Tuesday, 22 July 2014

We're Only Here For The Banter - Wozniak

There's not many bands brave enough to let a fan name their EP, but Edinburgh four piece Wozniak are not your average band.  Dwelling in the murky pools of shoegaze and post rock, their music requires attention and appreciation beyond the casual listen.  Which is all a good thing in the vastly increasing noise of disposable music.  I caught up with guitarist and pedal collector extraordinaire Simon Cuthbert-Kerr to learn more.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

Very well, thanks.  We've just finished a few gigs to mark the release of our EP, and they were excellent.  Now we're getting ready for the next phase…

It's the question everyone hates, but could illuminate our readers with a little bit about your music and your influences?

Well, broadly speaking, we usually describe ourselves as shoegaze/post-rock/psych, but I don't think we really fit neatly into a single genre (but who does?).  We've certainly got shoegaze tendencies in that we use lots of pedals to make big walls of sound, and we've got post-rock tendencies in that a lot of our stuff is instrumental and we often build up from a fairly small beginning into a big ending.  I think the four of us bring different influences - John and James both like rock and a bit of metal every now and then, Sarah likes walls of fuzzy guitar and I like abstract noisy stuff, but there's a lot of overlapping influences and none of us only likes a single style of music.  Those different influences come together to form something new with a distinctive Wozniak sound.

What's your song-writing / creative process like?

It usually starts with a riff or some chords, and then we layer it up, often building things around the original guitar pattern.  Even though one person will bring the original idea, it's very much a collaborative effort and we each play a part in creating the final song.  We often develop songs with a particular atmosphere in mind, and often it's a particular guitar sound, rather than a riff or chord sequence, that leads somewhere.  Then we all turn on our distortion pedals...

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Out gigs can be pretty loud and intense.   We put a lot of effort into sequencing our sets, to try and avoid it just being a random selection of songs, and there are a couple of songs that it would pretty difficult to imagine not being played - I always think that Kreuzberg  is the heart of the set and sums up the Wozniak live experience pretty well.  I'd like to think we were pretty atmospheric live, and we're just starting to use a few lights and whatnot to add to that, although our efforts to use our smoke machine have been thwarted so far!  Since our very first gig we've used projections, but not all venues have a projector, but even when we can't do that we try to make it more interesting than just four people standing on a stage looking at pedals (although I'm definitely a bit guilty of that!).   Sometimes we have to suppress our Bono tendencies...

Tell us about new EP Pikes Peak.

I think it's a good statement of Wozniak.   There are five songs on it, and they have a strong artistic and sonic cohesion without being the same thing repeated over and over.  All the Wozniak elements are there - droney guitars, distorted bass, pummeling drums, waves of delay and reverb and it sounds particularly good at high volume.  We recorded it at the Depot in Edinburgh across various sessions from roughly November to April - we went in with a clear idea of the songs we were going to record and how we wanted them to sound, and with the help of Craig Ross from Broken Records, who recorded the EP, I think we managed to get that, and then added a few more things, taking advantage of the studio environment.   For example, after the extended noise section in Kreuzberg,  there's a beautiful little piano melody played by James, and that sort of things gives the EP a depth.  Similarly, there are lots of different guitar tracks, and I'd like to think that repeated listens will reveal things that might have gone unnoticed originally.  Of the songs on the EP, El MaresmeKreuzberg and  Columbo's Car  are all pretty similar to the live versions, but the recorded version of Paper Hat  is pretty different and brings out a new feel to the song.  Gesamtkunstwerk,  the final track is five minutes of glorious feedback - what could be better? 

We're really happy with the reception the EP's had so far, and we've had loads of positive coverage from a whole bunch of countries.  It's always really exciting when someone appreciates what you're doing, and it really feels like the EP has gone down well.  It's available from www.wozniak.bandcamp.com, and also from iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.   You can see the video (produced by James and John) at Wozniak - El Maresme (single edit).  We also raised funds for the EP through Kickstarter and were overwhelmed that we beat our target.   Look out for our special Kickstarter-only T-shirts featuring Roderick, our campaign spokesrobot.  The EP is named after a mountain in Colorado, after someone who lives there bought the right to name the EP.

What else have you got planned for 2014?

Having completed the launch gigs for the EP, we're now starting to book a few things for the rest of the year, and we've got our collective eye on a few bands we'd like to play with, and we'll hopefully be able to do a Christmas gig again.  We're also starting to think about organising some gigs outside Scotland, so we're in the early stages of sorting a few things out.  Hopefully we'll get back into the studio soon so that we can release something new before the end of the year.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Literally, I'm listening to Pavement at this very moment.  More generally, some of the stuff I've been listening to recently include Mogwai, Slowdive, No Joy, Warpaint, Bo Ningen, Hookworms, Kraftwerk and late-70s David Bowie.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

Thanks for having us.  Sadly, John's the funny one in Wozniak, so I'm not sure my joke will pass muster, but here goes:

What do you call a woman with a laptop on her head?



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