INTERVIEW: Wozniak | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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With their long in the works debut album Courage Reels having finally emerged earlier this year, Edinburgh based post-rock/shoegaze quartet Wozniak have been making waves across Scotland. Now it’s time for the north-east to get in on the action, with local promoters I Love My Brick bringing the band to The Cumberland Arms on Saturday 12th August for their Newcastle debut. Ahead of the show, Simon Cuthbert-Kerr from the band agreed to answer a few questions to introduce the band to our readers.

Asked about their striking name, Cuthbert-Kerr notes, “the name comes from Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple.  It has no particularly meaning, other than to demonstrate my geek credentials!  Even before the band started, I had decided I would have a band called Wozniak, so when we actually got together I simply assumed that’s what we would be called – it’s too late for people to object now!”

In a fairly crowded field, Wozniak have managed to find a place of their own by doubling down on dense rhythms and grand atmospherics – a listen to Courage Reels will reveal a band with as much in common with early Spiritualized and Verve as to the more expected influences like Slowdive and Mogwai. Going into the band’s influences, Cuthbert-Kerr elaborates on this. “Post-rock and shoegaze are definitely key influences, although it’s probably more about specific bands than a general sound – people will always disagree about what it means to be a shoegaze band or a post-rock band, and other than some general tendencies, I think it’s pretty hard to define those genres.”

“We also draw on some hard rock and metal influences, particularly through John and James, which is where the Black Sabbath thing comes in, for example.  I think that’s more to do with the attitude and feel of the music, rather than trying to sound a particular way.  People say we also have a bit of psych to us, but again it’s through the filter of different influences, so it’s maybe not as ‘pure’ as it is with other bands, and lots of people tell us they can hear a bit of Sonic Youth as well.  I’m always more interested in bands where you can hear lots of different things coming together, rather than a band who are simply following a template.”

Having already released several EPs, I also asked Cuthbert-Kerr about how the process of writing and recording their full-length debut differed from previous releases. “We’ve actually set out to make an album before – Auster started off as album sessions, but in the end we decided to put those songs out as an EP and a standalone single (Five Star).  This time I think we were all fairly determined to produce an album, and we were collectively quite patient during 2016 to make sure that we got the album made.  We probably approached it slightly differently to how we’ve done EPs – EPs have tended to be the best or most current songs at that particular time, whereas we were keen that the album had a particular feel.”

Closing out our conversation, Cuthbert-Kerr stated, “it’s our first time playing Newcastle, although James studied in Newcastle for a year, and The Cumberland Arms was one of his favourite pubs.  We’re really looking forward to it, and checking out the other bands we’re playing with – thanks to I Love My Brick for inviting us.”

Wozniak play The Cumberland Arms with Figmennt and Lost On Me on Saturday 12th August. Courage Reels is out now on Morningside Young Team Records.

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