The sky is rocking & rolling

The Wooden Sky is ready to fall into the ears of music lovers from Bonavista to Vancouver Island

Toronto band The Wooden Sky play The Grad Club tonight.
Toronto band The Wooden Sky play The Grad Club tonight.
Credit: 
Supplied
Toronto band The Wooden Sky cited their producer Howard Bilerman as a musical midwife.
Toronto band The Wooden Sky cited their producer Howard Bilerman as a musical midwife.
Credit: 
Supplied

Gavin Gardiner isn’t the type to call in sick.

Juggling chilly Toronto streets, an upcoming tour with his band and a bout of pneumonia, The Wooden Sky’s singer isn’t phased by the fact that my phone call was interrupting his doctor’s appointment. Shrugging off illness, Gardiner took some time to talk to me about the band’s roots, inspirations and collaborations.

Six years after their musical conception, the current incarnation of the lineup includes Andrew Wyatt on bass and vocals, Simon Walker on piano, vocals and guitar and Andrew Kekewich on percussion.

“As soon as the four of us started playing together, it became The Wooden Sky,” Gardiner said. “It seemed destined to be, the four of us together … I know that sounds kind of cheesy.”

Destiny or not, it’s becoming evident The Wooden Sky’s rise to fame has only just begun. Since their 2007 debut record When Lost At Sea the band has been busy writing, recording and touring.

To kick off 2010, the guys are embarking on a cross-country tour beginning in Kingston to further promote their sophomore studio album If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone.

Although the album title may sound complex, it reflects a maturity present in their new material.

“I was walking home one night and it came to me. It sounds like it could have various meanings,” Gardiner said. “It could be melancholic or sad, or it might not be, I found it very beautiful.”

If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone is a varied amalgam of songs ranging from folk to indie rock anthems like “The Late King Henry” to softer ballads heard in “River Song One.” The group employs their use of stunning harmonies to build soothing pieces with clean progressions as well as employing new, more stark imagery. A clear evolution from their first album, the band’s aware of the change.

“The songs have matured in a lot of ways, we’ve really been making an effort to use everyday language,” Gardiner said. “I find lyrics can be so beautiful and powerful, it’s almost more poetry when it’s not poetry.”

Chords and lyrics aren’t the only things that have changed for The Wooden Sky. Last year when the band embarked on their summer tour “Bedrooms & Backstreets” they decided to show the world they were anything but typical. By opting out of performing in traditional venues like bars and clubs, the group described the tour on their MySpace to take place in house parties, backyards, campfires, in gondolas and even in canoes.

The result of this potentially debaucherous but completely brilliant plan wasn’t only a successful tour under their belts but also the charming “A Documentary in Pieces.” It’s a Scott Cudmore directed, beautifully shot, slow-moving film depicting the band playing in venues like their tour van, Gardiner’s grandmother’s living room and—my personal favourite—performing the evocative “Call Me If You Need Me” in a sea of sunflowers.

Gardiner said the recording experience last year was both a grueling and rewarding one.

“The whole process of recording in Montreal was amazing,” he said. “Every time I make a record I want to make it differently. The process is kind of like treading water. We worked everyday for 12 hours a day at least.

“It was refreshing in how focused we had to be,” he said. “I mean by the ninth day, focusing intently, working hard and making decisions we’d have to live with forever, I think we were ready for a little break.”

Don’t get the wrong impression, though—Gardiner said the band relished and learned from their time at the studio.

“While we were there it never felt like a chore, touring is kind of like traveling with your best friends,” he said.

On the new record the group had the coveted opportunity to work with producer and Canadian musician Howard Bilerman.

“It was great, he was a really nice guy and I think we all worked really well together … he’s like a musical midwife,” Gardiner said with a laugh. “No but it makes sense, he told me, ‘It’s not my baby, it’s yours, but I’m helping you deliver it.’” The group is no stranger to collaboration and teamwork and are frequently joined by fellow Canadian indie artists Anissa Hart (Ohbijou, Kite Hill, The Rural Alberta Advantage), Mika Posen (Forest City Lovers, Timber Timbre) and Edwin Huizinga (The Mars Volta).

“Its very organic in the way that we’re all friends and we play together,” Gardiner said. “It’s fun to share those things with each other and step out of what your band is, you know, putting a different hat on is very fun.”

The Wooden Sky play The Grad Club tonight. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at The Grad Club and Destinations.

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