Being a decent concert-goer in Warsaw, Poland means that you had to see Woolen Men play in a legendary club Eufemia back in 2014. If you missed it somehow – no worries – the guys are going to be back here in September. Times have changed, Warsaw have changed (as Eufemia is no more, but the band is going to play at it’s reincarnation – the Młodsza Siostra <<Little Sister>> club), but have Woolen Men changed? You can check it out now, as the guys premiere their new single “Weatherman for sale”, announce their new LP and provide us with a little interview. Exclusively for Undertone.
Let’s talk about „Weatherman for sale”. Is it about climate change? You’ve touched that topic before. As an American you probably have a lot to say about how politics are making it worse.
Alex: It’s more of an emotional metaphor, giving yourself excuses to not follow through with things because you can’t find a reliable weatherman to tell you how things are going to be. As for the for sale part I imagined a future where weathermen would become more of like a mysticthat you would look up in the classifieds. So yeah now that I think about it is sort of related to this bleak future where people have lost faith in meteorology.
Although you keep your signature lo-fi, retro sound, this song seems to be a little more “pop” (in a really good way) than your previous records. Can you tell us something about the writing and record process for the album? Was it different than before?
Raf: It was different than before because we’ve gotten better at recording ourselves, but the same in that we kept the focus on the energy and chemistry of the performances. I think “lo-fi” is really more of an appreciation for the human and inexact side of playing music than it is about gear or equipment. It was also different because we worked with Evan Mersky to mix the album, and he clarified and focused the recordings without taking the grit out of them.
What can we expect from the other songs? You’ve always balanced between personal and “political” songs. Are you going to keep that attitude?
Lawton: This record feels more ‘mature’ to me, like we came at our own sound and ideas a bit more freely than the last go round. For me increasingly the personal and the political seem to merge. In the US right now I feel that you have no choice but to confront the nightmare we find ourselves in, as much as you may want to put your head in the sand and ignore it.. So this time around my intuition wanted to talk about responsibility to your own self and to the others who are suffering…
Raf: The world is unimaginably different than it was when we wrote and recorded Temporary Monument. When it comes to having a voice, politically speaking, in 2018, I think that right really belongs to those facing real danger and oppression.
You’re a vital part of Portland scene. Can you tell us something about it? Maybe something about your connections with other bands?
Raf: Alex also plays in Scorch and Landlines. I also play in a band called L.O.X., with members of Honey Bucket, Mope Grooves and Scorch. I recorded the new Honey Bucket record and a lot of the new Mope Grooves records, and played on them, too. Alex recorded the new Landlines record. Lithics are dear friends of ours and practice across the hall from us. And there are a handful of other cross pollinated projects that don’t even have names yet… And that’s just our little corner of the scene! There’s so much other stuff. Jacyn from Conditioner is in about a million bands, all of them good, for example. There’s a younger scene centered around our pal Nik Normal… I could go on and on…
You seem to be touring a lot. Do you still get any satisfaction out of it? Is it a good way to live?
Lawton: I have a full time job but spend much of time obsessing over the band.. We are fortunate enough to be flexible in our choice of weekends and I would rather play shows than just about anything except else.. except maybe be with my wife..
Raf: Touring is hard. We actually only mostly go out for a weekend at a time. But it’s nice to stay connected with the other music scenes up and down the west coast.
It’s always fun to read – speaking of touring – what was the most awkward thing that happened to you during a tour?
Raf: It happened in Poland actually. We got pulled over and got to experience the Eastern European criminal justice system first hand. Ultimately the cop decided we weren’t bad guys after all and let us go on our way… a few zloty lighter of course…
Woolen Men are playing September 12th in Klubojadalnia Młodsza Siostra, Warsaw with Honey Bucket. Be there or be square.