Woven Bones Discuss the Infection of Surf Rock and Their Awesome Band Name

Categories: Q&A
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Countless rock bands on countless records over, like, six decades now have distilled seemingly every sound out of the same ol' guitar/bass/drums/vocals format. So it wouldn't be the hardest thing in the world to claim that rock is dead. But some bands, like Austin's Woven Bones, manage to arrange the ingredients of the rock 'n' roll stew into something that sounds, if not totally fresh, certainly more appealing than would the stench of a decaying genre. The trio's music has worn labels such as garage-punk to rockabilly, and it's latest single, "I Gotta Get," has a distinctly surf-y guitar run that sticks with you like a bad hangover. So they may get compared to  the Stooges or the Jesus and Mary Chain, but these three put a lot of spices into their guitar-driven stew. 

We spoke with Woven Bones founder and frontman Andrew Burr about how the band came together, what its rather awesome name means, and what the band members look forward to doing in San Francisco. Woven Bones plays at Bottom of the Hill with the Sandwitches and the Splinters tonight.

I know you're driving, but where are you speaking to me from? 

We just got into California, we're on our way to Reno right now ... coming from Seattle. It's not bad, it's kind of peaceful.

How did Woven Bones get started? 

I started recording stuff on my own in Florida ... and posting some stuff to the Internet. When the economy first hit really hard in 2008, I split to move to Austin because the economy was better and I had some friends there. I met Matty [Nichols], our bass payer, and the original drummer, James, at a show, and we all had the same sort of taste and vision. We hit it off and it started right there -- we worked out a bunch of material into what could be a full band with bass, drums, and guitar. That's pretty much where we're at.

What music did you get together around? 

Moe Tucker drums, Spacemen 3/Jesus and Mary Chain levels of distortion, reverb, repetitiveness, and simplicity of song structure. More driving, Krautrock-y basslines, the Stooges, Bob Dylan, things like that.

Did you already have the name Woven Bones at that point? That's a medical term, right? How did you come up with it? 

It is [a medical term] -- I found that out later. I guess it's like crossed fingers for good luck, woven bones at its simplest. It could be ideas of just complete human existence, and history, and everything that we walk on every day, and everything that's been around forever. But in reality, something as simple as crossed fingers for good luck is what it means -- like superstition.

You're signed to Hardly Art now, right? Do you have a full-length coming out soon? 

Yes. There'll probably be a full-length next year, and possibly a special in between the two to kind of fill the gap between when we finish the LP and when it comes out. We're doing a subscription-only record for Yeti magazine. It's going to be a 12-inch of cover songs.

Your latest single, "I Gotta Get," [free download] has more of a surf-y vibe to it. Was that done on purpose?

I think so. Things started off for us a little heavier and I think we always want to keep pushing it in a good direction so that things are fresh and new, and it doesn't sound like the same thing. That's one of the main goals as far as writing new material -- for the people that dig us, if they're going to keep buying our records, to give them something that sounds different from the last one. It's definitely intentional and it's definitely a product of what we're listening to, like in in the van, when we're on tour or whatever, at that time. 

So what inspired "I Gotta Get"? 

I think just some surf-rock comp. Maybe even on the same stretch of highway we're on now, I remember driving while everyone else was asleep and listening to this surf-rock compilation. Some of that stuff just kind of sticks in my head. You just sort of take that and let it infect your mind and then just play guitar and figure some stuff out that reminds you of that. 

What are the goals of Woven Bones? How far do you want to take this thing? 

It would be nice ... if it became self-sustaining to where we could focus a lot on music when we get home and use a lot of our time to do that. But you sometimes -- the words different nowadays. We'd like to go as far with it as we can while still keeping to ideals of being true. 

You all have dayjobs back in Austin, then? 

I freelance design, Matty waits tables, and Caroline [Cunningham, drums] will be substitute teaching when she gets back. Well, I'll be looking for freelance work, Caroline will be looking for substitute things, and Matt will be looking for a new job. Maybe even temping somewhere.

What do you look forward to doing in San Francisco? Are there bands here with whom you're friends? 

Yeah, I like Shannon and the Clams, Hunx and His Punx, the Sandwiches, the Splinters. I like the Fresh & Onlys. [Last time here], I had a good time just walking the good areas of town, walking through parks and chilling with friends.

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