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Alternative/Rock

UnCovered: Will Wood Discusses His Humorous New Cover for ‘The Normal Album’

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Diverse, eclectic, and maybe just a little odd, Will Wood has been enjoying some recent success thanks to the release of The Normal Album via Say-10 Records. Wood owes a lot to his faithful followers for the creation of this record since they were the ones who helped make it possible by helping to fund its recording through an Indiegogo campaign. The campaign met its goal in just one day and Wood has certainly delivered on his promise with an all-around solid effort that features the artist at his most creative and his most vibrant. It also arguably features him at his most musically eccentric, which is exactly the way he would like you to view him. There’s nothing boring about Will Wood; with his energy and his knack for the unusual, how could you possibly be bored?

After getting you more familiar with Wood earlier this summer with the premiere of his “2econd 2ight 2eer” music video, we’ve caught up with him for a chat about the artwork. To really get into the unconventional headspace of Wood, we recently spoke to him for our latest UnCovered interview to discuss the amusing cover for The Normal Album and how it was influenced by the album, as well as Wood’s one-of-a-kind sense of humour.

What was the inspiration for the album’s cover artwork?

Will Wood: “Growing up, I always felt like my perfect suburban town was hiding something, that writhing under the manicured lawns and behind picket fences was a flesh and blood underworld that ate children and excreted gender roles, religion, and the possibly/partially arbitrary cultural rules that keep us tethered to conventional reality. I sort of wanted to expose that underbelly, flip it over and show off its naughty bits and tell you, ‘see? It’s all a flabby little pervert animal that just like everything else in the cosmos exists to breed and die.’

It’s the ignorance to that ugly creature that’s crawling around in the mulch and schoolyards like one of those neurotoxic Vietnamese centipedes that allows the monster to keep feeding. Allows kids like me to get all twisted up by experiences they shouldn’t have had.

So I went with those black vampire ‘hiss at the sun’ shutters, my muted outfit and sickly makeup, the crumbling text, all juxtaposed with my hello-to-the-milkman wave and Photoshop anime eyes. Slapping that on top of a dimly-lit retro background I think kind of gets that point across. It’s about a bygone era that never really was, it’s about me and my peers’ childhoods and the loss of innocence to that animal.

This isn’t untrue of places other than suburbia. I sort of use suburbia as a metaphor in the artwork, and in the opening track. It’s not about a place, it’s about the facade. The superego and how we all have our own lawns and picket fences around our heads and our lives, and that underneath our smiling faces and fashion we’re all meat machines propelled by electrical impulses born of nothing but the instinct to survive long enough to put out the latest model.

It’s underneath all that, though, that’s where I want go. Some day I want to get to the thing beneath the thing that we hide beneath the thing, that thing that we all are. So that’s why that image belongs on the cover. Also, my friends and I found a cool house.”

UnCovered: Will Wood Discusses His Humorous New Cover for ‘The Normal Album’

Tell us about the artist you worked with and how you found him/her?

“The photographer was a delightful woman named Angelica Pasquali; I highly recommend her work. She’s a very socially conscious and active person with a lot of important things to say about mental health, environmentalism, and other things people need to be talking about. I took her photos and went from there with the graphic design work. We met… well God knows where, my memory is shot from the years of research chemicals and subsequent years of medication. The inner sleeve collage was me and artist/filmmaker Mike Diebold, whose work you can see in a number of my music videos (Danger Baby Films) and my movie The Real Will Wood, which is an obnoxious reality-bending concert film/documentary that’s on Amazon Prime now.”

Please elaborate on the medium(s) used when creating the art. We’d love to know how the artwork was created.

“I like to at least have a hand in everything visual associated with my work. Some of my merch I just don’t have the time or skill for, but album art has always been extremely important to me, and I’ve always been really dedicated to making sure I was either the artist of or at least the lead creative force. So I came to Angelica with a concept, then Mike Diebold and I scoped out houses and collaged together. After the photo shoot, I used my minimal graphic design skills to try and tie it all together by manipulating the colors and textures, editing the proportions to a somewhat uncanny place, and building the background.”

With the increasing popularity of digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important?

“The album art is like a title brought into another dimension. It allows you to take the label you use to sum up the subject and bring it into an abstract and visual language. I think that art exists to communicate things that can’t be communicated otherwise, abstract ideas and cultural energy. It’s connective tissue between human spirits in a way. Neurons firing in the Godhead brain. The album cover is the disclaimer before you share your dark secret, it’s a keep-out sign to those you’re not trying to speak to and a welcome mat to those you are. Hopefully I reach the right ears, the people I’m really trying to reach, by using the cover to say something like ‘hey, so don’t freak out but…”

When people look at the album cover artwork, what do you want them to see/think?

“I want them to see my sense of humor. I know I’ve been lofty and grandiose and grim throughout this interview so far, but I don’t create anything without at least some amount of levity in my process or how I think about it. The Normal Album cover is a piece of black comedy to me. The record is dark at times, but if you take it too seriously, you’re going to get all the wrong ideas. People often struggle to tell when I’m kidding, and I get a kick out of that sometimes, but I think people often assume jokes can’t be serious or vice versa.”

Have any favourite music-related visual artists?

“I can’t resist Alex Grey. That man gets it.”

Was the album art influenced by any of the themes explored on the album?

“For sure. I use a lot of self-contradiction and dichotomy on the album, the same way I use the juxtaposition of the howdy-neighbour expression and the dark tone of the cover. Duality is a big part of its theme. Weird versus normal, self versus the world, past versus present, progressive versus conservative (I don’t mean politically, I don’t talk politics on the album), and how the relationship between the two halves of a dichotomy is complimentary. Everything defines its opposite. And of course on a more direct level, the subject itself of the cover reflects the main theme of the album. The darkness in the facade, the unreality of culture, the void within the form, etc.”

Artwork for ‘The Normal Album’ by Will Wood

How do you think the art will affect the listener’s perception of the album?

“I think album art defines an album in a lot of ways. The same way you can tell how a person feels from looking at their face, I think people can tell how an album feels by looking at its cover if it’s done effectively. So, I think, or at least hope, that people will be introduced to the abstract language I use in the lyrics and genre-bending when they see it. A sort of Rosetta stone and tone-setter that gives the listener a visual companion to the musical experience. Hopefully they’ll pick up on, like I said earlier my sense of humour, a bit of my worldview, and a first look at my intentions with the album’s overall conceptual statement.”

What’s your favourite thing about this album cover?

“I think it does a pretty good job summing up the essence of the record, or at least my intentions with it, with a single icon. There’s only one subject on the cover, only one concept, and it’s simple. I think that’s a sign of a strong album cover, when it’s a single icon. I hope I’m right about that. But if I’m not, oh well. We can’t all come up with Dark Side of the Moon.”

Do you have a favourite album cover of all time?

“I have to bring up Alex Grey again. I wish I had the resources and creativity to make album art like Tool has made. Fear Inoculum had a damn video screen in the CD tray playing Alex Grey video art. 10,000 Days had a stereoscope built into it so the art could be seen in 3D. My favourite Tool cover, and therefore favourite cover, because all Tool covers are mind-bogglingly powerful, is for their classic Lateralus. Alex Grey created a sort of spiritual map of the human body, and then built it into a booklet with transparent pages, so you could remove a layer of cross section of this body and reveal its organ systems and energy fields or what-have-you with each page like an anatomy textbook on DMT. It’s such a compelling piece of art, I can’t think of anything that tops it.”

Born in 2003, V13 was a socio-political website that, in 2005, morphed into PureGrainAudio and spent 15 years developing into one of Canada's (and the world’s) leading music sites. On the eve of the site’s 15th anniversary, a full re-launch and rebrand takes us back to our roots and opens the door to a full suite of Music, Film, TV, and Cultural content.

Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Album News

Slightest Clue Release Their Rocking, Five-Track EP ‘Carousel’

Vancouver indie rockers Slightest Clue recently released their ‘Carousel’ EP, inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship.

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Slightest Clue
Slightest Clue

Vancouver’s Slightest Clue is like the secret after-school project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and dark pop, all bets are off.

Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new EP, Carousel, is inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing track, “Carousel,” marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.

Commenting on the album, the band states:

“The main theme is love, loss of relationship, and connection. The arc of the story is our foreshadowing of the end in our first song ‘These Days’ speaking on the day to day fights and how neither person can seem to get back to a happy place in the relationship. ‘Why Can’t I Call You?’ is the initial spark of infatuation and obsession with someone before you know them. ‘When You Wake Up’ talks of the blissed out honeymoon stage where everything is working and nothing could go wrong. ‘Suit Uptight!’ represents the mounting frustrations and resentments building tension from unmet needs. And finally our closing track ‘Carousel’ is the end and the bittersweet reflection of a cherished relationship that can no longer return.”

Each member, Malcolm McLaren, Hannah Kruse, Sean Ries, and Nick Sciarretta, brings distinct influences and experiences: a stage actor whose playlists go from Talking Heads to Sonic Youth to Björk, a hook-obsessed recovering choir girl, an electrical engineer whose personal idol is John Bonham, and a guitarist who played for (and left) 10 other bands before deciding this was the one for him.

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

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Alternative/Rock

Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’

The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’

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The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen
The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen

It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.

The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.

Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.

1. “Put It Right”

Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”

2. “Rubicon”

“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.

“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”

3. “It Leads To This”

“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”

4. “The Frost”

“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”

5. “All That’s Left”

“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

6. “Now It’s Yours”

“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”

7. “Every Trace Of Us”

“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”

8. “To Forget”

“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”

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