Purveyors of: Tunes for adventures through the wilderness (both natural and man-made). Ideal or dusk and dawn.
File next to: Yukon Blonde, Wilco, Fleet Foxes
Playing: Camp Wavelength, Saturday August 29 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your ticket here!
The record store is a special type of haven. It’s one of found gems, first listens, and decades upon decades of musical knowledge. Thanks to the spacious few, it’s also the site of some intimate live musical encounters. How fortunate that my first experience with folk-rock locals The Wooden Sky was in such a haven. In the dimly lit basement of the old Sonic Boom in the Annex, I sat and watched a shaggy-haired Gavin Gardiner, clad in a plaid shirt and bandana, lead the band to play some of the most beautiful tunes I’d heard in a while. They felt like home, and were instantly songs I wanted to bring to my guitar and play through for the rest of the day.
We love to call The Wooden Sky our own, and they use the city to their fullest advantage — all of it. Playful enough to abandon their position on stage, they once took a show out into the street, igniting the idea for their Travelling Adventure Show — serenading the audience while taking them on a tour through the alleyways of Lower Ossington. Since then they’ve released another album and set out on another tour. I couldn’t be more pleased that they’re playing on Toronto Island as part of Camp Wavelength; the group’s melodies beautiful, voices soft, and lyrics touching. What a perfect band to listen to on the seclusion of Toronto Island with the water lapping against the shore in the distance.
We’re pumped The Wooden Sky is playing Camp Wavelength. Were you guys big camp people growing up? Any favourite stories?
Thanks, we’re excited too — any chance to be on the Island in the summer. Camping wasn’t something I was too excited about growing up — not sure if that’s because we didn’t do it or if I didn’t like it. We had this little bowler trailer that we did haul around a lot for the first few years of our road trips. I used to take the top bunk, and I have this memory of camping in Clearwater, Manitoba, for the 1st of July baseball tournament. I rolled over in the night and suddenly felt as though I was flying. It was a feeling too beautiful to last. I came crashing to the ground and showed up to the next day’s games with a huge fat lip for my efforts.
There’s something about the wilderness that brings out the mischievous side of people. To this day, it’s hard to make it through a camping trip without someone getting pranked. Would you say you’re more the pranker or prankee amongst your friends?
Oh, I don’t know too much about pranking. As of late, I try to evoke the spiritual element of nature. That, and it’s often a good excuse to sit around a campfire and shoot the shit with friends who you don’t see often enough. There’s something disarming about it, and it’s a beautiful feeling to see the firelight dancing on people’s faces.
Camp Wavelength comes after a couple months on tour for you guys. Where are you looking forward to playing most?
Well, Camp Wavelength, of course. I’m going to Montreal to work on a record directly from our last show of the tour pre-Wavelength, so the camping weekend will be a homecoming of sorts. It’s tough being gone so much in the summer. Thankfully, we get to hang out in beautiful spots like NYC, Big Sur, and Halifax, so things could be worse.
As a band you sport some pretty luscious locks! What does your haircare routine look like? Who takes the longest to get ready?
This bedhead thing is no cultivated look, longhairdontcare! I take the longest to get ready, not because I spend time on my hair — just because I’m incredibly slow at everything I do in life.
Your show at Lee’s Palace where you took the audience out to Bloor Street is still talked about! Since you guys like to play with the conventions of a concert…
Would you rather play a show: In the middle of a lake, or on top of a mountain?
Well, we’ve done the middle of the lake thing already, which was a blast and a challenge. We were all in different canoes, so it was tricky not to drift apart as we played. Eventually, we just let it happen and it was kinda magical. I suppose we’ve done the top of the mountain too! We played a show in a gondola in Whistler that was going peak to peak. It was a bit tricky hauling stuff in there, but once we were in there floating through the sky it was all worthwhile.
With your backs to the audience or upside down?
Upside down for sure, gravity is overrated.
With de-tuned strings or no vocals?
No vocals. I’ve always wanted to do an instrumental record… Take a little pressure off me to boot!
Wearing only hats or wearing only shoes?
Weird question, shoes…
In a boat or in an air balloon?
As the house band for The Late Show or for The Tonight Show?
The Late Show.
What’s next for The Wooden Sky?
Well, I’m in a van right now headed for Philadelphia, so that’s in the immediate future. After Camp Wavelength, though, I think we will take some much-needed rest and work on some new music. We have already recorded 10 or so demos that are sounding pretty great. It’s been fun to work on stuff and record it on my new tape machine in the process. It’s so exciting to hear things sounding great coming back at you — just inspires you to be more creative and reach new heights. We have our holiday show in December and are expanding it to include Ottawa this year. Oh, and we’re going back to Europe in November to play more shows. So, some rest, some family and friends, and some more music.
— Interview by Raina Hersh
The Wooden Sky play Camp Wavelength Saturday, August 29 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your single day tickets here! Or better yet, join us for the whole weekend and get a Festival Pass!