Woods: Interview At Pitchfork Music Festival 2011

    This year, Woods put out Sun and Shade, their third album is as many years that slowly expands their sound while still reaching out and trying new things. While it can seem unassuming, it grows on you in much the same way as previous records like Songs of Shame and At Echo Lake did. On stage, the band increased their energy exponentially, and a set that could have sounded passive isntead engaged an early-festival crowd. We sat down with Jarvis Taveniere and G. Lucas Crane of the band after their set.

    Woods has a rustic, lo-fi aesthetic. In the years since your first record, it’s become kind of a “thing.” How do you feel parenthood of this almost rural-sounding aesthetic?

    G. Lucas Crane: I wouldn’t actually say it’s rural. The genre tag “lo-fi” is a bit of a misnomer. It doesn’t make any sense because what people are identifying as that sound is an intimate organic focus on your own process. You’re making things up as you go along and you’re not really thinking about other bands. Sure, everybody has inflences and we have people that we like, but I really think that when it comes to you doing home recording and home projects… You know, you want it to sound as good as you can. And you’re not focusing on it sounding shitty or it sounding bad. I think the tag lo-fi comes from a certain intimacy and I think that’s what people are focusing on. If people are going to hear something and go, “That’s lo-fi! I’m inspired to make some music I care about instead of some crappy throwback stuff,” then I’m all for it. But I really don’t think it’s about a particular sound. It’s an intent. It’s about heart.

    There’s been a progressive growth from every Woods album. Do you ever think you’d take a massive left turn? Are there genres of music you’re interested in that you haven’t explored?

    Crane: You mean put out a funk album next or something?

    Jarvis Taveniere: I’d listen to a Woods funk album.

    Crane: Me, too. It wouldn’t sound like funk.

    Taveniere: It’d sound terrible.

    Crane: I think our failures would sound really interesting. I don’t think it’s possible for us to… the answer to the previous question means that the answer to this question is no. Because I really don’t think we’re going to make a competent funk record or something. We’re just going to get more and more stretched out and more ourselves and it’ll be hilarious.

    Live you definitely stretch out and get a little more… I don’t want to say “jammy”…

    Taveniere: [laughs]

    Crane: No, say jammy.

    Okay, I will say jammy. So what’s the process in taking a song that’s maybe two or three minutes long and making it into something like that.

    Crane: I think some songs, the arrangements lend themselves to it. When we start playing something live, it’ll just happen or it won’t. I think it’s concurrent with the live setting itself. It makes you want to do that. This has been said a million times, but I really think just playing the record doesn’t make sense. When you’re in a different setting, you’re exposed to different variables and it necessarily makes you thirst for that. The process of jamming makes it more musically interesting for the musicians.

    Taveniere: It’s the only time during the set when I don’t know what I’m going to play. And that’s when I’m like, “Oh, I’m just playing music, I’m having fun.”

    Crane: [exaggerative] It’s the pure rich stuff, it’s the rich pure stuff.

    With those songs that you jam on, were they originally written longer and then condensed down for record?

    Crane: No, because we write pretty quick and whatever happens when we’re recording happens. And usually the jams are separate ideas that we stretch out.

    What’s the biggest challenge in engaging an outdoor festival crowd?

    Taveniere: Whenever we’re outdoors, it’s surprisingly easy. Because you’re outside and I don’t know. I think I don’t really notice the crowd as much.

    Crane: I really think things are easier at the beginning of the day when you have more energy. It’s just an energy thing. You’re sitting in the sun, it’s like the harsh light of day. It’s harder to hide in the quote unqoute craziness. Like, “I’m crazy now; it’s night! I’m gonna be asleep in an hour!” But when it’s seventeen hours… I think it’s just that everything is more visible and everything is more out in the open.