Brothers Brian and Scott Wooldridge have been fixtures on the local music scene since they moved their then-band Squares, and a host of friends, to Milwaukee from their native Kokomo, Ind., in 1984.
When the Squares split after a pair of LPs, the duo began to perform as The Wooldridge Brothers, drawing on their songwriting skills and utilizing the wealth of quality musicians in Brew City over the years.
Their brand of rootsy rock focuses on melodies and their love for the likes of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and The Jayhawks peek through.
The group's three previous CDs -- "Skeleton Keys," "Star of Desire" and "Uncovering the Sun" -- were released on the now-defunct Don't Records, of which Brian Wooldridge was a co-founder. The latter disc was also picked up by Germany's Blue Rose imprint for European distribution.
Now, Scott Wooldridge is married and living in Minneapolis, while brother Brian remains based here. A new rhythm section has been tapped to provide support and a new Internet-only CD is available.
"The Unreel Hits" collects a baker's dozen of unreleased studio outtakes and demos. It's available from www.wooldridgebrothers.com.
Scott and Brian recently took some time to answer a few questions for us.
OMC: After three LPs, why did the WBs decide to release a disc of demos and outtakes?
BW: I had people asking the "whatever happened to that song" question all the time. So, after awhile we decided it would be a good thing to release this type of album.
SW: Some of these songs we like a lot and wanted to make them available. Some are sort of alternate takes or demos that have some interesting qualities to them. Some of them make me cringe a little, but other people love them and have been pestering us to put them on a CD. So, here you go.
OMC: You're releasing the disc via the Internet only. Have you had a good enough response at wooldridgebrothers.com that you think this will be a successful method?
BW: We've been getting orders from Holland to Japan. We wanted to try this to test the "web" waters and do a complete DIY project. So far, so good.
SW: We're hoping to supplant Napster as the main source of music on the Internet. By the way, we're big in Japan. Hell, we're big anywhere.
OMC: We hear you've got a new band supporting you and Scott; tell us about them.
BW: They rock!
SW: We're working with Kris Schaefer and Cheryl Peterson, formerly of (Green Bay trio) Decoder Ring and currently with Clubhouse Pow in Minneapolis -- as well as with the WBs. I like the new situation because now I don't have to drive to Milwaukee to practice. It's a bit more work for Brian, though. The new rhythm section --Kris plays drums and Cheryl plays bass -- is coming along really well. We're also exploring some other instrumental options, like hurdy-gurdy and nycklharpa.
OMC: With the rest of the band now based in Minneapolis and you back here in Milwaukee, how hard is it to write and rehearse and play gigs?
BW: The logistics are a little tough but we just pay more attention to our schedules. Now we have practice weekends instead of practicing once a week. Writing-wise, we pass tapes back and forth; that seems to work pretty well.
OMC: What are you and Scott doing with all the free time you've got now?
BW: What free time?
SW: I'm learning foreign languages off the International Channel. Of course, the different programs are in different languages, but you'd be surprised how many words they use in common. So far I've learned "Nike" and "Coca Cola" and "President Bush" ... I think that last one must be a comedy reference, because they're always laughing after they say it. I think Brian is using his free time to build a crankin' collection of those wobble-head dolls ... isn't that right Brian?
BW: No, I'm really into KISS Army collectibles!
OMC: Will there be a disc of new WBs material anytime soon?
BW: We're doing new demos right now. If we can get it together we should have something out later this year.
SW: We'd like to get another album out this year. We've got enough new songs ... I've been writing with a Casio keyboard that can do everything, string sections, sax solos, banjo, you name it. Despite the temptation to become Brian Wilson, some of the songs I've written lately have been pretty rootsy. Maybe we'll win a Grammy for Best New Country act.