Windhand - “Woodbine”
Windhand has been all up in the national news lately, from signing to Relapse Records to touring with High on Fire this fall. The doom 5-piece has been lighting things up nation-wide, and they’re only going to get bigger. “Woodbine” is streaming on Pitchfork and will appear on the new album Soma (released in the US 9/17). It’s gritty and textured and lives up to the Windhand name. We meant to get this piece out before the band’s 8/13 show at Strange Matter, but the problems I was having with the site precluded that from happening. One of the nicest guitarists/engineers in RVA and probably the world, Garrett Morris, sat down with us to answer a few questions. Windhand has previously shied away from interviews, so this was a real treat! Here we go:
Sounds of RVA: What brought all the band members together?
Garrett: Asechiah [Bogdan] and I had met in college. We had an art history class together. That was like the fall of 1992. He actually introduced me to Jeff Loucks (our first drummer) as well. We all kind of stuck together, back and forth between here and New York over the years. We had been playing with Nathan (our first bass player), who I had met when I was looking for someone to work on my amp. This was late 2008/early 2009. We started talking about getting a singer, so we placed an ad on Craigslist of all things. Then we just got inundated with all these “rock dudes”, screaming or trying to sound like the singer from Pantera. They were all just really, really horrible. But then Dorthia [Cottrell] sent us a video of her playing an acoustic and singing her own material in a bathroom or something. We just thought she was perfect right away. We started chatting and she was into all the same stuff we were, so I invited her to come down to practice. A month later we had our first show at Rumors Boutique. Jeff and his wife had a child in 2010 so he had to leave the band to focus on that. I knew Ryan [Wolfe] through a mutual friend and he had expressed interest in playing with us, so he took over on drums. I already knew Parker [Chandler]. He joined last year when Nathan went back to school to get his master’s degree.
How does your studio/practice space affect your recordings?
The climate is always a factor. It’s freezing in the winter and just unbelievably hot in the summer. It’s just a dark, dirty, warehouse space. There’s no windows. So you can’t tell what time of day it is when you’ve been in there for hours at a time. As dumb, or as cliché as this probably sounds, I think all the recordings made there sort of reflect that atmosphere. You also can’t really record in there when other bands are rehearsing because of the bleed factor. So you always have to schedule recording at oddball times or work things out with the other bands in the building.
Do you have any weird stories from this past tour?
Nothing super crazy. Our van decided to die at a gas station in Milwaukee on this past tour. I sold it pretty much on the spot to a scrap yard for $350. We had to hire a driver to finish the tour. We didn’t have to cancel any shows though. So that was good. I actually don’t mind breakdowns though. They keep things interesting on the road. A couple years ago on tour, we went back to this kids house to stay after a show. Ryan and I walked in and this kid had about 3 weeks worth of dog poop on his living room floor. Every piece of furniture was just destroyed. Ripped apart by dogs. Ryan and I literally turned around, walked out of the house, got in the van, and drove off. It was insane. It was the most disgusting house I’ve ever seen in my life.
Can you tell us anything to expect from the new album?
It’s definitely a progression from the first LP and the split. Theme wise, it’s definitely a personal record. Not to sound cheesy, but I think it definitely captures the last year and a half of our lives. I hate to say it’s concept record, but it probably is.
How did you find out Relapse wanted to sign you? Was it a life-affirming moment? :)
After we completed the Cough split, they invited us to stop by the offices in Philadelphia while we were up there to play some Northeast shows. They said they were big fans and were excited at how the split turned out. We just sort of stayed in touch with them and they expressed interest in doing a full length LP. I assumed at that time it would just be a one off record or something. But they started a dialogue with us about a contract, and I had a few phone conversations with them, so they made us an offer. That was over the course of a month or so. They’re a business, but they’re also just genuinely nice people that are music fans. That’s really important to us. And honestly, it just seemed like we really needed to take that next step as a band too. The whole thing was just really flattering. We didn’t seek them out. They asked us because they were already fans. I don’t think it was a life-affirming moment, but it’s definitely an honor to have our record along side some of the bands that inspired us to play music.
What did you grow up listening to? What are you listening to lately?
As a child, growing up in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was really into KISS. I’d listen to my parents Beatles records a lot too. I wasn’t into sports at all, so instead I’d just sit in my room and listen to records and play with Star Wars toys all day. In my early teen years, 1987 or so, I got into The Sex pistols, The Butthole Surfers, PIL, Black Flag, Metallica, Slayer, The Dead Kennedys…and a lot of late 80’s sort of “college rock.” Stuff like REM, The Pixies, all the early SUB POP bands, Jane’s Addiction, etc. I just hated all that hair metal garbage that was around at the time. To this day it still makes my blood boil. But lately I’ve been listening to a lot of compilation LP’s. I’ll buy anything with R. Crumb artwork, so I got this compilation of traditional Albanian folk songs he did the cover art for. That record’s been on repeat for like a year. I have all these old Time Life classical compilations from the 70’s called “Great Men of Music” that I play at home a lot. The E.T. soundtrack also. Because I love John Williams so much. As far as heavy music, lately I haven’t listened to very much honestly. I like the Druglord LP a lot and I pretty much played the new Queens of the Stone Age record to death.
Do you have a favorite show you’ve ever played? if so, when was it/what was it like?
Unfortunately a lot of the shows are starting to run together in all honesty, but Providence, RI from this last tour was pretty wild. These kids were going crazy. I thought maybe a much better, more well know band might be standing behind us or something. It was nuts. It was packed and they were pressed up against the stage just going completely insane. We played “Winter Sun” and they just exploded. I think Dorthia described it as “her teenage rock fantasy come true” or something like that. It was really something else.
Describe your idea of a perfect Saturday in Richmond.
Turner Classic Movies and a bag of potato chips.
Would you ever consider doing any covers?
We’ve talked about it. I’ve always wanted to do “Citadel” by The Rolling Stones or “4th of July” by Soundgarden. So we’ll see. Maybe someday.
What is your least favorite thing about touring?
I hate being away from my dog Bukka. Especially now that she’s so old. I miss her terribly when I’m on tour. ~
will be hitting the road soon, but they won’t be back in RVA until October! :(