Dieser Tage erscheint mit Let’s Be Ready das neue Album von THE WOODEN SKY. Exklusiv für unsere Track-By-Track-Reihe hat Sänger GAVIN GARDINER ausführliche Liner Notes zu den zehn neuen Songs erstellt…
You’ve got something to live for now
I wrote this song in a few different stages. The song began during a stint in the countryside of Quebec. The chorus “White smoke rising up off the coast” was me reminiscing on the beauty and comfort that can be found in tradition. The thought that white smoke rose from the Vatican to signify the changing of the guard (in this case Pope I suppose) jumped into my mind as I watched the mist slowly lifting off the fields and over the Gatineau hills.
The majority of the song fits with this idea moving back and forth between now and forever. My favorite memory of this song is sitting in an abandon airstrip in Berlin, finishing the last of the verses and waiting excitedly for Sarah to arrive so that I could show her what I’d been working those last two afternoons. She smiled after I’d finished and said, “I think it could be faster”.
OUR HEARTS WERE YOUNG
Darling if it makes you happy that’s really all I care
What is work worth doing?
In the morning I take my dog out for a walk, hopefully she’ll run and play a little and tire herself out. She seems to enjoy the rest of the day a little more when she’s exhausted. Perhaps it’s because she feels she’s earned the right to lie atop our queen size bed, and snore the afternoon away on her throne. Or maybe it’s because she feels like she’s done her job, getting us out the door before 8am and letting the fresh air wash away those details that seemed so important only a half hour before.
This song began in a fever dream, I was leaving the mastering studio where I’d been working when I felt a wave of nausea wash over me. By the time I got home it was all I could do to get the drivers side door open before I was sick. I spent the next few days in bed, getting up only to answer the door when the police arrived to inform me that my car alarm had been going off for 2 days and the neighbors had requested a public lynching.
It was an important song for me because it opened the door to try things that I’d never tried before, the phrasing of the lyrics, the call and answer vocals. It was a lot of fun working and reworking this song with Kip and Simon, there must be at least 4 very different versions of this song. It grew and morphed as we sat with the demo and picked out the things we liked and didn’t like. You have to be pretty particular when you’re only using 2 chords!
BABY HOLD ON
Baby I’m coming, so baby hold on
Sometimes you just want to run into the arms of the one you love and leave the world behind you. Were it only so easy.
This is the one and only song I have written while riding in the van. I lay there on the floor amongst the empty coffee cups and banana peels and it all kind of poured out. If I remember it correctly we were nearing the end of what had been 4 months of straight touring. That van had been our home for at least 8 of those 16 months and carried us from our lives in Toronto as far as Los Angeles and back. And while we sped east through Northern Ontario towards the final show in Toronto, though laden with the kind of heavy exhaustion that only living on the road can bring, there was a sense of excitement in the air that morning. I did my best to put it all done on paper as quickly as I could.
Now when I hear this song I picture myself driving down the west coast from San Francisco to LA but in reality there was snow on the ground as Lake Superior flew by outside the window.
WHEN THE DAY IS FRESH AND THE LIGHT IS NEW
Let it be another
In the summer of 2012 Wyatt’s Dad got sick and soon thereafter he passed away. Immediately after the funeral we played Hillside and then drove straight to Kansas City to meet up with a tour that would take us across the US. I’m not sure how he did that, where he found the strength to carry on that way. Maybe it was the only way he could, leave it all behind and go riding on the wind. It was an exciting time, touring America in the summer and embarking across Europe through September and into October then watching fall happen as we traveled across North America again. Times when it was hard I thought if Wyatt can handle this with everything else going on then I had no choice but to do the same.
This song was one I started around the time Bill first got sick, in fact the original demo that was made was made with only the 3 of us as Wyatt had gone to be with his Mom and brother. I remember listening to that demo as loud as it would go, driving through Salt Lake City and headed north for the border.
Though this was one of the first songs we tackled for the record it was also one of the last ones to get completed. Funny how that happens, sometimes it all comes at once and other times you really have to work for it. I suppose a little struggle makes it taste a little sweeter when it’s done.
One of the final touches to the record was adding the backup vocals at the end of this song. “Take all of your loving and give it up for nothing, it might be your brother, let it be another”. For a long time I wanted to call the record “Let it be another”, almost did too, so I was happy that thought made it on here somewhere at least. Let it be another, I guess that’s kinda the chorus of the song too “You gotta let somebody know”.
Escapes at hand for the travelling man
By now you must see a theme developing. “I’ve been all over the world boys, I’m just trying to get to heaven before they close the door”, sing it Bobby.
After playing in Los Angeles we did our best to act like we weren’t tourists and headed out on the town, living it up on the doorstep of the Church of Scientology’s celebrity division. The next morning, which by coincidence was also Simon’s 29th birthday, we headed up the I-5 towards San Francisco where we were to play that night. I was at the wheel, thinking mostly of where I was going to get a coffee, when suddenly I noticed we were closing in on a pair of bicycles fast. I slammed on the brakes, doing my best to keep the trailer directly behind us. As 5 lanes of rush hour traffic continued to fly by us we hit the bicycles (and the rack they were attached to, although the car carrying them continued out of site). After the first impact we felt a second one from behind when the car behind us drove right into us, turns out they couldn’t stop in time either. When the police arrived they closed down the entire highway and helped us across to a median where we waited for two trucks to carry us to repair. The police were helpful and it was the first time we were on the radio in LA, although it wasn’t quite how we had planned it.
The tow trucks carried us off to the San Fernando Valley, the former home of Ritchie Valens. I couldn’t help but feel it symbolic, as Ritchie was the reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place and here I was in his hometown living the life I’d dreamed of. As we walked around the Valley the shock of what had happened on the highway began to wear off and was replaced with the realization of how close to real danger we’d come. Highflying pirates of the open road I was thankful that day for my 5 closest friends and the support we gave each other that day and every other day while braving the open seas. In the end we made the show and celebrated Simon’s 29th in the parking lot of the famed Phoenix hotel, another one for the books I suppose.
WRITE THEM DOWN
I still need a plan
This song has been trying to make its way onto a Wooden Sky record since before 2009’s “If I don’t come home, you’ll know I’m gone”. It’s seen many incarnations, a faux electro drumbeat and an over orchestrated attempt at imitating our friends Ohbijou. In 2009 we recorded it 3 different ways at Hotel 2 Tango, none of which would see release. It wasn’t until our 3rd annual holiday revue when we performed it with the help of Shaun Brodie and Tom Richards on the trumpet and trombone that it became obvious the time to record it was now.
When I sit and listen to the lyrics I am carried back to the time when I wrote it, I don’t remember exactly what spurred it on but I can still smell that apartment when I hear it. I can almost hear the floor creak as you finished walking up the third flight of stairs.
I’m happy it found a home on Let’s be ready and while it was written 5 years before any of the other songs it seems to fit perfectly with a lot of the other themes on the record.
MAYBE IT’S NO SECRET
Not something I’m soon to give up
This was the first new song that we worked on as a band after finishing up our last album. I remember bringing it to the guys as a country waltz, ¾ time complete with a boom chick-chick, boom chick-chick feel. I thought it sounded pretty good like that but once the band got a hold of it, it felt lethargic and to be honest pretty boring. We sat banging our heads against the wall for a while, I was frustrated and wondering if we’d lost the ability to make things together (knee jerk reactions of self doubt was something of a strong point for me during that time). In truth that frustration and uncertainty is a pretty important part of any creative process. It’s in those moments of searching and uncertainty where new paths are forged, I think the key is just not to let it break you. Wyatt suggested that we try it in 4/4 and suddenly the doors opened and the ideas came quickly. I remember debuting the song at Hillside in Guelph later that month and how much energy and excitement it brought to the stage. I’m not certain whether it was the song itself that was the exciting part or the fact that it was so different then the record we’d just finished. Either way it seemed to set a precedent for the rest of the material we’d work on after finishing up the 4-month tour that started right after that festival.
There had been some real stress around finishing Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun and delivering it to our label at the time. It was a dark period for me and took a long time to heal. Hearing this song back now reminds me how important and therapeutic it was to sing it on stage every night, getting back on the horse and enjoying the ride.
SHAKE FOR ME
I guess that’s all I need
It always seems that when we hit Victoria, about as far away as we can be without leaving the continent, shit hits the fan at home. After the ferry ride up from Port Angeles we had a few days off along the ocean, but I spent most of it in bed. Seems the van wasn’t the only thing that needed repair after our car accident along the I-5. Before finally giving in and seeking some professional help for my whiplash I moped around the hotel, spending much of my time in the stairwell singing. The natural reverb in there was beautiful and made singing so fun that time rolled by quickly. I started this song that day before hurrying off to the most painful back massage of my life, then stopped in at a guitar store on my way home to work out a few more of the parts.
I had decided before leaving for the never-ending tour that I wouldn’t let the road suck me into a creative black hole as it had done so many times before. This song however proved difficult and it was one of the last songs to be finished for the record. Songwriting is 20% inspiration, 3% luck and 77% hard work. That was at least the case with this song. I had to go to a few dark corners in my mind to finish it. Sometimes you have to decide if it’s worth it to go looking in those deep dark recesses, I hope in this case it was.
This song also has a musical outro that was one of the most fun things I’ve ever recorded. It makes me feel like I’m running down the highway and can hear the helicopter close, almost at my heals.
LET’S BE READY
That suits me just fine
I remember finishing this song in Davis California, sitting on the patio of the beautiful house we were staying at, somewhere out in the outskirts of what seemed to be never ending sunshine. Looking around you could see and smell the lemon trees. When I got home the whole band spent a lot of time working hard to finish our new studio, this one of the first things I recorded in there. I had intended for it to be simply a demo but when I played it for everyone we decided that it should go on the album as is. It’s hard to tell what makes something engaging when you’re so close to it, that’s why you have to listen to the people you trust I suppose.
DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT A THING
Plan the whole day out in lists
This was the last song I wrote for the record, a lot of it I wrote actually on the way to and from the studio, some even up on the studios rooftop while the sounds of countless guitar overdubs floated up through the ceiling. This has to be the most lyrics of any song I’ve ever written, and there were at least 3 other verses left on the cutting room floor. We’re making pop music here after all, you must leave something to the imagination!
I went home and on our day off went out to my studio and recorded the song top to bottom in about an hour and a half. I was pretty nervous to show it to the band, I find that’s always the way if something is really close to me. I don’t know if it’s a fear of rejection or if it’s that once I play it for someone it’s no longer just mine anymore. That’s something that I think about often and have read plenty of other songwriters pontificate upon (if anyone who calls themselves a songwriter has the ability to pontificate!).
I developed a pretty mean case of demoitis (it’s real) for that demo but in going back to it the version that we did with the band has so much more vitality and still maintains that raw quality that I found so appealing about the demo.
This song was an important one for me and I think for the record because it ties together a lot of ideas on the album. With the last record there were a lot of questions, on this I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that some (maybe lots even) don’t have answers, don’t need answers. That can be a dark reality or it can be exciting, just depends on how you look at it. Everyday I wonder why do I do the things that I do, I guess because if I did not do them they would not get done.
THE WOODEN SKY
Let’s Be Ready