The Wooden Sky

By: Bryan Myers and Photography Provided by: Dave MacIntyre

I saw The Wooden Sky last year and I was blown away.  I hadn’t heard much about them before but a few of my friends wereraving about them, so I agreed to cram into their tiny Honda Civic and head to London, Ontario to see them perform.

It turned out to be an amazing show, and to top it off, they played an intimate acoustic set in the back room of the club for us following the show.  They’re known for that, often heading into the parking lot with instruments in hand, but this particular evening was extremely cold and blustery.

I met Gavin a short time later and we played phone tag for a few months before finally nailing down a real time for an interview.  It’s understandable, a band on the road has limited access to resources, and I’m not always as punctual as I’d like to admit.

But all in all, I got a call from Gavin a week before last as their sold-out Toronto date inched ever closer.  The Wooden Sky continues to impress, and discussed a new album in the relatively near future.

How did you begin playing music?

“I was learning violin when I was young.  My dad couldn’t handle the sound of me practicing, and he bought my first guitar.  I loved the movie La Bamba, it’s about Ritchie Valens’ life story and how he died in the plane crash with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.  My dad was on a business trip to Vancouver and on the way back the door flew open mid-flight.  I was six and my sister was three, and my dad went out and bought me a guitar after that.”

How did the Wooden Sky get started?

“I moved to Toronto at 18.  I had been playing in a band in Winnipeg, but I hadn’t played in a couple years.  I was going to open mics in Toronto and Wyatt was really wasted and started playing really shitty solos on bass with me.  And then we found a drummer and started practicing in my garage.  I wrote some songs for a school project, and we started playing them at shows.  Everything else came together organically.  Our original drummer left, but we stayed good friends.  We played at his wedding last summer in Guelph.”

Who writes the songs?

“It’s an art and a craft.  A spark has to come first, and that’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach, something that inspires me to pick up a pen, and I’ll write a verse or a chorus, and then work things over and over and over.  That’s just the skeleton though, and then you bring it to the band and it’s a whole other process.  On our last record a ton of friends played on it.  It was really collaborative.  That’s how a record should be. ”

Are you reading anything interesting that inspires your music?

Solomon Gursky Was Here.  It’s by Mordecai Richler.  I try to read a lot.  It’s really funny and dry.  Raymond Carver was an inspiration on the last record, he writes plainly and simply, and that shows a lot.  We used very simple language to convey what we wanted to convey.  We stole his poetry for our t-shirts.  Someone in the band is always wearing one.  They’re in these big blue bins, and if we can’t find clean clothes we’ll take one from there.”

You guys seem to have lots of friends in the local music scene.  How does that happen?

“You meet a lot of like-minded people.  I met a lot of friends through [Andrew] Wyatt.  We did a lot of stuff with Friends in Bellwoods, which was started by a friend who used to host shows in her basement.  I don’t get to see those people as much.  That’s the nature of touring, you don’t get to see your friends.”

When I talked to Rob Dyer, he said you guys were friends.  Are you involved with Skate4Cancer?

“We’re friends with Rob.  He often stays at our house.  He lived with us for three months.  I’m scoring his documentary.  He came over and said he wanted to talk about something, and we sat up on my roof and had some beers and talked about his documentary.”

What’s next for The Wooden Sky?

“We’re going to finish this tour, tour in Europe, take a couple weeks off to see our friends and family.  Then we’re going to rent a cottage and write the new album, and start recording in February and March.  It’s hard to write on the road.”

Ideally where do you want to tour?

“France.  We’re not going this time, but we’ll hit the U.K., Germany, and Austria and a few other places.  But France looks pretty bad-ass.  I’ve been as a tourist, but when you play it’s a different perspective.  The people want to show you different things and show you their town.”

The Wooden Sky played at Lee’s Palace on November 16 with Yukon Blonde before kicking off their U.K. tour.

– Bryan

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