Woods have made a career out of living on the fringes. The psych-folk outfit from Brooklyn has delivered some of the most unlikely, entrancing albums of the past five years, expertly mixing lo-fi warbles and heady guitar noise with some downright jovial folk pop. In between tours and albums (they’ve released seven in the past six years), the band keeps a relatively low profile, though. Frontman Jeremy Earl runs indie label Woodsist, as well as a small home studio in Upstate New York. Search online, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find much more.
This fall, Woods release Bend Beyond. Touted as their most live-sounding and fully formed record to date, the album might just be the release that pushes these three recluses into the major leagues. Before then, though, they return to S.B. for a show at Velvet Jones. Below, we catch up with guitarist Jarvis Taveniere.
I want to backtrack a little and talk about the last album, Sun and Shade. How would you compare it to past Woods releases? The last three records were all created the same way, really. The songs were recorded immediately after (or sometimes while) writing them. But what’s the saying — you never step into the same river twice? We recorded Sun and Shade a year ago, and it already feels really far removed from my experience on Bend Beyond.
Can you tell me a bit about the game plan going into the new record? We decided to sit on our material a little longer with Bend Beyond. We wanted it to develop. The improvisation feels more intentional, a little less random. The jams are worked organically into song structures, which is the way a lot of our older material tends to develop onstage. On our last few albums, we purposefully did the opposite and tried to document the ideas as they were coming.
How did the recording process differ from past Woods sessions? Heavy culinary influences. Sun and Shade was a lot of Jeremy making pizza from scratch and cooking it on the grill. Bend Beyond was all pork roast with a coffee rub. Very delicious stuff. I think we had it for dinner every night for a week.
You guys do a really good job at creating moods with your albums. Do you attach feelings, themes, or color palettes to the records? The vibe to most of our records tends to be upbeat-downer. We walk that middle line between optimism and full devastation.
How would you describe Bend Beyond? Bend Beyond is the happiness you feel in the dying days of summer. You’re doing pretty good, but you know darker shit is on the horizon. In a cozy way.
You all have been on the road for the better part of the past three years. How do you feel the touring experience has changed the band? The great thing about touring is that once you’re over the “Gee, wow, I’m onstage” thing, it becomes second nature, and you can really focus in on the music and how things fit together. From there, you start to get ideas about the songs you’d like to record later, and you try to keep some of that intact. Bend Beyond was maybe the first record that we took some of those ideas with us into the recording. Better late than never.
Finally, I’m constantly amazed at the output of your band, especially considering the fact that one of your members is also running a label. How much help does Jeremy have with Woodsist? Is it a manageable thing to balance? Jeremy has no help with the record outside of distribution and the actual manufacturing of records. So far it’s been totally manageable. I mean, maybe Woodsist would release more records if Woods wasn’t on tour so much, or maybe Woods would tour more if the label didn’t need him to be home taking care of business. Either way, it’s just like balancing anything in life, and they’re two pretty enjoyable things.
Woods play Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Tuesday, August 7, at 8 p.m. with opener Peaking Lights. Call 965-8676 or visit clubmercy.com.