Every week, KEXP features a new local artist with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. This week we're highlighting Vancouver B.C.'s Woolworm, who performed last night at Pop Montreal, where KEXP is currently on site filming live sessions and doing interviews.
Woolworm isn't afraid to touch on dread and loathing. The band has steadily been releasing records since 2009, each release building upon the last with bigger arrangements, riffs, and thoughts on the existential. Their latest album, Deserve to Die, takes the band into even bleaker territory while also elevating their craft. We caught up with the band about their hardcore roots, dealing with heavy feelings, and defining "blanket rock."
You’ve been steadily releasing music as Woolworm since 2009’s no caps. How do you feel like the band has changed over that time between then and now? How did you first form?
How we formed isn't an especially interesting story, we're just longtime friends who have developed into a family. The difference between 2009 and now is our lineup has naturally shifted a bit, but it was always that sort of vibe. The new album is the fourth release with this lineup. I'm definitely more mature these days. Like, as a songwriter. That's the biggest difference I can think of.In the past you’ve called your sound “blanket rock” – could you describe a bit what that term means and how you feel it best describes your music?
Blanket rock is just a slang term for rock. We didn't necessarily think of it that way back in the day, but that's definitely what it's turned into. I personally used to be obsessed with the warmth that old shoegaze albums gave off, and that was the feeling I was aiming for, but I've come to have the same feeling towards classic rock, punk, pop, old indie, all that. Even bad rock, to be honest. We now just try to be as dynamic and diverse with our rock music as possible.
You got your start in the hardcore scene but the music you’re making now doesn’t sound like what most think of when they think of hardcore. How did you make those sonic transitions? What elements of hardcore do you feel are retained in the band?
I guess the thing is that hardcore shaped us. Not so much our music, obviously, but more our general approach and ideologies. We still listen to a ton of hardcore and it still resonates, but we've been so-called blanket rockers now for much longer than any of our hardcore bands lasted. If it hits at the right time, though, hardcore can change a person.
A few weeks ago you dropped your latest album, Deserve to Die. You’ve called it an album about “loss, regret, alienation, acceptance, and death.” These are about as heavy as topics as you can delve into. What made you want to tackle them on this record?
That's just life! I know that sounded super negative when I said that, but really, the most important one is acceptance. It's kind of funny what just naturally comes out of me lyrically. I do want to help people as they deal with those things. The tendency when you go through something heavy is often to think you're alone in it, that you're a freak for losing control. But everyone is a fucking freak and we're all in it together.
You recorded this album at Rain City Recorders with Jesse Gander. What made you want to work with Gander and what do you think he brought to the table?
Amazing producer. He'd always been in the back of our minds because he was such a fixture in the Vancouver punk scene when we were growing up. It was always "hopefully one day we'll be able to record with him" and then last year, we decided to save up some money and go for it. We made the right decision. He immediately saw the vision and did more than just help us realize it. He also got hit by a car and almost died during the mixing process. That's just a fun fact.
What’s next for the band after Pop Montreal? I see you’re in the middle of a tour right now. Any new material you’re working on?
Well, we've decided to not break up yet. That's a big thing! It's a choice we make every day. We're lucky enough to be touring home through some of our favourite cities and to be playing with Sheer Mag the night we get home. New material is already happening live and we're very excited for the next thing. I'm mostly eager now to escape death as a theme. Not that there's any escaping death.
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