By Harriet Kaplan
Will Wood and the Tapeworms are known as “a bizarre, genre-bending art rock outfit” from New Jersey. The band consists of pianist and singer-songwriter Will Wood, guitarist Mike Bottiglierl, saxophonist David Higdon, bassist/engineer Jonathon Maisto, and drummer Brett Dubin. Will Wood and the Tapeworms founder Will Wood, recently spoke with BoC about the band’s new sophomore full LP, Self-ish, his friendship with Foxy Shazamand Frnkeiro and the Cellabration, making videos and more.
How did the band actually find each other? Was there an immediate connection and why?
I’ve known Jon (bass, engineer) and Mike (guitar) since High School, and we’ve played music in different projects for as long as we’ve known each other. So when I decided to try and put together Will Wood and the Tapeworms, they were right there. The connection wasn’t immediate, it was built over time by shared experiences and similar tastes in music. I was lucky that I was able to build friendships with people who appreciated my songwriting and had the talent to approach it and make it sound the way it needed to.
Do you think it’s confusing to combine so many influences and artistic styles together when some audiences can deal better with a straight-forward categorization of music? Obviously the band has no fear and seems eager to break stereotypes and boundaries down. Is that right?
Probably, but those audiences aren’t my target demographic. I don’t want to be liked by everyone, I don’t want to be understood or appreciated on some shallow non-confusing level by a large group of people. I want to be understood by people who are looking for a new and disorienting experience, people who are looking to explore and experiment with who they are and what this world has to offer them.
And I wouldn’t say I have no fear or am looking to actively break stereotypes, no. I’m just writing the way it comes to me. This is what it sounds like in my head. I’m not trying to subvert aesthetic standards or challenge preconceived notions of artistic expression or any of that avant-garde art school nonsense. I just want to express honestly how I feel. It just so happens that I feel too loud and too weird for some people. Just ask any of my exes.
Do you think audiences are hungry for something outrageous and totally different?
I think that it’s part of human nature to seek out the unusual and the novelty in life. It’s why we do drugs, why we fuck randoms, why we eat puffer fish and why we explore the world of entertainment in general. I think our culture discourages us from engaging with our desire to experiment with experience, but in the end not everybody wants “different,” but nobody is moved by “the same.”
Was crowdfunding to make an album a new experience for the band? Would you do that to tour as well?
It was an entirely new experience, my first record was funded bit by bit over the course of a year. And we might do that to tour, I don’t know, it depends on what our fans would think of that.
Photo by Nick Turco
How does Self-fish differ from your first album?
It’s entirely different. The first record is a long-form jukebox style piece written over the course of a few years. It was a collection of songs, and while I used them to communicate specific intentions and themes, it was a personal collection of the best songs I’d written since I started writing songs. Self-ish had a bold, painful source. It was squeezed out of me by oppressive conditions of time and space and the results are alien and bizarre and frightening to me.
What was it like working with Kevin Antreassian and members of Foxy Shazam and Frank Iero on the new album? What do you think they provided to the recording process and what did the band learn from the experience? How did that collaboration come about?
It was a real pleasure working with all of them. Kevin is a brilliant producer and a great guy. Matt Olsson of Frank Iero and the Cellabration was intensely professional and talented- incredibly easy to work with, and did it all for next to nothing. Alex Nauth of The Skulx/Foxy Shazam was a dream come true- Foxy Shazam has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now. And on the record, he plays a melody that I came up with in middle school and never found a home for until now- hearing the trumpet player of one of my favorite bands rip apart a melody I’ve had in my head for 10 years was a thrill to say the least.
Photo by Nick Turco
How involved does the band get with the making of videos? Is it as fun and creatively stimulating as songwriting and performing? What is the process like given the artistic bent of the band?
Each video has been produced differently, and each one of them features a different group of musicians in the band. I’ve directed or co-directed each one of the videos, to make sure they match the songs I write. To a certain extent, the band has acted as a team of creative advisors as well as band members. While the creative decisions are left up to me, had Mike (guitar) not convinced me otherwise, I might have shown my dick in the Capgras video.
Will the band tour outside of the New York area? What’s next?
Yes. That. Not saying when. Don’t know when. But it’s not like we have a choice.