The Wooden Sky have had a busy year. The Toronto-based rock quintet released their third full-length album Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Son in February. The release has taken them across North America, through the summer festival circuit, and into Europe. Instead of taking a break, they’re back on the road again – filling their calendar with a score of dates across Canada and the States. And once again Ottawa is on their schedule.
On Wednesday, Oct. 24, The Wooden Sky play First Baptist Church with openers Wildlife. WHERE Ottawa editor Travis Persaud speaks with lead singer and songwriter Gavin Gardiner about their tour-filled year, his favourite Ottawa spots, and what he likes to pack when on the road.
The band just came back from Europe. How did the tour go?
It was really awesome. We’ve been over a few times before, and it always felt like a paid holiday. But this time it definitely felt like there’s some momentum there. We just signed a record deal [in Europe], which is great. We have a team on the ground and they’re excited about the record.
It’s a bit strange, because the record came out here in February, but it came out in Europe in October. Bu it’s kind of neat to do the whole interview process again. I’ve sat with the record a bit, and it was nice to visit that again.
What have you learned after sitting with the record for the past eight months?
That’s a good question! [laughs] It’s anything you make it. There’s a period of questioning it. And definitely with this record, people are looking to be critical, in an analytical way. So it’s interesting to read that and see how that influences how I view the record. What I’ve really learned is to be more open about the process and the subject matter. I used to feel so guarded about that stuff. I’ve had more fun talking to people when I’m open about what the songs are about and what it means to me.
What is the touring experience like in Europe?
Touring the U.K. is pretty comparable to touring in Canada and America. But touring in mainland Europe is pretty different. There’s a different structure for musicians, and the audience is a part of that. People who run the shows are really committed at making the whole experience really positive for everyone. When you get there people are ready for you; the hospitality is fantastic; the audiences just come because something is happening. Not to completely compartmentalize everything, but the whole singer-songwriter thing in North America feels pretty common and it doesn’t always feel like you’re doing something new. But in Europe, especially in Germany, it’s not as prevalent. So it feels pretty new – there aren’t many expectations that we felt.
The band has been on the road a lot this year. Why did you decide to do another North America tour?
Well, what else are we going to do? [laughs] This tour is very different than the last one we’ve done. I love playing rock shows, but it doesn’t allow us to shine in every aspect that the band can shine in. The whole idea behind this tour is to take what we do in our annual Christmas show in Toronto, where we play in a church, and bring that experience on the road. From a financial standpoint it’s a bit harder to do because the rooms are more expensive, but the experience for us, and hopefully the audience, is worth it. It allows us to have a lot more flexibility. There’s only so much dynamic range you can have at a place like Ritual. I get off the energy of playing at Ritual, but this is a different kind of party and fun.
This will be the band’s fourth show in Ottawa this year [including their concert at The Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield]. What keeps you coming back?
I really like Ottawa. I’ve spent a lot of time there. My girlfriend grew up in the area. And the audience has been really fantastic for us.
Are there any places you love to visit or eat at when in town?
I was doing some pre-production in Ottawa and went to Raw Sugar a lot. I’ve been to the Elgin Street Diner a lot of times… There’s a place in the market we like to for sandwiches as well, La Bottega. I want to go to the Whalesbone as well. I follow Rolf from The Acorn on Instagram and he’s constantly posting pictures of food from spots in Ottawa.
What are your travel essentials when on the road?
I bring way to much stuff on the road! I’m actually taking out stuff from my suitcase right now. But I can’t go without my laptop and hard drive. I’m constantly working on demos and mixing on my headphones, which isn’t the most desirable setting, but it makes me feel a little closer to home.
What’s next for the band after this tour?
We took so much time off before we started touring, so we were getting antsy and booked ourselves up. Now, everyone’s excited to get home and work on a new record. We’re talking about making a new record in January or February, and have it done in March.
The Wooden Sky play First Baptist Church on Wednesday, Oct. 24. For ticket information visit Spectrasonic.