This Thursday, fans of Wooden Horsemen will be able to hear the fruits of their hard labour of the past few months at the release of their new album Sentient. The celebration will be at the Biltmore, we'll be there hanging out and hearing the new tunes. After the band's weekend reherseal on Satudrday, Jess called up Steve to talk about the music, here's how their chat went.
Jess: What was the biggest challenge in getting your record done?
Steve: I think the biggest challenge was that we gave ourselves 2 weeks to do it. In the last 2 years we've been sort of in this routine where we wre recording on the weekends and whenever we could find free time, and those recordings didn't really work out for us. We scrapped everything. I realized to make a recording work I just needed to take 2 weeks off of work. We worked hard and treated it like a job. We were there 10 hours a day or more and we took it really seriously. It was a challenge to manage the timeline, and the benefit of doing it that way is we have an album that represents a slice of time in the bands' growth and listen to it and be like 'that's what we were doing at this time.'
Jess: What are your feelings in this last week before it comes out? Do you wish you could go back and change anything or is it exactly what you wanted?
Steve: I think you always wish you could change something, and I feel like every artist kind of has that and you just kind of except that nothing is going to be perfect but I'm really happy with it, and I don't have any major regrets. There are little things I would have added... but you get to a point where you have to draw a line and make a decision and go ahead and do it. Altogether I think it worked out really beautifully and I'm super happy. Got no worries about it. I'm stoked for the show coming up and I think we're ready.
Jess: The single – "Head on a Plate" – is a bit cheeky and fun. Does that capture the rest of the songs on the album, or is that a one-off?
Steve: Well, it was tough to pick the single or whatever the title track of the record, I wouldn't say it represenets the album. The idea behind the EP was to have 6 different songs that were a smorgasbord of different songs and flavours. You'll find once you listen front to back, it's ecclectic and the style and influnces in each song are all quite diferent. That was intentional for me. I wanted to make an album - I didn't want to write the same song 6 times and have it be that kind of album. I'd say it doesn't represent it - it just represents itsself and the next song is a totally different story.
Jess: If your album was a soundtrack to a scene (in real life or a movie) what would it be?
Steve: There would probaby be a bunch of different scenes – I think maybe "Head on a Plate" to me is kind of sort of an angry song - someone's trashing a room or having a hissy fit or driving south. The last song on the album the, scene would be driving into the sunset in a convertable. "Be a Friend" would be like a salsa dancing class or workout song.
Jess: Your description (and sound) say that there's a good amount of Latin and African influences in this music – where did you come across those influences? Why did you choose to incorporate those into the music?
Steve: I think a lot of it comes from listening to a lot of world music, I listen to a band called Orchestre Poly-rhythmo, and they're from Benin in West Africa, and they blend African and I love horn music in general. I took a trip down to New Orleans a few years ago and fell in love with the horns that I heard down there, those influences come from gospel, blues... and I think I'm sort of trying to find a way to melt them all together and creates something. I have ecclectic taste in terms of what I listen to. This maybe represents an attempt to sponge up all of those things I listen to.
Jess: Did you ever take a Latin or African music course or study it in any way?
Steve: It's all through my own ear. I arranged some of the horn stuff and I do a lot of demos and arrange stuff and I test out stuff with the horn guys before we go to final print, and I get their input too. I'm not a schooled musician by any means, I studied audio engineering so my skills come out more in the technical recording side.
Jess: Did you help produce the record with your skills?
Steve: I did, Mark Lawrence of Big in Japn was the producer of it and his knowledge is super vast and much moreso than mine so I left most of the technical detail in his hands. But in terms of the arrangement and preformances, I was really heavily involved in trying to create the atmosphere. We worked on it together but he's sort of the mirror for the whole thing. He'd just give me really honest feedback and if something wan't working he's quick to point it out and he's a good listener. That's what he's there for. He's also super technically involved and he's the one that mixed the record.