With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to WOVEN MAN. Answers from Donal. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
we live in a world where there are literally millions of bands to check out. What do you have that sets you apart?
-People and critics alike who’ve listened to us has tried to pigeonhole us and they’ve all said different things; some folks suggest hints of Mastodon, others hear Pantera, I’ve been told we were 90’s Heavy Metal, that we were Heavy Rock, that we are bordering on Death Metal…you see where I’m going with this? I’ve no idea why people do it, but regardless they just cant seem to work us out, we’ve been compared to bands that none of us much care for, so we sure didn’t bring that influence to the party. We sound distinctly Woven Mannish
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Honestly, I’ve no actual idea where Lee pulled it from, but I came to rehearsal one day and Lee asked me what I thought of Woven Man, and I thought it sounded just the part. I love it, its harking back to Celtic and Pagan roots, wicker effigies and such . We’re a Welsh band, we’re rightly very proud of being a part of this exclusive club, and in the grand scheme of things on a global scale we’re a rarity.
What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-When I was a kid and heard the drum intro for Hot for Teacher, I thought it sounded like someone starting a car engine! I couldn’t believe someone could play that, turns out I still cant! Haha. We all come from different music backgrounds that meet in the Venn diagram of “Heavy as fuck”. Lee Roy’s nickname is BathaRoy, and if you complain about feeling ill, or fed up or hungry he prescribes Bathory, literally to everything. Bands we all seem to agree on, I mean High on Fire is ticking boxes, Mastodon (Sion and Mark saw them the other day in Bristol, from what I gather though Mark doesn’t remember much, he must have had a bad pint) Dio, Sabbath, all the usual suspects really. Sabbat!! we had a pretty animated conversation in the last practice because Sabbat are just the best, me personally; I even like the one with Richie Desmond which seems to have been written out of their history. As far as inspiration today, we all bring ideas from or our respective areas. I play in a Prog’ band too, so I’m loving the narrative direction our music seems to be moving in, Sion has basically written a book to the story going on on the next album, Mark and Lee have gotten to the point when you can hear two players are bouncing off each other, and I’m a drummer, I’m nothing without a good bass player, Brookes and me, we are rhythm, we are the Brown note. So I guess what inspires me is my band mates: there are no bad ideas, everyone gets their thoughts heard, and if its not working then we find a way to make it work. I’ve honestly not heard a raised voice in this band, not once. So its sounds naff, but inspiration comes from family, friends and brotherhood, home, and bourbon…..and Ronnie James Dio.
What is the advantages/disadvantages of CD and vinyl these days of internet promotion where digital seems to be king?
-I think these days we want our gratification yesterday, no patience. So if you buy a cd or vynil these days, because there is a distinct lack of shops to go buy these things in, you’ll have to wait for it to arrive. This feels like both an advantage and disadvantage, because for the die hard completionists they’ll want a physical copy to love, and will order, but the downside is that whole waiting business.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when your out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-“As we know it” is clearly hanging on by its finger tips, but I don’t know that the loss of cds and vinyl is the end of the world as such, don’t get me wrong, I have thousands of cd’s and vinyl in my music collection, and would hate that to disappear, but as you said Spotify and Deezer are going to take over, I just wish there were better rewards for the artists. I think the biggest worry for bands at the moment should be the apathy to going out and watching live music, because by not being bothered to go and see music then you’re just handing the keys to your musical freedom over. Spotify cant replicate a live gig, the atmosphere, the power that seeing a band on top fucking form in a small sweaty venue cannot be beaten or duplicated. I went to see Otep the other night in Swansea, I’ve loved them since the first EP hit in 2001, I was thrilled to my hearts content, they played like animals and that was probably the best gig I’ve been to for two decades. The audience was 30…30 for fuck sake!! I know people who purport to love her music and when she’s playing in a tiny wee club in Swansea: “nah, ive had ever such a long day, ill stay home and watch dancing on stricly x jungle factor on ice”. Sorry, I went off a bit there
What part does art work and lay out play? Any message that you want to bring forth with it?
-Well the cover can make a major difference, in as much as that’s the difference to someone picking up an album and paying attention, I’m not above admitting that having my friend Natalie’s arse on the front cover has been helpful so to redress the balance for equality I’ll strip naked for the next one. I don’t know that its important to bring forth a message as such, just give the cover something that pleases the eye (and I’m not talking about bums now). I mean you could look at our cover and I don’t think its immediately evident that we’re a heavy band, could be folk. We enjoy the ambiguity
Is it a whole different way to promote a band today with all these social media channels? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way? Playing live and word of mouth.
-I honestly feel that the social media would be nothing if you couldn’t back up the talk with actions, so if you tell the world that your hot shit then cant deliver live then you wont be around for long, but these days if there isn’t an online profile then its going to be harder to plug your wares. We have an FB and IG profile and to be honest we could probably do a better job at utilising it, but any of the buzz around us these days is because we have solid music to back us up, and live we give you everything we have in tank. Social media has at least allowed the artist to seize control of their own advertising, which is a good thing, the downside is that most musicians aren’t terribly good at that stuff, haha, they’d rather hit things with sticks
Do you feel like you are a part of a scene, locally, nationally and internationally?
-Yes and no. The thing with Lee’s past life connections is that there was immediately people embracing us and welcoming us into the fold, and I’ve met some lovely, beautiful humans by playing in bands, but the scene where we are is pretty depleted by the a fore mentioned apathy. Nationally, actually I’m starting to feel that we are, We’ve had people from all over Britain ask us to play in their manor. We’ve got Lizardfest coming up in March (9th), that’s in Bradford, we had offers in Newcastle, we’ve played in London, I lose track but there are gigs going on all over the country. Its easy to be doom and gloom, but I’m just thrilled that I get to go on a road trip to far away exotic places with my mates and have fun doing my favorite thing ever.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We gig when we can. We’re not kids anymore so we cant avoid life’s pressures and bugger off to play gigs whenever we want, so we need plenty of advance warning for gigs, which kinda puts a dampener on relentless touring, fortunately we do this first and foremost because we love writing music and the odd gig when possible is a delightful bonus. If bands still got paid for playing then it might be different, but they don’t usually get much more than diesel for the van, and you cant feed the kiddies on diesel..well, you can try but I guarantee that social services wont agree. If you can gig and tour enough, and don’t mind playing to empty venues at the start and you’re a good band, then I’m pretty sure you’ll get your rewards, more power to you!
What will the future bring
-We’re already working on material for the third album, album two is about to start being recorded in the next couple of months and to say that we are excited about it would be understating it somewhat. We’re duty bound to be interested in the band but the difference for me is that you can hear a band that’s been growing musically, dare I say it, it sounds like a more matured musical endeavor to me. So what you can take from that is that we’re going to be here for a while, this makes us happy.