Pinning down Woods has proved increasingly elusive over their ten year run. While encapsulating and predicating the twisting currents of folk and rock, they’ve morphed calmly yet sharply from lo-fi to hi-fi. Their newest release, Sun City Sun Eater in the River of Light, represents both a step forward and yet another step to the side. Driven by their own ambition and a healthy, constantly evolving working relationship, the record finds Woods exploring a refined and expansive sound, ambitiously tackling uncharted areas of their nine LP discography.
We recently caught up with Woods’ two founding members, Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere, who spoke with us from each of their homes in New York state.
Aquarium Drunkard: How has the band solidified over the years? The constant has been the two of you, but does this record feel like a continuation, or a new chapter?
Jeremy Earl: The core of it is always going to be me and Jarvis, that’s sort of the constant throughout. This lineup is the phase-three version of Woods, with pretty much the same players as the last record, the same band we’ve been touring with for the last two years, off of that record. It’s just nice that this is the band, and it’s been nice to do a couple of records, and a lot of touring, with everybody.
Jarvis Taveniere: It feels like a new chapter for this band. I don’t think we meant for it to be. We don’t really plan it in advance, record to record. Sometimes the idea is such a relatively drastic shift, where it seems to us like a new phase. Especially once we got Aaron [Neveau, the groups drummer] in the band and became more of a touring band, it became this whole other thing. I don’t really know what phase I think we’re in now but after playing with Aaron for so long, and making the last record as an actual band in a studio, and then touring so much – we’re still anxious people, anxiety riddled in some ways, but the music part just kind of came out. Whereas the last one, With Love and with Light, we rehearsed it, we worked on the song structures, “should we put strings on this part?” – normal band things. This time we maybe wanted to go back to the casualness of the earlier records – while applying all this new shit to it. We’re finally comfortable in a studio – where we can just go, operate it, get the sounds we want, but also just kind of be the three of us just hanging out in a room.
AD: I’m interested in how, over these ten years, there are people who have come in and out of the band and the Woods universe – but the two of you have remained at its core. Do you think there’s something that previous members sought outside the group that you still find satisfaction in within the band?
Jeremy Earl: We gravitate toward and bond with likeminded musicians. It’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing. Like with Kevin [Morby, who played bass in Woods for several years], it was clear that this guy wasn’t going to be playing in the band for much longer, that he had his own vision to write his own songs. I love it when that happens. We met Kevin when he was 19, we toured the world with him and watched him sort of grow up and become this incredible songwriter and do his own thing. That to me is all part of the Woods story and the way things work – I feel that sort of thing may always happen to Woods, whereas me and Jarvis will always stay the same and be what Woods is about.