One of the musical highlights from this year’s 2000trees Festival came surprisingly early on during Friday afternoon. But it only comes as a surprise given the time of day. At 12pm, most people were likely still rising from the pizza ovens that their tents had become, or possibly only just taking their first steps through the festival gates. As for me, the festival morning ritual of coffee and bacon had hit the spot, setting me up nicely for rad Plymouth trio WOAHNOWS on The Axiom stage. Theirs is a winning blend of infectious hooks and spine-tingling gang vocals, and it all comes together in terrific fashion. Their sun soaked, indie-punk nuggets really lit a fire under the audience and ensured the day got off to a good start.
Hours on from their set, and with a few beers swimming around inside me, I got the chance to sit down with Tim and Wherly of WOAHNOWS to get a little insight into the stellar year they’ve been having. Aside from playing relentlessly across the UK and throughout Europe, this year also saw them put out their incredibly well received debut album ‘Understanding and Everything Else’ through super label Big Scary Monsters. Catching a spot of shade not too far away from The Axiom stage, drummer Wherly reflected on their set earlier in the day and their loyal, ever-growing fan base. “It was a really good turnout considering we played at midday, it was rammed in there. It was good vibes; we had a really good time”
Prior to playing 2000trees, and following a headline tour of their own, WOAHNOWS packed their bags and headed out on tour with Bristolian power-pop trio Personal Best and legendary New York indie-punk’s Lemuria. Posting updates on their antics on the road via Facebook and the like, the band seemed to be having such a fun time, and on the subject of the tour, Tim confirmed this was most definitely the case “It literally was. In terms of being with two other bands that are full of lovely people; everyone was just so nice. It was great that there was girls in the other bands, it was the least ‘Lads on Tour’ tour ever, which was fantastic. Everyone was really nice and I feel like we had a genuine nice family vibe on the go, where everybody was looking out for each other and it was really cool. It felt like coming home from holiday at the end of it; it wasn’t like ‘oh we’re done with this gruelling tour’ it was ‘oh I’m gonna miss you guys that we’ve made friends with so much, and thanks for a great time‘”
Nodding in agreement, Wherly pondered the topic further “I think it was like one of those experiences where it reminds you – sometimes being in a band can be quite tedious and stressful… This was the kind of tour that really reminds you why you do it, ‘cus everyone you met was so lovely and everything on tour was easy. Amazing fun”
A UK Tour with Philadelphia’s own Beach Slang bled into their European headline tour, and it was during these shows that they were offered the tour with Lemuria and Personal Best. Unfortunately, this meant they only had one day to get back from Germany before heading straight back on the road, something which turned into a bit of a brain frazzling exercise, as Tim commented “I think by the end of it, it was like – what is real life again? You’ve been gone for five weeks, what do you do when you don’t just get in a van and play shows? It’s been a bit weird to come back from, but really nice to have great festivals like this to look forward to. It all evens out”
Whilst the year has been a blinder thus far, there was a slight bump in the road late in December. Via their Facebook, the band announced the sad news that bassist Dan was leaving. Looking back, it almost seems bittersweet to see him go, now that WOAHNOWS are really taking off, but as they wrote in a comment following that fateful Facebook post “It was only supposed to be a messing about thing with mates, then we ended up doing a lot more than we’d bargained for I guess.”
So with Dan on the way out, Tim recruited an old friend from Cheltenham to fill the role. It must be hard to be the nicest guy in a band consisting of really nice guys, but new bassist Phil is reportedly doing his best. Tim regaled us with a story of Phil’s past charitable ways, in which the new bass player got his dreadlocks shorn to raise money for a friend of the band who was facing a spell in an American prison (on terrorism charges), even though he didn’t know the geezer. Class act. With the place in the band open, Tim was keen to make his move “…When we were looking for a new bass player and I realised he wasn’t playing in a band anymore, it was just like having a chat and it was like ‘do you wanna do some shows?’ and he was like ‘yeah I’d love to.’ He always liked the band; if we put a new song out, I’d always see him posting it online saying that he liked it and stuff.”
Wherly “He’s a smashing guy”
Tim “It felt like the natural thing, didn’t it? It’s just been really cool, really good to have him on board.” Though quick as a flash, Tim was hilariously quick to note “He’s not here now though is he, lazy bastard”
Back to that record – I assume you’ve heard it? What a fucking stonker. I remember hearing it for the first time and struggling to wipe the massive smile from my face. From the second ‘Sounds Like Spitting’ begins, to the closing note of ‘Breathing Games’, it’s certainly a strong contender. DIY called it the “soundtrack to summer”, whilst Rock Sound were just as kind, giving it an 8 out of 10 rating, commenting it was “worth the wait.” Though hilariously, as Tim points out, the record almost became an afterthought by the time of its release “It was a weird one for us, just ‘cus we recorded it, like we demoed it all in October last year and didn’t do anything with it. Then we recorded in January, the first week, with our friend Paul Russell from Axes. Then by the time it came out in May, I’d pretty much forgotten about it. It was done to me. Then all of a sudden, one day our Facebook and all that stuff, then the Twitter was just popping up like ‘ahh, love the new record’ and bumping into friends like ‘the new record’s great’ and its like – oh yeah, that’s a thing now. I‘d almost forgot about it by the time it came out. The reaction has been really great. I think it’s definitely better than everything we’ve put out before. It’s just nice to know that me and Wherly,‘cus we recorded it just the two of us, us sitting about working all these things out is now…there was a point to it. I had a good time doing it, don’t get me wrong, but now people get to listen to the little things that we maybe spent a lot of time working out. It’s cool; it’s nice that people appreciate it.”
I was surprised to discover that the wonderful Paul of Axes/Human Pyramids fame had a hand in their debut record, but it makes sense given their track record for working with the loveliest of people. Discussing their stay at Paul’s house for the recording of Understanding and Everything Else, Tim was quick to finish my sentence citing him as the “nicest guy on earth”, having let them stay at his house for a week free of charge. Wherly was equally as enthusiastic on their relationship “He’s everybody’s favourite person. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who knows Paul and doesn’t say that he’s their most favourite person. He’s just a wonderful human…”
Riding a wave of hype following the release of their debut album, WOAHNOWS are looking strong as they start to move into the second half of the year. As well as 2000trees, the summer has seen them appear at a handful of other festivals, with upcoming shows in America now on the horizon. It’s been a pretty incredible year for the band, something to still pinch themselves over, as Tim put it to Wherly “It’s just been great, hasn’t it? We’re pretty shit at planning ahead for stuff, realistically. I think we got everything done and things have just seemed to have worked out. Luckily for us they have. I think without meaning to, we’ve done a lot of cool shit, that’s just kind of happened. Now we’re going to America later on in the year to do Fest and stuff. It’s kinda like an ideal year, really. Fucking great.”
Adding further to that, Wherly commented “Our only real aim for this year was to record all these songs that we had, and then the rest of it’s just snowballed from there. Now we’re going to America and its like – woah, how did any of this happen? It just kind of did itself, which is really cool, but now is the time to start planning for America”
With time ticking away, and a line of people eager to speak to Tim and Wherly, we wrapped up the interview almost in a Jerry Springer ‘Final Thought’s fashion, as Tim summed up the current situation in the WOAHNOWS Camp “Being in a band, I think for me, is about life experiences – the people we meet, the places we get to go and how much we enjoy doing it. At the moment we’re having a really good time. In that sense, we’re the best band in the world”
Understanding and Everything Else, the debut album from WOAHNOWS, is out now on Big Scary Monsters. To grab a copy of the CD/LP, head here.
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