I’ve covered Will Wood several times on this page in the last year or so. With each performance, each release, and each interview I leave more confused and more awestruck by this artist and his band. To quote Will Wood, quoting me on his website, “His creativity is boundless, his charisma unmatched, his intensity intimidating, his philosophies confounding. A Will Wood performance is more stimulating than an 8-ball straight to the dome… when faced with the question “Who is the real Will Wood?” the answer is still elusive. …powerful well beyond anything else I had seen or experienced on a stage.” I can’t remember when I said that. Everything’s a blur when it comes to Wood, but the sentiment still rings true.
Now, coming up on February 3rd, Wood will (Will Wood will?) celebrate the release of The Real, a massive live album recorded during two sold-out 2017 shows. The show will also feature performances by Super Snake, Electric Sensei, and Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son. Of course, I have no capacity to understand, let alone explain anything that Will Wood does, so (to attempt) to give you the best idea, here’s Will Wood in his own words.
So this show coming up is for the release of The Real, which is a huge album that was recorded back at two of your shows in 2017. For anyone that was so unfortunate to miss either of those events, give a little background on what those were about.
These shows were experiments that started as small ambitions and grew wildly into big-budget sweat-soaked confetti-coated vision-quest hallucinations. Like Albert Hoffman’s first taste of his tincture. This was a snowball that started as a shout in a valley and ended as an avalanche. The shows were bipolar opposites, a solo performance in a cramped studio room, and a huge, theatrical experiment with a 9-piece band, a catwalk, trapeze artists, and a light show. Both of these events sold out – people were turned away at the door. VIP packages went at light speed. I was overwhelmed. Chunks of these experiences have now been captured on a massive 21-track album featuring new, experimental versions of crowd favorites, and brand new songs.
I’ve gotten to catch a few of your performances at a few different venues and genuinely, every single time you and The Tapeworms absolutely fucking floor me. How is it that you continue to be able to break the mold and raise the stakes with each and every new project?
There’s no point in undertaking a new project if it doesn’t top the last one, or at least defy the precedent it set. Sunlight allows trees to grow, and in turn those trees grow to reach more sunlight. The bigger the project, the bigger the payoff, the bigger the next project can be. It’s just waves and troughs. It’s physics. Momentum builds, mass is accumulated, the wave peaks – and then it breaks. I’m just trying to hang ten for now.
What has the experience been as you and the band continue to rise in popularity and gain more and more notoriety above and beyond the local community? You’re able to book these huge events with serious ticket prices and still sell the places out in days. Is that kind of surreal to you, or is it par for the course now? Did it ever really feel surreal?
At times, its melting clocks and spindly-legged ten-story elephants. Other times, it’s Rembrandt. Pretty, but too lifelike to actually be all that interesting. Waves. The confusion and the unreality of my reality set in and throttle me by the collar now and again, as if screaming at me to wake up. You’ve been in a coma for ten years, William, come back. That would be neat. Muscular atrophy and future-shock aside I wouldn’t mind this all having been a dream. It wouldn’t rob me of the experience, just give me back my youthfully open road, more forks available to travel again. Other times, I trudge along with papers to push and appointments to keep, feeling nothing new, no novelty. My wonderment glands can only produce so much at a time, and the lamotrigine keeps too much from leaking into my system to prevent another slew of hypomanic episodes. Waves.
Of course, album release aside, something really special bout The Real is that 50% of all ticket sales will be going directly to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, a massive mental health charity that provides grants to scientists looking to further our understanding of how to better treat psychiatric illness. Why was this charity so important to you?
I’ve always been open about my struggles with psychiatric illness, and how I’ve used music to try and cope with the disarray in my head and how its affected my life. Much of the chaos of my instability is in my past now – I’ve gotten a lot better. I want to try and do something to help others get there. You see, I was almost done for a few years back. I was at the end of my rope, swinging from the ends of my wits. I had been through hell and high water and almost completely ruined my life. Or ended it. Then I gave life one last go, by trying to start a music career. The people who came out and supported what I do – buying tickets and merch, coming to the shows and singing along, just generally offering support – they saved me. They gave me a reason to sober up, clear my head out, and seek the serious help I needed. They told me what I did was important to them. So I kept doing it, and it healed me in a lot of ways. I can thank them for everything I have now, (even the crazy fans who treat me like garbage, love you too) and they’ve given me a platform with which not only can I hopefully cleanse the darkness of my past, but maybe help others do the same.
So that’s why I’m giving every cent I can from this show to the BBRF – I want to try and make a concrete difference in the removal of the stigma against mental illness, and help in any way I can to make a concrete difference in a handful of lives that need it. Maybe I’ll only be able to raise enough money to buy half a microscope- but god damn it those people deserve that half a microscope. So far we’ve raised about $1,000, and we’ll be collecting donations at the show as well. Battling mental illness can do more for the world than simply help treat a few cases and cure a couple of heads. The possibilities for good are endless. I owe it to the world to at least try.
Joining you on February 3rd will be Super Snake, Electric Sensei, and Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son. What can your fans who are unfamiliar with these bands expect from their performances?
You can expect some of the most talented bands in the area. Jerry Jones of NJ legends Trophy Scars leads Super Snake with serious charisma and talent. Electric Sensei is one of the most creative and bizarre acts to come out NJ – maybe ever. Bobby Mahoney is a songwriter with a classic melodic ability and rock sensibility you don’t see anymore. These are some of the tightest and most talented acts on the Jersey indie circuit, and it’s an honor to be able to be sharing the evening with all of them at once.
Is there anything else that you’d like to say directly to all the Will Wood and the Tapeworms fans?
You made my life possible, and you scare the shit out of me. I love you all, now leave me alone.
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Tickets for The Real are still available, but I wouldn’t bet on that being true for much longer, so you should follow THIS LINK HERE and get your tickets right now for what is sure to be one of the weirdest experiences of your life.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.