We were sort of captured when we heard ‘El Maresme’, the latest single by Edinburgh’s Wozniak. We’ve heard layers of guitars before, but this was something else. Moody, downcast even, but writhing beneath layer upon complex layer of effects laden guitars. Our minds might not be the strongest things out there, but they were well and truly blown.
Ahead of the June 9th release of their Pikes Peak EP, from which El Maresme is taken, we needed (note needed rather than wanted) to speak to the band to find out more.
We are James (evil bass tones and a bit of piano now and then), John (the drums), Sarah (guitar, some vocals and some keyboards) and Simon (guitar).
We are from Edinburgh, with a healthy dose of west of Scotland heritage.
We met when the two halves of Wozniak came together: John and James (the Thunder) knew each other from work, while Sarah and Simon (the Lightning) knew each other from when they got married. Sarah knew John at work and before Wozniak was formed, Sarah, Simon and John played a couple of times with the short-lived, but most excellent, covers band Myld Stallyns. Having established that they were happier making their own noise than playing covers, Wozniak became a reality, saving John from a near miss with middle-of-the-road Americana.
We make music that sounds like Queens of the Stone Age, Mogwai and Slowdive formed a supergroup and told everyone about it on social media. Other bands we’ve been compared to include the Cure, the Horrors, My Bloody Valentine and (perhaps strangest of all) DJ Shadow. We’ve also been told by a group of drunk postmen that our music is great for taking drugs to (not that we’d know anything about).
When people ask us who or what we sound like, we say “kind of loud, mainly instrumental, feedback, loads of reverb, fuzzy bass, a bit like Mogwai and Slowdive forming a supergroup and employing their entire pedal collection”. It’s not necessarily true, but it’s what we say…
We bonded over a love of the quiet-loud-loud-louder dynamic, beards, chocolate Hob Nob biscuits and a mutual distrust of keyboard solos.
Our name comes from Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, mainly because at least one of us is a huge Apple geek (but you’ll need to guess which one it is).
We got together, and our first rehearsal as a four-piece was in November 2012. Before then Sarah, Simon and John had been working up a few tracks while waiting for James to join (he had pledged his future to Wozniak before heading off to make a documentary). As a four-piece we made quick strides and soon had a handful of songs we were happy to provide for public consumption.
Our first gig was on 11 May 2013 at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh. We had the very great pleasure of playing with our Dundonian pals Hookers For Jesus and the always-fantastic (but sadly no more) Edinburgh School for the Deaf. After the gig, someone accused us of lying about it being our first gig – he said ‘if this is your first gig, then how come most of the crowd are here to see you?’. We took it as a compliment.
Our new EP is called ‘Pikes Peak’ and it contains five tracks, each of which feature large amounts of guitar noise and some of the best drumming you’ll hear this year, particularly on ‘El Maresme’, the lead track. We’re mainly instrumental, but ‘El Maresme’ has lyrics, which are repeated like a mantra while the music builds up into a devotional outpouring. We wrote ‘El Maresme’ pretty quickly – Sarah played the main guitar part, we all joined in and 10 minutes later, there it was. The EP lasts just over 27 minutes, and is available from www.wozniak.bandcamp.com, as well as iTunes and Amazon (who have categorized it as jazz).
We recorded it at The Depot in Edinburgh, with Craig Ross, who plays in Broken Records. We also did our debut single there, and Craig knows our style pretty well now – plenty of volume, lots of feedback and liberal use of his collection of vintage analogue delays units.
The writing process for us is very collaborative. It usually starts with the basic riff, which is often based around a particular guitar sound and then we all add to it. A fundamental element of our sound is the bass and drums locking together to drive the song forward while the guitars wander about over the top. While we mainly stick to our own instruments, we all contribute to the structure and arrangement, and then we take turns at naming the songs.
We tried to make it sound like not one thing in particular. We had a very definite idea of particular sounds that we wanted and the overall sound of the EP, but we weren’t particularly trying to mimic any particular album or band. We did have a few albums and bands that served as inspiration, but more for the feel of the music than for particular sounds. There are a few sounds that have quickly become Wozniak staples, and they are in there – deep reverb, layers of guitars, distorted bass, all underpinned by vast walls of drums. The ‘Wozniak shimmer’ also appears in every song on the EP, provided by a very special pedal, of which we currently own four.
You could say our live show is intense, starting with a burst of noise and then continuing in that vein, with many pedals (currently over 30…) employed to layer up the sound and push the volume as far as we can. There will usually be at least one broken guitar by the end.
You can catch us in Edinburgh on 13 June at Cabaret Voltaire, in Glasgow at the 13th Note on 20 June and then in Edinburgh again at Opium on 28 June.
Look out for We Came From The North if you like grandiose post-rock, Deathcats if you like amazing surf/hardcore and Naked if you like glacial electronic post-punk.
This year, we are going to try to play a whole bunch of cool places, maybe not all in Scotland (and we are open to offers), and hopefully make a start on our next recording.
Keep in touch with us at www.facebook.com/wozniakofficial and @band_wozniak mainly, but also our blog (www.wozband.blogspot.co.uk) which is a rare treat.