By Vanessa Hawk
Woodsmen have a hard time agreeing on things. From their tastes in desserts to legendary creatures to musical influences and genres, the band introduces themselves online as â€œRound, angular, crisp, subtle, bold, juicy, understated, overbearing, and fine. And good.â€ Listeners and show-goers have no trouble picking up on the latter after hearing a small sampling from the six-piece band.
â€œI think weâ€™ll fall into the indie rock or alternative rock spectrum. Thatâ€™s just unavoidable, but itâ€™s not a bad thing,â€ says vocalist Maryse Bernard.
â€œItâ€™s what weâ€™ve been writing, and itâ€™s what we go along with,â€ says guitarist Jake Gambling. â€œWe donâ€™t set out to write catchy pop songs, but we definitely have catchy pop sensibilities that end up in there.â€
The umbrella title â€œalternative rockâ€ perhaps neglects Woodsmenâ€™s soulful grit that marries Bernardâ€™s personal lyrics to the solid foundation of rock beats supplied by the gents. Bernardâ€™s voice powers out stories one would expect from a hardened soul: stories wrought from experience into rapt perspective, with riffs and rhythms directing dance-floor soles.
The Victoria-based band has been a long time coming. Founding members Jake Gambling and drummer Graeme McDonald started playing together in the early high school days and have since gathered Solomon Krause-Imlach on guitar, Benjamin Willems on bass, Sean Kennedy on keyboards and vocalist Maryse Bernard into Woodsmen.
Using Bandcamp, an online listening and download-by-donation platform for bands to distribute songs, Woodsmen launched three original songs on January 15, 2012. Woodsmenâ€”decidedly plural and without â€œTheâ€â€”have reached 3000 plays in under a month; a fact which took them by surprise when Bernard mentioned it to the group.
Though Woodsmen are pleased with the recording set up at Krause-Imlachâ€™s apartment, their sights are set on a studio environment for future recordings.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t do [McDonaldâ€™s] drumming any justice,â€ says Kennedy, providing reason enough to catch Woodsmen live.
Hungry audience ears were further satisfied when â€œDo it Right (Fine, Good, OK)â€ was added to the Bandcamp page in the wake of announcements for two back-to-back shows in February. Woodsmen started regular practices back in September, and have recently been busy locking down their worth-proving repertoire for the February gigs and a handful of other upcoming shows.
â€œIt definitely started with the recordings. Once we got on the internet, a lot of people started talking about our music and listening to our music and throwing opportunities and shows at us,â€ Kennedy says.
And throw they did. Woodsmen rattle off at least six shows over the next few months; including February 22 at Felicitaâ€™s Battle of the Bands, an opening gig for Carmanah at Upstairs on March 28, a slot in the April environmental festival in Fairfield, as well as possibilities through the UVSS, local pubs and summer music festivals. Quite a ramp-up, even from the beginning of the year, when Woodsmen just focused on recordings.
â€œWeâ€™re just going to keep going,â€ says McDonald without hesitation.
And so, on to the next: with original songs and dance-rock-ready sets, six heads nod their commitment to furthering Woodsmenâ€™s roots as a band worth watching.
Vanessa Hawk is pursuing a degree in Political Science as well as a Minor in Professional Writing from the University of Victoria.