Many things are happening in the restless world of Ottawa’s band Wood Lake: the new album ‘Hell’ has finally been released and has delighted with its beautifully crafted pop melodies but also bewildered the straight-shoegaze followers; their drummer’s departure without any replacement; new surprising (not for us) hip-hop/grimes influences in progress.
They’re a band always very keen on learning, experimenting and daring.
Let’s talk with the two core members, Harry McGuire & Colin Boudreault, about their past experiences, the present developments and the future plans.
Talk to me about your early years as a band and your influences.
We started in 2012 as a hard rock kind of band, but around 2013 we started playing more shoegazey and post-rocky stuff. We also had a lot of prog influences when we first started, but not so much anymore.
Do you feel more comfortable in the studio or on the stage?
I’d say we feel more comfortable in the studio right now. In the studio we’re able to achieve the exact sounds we want, but we can’t always do that on stage with only 3 members. It’s gonna become a lot easier now though, because our live act is getting a lot more electronic.
Are you planning to do any cover versions live or in the recording studio?
Yeah we have a couple covers we would like to do! Our favourite thing is doing rap covers live, we’ve done a couple ASAP Rocky and Bones covers in the past. That’s always a lot of fun!
You are labelled as a ‘shoegaze’ band —as your song ‘Hollow’ shows, but your album contains just three tracks with that typical sound, while the rest mainly contains amazing melodic slow/mid-tempo numbers. Were you aware of the possibility to bewilder and disappoint the ‘hardcore’ followers of the genre?
[Laughs] yeah we were very aware of that. We wrote ‘Hell’ over a period of two years, and our sound changed a lot over that time period. Most of the shoegaze tracks were written long before the more baroque pop kind of stuff.
Your album is finally out. Could you, please, give us an account of the work done for the album from the recording studio work to the final result?
It was a fairly long process. The writing took the most time and I’d say we put in about 6 intensive months to write the album. We already had 3 new songs before we started the bulk of the writing, so we at least had a starting point to go from. After the writing was done, we recorded a demo version of the album, and then we went to Toronto to record the real album. It took about a month to record the actual album, and then we sat on the masters for quite awhile. The album was actually completely done in December, but we had to wait to release it due to some booking difficulties with our PR company. We are very happy it’s out now though!
Your lyrics seem to reflect your personal experiences, quite pessimistic about the inner and outside life, but, maybe ultimately, hopeful. Please help our readers to better understand them. Are there any social or political hints hidden?
The lyrics I (Harry) write tend to either have a clear meaning, or no meaning at all. ‘Barrhaven’ and ‘Still Life Collage’ were both about growing up with a lot of ambition, but being around a lot of people who don’t really want to make anything of themselves. ‘Head In The Sand’ is about people who grow old and become out of touch for one reason or another. ‘Madeline’ and ‘Oceans’ are supposed to be very mushy romantic songs. ‘Sam McGee’ is about the poem ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ which I liked a lot when I was a kid. ‘Comfort You’ and ‘Easy Love’ are both cliche breakup songs, and ‘Hollow’ has no meaning at all haha.
Which songs/bands are on your current playlist?
Harry: I’ve been listening to a lot of UK Grime recently.
Colin: I’ve been listening to Lightning Bolt, At The Drive-In, and the Death Grips.
Are you interested in other forms of art like literature, cinema, painting etc. and, eventually, how does this influence your work?
Both me and Colin are pretty into movies, books, and visual art. Anytime I write lyrics, I’ll usually take a good amount of influence from whatever I’m reading at the time.
You recently parted ways with your drummer and you choose to go on as a duo. How has this fact influenced your way of working and, consequently, your sound?
It’s completely changed everything. We’re making a lot more music now, and our style has taken a 180. We’re doing a lot of cloud rap kind of stuff right now, and it’s blending really well with our older shoegaze style. We’ve also pretty much dropped our baroque pop style.
Which are your favourite three records of all time?
Harry: Right now, I’d probably say ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell, ‘Scumbag’ by Bones, and ‘Geogaddi’ by Boards Of Canada are my top 3.
Colin: My top 3 are ‘Sunbather’ by Deafheaven, ‘The Money Store’ by Death Grips, and ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar.
What are your plans for the months to come?
Grinding away at the next album! We have about 45 songs on the go right now, and were aiming to have around 150 before we start trimming it down to a regular album length.
Is there a message that you’d like to address to our readers?
We have a couple: 1. Our new sound is closer to cloud rap than shoegaze, but at the same time way more shoegazey than most cloud rap. 2. We’re still Wood Lake, and we’re still putting the same level of quality into our new style. We’re not your average soundcloud producers haha.