We recently spoke about an amazing band out of California called Wooden Shjips in our regular radar piece and we decided to follow it up with an interview with Ripley, the guitarist from the band.
Hello! How are you today?
Hi Oliver. I'm well.
Can you tell our readers more about your band, like how you started and what you do?
The band actually started with a concept, which is maybe how a lot of bands start. I'm a big fan of primitive rock 'n' roll, like The Stooges, ? and the Mysterians, Trad, Gras, och Stenar, Link Wray (the list could go on and on), but I was also really into free jazz at the time. So I thought it might be a good idea to get together a bunch of non-musicians and start a band. Keep everything down to two-chord grooves, play long improvised jams. Not unlike how the Stooges started, but without the vacuum cleaner. I assembled a bunch of friends and we did that for a couple of years, but never played out at all. That iteration fell apart for various reasons, so I got a new group together. Nash (organ) was in the first group, and we recruited Omar (drums) and Dusty (bass), who had both been playing for a while but were interested in the concept.
How did your name come about?
The name came from a conversation I was having with a friend. We were riffing on good names for a hippie jam band. It just sort of popped out of my head, but it's a nod to San Francisco (Wooden Ships is a Jefferson Airplane song), and also Sweden and Swedish psych (the friend and I are both of Swedish heritage). The "j" was a joking way of making the name appear Swedish. It doesn't really make any sense, but it stuck.
I've known of your band for quite some time but it's only recently I've actually gotten into you in a big way. This has a lot to do with my recent trip to California. It's almost as if your music made more sense when I was in that setting. Would you agree that California has an influence on the music you make?
I think living in California, especially Northern California, does have an influence on our music. However,
I'm not sure I hear a specific California sound in it. A lot of people have observed that and I don't discount it. But I think it's relative to the listener.
I've also found myself missing San Francicso a lot recently, any chance I can come live with you?
We could actually use some help with the rent!
What gears you towards the psychdelic side of music? If you consider yourself a psychedlic band that is!
I guess I just like the variety of the textures. I'm not sure what counts as psychedelic anymore. I'm not sure that's a valid category. Some hip hop is very psychedelic to me, but you wouldn't find RZA records next to the Royal Trux or Red Krayola in a record store. They probably should be. All categories should be abolished.
I loved your release of Vol.1 this year because it gave me an opportunity to hear some of your vinyl only songs. How do you feel about Vinyl as a format?
I love vinyl. I love the feel, the look, the process of flipping the record --that it requires active listener
participation. That's not even getting into the fidelity debate. I love records as art objects, as artifacts. I think digital has it's place but I've never met anyone who has real affection for CDs or mp3s as a format. Which is fine. To each his own. We try to make our music available in multiple formats.
What other bands out there excite you?
Right now I'm deep into the new Teenage Panzerkorps record on Siltbreeze, and the new Los Llamarada record on S-S. I've also been listening to Vermonster a lot. They deserve a proper reissue.
What does the future hold for Wooden Shjips?
We have a new record coming out on Holy Mountain in March 2009, and another single in May or so.
If you could leave our readers with one thing, what would it be?
Live music is better. Bumper Stickers should be issued.
Check them out at www.myspace.com/woodenshjips
MP3: Wooden Shjips - Losin' Time