Houston Calling

10 Questions for Greg Wood

April 24th, 2003 · No Comments

The first time I saw Greg Wood play, there were 5 other people at the bar–one was playing guitar with him and another was the bartender. Despite the lackluster turnout, which was in some piano or jazz lounge that is probably now home to a sushi bar or upscale women’s shoe store, Wood totally impressed me. Having heard stories about him from friends and reading bits of press about him from time-to-time, I was anxious to see what the fuss was all about. Hearing him play for a few minutes made me understand.

I had heard his former band, Horseshoe, and knew they had a lot of talented musicians playing along with them (like guitarist/songwriter “Robby Rob” Mahan). I really got into his acoustic sets that night–the show was basically he and Rob playing whatever they wanted while we sat and drank.

I think Greg sounds like (and kind of looks like) Jerry Garcia. He would probably cringe at the thought, but that’s the first impression I got. Maybe knowing about the rampant abuse his body took played into my impression, maybe not. You can read more about Greg’s trials and tribulations in this Houston Press article. I think you’ll find the information most interesting.

An excerpt: Wood’s newfound softer side came after 1999, the worst year of his life, one in which he almost died, spent two months in Ben Taub, lost an eye permanently and the ability to walk temporarily, and his long-running, critically acclaimed band and decade-plus marriage both broke up.

I asked a friend (thanks Karen!) to see if Greg would answer a few questions for Houston Calling. To my surprise, he had the answers for me before I even asked the questions.

“Here are my answers:
1. Yes.
2. Yes, but only once (with a woman, by the way).
3. I’d rather not discuss that incident.
4. Ha ha, yes, I agree, but that’s off the record.
5. OK, look, I know you’re attracted to me, but really, this is TOO much. Please take your hand off my leg.
6. Waiter! Check please! And quickly!
7. No, you can’t have my phone number, you sick son of a…
8. For the love of God man, put that thing away!
9. Taxi! (Unhand me you pervert!)
10. To the Heights…and step on it!”

Joking aside, read the interview below and then order the CD.

10 Questions for Greg Wood

HC: You’ve gotten a fair amount of press because of Ash Wednesday. Were you surprised the album was as well-received as it was?

GW: Well, I don’t know if “surprised” is the right word. Gratified is more like it. I knew the songs were strong; I’d been living with most of them for a number of years, playing them live, gauging reactions. My one concern with the amount of press Ash Wednesday has gotten is the fact that, good though it is, it isn’t really representative of what I do live. Ash Wednesday is far more “countrified” than my live shows. I worry that folks are gonna come see me live and be disappointed not to hear steel guitars or banjos, etc. But, hey, a good song is a good song, no matter how it’s done, and I think anything missing from the record is more than made up for by the live energy of my shows.

HC: What do you consider to be your primary influences?

GW: Hell, I don’t know anymore. If I told you the stuff I’ve loved listening to throughout my life, you’d never be able to unravel the the twists. First, I was a huge fan of the Beatles–but if you really love music, how could you not be? The Rolling Stones through Sticky Fingers, especially Let it Bleed and Beggar’s Banquet–everybody says Exile, but I think those records are better overall. Hank Williams. Tons and tons of Hank Williams. Blugrass music–I am from Kentucky, after all, and my dad was an unreconstructed hillbilly. Trucker music. Johnny Cash–a huge influence. Syd Barrett. Went through an R.E.M. stage, so to speak. I have a thing for 70’s German weirdo stuff, particularly Faust. Some of Julian Cope’s early solo stuff. Plus, a lot of dead black dudes, including Lightning and Muddy and Hound Dog Taylor–but especially Lightning Hopkins. How all this affects or influences what I write, I couldn’t begin to say.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

GW: Southern Rock. FUCK THAT! Jesus, I get pissed just thinkin’ about it. And it’s not that I have some snotty issue with “Southern Rock,” whatever that is. But usually that term is used for bands like the Allmans, Skynrd, that kind of stuff. And my stuff has NOTHING–not a fucking thing in common with that stuff except I suppose for guitars and beer. “ALT-country” is out-dated and pretty dumb, too. Wasn’t Elvis Alt-country? Wouldn’t that make Alt-country about as fuckin’ dinosaur and mainstream an idea as you could have? Alternative? How about, “The way it was meant to be in the first fucking place.”

HC: Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you (or are you) using the internet as a tool to market your music?

GW: Well, I’m behind the curve in marketing myself. However–and you can let the RIAA know this–I am stealing as much fuckin’ music as I can, while I still can. Thousands and thousands of songs. My hard-drive is like the greatest radio playlist ever assembled. I hope someday some poor undersexed dipshit in a college dorm somewhere can download a few of my songs for free. Because, trust me, if I can be there for that loser at a vulnerable time in his life, he will never forget me. And when at last he is unloosed into the world as a vapid typical American consumer he WILL buy my shit, if for no other reason than to remind himself how pathetic and poor he once was.

HC: How was playing South By Southwest this year?

GW: Dull. Silly. Fairly pointless. Good gig, though.

HC: What’s your favorite Bukowski book? I like “Post Office” a lot.

GW: Well, in purely literary terms, “Ham on Rye” is terrific. But “Hollywood” is a scream, far and away the funniest–Bukowski as a stand-up comic. Bukowski turned me to John Fante, though, and Fante is just incredible.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

GW: Great Question! I have no fuckin’ idea. Johnny Cash could cover anything he wanted, and I’d be happy.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry?

GW: I close my eyes. I see a giant Cock trying to ram itself up my ass. I shudder.

HC: Do you have another album planned?

GW: Always.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

GW: Simpsons’ DVD’s. Rolling Stones’ Love You Live. There’s some Dylan around, good Lord there’s a Wesley Willis CD over there, too. But really, I’m pretty damned boring. Listening to White Stripes right this second.

Now you’ve read it, go get the CD. Please show your support. This is one album not to be missed. You can get at via Amazon.com.

Now Playing in my iPOD: KinskiAirs Above Your Station

Tags: Music