THE WOODEN SKY
Drawing its title from a line in Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune – “Survival is the ability to swim in strange water” – The Wooden Sky’s fifth full-length record finds matching personal trauma against the increasingly bleak political climate.
“More now than ever, I feel the weight of responsibility to act and make things better for the people to come,” says Gardiner. “Maybe that sounds cliche, but it feels very real now. As an artist you have your voice and not much else. So you gotta use it.”
While 2014’s ‘Let’s Be Ready’ found the Wooden Sky writing a pure “rock and roll” album, ‘Swimming in Strange Waters’ sees the band experimenting once again. “I feel like we’re back on track,” says Gardiner.
John Angello (known for his work with Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Phosphorescent and Kurt Vile) mixed the album at Water Music in New Jersey. Around 95 percent of it was recorded to an old tape machine at Gardiner’s home studio, and the rest was done at Hotel2Tango in Montreal and at a Toronto church where multi-instrumentalist Walker’s father is the Anglican minister.
On every album, The Wooden Sky’s aim is to somehow capture the band’s live performance, to compress that adrenalin and vigour into a collection of songs that’ll inevitably be played through headphones and crappy computer speakers. ‘Swimming in Strange Waters’ marks the closest the band has ever got to this coveted goal. To achieve that energy, Gardiner had to let go of any insecurities and garner new confidence, part of which he found after speaking with an opera singer friend and working with legendary producer, Angello, and part of which came from encapsulating that energy himself.