Interview by Dave Cotton
photo by Derek Carr/www.visionsinpixels.com
Neck of the Woods made no mistake kicking off their career with an exceptionally polished sound and a high energy live show. Needless to say, people in the Vancouver music community immediately took note. From there they proceeded to win the cities edition of the Wacken Metal Battle. This was no small feat considering the strength and caliber of their competition. Speaking of which, Neck of the Woods are one of the leaders of a Progressive/Technical Metal golden age presently happening in Vancouver. It arguably came to a head with local tech giants Archspire and their signing to Season”s of Mist records. While this was ongoing a wave of exceptional bands such as Neck of the Woods, Witch Of The Waste, Nylithia, The Nautilus, Unbeheld, Auroch, The Hallowed Catharsis, Expain, and Mitochondrian, were making their mark on the Vancouver live music circuit with their own interpretations of all that is heavy and technical. Although Neck of the Woods narrowly missed out on a victory in the Toronto edition of Wacken Metal Battle, their first rate songs and engaging live show saw them land opening slots for the Faceless, Wolves In The Throne Room, and a spot at the Armstrong Metal festival. I had a chance to speak to guitarist Dave Carr, and vocalist Jeff Radomsky about the latest happenings with Neck of the Woods.
photo by Asia Fairbanks http://www.notyourscene.ca
Svbterranean: You recently added outstanding drummer Jeremy Gilmartin to your lineup, what are Neck of The Woods working on lately?
Dave: Tons of new material. Jeremy has brought new life to the band, and our writing methods have changed a bit. He picks up our ideas/riffs pretty quick and is eager to nail them down. He’s there an hour before everyone else warming up and practicing. It’s great. We had a new song written within the first month he came aboard, while he was learning all the old material at the same time. The plan is to have enough for a full length we can record later in the year.
You guys played the Armstrong metal fest last summer. What was that experience like?
Dave: Armstrong was awesome. So many 15 packs of Pacific Pilsner, and so many rad bands! It was great partying with friends but also getting to know people from other bands we maybe hadn’t played with yet. Good, sweaty times all around. The only bad thing was when our van overheated on the way back to Vancouver. Rad fluid was puking out the side of the van in between Kelowna and Merritt. We were stuck for a good while until the fine gentleman from Bushwacker saved the day by showing up with some rad fluid. Regardless, we hope to play AMF again!
Neck of the Woods played a show with excellent American band Wolves in the Throne Room during the Vancouver stop of their tour. Although you’re stylistically different from them, it still seems like a fit. Describe that experience?
Dave: That was a great show. Venue on Granville is a killer place to play, awesome sound and lights. As you mentioned, we are stylistically different from WITTR, so it was a great opportunity to play for some folks who may not have directly checked us out before. That’s one benefit of our sound, we don’t shy away from dynamics, clean passages or less ‘metal’ sounding ideas. I think that makes us more accessible to some people, resulting in gigs like that one. For us, it’s natural. We are just writing music that we want to write and have fun playing.
photo by Sara Power/www.sarapowerphoto.org
Your vocalist Jeff gave up downhill skateboarding professionally to be the frontman in the band, tell us about that process?
Jeff: My departure from downhill skateboarding was a looming inevitability but the band was definitely the tipping point. I had just received my first pro board with Skull Skates and was preparing for another season of racing when I decided to step back from the sport. I remember thanking PD – the owner of Skull Skates – for having me skate for him, he replied “you don’t skate for me, no one does, you skate because you love skateboarding”. This lent much needed perspective to my situation. At this point the band was in its infancy, in fact we hadn’t even settled on a name but I knew it deserved my undivided attention. I realized there was no way I could push the band while riding at that level, later that month I cancelled my sponsorships and quit competitive riding. Now I live and breath NOTW and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You have a song titled “Two Smokes.” I take it you’re fans of the Trailer Parks boys? Being a huge fan of the show myself, I have to ask what your fav era of the program is and what do you think of the new seasons?
Jeff: Ha! The title actually came from an inside joke that formed while writing the song, with a running time of over 7 minutes we joked you could have two smokes before it ended. It wasn’t until we were in studio that we realized we hadn’t renamed the song so we stuck with it. I haven’t watched more than a couple episodes of Trailer Park Boys but I know the other guys love it.
Dave: I love TPB. I gotta say the earlier seasons are my favourite, where the production quality wasn’t as polished, and you hear them talk about not even having a script for some episodes. That being said I’ve really enjoyed the new stuff too. I feel like the seasons without Corey and Trevor were not quite the same… Although I’ve met cats and dogs that are smarter than Corey and Trevor. MOST cats and dogs are smarter than Corey and Trevor.
For all us gear nerds, tell us about your current guitar rig set up?
Dave: Currently Travis and I are both running Fractal Axe Fx units. He has a II XL, I’m still rocking an older model, the Ultra. We run them through tube power amps, then into a couple Orange cabs. Travis has a Carvin TS100 power amp and I use a VTH 2:50:2. It’s great having all the options of a digital preamp warmed up by couple sets of tubes and cranked through a traditional speaker cabinet. Best of both worlds really. All our channel switching is done using midi controllers, and we both run a Shure GLXD pedal wireless system.
For guitars, Travis has a killer PRS Custom 24 he just dropped a set of Bareknuckle Aftermaths in. Also a 91 Ibanez RG550 and a Suhr Modern Satin. You never know which one he is going to show up with.
I’m pretty consistent with a pair of Music Man JP6 John Petrucci guitars. My main one is a limited run with an African mahogany body, blue finish and a roasted maple neck. The second is pretty much a backup these days. It has a rosewood fingerboard and basswood body, so they don’t sound exactly the same, but similar/different enough.
If you live on Vancouver island or you REALLY love taking the ferry, check out Neck of the Woods on “The January Jaunt”
Friday January 22nd @ The Cambie, Nanaimo BC
Saturday January 23rd @ The Cambie, Victoria BC
Friday January 29th @ The Hindenburg, Vancouver BC