• Charlotte Hardman

Louder with Woes at 2000 Trees

Photo Credit: Sean Francis

Photo Credit: Sean Francis

Neck Deep, Frank Carter, State Champs, Seaway- a pretty impressive list of tour buddies for a band only in their first few years of conception. Yet it’s a list that Edinburgh-based quartet Woes have accumulated over the past couple of years alone, and in conjunction with two very well received EPs, it has gained them a loyal fanbase and built the foundations for them to become one of the year’s breakout bands. Six months on from our first chat with vocalist DJ and bassist Sean, we caught up with the guys again, this time discussing everything from their experimental upcoming debut LP to their preferred Spice Girls:

The last time we spoke, you guys were preparing to release your new EP ‘Self Help’- now that it’s out, how have you found the response to the record from the fans so far?

Wonderful, really wonderful- we were nervous about the release beforehand as always, but people seem to be enjoying it when we play it live, they know the words, they’re singing along- what more could you want?

It’s a very diverse record- songs like ‘HLB2’ are a vast departure from the stereotypical ‘pop punk’ mould. Was that a conscious decision to try and move away from the confinement of being labelled a ‘pop punk’ band?

Yeah, definitely. With ‘Self Help’ I don’t even think we got as far down that path of diverging as we wanted to, but when you’ve written songs a certain way and then you want to experiment, you can’t just suddenly change the style of the songs you want to write, because writing songs is hard enough so you can’t just suddenly come up with a new direction and expect it to be brilliant from the start. Especially because we do so much of the production ourselves as well, when you don’t have that outside help you get inside your own head and you second guess yourself, so there’s a whole bunch of reasons why we didn’t get to be as different as we wanted to on this record, but in a way that just sets us up for the album!

Does this record feel like a stepping stone in the right direction for you then?

Definitely! It’s a step in the right direction- I’d say maybe the first of ten steps! We listen to so many diverse types of music, and we don’t really listen to that much pop punk anymore, but we can’t just write our own take on an R&B album straight off the bat- we’ll get there eventually though I think! We need to work out how we can keep our original influence but add to it and create something truly original, that’s all we really want to do.

Recently you guys have also done an intimate headline tour in Scotland- on that tour, did you gain more of a feel for the Scottish pop punk scene as a whole that we spoke about being lacking in Edinburgh the last time we spoke?

I definitely think it did. We’ve been lucky enough to do some great support tours with some great bands, but to have our name on the door and still have people come and see us was special. The rooms were all busy, and even if people might have only seen 15 minutes of our set wit Neck Deep or something like that, they still came down to see us and every show was really good! It was far more well attended than anyone thought it would be as well- 100 people is a lot to get through the door for a band our size! We played a show in Dundee, for example, and it was busy, and I spoke to a whole bunch of people who said they hadn’t seen a busy show in Dundee in years! It really makes you thankful for all the support we get and it really made me think that we might be onto something here!

You’ve also emphasised the importance of production and being able to ‘put on a show’ for your fans- do you feel that playing festival sets on bigger stages allows you to do that more effectively or do you prefer to have more creative autonomy over the production side of your sets on a headliner like that?

Good question! I feel like we’re best at doing that with festival shows because we like a bit of space to move! But the headline shows also benefit from being intimate, so it’s about finding that balance. Where you’re 10 metres away from the crowd you need to have more energy to reach out to them, whereas at a small show when you’re up in the audience’s faces you need more energy from them to lift the whole show up, so I feel like while all of our best sets have been on massive stages, I prefer the intimate shows. No matter what show we’re playing though we always try to give 110%, but with festival shows you can’t afford to overthink it because there isn’t time, you just have to get up and go, and there is a benefit to not overthinking it.

With festival shows as well, large parts of the crowd are likely to not be a part of your core fanbase- for a band that has such a close relationship with your fans, do you see that as an advantage or disadvantage?

For me it’s not really either, because we always try and give the best show we can no matter what. We got really good at playing to people we didn’t know on the Frank Carter tour, so when we turn up to festivals we know that most of the people there aren’t there for us, they’re there because they love music, so it’s our job to convert them! You can gauge how many people in the crowd know you from the beginning- if lots of them do then you can ask them to sing and dance straight away, whereas if not then you have to go a bit slower and earn their participation. And I think that demonstrates the importance of music to people, because you can’t just dive in and expect them to respond instantly, because especially at 2000 Trees you get people who love music and so they’re like ‘I will join in, but first you have to play well because music means a lot to me’.

Being out on the road, is there anything that you miss when you’re away from home for such long periods of time?

Everything really! I love touring and I love playing shows with my mates, but I do get homesick when I’m out on the road, but you have to accept that as part of being a musician, it’s part of the job! When you’re away for a month at a time, by the end of it every day is a battle to find the level of energy you need to go onstage, but it also makes you appreciate it more when you’re home. So many people take home for granted- when you’re at home you can’t wait to get away, and then when you’re away you miss home, so it’s important to find that balance and appreciate where you are in each moment in time.

In spite of those things though, are there more tours on the horizon for you guys…?

State Champs is our last one that we have booked, so I don’t know what’s going to happen after that. When you’re a little band like us it pays to be flexible- we usually find out a couple of months before a tour that we’re going to be on it. Our main focus is making this album as great as it can be, and then I’m sure we’ll be out touring again after we release it- probably January/February next year, but for now the album is our focus.

And finally, the most important question of all- who’s your favourite Spice Girl?

Sean: I feel quite strongly about this! After three, ready? One, two three-

Sean: Posh Spice!

DJ: Baby Spice!

Sean: Ah, she’s my second favourite, dude! We’re a great team, we fill in each other’s blanks!

Both onstage and offstage, that is definitely the case! Woes are undoubtedly a close-knit unit, held together by the devotion of their ever-growing fanbase who are ready to see where the next chapter of their career is going to take them. And with that experimental new album and tour plans that are shrouded in secrecy to look forward to, we’re all excited to be along for the ride!

‘Self Help’ is out now via UNFD and available to buy and stream on all platforms. Watch the video for ‘Losing Time’ from the new record below:

Connect with Woes via Twitter: @woesuk