Although Woolworm’s self-described genre of blanket-rock may conjure up a warm and cuddly night spent in a cabin the woods, there is something decidedly more Evil Dead about this cabin than, say, a Folgers commercial.
Oh sure, the music on their latest release, a split with Calgary’s Grown Ups, is catchy enough. Encompassing all the latest adjectives – power, fuzz, grunge, gaze, indie, emo, and core – the two songs are quick and to the point.
But there is a certain morose mysticism to them as well. I’m convinced Giles Roy possesses some sort of evil powers. On Very Well he sings, “so you have closed the curtain and you’ve sacrificed the view, very well but I hope it haunts you.” Giles affirms my suspicion, “I eat souls. Sorry to everyone whose soul I ate.”
On Heathen Too, the incriminating phrase “spent my whole life laughing at the notion I should love my brother” raises more suspicion. “You need people, and you also need to face the fact that everyone is fucking awful. Everyone! Literally everyone.”
Despite this misanthropy, and despite that the band has been “famously bad at accomplishing things in the past,” they’ve got a head of steam and a new outlook. “It’s as I predicted – someone else gives us a real deadline and suddenly we’re productive. It feels good! Things are finally happening. I would upgrade our status to ASWOP. Accomplishing stuff with other people.”
And therein lies the tension, and it’s one very rooted in the Vancouver experience. We’re a city of dichotomies: sea/sky, rich/poor, East/West, rain/not rain. And of course, success and independence. Woolworm seem to straddle the line with ease. And deadpan humour. “Hopefully nothing bad happens to us, like, I don’t know, a big label signing us or us getting popular.”
It shines through in their music too. That juxtaposition between cheery melodies and melancholic imagery like “in and out of heaven, there’s nothing left now to believe” and “You can see the sunrise from your tomb.” A balance between a crushing, cowboy-hat wearing drummer and a sensitive vocal delivery.
It’s no wonder they fit perfectly into a burgeoning scene alongside acts like Dead Soft, Weed, and Cascadia: “I’ve never lived anywhere but Vancouver, but it’s pretty obvious to me that we’re very lucky here when it comes to both quality and quantity. It doesn’t matter what you’re into at the moment, there’s an entire scene of artists nailing it here”.
Which is why you might see Woolworm play a hardcore fest like Ghost Throats as well as a more pop-friendly affair like Sun Fest. It’s why they recorded their previous offering, Believe in Ourselves alongside metal bands like Tempest, Anciients, Black Wizard. It’s why they have their own demented video game. “We have a reclusive genius friend named Alamir Novin who just does stuff like this to fuck with us.”
It’s clear that “blanket rock” is less about a fuzzy wool comforter and more everything-under-the-sun; less about shuttering yourself away from the rain, and more getting out there and doing it. After all, as Giles puts it tersely, “We live in paradise. GET OVER IT, MORONS.”
The split 7″ officially releases on March 18 on Calgary’s Debt Offensive. The release show is March 22nd at the Biltmore with Johnny de Courcy & the Death Rangers, and Blooom. It’s an early show, $8 cover.
By Sean Orr
Photo: Jenna Bouma