Brooks Wood Band
Brooks Wood – Rhythm guitar, lead vox, & Teacher of all things BAMF
Miah Wander – Bass guitar, vox, & PhD in Groove Engineering
Greg Holzer Keys, vox, & Pupil of Paul Ottinger
Danny Shampine – Drums, cowbell, & “Show me what ya workin’ wit”
Paul Sheeran – Lead guitar, Dr. Z, & Miles Davis T-shirt
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty
For our readers who don’t know you, describe how Brooks Wood Band formed.
We were all babies once .. then we grew into childhood .. and eventually with the help of vitamins and minerals, we became the people we are today. None of us are deformed either .. at least not physically. Mentally .. maybe.
Your sound has been described as ‘acoustic-soulful-funkadelic-country-rock’, a great fusion of sounds, elaborate on this for a moment.
Greg: Yeah, more often than not, when people hear our sound, the first thing that comes to mind is “a good different” which we love to hear because it separates us from the everyday stuff you hear. We know our roots and we don’t try to fit ourselves in a certain genre, but we ARE heavily influenced by some of favorite artists of old and new. Some that personally come to mind as a keyboardist are Bruce Hornsby, Billy Joel, Elton, Blessid Union of Souls, and as of late, Jon McLaughlin and such.
Brooks: Our influences are all over the board. My roots are deep with the southeast americana/acoustic-rock movement of the early to mid 90’s – bands and artists such as DMB, Edwin McCain, Pat McGee, Mike Corrado, The Drive, Angie Aparo. Since moving away from home for college, my music world was turned upside down when I was introduced to jazz, folk, bluegrass, etc. Pretty much anything I could get my hands on, I was listening to it. I know where my roots are, and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t shake them, but all the sounds and music I’ve been exposed to in my life are some kind of influence on me.
Miah: We’re really fortunate in that each of the guys in the band comes from a varied musical background – everything from bluegrass to hardcore runs through the veins of our band. It gives us the opportunity to draw from so many directions when creating a sound of our own. What’s come out of it all at the end is something I think we’re extremely happy with and proud to show to our fans.
Danny: Yeah basically what we do is get all hopped up on drugs and alcohol and just hit stuff, and this description really captures that sound. Just kidding… we all come from different backgrounds and likes/dislikes and you can really hear the influences in our music.
Paul: Part of the lifeblood of the band musically is being able to pull sounds from such a rich history of musicians in many different fields. For the most part the acoustic and soul influences come from Brooks (who we also credit for the country influence) and Danny, while the funk and rock come out from Miah and me. Greg’s great – he’s a chameleon of sorts and seems to be able to come up with creative parts for just about any style, so ultimately we end up with a mixing pot of musical goodness to serve out night after night.
What are you favorite tunes to perform and why?
Greg: Is it boring to say all of them? The slower songs play on the heart strings which evoke good vibes from the crowd while the upbeat groove tunes are always there to wake everyone up and remind them that we’re here to have a damn lot of fun!
Brooks: I love our new tunes. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all our babies and we love them all. But I really love how the songwriting is going now. We actually have more material that we know what to do with and we’re having to slow down with the music so we can catch up on the arranging and lyrical work. But to answer your question more concisely – “Good Timing,” “Let’s Go,” “Carolina Air,” and “Home To You,” – all unreleased songs.
Danny: I like the fast ones! And the slow ones, and a majority of the medium ones… I’m with Brooks also on favoring the newer songs. The newer songs have a more mature sound and capture every member in the band’s input.
Paul: I think the songs of ours with the most emotional weight are the ones that speak to me the most while we’re playing. When we play other people’s songs, we usually have the most fun pulling from a lot of the soul singers from the 70s and 80s like Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers. We can usually rock them up a good bit so they end up being fun to play and a blast to listen to.
Brooks, you are the self proclaimed BAMF of the group. Are you a BAMF?
There’s no other word in the English Dictionary that describes me better. Actually, don’t look “BAMF” up in the dictionary – it’s not in there… yet. I’ve been lobbying for them to do so for a while now… with minimal success.
Are you looking to be signed or just out having a good time with where you are right now?
Greg: We’re looking to do what’s best for the 5 of us and what makes the most sense. We’re keeping our options wide open but the underlying motive here is to have as much fun as we can while busting our asses and putting in as much leg work as possible on our own.
Brooks: The music industry is ALWAYS changing and there are pros and cons to anything – as with life. If getting signed is the best thing for us, then we’re definitely out for that. I can tell you this: we ARE in fact having a good time, but we know this is a business – now more than ever. This is how we make a living. So are we out JUST to have a good time? Sadly, NO. That would be fun. But yeah, we gotta keep the lights on somehow.
Danny: I think it really depends on what opportunities are presented to us if a label would like to sign us. I know we’re having fun now and would want to keep that going no matter what.
Paul: Getting signed could definitely be in our best interests in the future given the right deal, but I think as a whole we tend to distrust most of the goings-on in the industry. Because of that, I think we’d end up being pretty selective about what comes our way. There are lots of independent artists out there who make great money doing what they love and don’t have some of the downfalls that can come with being signed – they have complete control over what they do. That’s a pretty attractive option if you can swallow the fact that you’ll probably never reach the level of exposure that a band like Maroon 5 gets.
What is your take on the current music industry?
Greg: It’s the same as it’s always been in regards to radio in my opinion. You listen to what they want you to listen to. Which is why we’re so lucky to be living in an era of myspace, youtube, and the endless number of other social networking sites out there that allow artists to connect with fans all over the world in ways never before possible. If there was ever a time to try and make it big on your own with the highest probability of success and without the help of huge recording company conglomerates, that time is now.
Brooks: It’s a cut-throat business. I’ll leave it at that.
Danny: It’s 90% who you know and how well you run your business. With the remaining 10% allocated to talent/musicianship.
Paul: I think the industry is in a pretty unique place right now – the role that modern large-labels are playing is changing drastically in the face of all the promotional power artists have at their fingertips. It’s amazing that we now have ways to sell almost directly to the people who listen to us all over the world. It’ll be very interesting to see how the music business changes as smaller labels begin to gain power and artists are better able to sustain and promote themselves. I think ultimately it could lead back to a market that fosters talent and new ideas more than the current one does.
Favorite bands to share the stage with currently… and bands you’d love to tour with in the future.
Greg: We’ve shared the stage with some pretty incredible bands and all of them have been worthy of noting. Some of the more memorable ones would have to be Virginia Coalition, Honor By August, & Gin Blossoms.
Brooks: The Rock Boat is a concert cruise that hosts many bands in our genre – Sister Hazel, Bain Mattox (who we’ve also shared the stage with), Marc Broussard, and so on. That would be a pretty great honor, to get on that boat. We’ve also talked with one of our favorite bands, Virginia Coalition, about possibly touring with them. For the time being I think it’s best if we take whatever we can get, spread our name to the masses, and see what happens. Cream rises to the top. I think we got some good cream.
Danny: I love playing with Virginia Coalition. They’re some of the nicest guys we’ve had the pleasure of playing with.
Paul: Along with the ones the other guys mentioned already (Vaco), I always love playing with bands that have very dense soundscapes like SeePeoples. The guys from Colourslide and No Second Troy were great too. I think we’d do well on tour with artists like John Mayer, Edwin McCain, etc…, but if it came down to who I’d want to be hanging out with backstage it’d probably end up being people like Mike Doughty, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, and Clutch for me (although admittedly there’d be little crossover audience).
What is coming up for you guys this year?
Greg: Lots and lots of shows. And tunafish sandwiches. With mayo.
Brooks: Lots of long nights driving in our crappy van. And yeah, sandwiches…sandwiches…sandwiches…
Miah: I’d have to add about 25,476 hours of driving, a bunch of shows, and more inside jokes than you can shake a stick at. The best part of playing with these guys is that before we were business-mates or band-mates, we were really great friends. The laughter is contagious and never ending.
Danny: The beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do what we absolutely love for a living. And of course tuna fish sandwiches…
Paul: Struggling to pay rent, discovering new instruments, new people, new places, new experiences, breakdowns, equipment failures, emotional highs and lows, hanging out with 4 of the best cats I know, and loving every minute of it.
Memories from your best gig/worst gig?
Greg: So does that mean you have to actually make it to the gig? Cause if not, i think the winner just happened this week!
Brooks: Yeah we got double booked this week and drove all the way there, and all the way home without playing a note… We learned a valuable lesson that day… CALL BEFORE YOU HAUL!
Miah: We learned another lesson as well. Take the gasoline hose out of the car before you try to drive away. I think some of our best musical memories were when we had a short touring stint up to NYC and back a couple years ago. By the end of that time, the band was so tight musically, that shows we’re just a blast. No worries, just antics and a damn great time.
Danny: Yeah driving a couple hours, in the wrong direction, and then ending up not being able to play the show due to being double booked isn’t exactly an ideal gig. Although it was still fun and the best 2 hour excursion to Taco Bell I’ve ever had.
Paul: I still think the worst one we had was at a biker bar somewhere in Virginia that we left without being paid. My personal favorite was when we released our latest EP and sold out the Pour House in Raleigh to release it. Definitely a landmark for our progress in the last 2 years..
Describe each other in one word:
PAUL on others in one word: Brooks – Driven, Miah – Genuine, Greg – Wise, Danny – Honest
BROOKS on others in one word: Greg – funny, Miah – sexy, Paul – engaged, Danny – splashmaster
MIAH on others in one word: Brooks – workin-it, Greg – hi-freakin-larious, Paul – good, Danny – spastic
DANNY on others in one word: Brooks – BAMF, Miah – smart, Paul – calm, Greg – monkey
GREG on others in one word: Brooks – Vogue, Miah – Admired, Paul – Intuitive, Danny – Superman
Last words to our readers & your fans:
Greg: Three things.
1. You are the reason bands exist. Embrace your local bands. They are the “real” in that overused “Keep it Real” cliche.
2. Don’t eat the yellow snow. You’ll get sick.
3. I forget the third one.
Brooks: We are allowed to do what we do because of you, so first off – “THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! WE LOVE YOU!” Secondly, whatever you can do to help spread the word, it is mucho mucho mucho appreciated. Join up on the street team, put our banner on your myspace, just tell a friend about us, whatever you can do!
Miah: Support live music. Go to shows, buy merch, write emails, ask for autographs, do it all. It means so much. If it’s not us, do it for somebody else, because just like our wonderful crew in Raleigh and throughout the south has done so much for us to be able to do what we’re doing today, you could be doing that for somebody else.
Paul & Danny: Thank you, thank you, thank you, and THANK YOU!