It’s difficult to not feel lazy around Vancouver Island’s Michael Wood Band. Before even graduating from high school, the quartet wrote, recorded and released its debut album End of the World. It has won the band accolades and won over fans. Less than 30 days after the album release, the guys were voted New Artist of the Month by a radio station in southern Ontario and the video for the album’s title song had 38,000 views in its first month. Now, less than a year later and while attending first year university, the guys are heading out on a Western Canadian tour that will land them in Toronto for Canadian Music Week at the beginning of March.
There is no need for qualifiers like, “For a first album...” End of the World stands strongly on its own two feet, and doesn’t gaze too heavily into its own navel. Lyrically diverse, the band’s tight and catchy rock ‘n’ roll touches on everything from news fatigue to the Occupy Movement.
“I find just that whatever happens in the first few lines really dictates what the song is going to be about, and so sometimes you do get a songs like, ‘Should We Be Afraid,’ which is a song I wrote about the Arab Spring uprising,” guitarist/vocalist Michael Wood explains. “There was this one moment where the Christians in the crowd protected the Muslims during their time of prayer, because they have to pray towards Mecca at the same time every day. So they held hands and they made a human shield around them to protect them from the violence that was going on, and then on the other hand, you get a song like ‘How Does it Feel’ which is just about friends and how we went out in the middle of the night hanging out in the park.”
With its early successes, the band – rounded out by Jon Baergen (bass/vocals), Josh Weed (guitar/vocals) and Alex Campbell (drums/vocals) – is pushing forward, crisscrossing BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan over the next six weeks. Wood admits that he’ll miss a couple of days of school during this tour, but he doesn’t seem too fussed.
“We’re writing more than ever,” he says. “Actually I’ve been in a good space creatively. I’ve been writing a lot with Alex, the drummer, and yesterday, we were working on one of the new songs that we’ve started. We’re going to try and play it at Saskatchewan next weekend, actually. It should be fun.”
Michael Wood Band performs at the Griz (Fernie Alpine Resort) on February 16 and 17, and at the Northern on February 22.
Earlier in the month, another quartet that takes its name from one of the band members infiltrates The Arts Station. Jazz drummer Morgan Childs Quartet hits the stage on February 6. Childs, who moved to Toronto from Vancouver in 2009, has a number of accolades to his name, but the one that stands out is that he won the Grand Prix at the Montreal Jazz Festival twice in three years. Only a handful of Canadian musicians have won the award twice. His style of jazz blends cool and warm by looking forward and back, from Branford Marsalis to Louis Armstrong.