of years ago. A good friend, who was looking for someone to support a touring musician, knew of Will’s talent with a guitar and roped him in.
"My very first solo show was to an empty room in Bar Bodega,” Will recalls. "The only people in the audience where the members of Band of Horses and I got so nervous that I vomited before I went on stage!”

Getting over those initial nerves he began playing solo sets when time permitted, insisting now, "I never wanted to be a singer/songwriter, I just wanted to play in awesome bands.”



The idea of a solo record came in early 2013, as the first step in realising his dream of being a full-time touring musician. Most of the songs on the album were already written, the earliest being the fast-paced, foot stomping single, Sick Of It All.
"I’d never really written a song,” he muses, "Sick Of It All was just a weird coincidence, I wrote it by accident.”

A number of songs were conceived while working as a psychiatric nurse at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.
"I get a huge amount of inspiration from my work, it’s got tragedy, violence, happiness and a lot of frustration. When you’re in really weird, high pressure situations you wouldn’t normally find yourself in it stimulates you emotionally.”

His album was recorded in Lyttelton studio The Sitting Room and will be released by Ben Edwards’ Lyttelton Records. Will says he is the first ‘out-of-towner’ on the label but that it doesn’t feel that way.
"All my friends, the people I’ve been playing shows with for years and love to hang out with, record at The Sitting Room. It’s nice to be part of the family.”

The recording took a fortnight and despite the album’s title, ‘Broken Man’, Will says it was the happiest time of his life.
"My best friend Thomas Landon-Lane did all the slide guitar and lap steel, and Dave Khan did all the violins and mandolins. Reb Fountain did all the female vocals, and Delaney Davidson was called in to play Telecaster,” he smiles.
Lyttelton Records’ provided session musicians for the rhythm section with Ben Woolley on bass and Joe McCallum on drums.
"It was a pretty big deal for me getting another drummer,” he confesses. "But I know Joe is freakishly good and that took a lot off my mind.”

Recorded and mixed by Ben Edwards, and mastered by Ben Delany the album is a well-constructed traditional composition. Side A opens simply with Will, his guitar and harmonica. Instruments and vocals are added track by track, and the momentum builds. Interestingly the drums are omitted until the first track of Side B.
"I wanted a record that starts and then goes somewhere, not just a collection of songs.”

He was adamant that the album be pressed on vinyl too.
"I don’t think I’d bother making a record if I wasn't going to put it on vinyl,” he says bluntly. "CDs are how you get your dinner money when you’re on tour but I would feel like I hadn’t made an album if I just made some CDs.”

While such vinyl purist ideals may not be universally shared, they are reflective of the unabashed honesty in Will’s lyrics.
"I can’t write about something I haven’t experienced” he admits, "but that’s why I like country music. These songs are all real stories adapted from stuff that I’ve gone through.”

Lyrically, the songs are bound by emotional turmoil. From the desperation of an atheist’s prayers, to homesickness in a Singaporean whorehouse, to the heart breakingly melancholy Hymn, Will knows how to write country. Musically too, the album is undeniably country at its core, though no two songs sound the same. He blends country blues, bluegrass, folk, rock and roll and even a little garage rock to create what can only be described as an eclectic country album.

Shortly after the NZ album release, Will will be embarking on a five-week solo tour of Europe.
"It’s fucking terrifying,” he says plainly, "but I’m at a point in my life where I’m desperate for something new. This record is an attempt to find something really awesome and get that dream of being an internationally touring musician as a living.”

Six years of observing bands come and go through Whammy and Wine Cellar (where he has worked various roles), his own experience of touring, hard work and passion may just prove; where there’s a Will, there’s a way. - NZ MUSICIAN


"Will Wood: Psychology of country"

Will Wood is a man not easily categorised. The 25-year-old might have some staunch-looking tattoos, and a love for staunch-looking dogs, and he even drums in a hardcore punk screamo band called Parents when he has time.

But he's also a soulful country artist, with a debut album full of lively, heartfelt tunes being released this week, and an unexpected background as a classically trained pianist, violinist, and barbershop singer. Oh, and he's a mental health worker at Middlemore hospital.

It seems all these facets go easily together for Wood though, and somehow he's managed to juggle his work with touring the US, opening for The Handsome Family, Wagons, and Frank Turner, and recording his album.

"Working in mental health really stimulates you emotionally, because you get such a range of things happening in any given day. You get to see a lot of really beautiful human interaction, and you also see a lot of frustration, a lot of tragedy. It's really intense.


"I write a lot of my music while I'm at work. On a good day, I get to play a lot of guitar while I'm there - I teach a bit of guitar, and write songs, if it's not too busy. It's a great job, as a musician."

After a childhood of listening to classical music, and occasionally 90s pop filtered down through his older brothers, Wood actually discovered country music in an unlikely place - Grand Theft Auto.

"In a past life, I used to play computer games quite a lot, and the Grand Theft Auto series has its own radio stations that you listen to when you're in the cars, and there was a country music station in one of the versions. That was pretty much my first big introduction to country music.

"I heard it and thought, that's actually perfect, it's exactly what I want - songs that tell stories. I think songs should always be about telling stories, and I think that's what puts me off some modern music. Or that's why I love country so much anyway."

He didn't immediately start writing his own country music though. First, he became a drummer - an instrument he picked up because his two best mates already both played guitar, and they needed someone to drum with them. That led - via contacts made while working at inner-city venue The Wine Cellar - to plenty of other gigs: "I ended up playing drums in four or five bands at a time."

So how has he ended up out front? A promoter friend, knowing of his songwriting sideline, asked if he would open for a band she was touring.

"I didn't want to do it, but she convinced me, and it went quite well, and I haven't really stopped. And somehow I ended up making a record."

Wood's songs are notable for their direct lyrics.

"I'm not so good at dressing things up in beautiful metaphors, so I end up being quite blunt. Performing them is quite intimidating, because they're blatantly about me, or me and a certain girl, and I find it a little bit worrying, baring that part of yourself to a whole lot of people you don't know. But I've never had anyone come up to me and say, 'Well that was dumb', so I guess it's okay," he laughs.

Indeed he's garnered a great deal of respect from fellow musicians -- enough that a number of them (Delaney Davidson, Dave Khan, Reb Fountain, Ben Wooley, Joe McCallum, Chris Winton and Tom Landon-Lane) helped record the album in Lyttelton with Ben Edwards. "I always had this idea that I really wanted a record that started with just me and the guitar, and then building up slowly along the way, adds bass, drums, horns, strings, until you end with these big arrangements.

"I can't believe how good the songs have turned out, and I feel like I can say that without being egotistical, because I did pretty much nothing and all these amazing people contributed this awesome stuff." - NZ Herald


"Will Wood - Broken Man"

Will Wood has an interesting take on country music. He has managed to create something generally in the realm of folk cross pop and as a result is making some super catchy tunes, including his first single Sick of It All, which moves at 100 miles an hour. His genre has been redefined, mostly because I don’t think people knew exactly what to do with it, as alt-country.
will wood
Will Wood makes country music really appealing to the non-believers. He adds some folk and pop in the mix creating some mighty fine catchy tunes.

Previously the drummer for Auckland band Bernie Griffen and The Grifters, Will Wood has recently decided to forge his own way in the music world, the decision to become an internationally touring solo artist taking place sometime in 2013.
The New Zealand native has his debut album, Broken Man which actually was released yesterday by Lyttelton Records, and from the sound of his recently released singles, including Sick Of It All and the slightly more morbid and much slower Take Me Away To Die, its going to be bloody fun. The release is said to be a ten track record with some collaborations from some of New Zealand’s most well known country acts, including Dave Khan, Ben Woolley and Reb Fountain.

Wood, however I recently discovered is not only a notorious drummer but is also a classically trained pianist and violinist and then he threw in guitar and vocals, just for good measure. It’s a wonder he hasn’t gone out on his own sooner to be honest. He is set to tour throughout Europe before, he said, hopefully organizing a national tour of New Zealand when he returns.
“It’s fucking terrifying,” says Wood of his encroaching European tour, “but I’m at a point in my life where I’m desperate for something new. This record is an attempt to find something really awesome and get that dream of being an internationally touring musician as a living.” - hhhhappy.com


Discography

Will Wood - Broken Man (2014) Released on Lyttelton Records (lytteltonrecords.co.nz)

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Bio

By day he works as a psychiatric nurse and spends his spare time rescuing and rehabilitating neglected dogs. As a musician he has collaborated both on and off stage with top New Zealand artists like Marlon Williams, Tami Neilson, Hopetoun Brown, Delaney Davidson, The Eastern and Skyscraper Stan as well as playing support for international acts like Shakey Graves, JD McPherson, The Handsome Family, Wagons and Mick Harvey. 


Will's adherence to the values of minstrels like Woody Guthrie has seen him adopt a willingness to play anywhere at any time.  He’s just at home touring with large acts - playing festivals & concert venues, as he is at playing in living rooms / basements and busking on street corners all over the world.


Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut solo album 'Broken Man' on Lyttelton Records in 2014, Will has kept up a hectic touring schedule.  It’s seen him play hundreds of shows every year all over the world, including 2 tours across Europe and 4 tours of Australia as well as many shows back home in New Zealand and a handful of dates in the USA.


March 2016 sees the release of his sophomore album 'Magpie Brain & Other Stories'.  An album with a focus on the craft of songwriting and keeping this craft fresh and unique, featuring much of the storytelling aspects that go hand-in-hand with this genre of music. Many tales of life on the road are featured, as well as the usual tried-and-true country themes of heartbreak, death and alcoholism.  Some of the dark aspects brightened up somewhat by Wood's wry delivery and ability to marry heavy lyrical content with uplifting musical backing, aided by his small team of superb musicians.

Produced, recorded and mixed by the legendary Ben Edwards at The Sitting Room in Lyttelton, this lush record shows a definite maturation in Wood's art and showcases his masterful grasp of songwriting.


Magpie Brain & Other Stories  - released April 2016

(Lyttelton Records/Southbound Distribution)


Band Members