Five Questions With… Woolworm's Giles Roy
The Vancouver indie rock band has released a riveting third album. Here a member discusses artistic evolution, his favourite new songs, recent heavy duty shit, and a motel from hell.
By Jason Schneider
With massive sonics and anthemic pop songwriting, Vancouver’s Woolworm is an arena rock band that just so happens to perform in DIY venues. Their music, which somehow seamlessly combines shoegaze, Britpop, post-punk, hardcore, and black metal into an impossibly cohesive sound, is the sum of their parts.
Heather Black pounds her bass like she’s ripping a basement punk set before delivering sweet vocal harmonies straight out of the C86 compilation. Nick Tolliday pummels his drums with the reckless abandon of the hardcore scene that birthed the band. All the while, dual guitarists Alex Pomeroy and Giles Roy offer intricate, complex riff interplay as often as they stomp their pedals and break into hard-hitting power chords.
The band’s third album Awe, out now via Mint Records, expands their already robust songbook further by offering a new take on their hardcore-inflected indie-pop sound. Their bleakly fulfilling 2017 LP, Deserve To Die, saw them smashing their heads against the wall, meticulously planning every note before entering the studio.
This time around, they recorded with labelmate Jay Arner whenever the inspiration hit. The result is a collection of songs that are bristling with immediacy and are, well, awe inspiring. We caught up with Giles Roy recently to find out more.
What makes Awe stand apart from your previous work?
Every record we make is informed by whatever came before it and to me, they all feel very different from each other; but I think the difference on this album is confidence.
I don’t think we could have made this record without making all of those other ones first. Hopefully, that confidence comes across sonically, in the songwriting, and the variety of tones and smaller, subtle touches throughout. That said, it must be noted that this is yet another rock album from us, a rock band.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of Live For You because it was the result of about two years of collective writing and tinkering. The process was, at times, very frustrating, and the song morphed from one thing to another entirely. Heather even re-wrote and re-recorded a couple of bass parts in the literal final hours of recording on the day the album was due. She killed it, and the song now seems to stand out as the one that most resonates with other people, which was, of course, the whole point of the record.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
It’s funny because I genuinely don’t know if we’ve evolved at all over this decade of playing together. The ideas behind the songwriting process have been the same this whole time, and we’re just continually trying to perfect it. Some of the songs for this album are ancient, and some of them are brand new, but the same philosophies guided them all.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
We made this album over this past year, and during that time, each member of Woolworm went through separate heavy-duty shit. Break-ups, evictions, and a lot of mental health stuff. Not to discount the highs, but the lows lately have been accentuated by Vancouver’s more oppressive tendencies. Anyway, that’s just life, and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to rely on each other throughout it all and turn hardship into art. When we look back on 2019, we’ll think of Awe.
What's your best touring story?
Okay. Last time we did a cross-Canada tour, we found ourselves seeking accommodation in the middle of nowhere. We’d been driving for something like 28 hours, so we just needed a couple of beds. We found a motel right on the highway, checked in, and cracked a couple of beers. We’d been in the room for about fifteen minutes when I moved a pillow and found a bed bug. We immediately grabbed our stuff and got out of there.
But then, when we went to the front office to tell them what happened and get a refund, they got mad at us, saying that it wasn’t a bed bug—even though it was—and that we were the ones who had brought the bed bugs. So no, we weren’t getting a refund.
We’re completely broke at all times, so it was at this point that I got mad. I said a sentence containing a cuss word, which escalated into a raised voice argument, culminating in one of the motel owners using the term “you people.” The climax came when we were leaving in a huff, and they threw our half-empty beers at the van. Actually, come to think of it, the climax was them calling the cops on us, despite having just stolen money from us.
Then again, the climax was probably the next morning because we subsequently stayed at a chain hotel known for its pancake machines. Anyway, do not stay at Lang’s Motel in Wabigoon, Ontario. That’s what we learned.
Label: Mint Records
PR: Killbeat Music