WS was a highly collaborative band that had a hell of a run from 1993 or so, until about 2001. Then we had a few years of a break, which we never called a separation or even a hiatus. We never talked about it. We just stopped. I only mention that because I don’t want to have to call what happened next a reunion. In 2005, we dusted ourselves off and played some tunes at our old pal Dave Draves’s birthday party. At that time, we realized we had some unfinished business to attend to and we set out to make another record.
The band was born out of a very weird and magical chemistry between myself and Julien Beillard, another singer/guitarist/songwriter. Then it got weirder and even more magical as the others came along: Julien’s brother, original bassist Mathieu, drummer Andrew McCormack, and later bassist Josh Latour. We felt peerless, and then we made our own little family. The essense of punk rock, no?
I’m immensely proud of everything we did as a group. I will attempt here to walk you through our discography.
The Very Same (1994): We recorded with Dave Draves at the very outset of his career (and obviously ours as well). Mathieu Beillard was our bassist at that time. He also sang and recorded some of the strangest and best songs on this record. Edgy, giddy, fearless and volatile energies are all filtered through an awkward gawky kaleidoscope. The artwork was made by our friend Wyatt Boyd who had the vision to match our wildness.
Mardi Gras (1997): We made this record with Darryl Smith at Chemical Sound in Toronto, when it was located on Portland St. It features beautiful horn playing and arrangements by Martin Walters. Mathieu’s unique voice can be heard on this record too. Sadly, Mathieu left the band shortly after we made Mardi Gras, and our live versions of those songs took on new life when Julien and I had to find ways of singing them. Josh, who had joined the band to play keys, was given 2 days and a bottle of nu-skin and told to learn the bass. He rose to the challenge, and killed it.
Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (2000): Julie needed a band for touring and approached me to be a part of it, since we have known each other since our late teens. I invited Andrew to be the drummer, and he suggested we should all do it, as The Wooden Stars. It was a great idea – and so began a very unlikely but very special collaboration. We toured a lot on Julie’s music before finally getting the chance to go into the studio together and make some sort of document of what we’d become. The process was kind of backwards, but I think the album lives on. We recorded it in the wilds of Fredericton NB’s North side. We stayed for 2 winter weeks in a motel apartment at the Fort Nashwack, eating store-bought spaghetti (it didn’t seem so bad at the time). It wasn’t an easy record to make: there were a lot of creative differences between us and Lloyd Hanson who’d been hired to engineer (or produce, depending on who you ask). In the end, we got it done well. A lot of people have told me directly that this album means a lot to them. What more do we have to go on?
The Moon (2001): We went back in to work with Dave Draves for this one, which is exactly where we began. It’s hard to believe this is the same band as on The Very Same. On this record, there is a clearer line between things written by me and things written by Julien. It has the feel of a collection of songs. I think it’s just as good as the earlier records, but you can definitely feel less ‘togetherness’ on it. Shortly after this record was released and toured, WS fell into a very long slumber.
People Are Different (2007) is our ‘reunion’ record. We never split up. We never announced anything. We never needed to – we didn’t think anyone was listening! In our minds, this was less return than a continuation. In some ways, some of that reckless younger wildness had returned, but it’s definitely within a more controlled and polished vessel. We owe a lot to Peter Murray, whose production help, generosity and motivation helped us to see it through. Peter enabled us to do what we did from the very outset, way back in 1993-4.