Checking in with the Wooldridge Brothers
Last time we caught up with the Wooldridge Brothers, the focus was mainly on brother Scott and his upcoming solo effort, which he teased with a new single ("Hard to Go Quietly") and music video.
But now the brothers are back together in the spotlight, working on several intriguing projects and preparing for several upcoming shows, including a duo of gigs – one at Humboldt Park's Chill on the Hill on June 4, the other the next day at the Sh*tty Barn in Spring Green – with Walter Salas-Humara of The Silos. I chatted with Brian Wooldridge to find out more about their busy 2013 slate.
OnMilwaukee.com: You guys have some pretty interesting stuff on tap for next week, namely with Walter Salas-Humara. How did you guys meet and develop this bond?
Brian Wooldridge: I was aware of him as an artist back in the '90s, and I was at South By Southwest, and he was down there performing in some of the panels. I just walked up to him. We had some things in common, so we got to talking and back then, I think I got his phone number. We just stayed in touch, and he ended up producing "Uncovering the Sun" for us up at Smart Studios in Madison. So we've decided over the years that whenever he comes through the Midwest, he'll do something with us, and I'll sit in with him or something like that.
OMC: I hear you guys are working on a new EP. How's that coming together?
BW: It's going well. In February, we were up in Minneapolis and started recording. John Munson is producing it; he's the ex-bass player for Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare. He's in several different projects up there. Right now, we're hoping to get that out toward the second half of the year some time. My brother is also working on a solo record at the same time and I have another thing – "Cover Up!" – we're trying to put together, so scheduling-wise, it's been a little crowded to get everything done.
OMC: Sounds like you guys have a ton of stuff going on. But it looks like second half of the year for the EP?
BW: Yeah, I'm hoping for toward the end of the year or first part of next year. It really depends on when my brother is able to release his record. He's further along; he's in the mixing stage of the album.
OMC: You mentioned John Munson. What has he brought to the music on this new EP?
BW: John has that history of being on a major label, a top 40 hit and putting out several big albums, so I think the biggest thing he brings is his ear for arrangements and things that basically we wouldn't think of doing. It could be a simple thing like a different harmony or changing the arrangement of the song a little bit, breaking it down here or adding something there.
Actually, what he's taught us most – even though we're not freshmen to the situation – is that it's always good to have an outside ear. That's really what I wanted. Like, we're doing this song – it's kind of a story about guy-meets-girl, they get together and then it falls apart – and he just said, "Hey, let's simplify the bass part and stick it on one note during this section of the song." By simplifying that, it accents a different part, like the melody or something. Those are the kinds of things John brings.
OMC: Are you guys personally trying something new with this new EP?
BW: We'll definitely still be in the Americana guitar pop realm, but we decided not to do a full-length album. We felt that with the way people access music, putting out an EP with four to six songs on it is just as good as an album. I mean, you spend all that time and money developing that project, but really only one or two songs are going to get noticed. With this new digital format and the way people do iTunes, it's maybe best to do something a little shorter and focus on all of the songs being potential singles.
OMC: You mentioned "Cover Up!" before, which is a collection of covers of your songs. That has to be a massive honor I imagine.
BW: That whole thing came to me through a friend of mine. She was posting some covers of some older songs from the '40s and '50s that she was just doing in her home studio. I was looking through them and remembered her talking about what songs she liked of ours. So we emailed her and asked her if she would do this song called "Lonely Again," and she said yeah.
Then I got thinking: Wouldn't it be kinda cool if I got a handful of people I know from the Milwaukee area and put together a little mix of people doing our stuff but their way? So Chris Porterfield of Field Report did a song of ours called "You Don't Know Me," and DJ Bardeenz – who I only really know through Facebook and SoundCloud – remixed a song off our last album called "Does She Love Me Loud." It's totally different and really cool. I'll probably release that a couple of months before the new album comes out.
OMC: Is DJ Bardeenz's remix the furthest deviation from your original song you've heard so far?
BW: I've only heard four of them, but so far most definitely. But I encouraged him to do that. He's a younger guy, and I just said, "We're here to rock out; do whatever you want. Go crazy." That's what is fun about the project. It'll be a nice, fresh twist.
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