Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers Interview
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers have recently released their album ‘Home And The Wild Hunt’ which I would describe as a lexicon of love. Following two very successful album launches and notable press from respected media such as BBC Radio 6, Woodenbox have cemented themselves this year as an intoxicating band to watch out for. The title track of the album in particular is a song which ebbs and flows with melodious tides however, more notably, the subtle diversity between songs as the album progresses is intriguing.
Glasgow PodcART were lucky enough to catch up with Ali Downer of the band to find out more about Woodenbox, what they have coming up and their outlook on the perfect beard
Halina: Please introduce us to the band, tell us how long you have been together for and how did it all begin?
Ali: Hi, we are Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers. I started the band as a half arsed solo project which turned into an album called Woodenbox. It wasn’t long before long term pal and musical collaborator Nick joined and we became Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers.
We had a chance meeting with Phil Cardwell and Sam Evans and before we knew it we had a brass section, which was not on the agenda by the way. They really brought a fresh sound to our country project and the band started to take on its own legs and feel quite individual. Fraser joined on the bass and brought with him Jordan who can wail with the best of them and there we had it. Three way harmonies, brass section, drums and bass on what started out as a so called solo project.
You have had a few line-up changes, do you think that you now have the ‘family’ of players you were looking for?
The band is really on top form as we have done a fair bit touring together and are really comfortable with each other now. Everyone has their own role and brings their own influences into the overall sound. I personally have always enjoyed working with lots of musicians and guests come and go, the door is always open and change is never a bad thing. However at the present we feel like a unit.
You have been playing the Scottish music network for some time and now you are emerging as one of the bands to watch out for this year, how hard has it been to get to this stage?
I have been playing in bands and trying to write decent tunes since I was 12. I think there is a lot of determination and set backs in just finding the right people to play music with, a whole string of unsuccessful relationships. I think finding a group of people who are committed to the same goals even though they know it’s very uncertain for those goals to be met, that’s the hardest bit, the rest is just playing gigs. The album was fun to make but with all projects you want the best platform for it, I guess it’s as unpredictable as to where anything leads so to answer the question it’s been good fun.
A lot of musicians don’t like this question but I am just going to put it out there! For people who are not familiar with Woodenbox, how would you describe your music?
I like to think of it as experimental folk with a mariachi heart beat.
The recent ‘Home And The Wild Hunt’ album launches that took place in Glasgow and Edinburgh were extremely successful. How long did ‘Home And The Wild Hunt’ take to record? Also, did you write is as a band or was there another approach?
Nick and I have a unique writing style in that I’ll take an idea play it on guitar and sing then he’ll bash out some interesting rhythms. We’ll record it straight off, no practice just see what happens, and the structure of the song will then just be what it is.
I’ll then spend ages working around the original blueprint trying to hit the vibe we nailed on its birth adding whatever instrumentation the track seems to want.
What song on the album do you hold closest to your heart and why?
Draw a Line is a personal song for me and I like everyone’s part on it. It feels like moving on for me almost as if there is a new chapter opened and an old one closed. That song is a nice way of closing that particular chapter.
We feel that the last year or so has been one of the most exciting in Scottish music. The amount of artists emerging is phenomenal. What are your thoughts on the Scottish music network and do you think that because artists can do a lot of the work from their own homes this helps more?
It feels great to be in this time, a lot of my favourite albums are from Scottish bands, I don’t know why it’s so phenomenal just now, and it really feels like we’re onto something unique up here. I guess working at home helps get the records out if people are willing to do that. It’s almost like people have caught on to the fact that you don’t need a big record deal to make an album or put an album out there. That means folk can do whatever they want and be as creative with their music as they want to be. In turn I think it leads to healthy competition and ideas and an overall thriving music scene. Scotland seems to be coping well, perhaps it’s because it’s so easy to get about and tour and meet other bands who are very supportive of each other.
You have a number of live dates coming up including some festivals which is all very exciting. What else does 2010 hold for Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers?
We played a gig in a hotel in Dornoch in march and fell in love with the place.
Our gig started at 10pm and finished at around 6 am all drunken and shitty by the end. We are going to head back there in October to write and record an album in the bar.
Finally, we at PodcART love a good beard. You are a very beardy band which stirs our loins a bit. What would you say makes a good beard?
It must have a tinge of ginger, be full or if not full you must convince yourself into believing it is full and let it be bushy. Let it sing! Let it scare un-bearded people! Let it take abuse of casuals and men who spend too much time shaving, let it disgust ladies and let it be touched by people who are in awe of it.
For more information about Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers including how to purchase their latest album please visit: www.myspace.com/awoodenbox