September: Brooks Wood Band | Band of the Month | Indy Week
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September: Brooks Wood Band 

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Friday, Sept. 22, 10 p.m.
CD release party
The Pour House Music Hall
224 S. Blount St., Raleigh
821-1120, www.the-pour-house.com

According to Brooks Wood, things were promising from the outset when he, Paul Sheeran (electric guitar), Miah Wander (bass) and Danny Shampine (drums)--all of them veterans of the N.C. State Music Department--decided to gather and play some music. "When a new group of guys gets together and starts trying to make some noise, that's typically what comes out: noise," offers Wood, who handles lead vocals and acoustic guitar for the band that flies his name on its banner. "[But] I remember our first practice being so tight and in the pocket. We knew from the get-go this was something more than a jam session." With the recent addition of keyboardist Greg Holzer (who, growing up in Naples, Italy, was a bit out of range for N.C. State), the band has expanded to a quartet. And if the lively exchange the guys had with the Independent Weekly is any indication, a "more the merrier" attitude prevails.

Independent Weekly: A fan once described the music of the Brooks Wood Band as "acoustic-soulful-funkadelic-country-rock with pop flavorings." Now your job is to describe the band's music without any of those words.

Miah Wander: It's music that feels good. It's great to listen to, it's fun to dance to, and we're singing about something our listeners can relate to. And, coincidentally, it happens to be a 20-something-ish sound that almost anybody can get in to. How's that for vague?

Greg Holzer: Groovy, toe-tapping, stick-in-your-mind musical goodness that's fat-free and totally guiltless. In fact, you're guaranteed to loose at least 10 or more grams of fat while dancing!

Danny Shampine: "Un-acoustic-soulful-funkadelic-country-rock with pop flavorings." OK, just kidding. Feel-good music that makes you jump up and down, nod your head, tap your foot, and at the same time sit back and think "this stuff is pretty catchy."

Paul Sheeran: We're the next best substitute for GWAR. OK, kidding.

Brooks Wood: Gangsta rap.

IW: Looking at the individual bios, I see a wide range of influences and musical backgrounds, everybody from Buddy Rich to Bon Jovi and everything from classic rock to bluegrass. How does the band succeed in bringing all those elements together? Do you think it's an advantage or disadvantage to have everybody coming at things from somewhat different angles?

MW: That's an interesting question. Because I'm musically influenced by Brand New, Mozart and Louis Armstrong doesn't mean when I pick up a guitar and play that an angst-filled violin concerto in 12-bar blues will come out. It just means that when there's a musical moment that needs to be filled by something appropriate, each of us has more in our bag of tricks that we can choose from. I would say that's definitely an asset.

GH: Definitely an advantage. Gives us more breadth as a band. When someone gets stuck at a crossroads musically or lyrically, there's a lot of input coming from four other angles. Luckily, we're all very levelheaded and open-minded, so we agree on the best idea that fits with the message, feeling or sound of that particular song, and we keep on keepin' on.

BW: Oh wow, I think it's something we really have working in our favor. We'll be chording through some funky R&B changes, and Paul will whip out an Earl Scruggs riff. That's just an example, but we all do it in certain ways. Even initially, when we first start trying to take a song idea and arrange it, there's more ideas than we know what to do with. I think that's a great problem to have. We take the ideas, try each one out, and it's usually apparent which one we like the best as a whole, or which one suits the song. If I had to pick a player in the band that stylistically arranges better than the others, it'd have to be Miah or Paul. They are both song visionaries in my opinion, and they both really have a lucid idea of where a song can go or what it can ultimately be. OK, guys, you can come down from your high horse now.

IW: Your music reminds me of a time in N.C. in the early '90s when acoustic-guitar-led, big-beat, pop-leaning bands were packing them in, such outfits as Far Too Jones, Jupiter Coyote, and the daddy of them all, Hootie & the Blowfish. Are you familiar with any of them, or are they, um, far too before your time?

MW: Ha! Yeah, there's definitely some of a common thread in there. I would say we're the Jane's Addiction-infused melange of those types of bands. We have that catchy, listenable songwriting style, but enough musical variety to keep an even wider fan base interested.

GH: Hootie, yes. The others, eh, not so much. Gosh, we're not that young though, are we? Hmm, I guess we are pretty young.

DS: I'm familiar with a majority of those bands' music. I think it's a good compliment to be reminiscent of them.

PS: I think we definitely feel a connection to many of those bands, although I don't think we ever listened avidly to them. We even have business ties to members of Jupiter Coyote, so it's a compliment to be compared. Many of them were excellent musicians and songwriters. Hopefully we're bringing a few new things to the table.

IW: Brooks, do you feel any pressure having your name on display in the band's name? Has there ever been a night when things didn't go particularly well, and you were tempted to say "Goodnight, we're the Paul Sheeran Band!"

BW: [Laughs] I think it gives me a little bit more reason to "not suck," if anything.

GH: Actually, this has come up more than once. But we've all decided that this band by any other name wouldn't be the same. Besides, BWB has a good ring to it, doesn't it?

--Rick Cornell

www.brookswoodband.com

Band of the Month is an Independent Weekly promotion. If you would like information on how to sponsor a BOTM show, please contact Gloria Mock at gmock@indyweek.com.

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