How did you meet and what’s the story behind your band name?
Years ago, back before I started making any kind of music, I was standing on the corner of Powell and Gore streets in Vancouver, talking to my friend Mike about what we’d call a band if we had one. I told him I wanted a name with the word “wood” in it. This was back in the time of Beavis and Butthead. Mike suggested Morningwood. I said it had to be a plural. Like The Rolling Stones or The Temptations. Right at that moment a gust of wind delivered an old paper shopping bag from Woodward’s department store. No kidding. Besides the perfect timing this was extraordinary because Woodward’s had been closed for decades. In the late seventies the art school was down the street. It was where bought everything. After it closed down it was squatted and became a bit of a solution to Vancouver’s profound homelessness problem. When developers bought it and threw out the squatters it sparked an epic protest. And here, twenty years later is this perfectly preserved brown paper bag with Woodward’s printed on the side. I took out the apostrophe and added the.
How would you describe your music?
I’m a painter by trade. I make abstract paintings that are rarely about me. The songs are all me. While the paintings paint themselves I take full credit and responsibility for the songs. I didn’t start writing songs until my late forties so I have plenty to say and experience to back it up. I like to use lots of literary references in my songs with the hope that smart people will like em. It’s dark and funny. City-boy music. Music for grown-ups.
What have you been up to so far and what can we expect over the coming months?
We’ve been up to a lot. Most of July we were in the studio making our new album, The Woodwards II. It’s produced by the incredible Attie Bauw. So what I’ve been up to most recently is walking around in a daze listening to this record. I delivered it to the printer this morning. At the end of August we’re playing a little festival with my favorite band, The Be Good Tanyas and then when the record comes out, at the end of October I figure, we’ll be getting set to tour. Meanwhile I just got keys to a new studio so when I’m not singing I’m making paintings.
If you could duet with anybody who would it be and why?
Actually, I just realized that’s a wish that could very possibly come true. And I suppose it already has. My first choice is of course Stevie Guy. That’s why she sings with The Woodwards. My next choice would be Frazey Ford, the singer for the Be Good Tanya’s. She’s wonderful. I hope that when we play that festival we’ll have a chance to sing together. If not on stage then around a campfire. Samantha Parton (another BGT) once joined me on stage for an encore and I’ve noodled around on the guitar with Trish so maybe in August I’ll have made music with all three members of my favorite band.
What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?
I’ve thought about this deserted island thing for years. I used to say I’d take John Prine’s first album just because… well, just because. Then for a while it was Mogwai’s Young Team because I could listen to it over and over and each time was like the first. But now I would want a good recording of Rachmaninov’s Vespers because of the effect it has on me. I figure if I was shipwrecked on some lousy little island I’d be totally pissed off and choral music, especially Russian choral music, tends to relax me.