By Andy, Kieran and Marc
We caught up with the Wooden Stars after their show with Sofa and Starbean last winter at the Cabaret. Since you’ve probably never heard of them, let us tell you that these Ottowaians have been compared to Gastr Del Sol, Polvo, Slint and Dinner is Ruined, yet sound almost nothing like those bands, and are certainly not influenced by them. It’s an apt comparison only because they, like the aforementioned artists, are brutally honest in their approach, and never afraid to push the parameters of pop/indie rock/experimental or whatever label you choose to pigeonhole them with. One listen of their debut album and 7″ on Lunamoth will confirm this. We spoke to guitarist Mike and drummer Andrew (brothers Mathieu and Julien round out the line-up on bass and guitar, respectively) and here is the what we came up with…
RASPUTIN: when did you start playing as a band?
Andrew: when they told us to.
And two of you were in a band previously?
Mike: yeah. that band was called Rufus Wheeler and we did nothing that anybody would know about.
Andrew: i was in a band in the late 80’s called Helix, we had a couple of tunes.
How old are you guys? i heard that when you first started out, some of you were underage.
Mike: Mathieu our bass player is still underage, although you don’t know that, none of your readers know that.
We don’t have any readers anyway.
Mike: well here (in Quebec) he’s fine, here he’s legal.
So tell us who you are, your ages…
Mike: well i am… that age, that all-knowing wise age…i’m really shy about my age.
Andrew: he’s a bit of a veteran, a bit of an old man in the band. He’s topping the scales of 23…i’m 21, Julien is 21 and Mathieu is 18.
Mike: i have an English degree-i’m educated…
How did you guys hook up with Lunamoth?
Mike: we didn’t. it just is. there’s no hook-up, it was a natural sort of organic birth, it was just a coming into being.
We heard that Sub Pop were interested in you guys.
Mike: that’s a dead issue, it’s a no go, we’re not going to answer questions on that issue…
Well i was going to ask…did they have scouts that saw you…?
Mike: well i admire your persistence, but as i said, we will answer no questions on that issue.
Andrew: and if you knew about it you’d know why.
Mike: yeah, you’d know why if we were to tell you, but we’re not going to tell you.
Andrew: it’s just not worth it.
Mike: and it has nothing to do with…anything.
What are you guys listening to right now?
Andrew: the rock n’ roll bad boy express.
Mike: that’s a band from Toronto.
Andrew: they are a big influence, you guys should check them out. i don’t know what kind of touring they’ll be doing…
Mike:…or what kind of records they’re going to have out, but…
Andrew: if you have a chance to hear them… we’re going to try to do some gigging with them, they’re a hot up-and-coming band.
Mike: well, actually there are three important bands that we all listen to. The first one is XTC, but i wanna clarify this if you don’t mind. let me take a second as a side note; XTC is only a band that became a band after people told us that we sounded like them. before people told us that we sounded like them we had never heard them before. since people told us that we sounded like them, we became curious, and bought all there stuff.
Andrew: …and liked them.
Mike: we like them a lot.
Andrew: the 2nd band is the Mommyheads, they’re a very inspirational band.
(at this moment Mathieu walks in and asks how much they’re selling cds for…)
Andrew: and the 3rd one is the Beatles.
Mike: those three are what we are all listening to nowadays, all of us unanimously have listened to those bands. whereas if you were to branch out individually, there’d be all sorts of different things. but if you want to find something that all 7 of us agree on, it would be those 3 bands.
There was some vaguely reminiscent Nomeansno-ness tonight.
Mike: No (laughs). thanks anyways.
Andrew: i’d have to say yes….like when you were doing that screaming bit.
Mike: well let me put it this way, it’s your wording, you said it was reminiscent of Nomeansno. when i was doing that i wasn’t remembering Nomeansno. and i wasn’t intending for you to remember Nomeansno.
Okay then, i think Nomeansno sound alot like you guys.
Mike: yeah well they totally copied us. (more laughs) i don’t want you to think that we have anything against Nomeansno, i just wouldn’t call them an influence.
Well how about Polvo? Slint?
Mike: nope, another case of something that people told us we sounded like so we sort of bought their records, and thought they were pretty cool. although you (to Andrew) don’t think…
Andrew: i’m still a little out of it. maybe, i don’t know why.
Do any of you guys currently have day jobs? What do you do?
Mike: we have great jobs, we have DAY JOBS, do we have jobs!
Mathieu: i’ve recently sort of been taken in…
Andrew: the best job is matthieu’s job, he works in a parking lot, 40 hours a week, that’s the best one. (talk ensues about that job…)
Mike: i work at the Ottawa public library, and i give people books for three weeks, i lend people books. I like my job, i don’t hate going to it every day.
Do you guys ride bikes alot?
Mike: it’s really interesting cause, NO, but the thing is, a bicycle is something that everybody has and everybody needs and is totally cool.
Well “needs” is…
Mike: no “needs” – i’m serious, i think everybody needs a bicycle. whether or not they use it is irrelevant. i know my special friend has a bicycle in the backyard, locked up in a shed, that she never uses. and she has another bicycle that she does use, but the bicycle she uses is not her spiritual bicycle. (talk continues on this bike). but the thing is, i have a bike and i really like it, and i’m glad i have it.
Do you use it to get around daily?
Mike: not in the winter, i don’t bike in the winter but both of my room-mates do and i think they’re crazy.
Oh, speaking of drugs, any preferred drugs?
Mike: well, i don’t do any drugs at all.
Andrew: i think booze is cool. what kind of booze (pointing to Rasputin’s bottle of malt liquor) is that?
Malt liquor illegally transported from the u.s.
some guy: it’s like drinking paint thinner, it gets you so cranked. (more talk…)
Are you going to record again, any time soon?
Mike: yeah, we’re going to do another whole album, with all the new stuff, and we’re pretty excited about it, we’re trying to find ourselves again.
Do you find you get tired of your songs really easily, and you have to reinvent them?
Mike: well, we do do that, but i don’t think it’s because we get tired of them. we still play the earliest songs we ever wrote, on occasion. we’re not the kind of band that plays (the same stuff over and over)…although lately we’ve been playing kind of specific stuff…really for the first year and a half there was a big avoidance of having very specific parts even, like songs would sound very different from night to night.
Mike: and that still happens, but…we’re a bit more concerned with having songs now…
Have you guys tried to incorporate the piano (used on their recordings) when you play live?
Mike: no, it’s just logistically not a good thing to do. it’s hard to get a real piano sound.
Andrew: and we don’t want to haul an electronic keyboard around.
Have you guys toured extensively?
Mike: no, we’ve done lots of jaunts, as far as Halifax and Boston, and in that sort of radius, but we’ve never done a full one, that’s it. (talk ensues about their past Montreal shows)
Do you guys all come from Ottawa? Do you like tractors?
Mike: we all come from the valley and we don’t like tractors.
Andrew: i don’t mind a combine or a harvester.
Mike: and the odd threshing machine, but…
Any reason why?
Mike: well, first of all they got two little wheels and two big wheels…
Andrew: and that’s a bad vibe…
Mathieu: we just like consistency.
Mike: we don’t like inconsistency, and tractors can’t even fly. they’re fucking slow. Marc had a dream about Steve Albini and tractors.
Mike: steve Albini is a stupid vehicle too. (many laughs)
Andrew: but he can fly.
(more talk and goodbyes)
Andrew: “the chicks is goin’ insane we gotta’ split!”
I Killed Rasputin