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Woolworm pokes its head out like a groundhog and re-lives the 90's

The lead singer talks about being legit hardcore, dominating at Bushido Blade and singing about his dick

The term Blanket Rock is just an excuse to steal from absolutely everywhere.

By Scott Wood

“What other bands in your local scene are you digging right now?” This is one of the most common questions in any local band interview. If you read and conduct interviews with a lot of Vancouver bands—like I do—Woolworm is one of the most typical answers when Vancouver bands are asked to talk about another local band they especially enjoy, respect or admire. Strangely enough, I noticed there are not a lot of actual interviews with Woolworm. Since the band recently released a record Everything Seems Obvious, I decided this would be a good time to chat with Giles from the band.

Scott Wood: Hello Giles from Woolworm! I'd love you to introduce a Woolworm song to get people into to what you do.

Giles from Woolworm: Hello! This is one of my favourite Woolworm songs, called “I Truly Do Not Mind” from our new record. It’s always very satisfying to play and sing this one, and finally recording it after writing it years and years ago was a huge relief. This is what Woolworm sounds like when we’re smiling. Listen to that funny little guitar solo there! What the hell am I even doing? I don’t know.

Scott Wood: You guys managed to sidestep all those boring music journalist "what genre is Woolworm?" questions by coming up with your own term "blanket rock." Tell me about how and why you did this.

Giles from Woolworm: It’s funny because we’re obviously just a rock band. Regular rock! Yup, regular old rock mixed with regular old pop and regular old black metal. It’s just that maybe nobody wants to endorse a rock band because the genre has been embarrassing for so long. The term Blanket Rock—as well as being dismissible as a joke when we need it to be—is just an excuse to steal from absolutely everywhere. And maybe even, ya know, have our actual own sound as a result.

Interview Show
Hello folks, Scott Wood here! I’m the host of The Interview Show, which is a podcast and syndicated radio program you can find on several campus community radio stations across Canada. Each month here on Earshot!, I profile one of the “hidden talents” in my local Vancouver scene. Basically, I am going to give national campus community radio readers the chance to get to know some of Vancouver’s most interesting, up-and-coming bands.

I admit it. I was a teenage screamo-er. You should have heard my fucking lyrics!

Scott Wood: You've said your latest four-song release Everything Seems Obvious, "further mines the band's feedback soaked tributes to teen years wasted playing in punk bands and sincerely trying to learn the lyrics to every Dinosaur Jr song." Can you tell me about a now embarrassing punk band you were in when you were a teen? (All teenage bands are embarrassing.)

Giles from Woolworm: Alex and Ben from Woolworm were actually also in my most embarrassing teenage band. We changed our name every show and I’m sorry to report that we were very serious screamo-ers. I admit it. I was a teenage screamo-er. You should have heard my fucking lyrics! You think they’re bad now? Hoo boy. We were even snobby about the screamo that we ripped off, but despite our best efforts, we just... sounded like Alexisonfire.

Scott Wood: Woolworm, you guys are one of a few Vancouver bands (Pole and Dead Soft come to mind) who are working with 90’s alternative rock sounds as inspiration. How did you get into those now "classic rock" bands? Tell me about one specific band from that era you like (or one you don't) and why.

Giles from Woolworm: Okay so there’s this little band I used to love called Weezer, and people seem to mention us together frequently. That shit really did have a profound effect on me when I was an adolescent creep, and... I now find it hard to enjoy. Part of that is that I seem to have lived through the 90’s twice now, and I’m sick of ‘em. And part of it is that Weezer have completely overshadowed any of their triumphs by existing for roughly 18 years too many. I can appreciate the comparisons that we draw to them, given that I’m also a bespectacled guy singing about my penis or whatever, but as I round out my 20’s, I’m more likely to listen to actual Buddy Holly.

Photo credit Lauren Ray.

Scott Wood: We emailed a bit before this interview. In one of those emails you said to me, "I also, in some weird way, feel like we’re just getting started with this EP [Everything Seems Obvious], despite it being our sixth release. So I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this strange position we find ourselves in." For many bands, when they establish a sound and play the same songs every show, it can be difficult to keep making music fresh and a new experience. Tell me a bit about what you're going thru!

Giles from Woolworm: Oops, I said that? I actually only feel like that half the time. I probably also said something in those emails about feeling old, which is true the rest of the time. Even with the momentum that the new record has given us, I still feel like we could dissolve or burn out at any second for so many reasons. As for keeping things musically fresh, luckily that hasn’t been hard at all for us because of the broad boundaries we’ve allowed for ourselves creatively. It’s like we finally let ourselves make a straight pop record with Everything Seems Obvious, and we loved making it and we’re proud of it, but the next thing we release will be down a different road entirely. As far as I know, we’re all excited.

Scott Wood: Sometimes you have to leverage your personal connections to get interesting questions. A mutual friend of ours told me to ask you, "What features in Bushido Blade 3 are you mostly highly anticipating?"

Giles from Woolworm: I’m gonna go ahead and earnestly, technically answer this question in case anyone from the video game industry miraculously ends up reading this. Bushido Blade 2 came out in the late nineties, and it’s unquestionably the best sword-fighting game of all time. But it’s in dire need of another sequel, because modern technology would allow for improved features across the board. Features including—but not limited to!—decapitations, Okay so there's this little band I used to love called Weezer... I can appreciate the comparisons... given that I'm also a bespectacled guy singing about my penis or whatever... team matches, interactive environments, co-operative mode, and a soundtrack consisting of more than two songs. Most guests at the Woolworm house are subjected to Bushido Blade, and most of them die swiftly at my hands. I’m really good at Bushido Blade.

Scott Wood: The first time I saw Woolworm was at a house show. I think the venue was called House Tunis. There is nothing like seeing a series of loud bands in a Vancouver Special living room. Can you tell me about another local band that we need to see in a setting like that and why?

Giles from Woolworm: I agree, and a living room is the ideal venue to play in because you at least know that everyone present is there to actually watch a band. The most memorable living room set I’ve seen recently was THEE AHS at that same house in January. I felt so lucky to see a band that good, with such a huge catalogue of great songs, in a packed room that small. I was also pretty drunk for pretty cheap.

Woolworm live

Scott Wood: In a 2012 interview with Exclaim Magazine, you said this about finding your way in the hardcore scene, "We've spent a lot of time, as a band, trying to figure out where we belong. We're not the coolest people around, and it's probably cost us an audience. But I guess I wouldn't be much of a punk if I gave a shit." I think Woolworm is cool. You tell me what you think a legit "cool" hardcore band is.

Giles from Woolworm: Hey thanks! Hardcore just happens to be cooler than ever these days, and I actually think it’s “important,” even if I personally feel weird at just about every show I go to now. But there’s a really cool local band called OAF who just seem to get everything right. If anyone is reading this thinks they might actually like to go check out a local hardcore band for the first time, I officially recommend OAF. I mean, them or KRAXXA, but KRAXXA is stuck on an island.

Scott Wood: Like any tight scene of struggling artists, Vancouver can get a bit gossipy. What do you think Woolworm's rep is? What's one way a local band can work to change a reputation? (Not saying Woolworm have a bad rep...)

Giles from Woolworm: Is this a trick question?! When I met you, Scott, at that party at my house, you informed me of Woolworm’s rep, which is that we are lazy. I have indeed heard that a lot and it surprises me, given our habit of playing too many shows and writing too many songs. We’re just a slow and steady type of band, so maybe that’s why. When it comes down to it, we really are just doing this for ourselves. Plus, on stage, I’m apparently sort of a natural frowner? My glasses always slide down my nose and I feel like I look like I don’t wanna be there. Anyway, you basically have to tour to change a reputation for laziness, and… admittedly, we suck at that so far.

Scott Wood: It’s funny that you mention that you guys play too many shows, Giles, because recently I have heard people complaining about Woolworm for that too. You’re lazy AND you play too many shows. Sometimes it seems you can never win. Thanks for answering my questions! Please introduce your favorite Woolworm video.

Giles from Woolworm: Here’s an unofficial music video for our song “Heathen Too” that some nice mystery person stuck on YouTube. That song was written in black and white and in Vancouver, so it’s perfect. Thank you, mystery person. And thank you very much for having me!

Find more about Woolworm online.

TWITTER: @creatureovmyth

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