48 minutes with Woodshed

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By Dale DeSouza

Wednesday, 8:03 p.m.: I’m at Future Bakery to talk with Toronto band Woodshed, who are fuelling the city’s indie rock scene. Their latest EP, The Greed of My Desire, is a collection of heavy, high energy songs that focus on love and life. I scan the place for musician types, but on Queen Street everyone looks the part.

8:05 p.m.: They’re still a no-show. I try not to think about being stood up and missing 90210 and try instead to remember what the CD sounded like. I faintly recall six pop-rock anthems that revelled in emotional anguish. It’s kind of like the feeling after bombing an exam but partying that night anyway. One track in particular, “The Eternal Sleep,” encompasses the mood of the CD. It’s a bitter love song, accented by dark waves of melodies that crash harder each time I hear it.

8:06 p.m.: I spot Terry Lankstead, Woodshed’s bassist/vocalist, along with band manager Peter Mazzucco. Terry and I immediately commence a heated Maple Leaf trade discussion while Peter, the neutral manager, stays out of it.

8:08 p.m.: Fletcher Mason, guitarist/songwriter, makes his appearance. He gives me a strange look when I ask for details on the music program at London’s Fanshawe College, where he graduated. (First note: memorizing the press kit may give off the impression of being an overinformed stalker).

8:08:45 p.m.: Woodshed’s dummer Brian Christopher marches in looking determined. The former member of King apparatus and collaborator with One is on a mission to have a smoke. We move to the smoking section where the Woodshed party lights up.

8:10 p.m.: I being by impressing the guys with my extensive knowledge of the Toronto band scene. I mention to Terry that I’d never heard of his former band, Warehouse. Politely, he informs me that the other guys from Warehouse went on to form a band called treblecharger. Duh.

8:11 p.m.: I now show off my skills as a graduate of MuchMusic’s schooling by describing Woodshed’s sound as having the provocative lyrics of Radiohead, coupled with the dark rock sound of Live. Fletcher smiles coyly at the media-based comparison before turning the focus back on Woodshed. “There’s introspective bands and there’s party bands,” he notes. “We’re a combination. We have the kid of music you can sit and listen to — that has substance — and still rock to live.”

This combination hasn’t gone unnoticed. The song “Waiting,” a sweet ditty with and attitude, is being featured on CFNY’s New Music Search CD. Also, the hard-rocking tune “Beaten Down” cracked last month’s U.S. Campus Music Journal’s Top 15. Last, thanks to Woodshed saviour, Yurkow, the booking agent for The Big Bop, the band has scored a prime spot for Canadian Music Week, Saturday March 8th at 10 p.m., opening for Salmonblaster and Failure.

8:20 p.m.: I ask Woodshed if they consider themselves to be: a) musicians, b) performers, c) artists or d) philosophers. I receive blank looks. (Second not: don’t ask musicians multiple choice questions). Eventually I get some interesting responses.

Brian taps his cigarette on the ashtray before discussing Woodshed’s take on being musicians. “We’re a pop band,” he begins. “Hang on a sec,” I interject. “You don’t mind being called a pop band?” “No,” he says. “We do play popular music.” To this Fletcher adds, “Pop music is often associated with fluff. We’re not fluff.” Terry spoons the foam from his hot chocolate.

8:38 p.m.” I ask if the title track is about wanting more than you can handle, but Fletcher won’t divulge its personal meaning. “It’ll ruin the mystique,” he explains.

8:51 p.m.: As a band of three years, Woodshed’s members are now “locked together,” as Fletcher puts it. “For instance, the new song ‘Eden’ has a ska-texture that Brian provides. As well, there’s another track that’s out of left-field. Its got a Spanish swing to it — kind of fatalistic and tragic, like the theme for a matador going out to his final bullfight,” he says. He adds hand movements, a “da da dum.” and then looks around to see if anyone’s looking. Something to look for on Saturday.

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