Woodpigeon, live at the End of the Road 2010 by Matt Law
At the end of his UK solo tour supporting Mark Eitzel (reviewed here) this month, Mark Andrew Hamilton, AKA Woodpigeon, graciously submitted to KV’s e-mail inquisition.
Hi Mark, many thanks for taking the time to answer these. First off – at the end now of a UK tour – how are you?
Pretty worn out, to be honest, but that’s typical. For now I’d really just like to ride my bicycle along the Danube (and once it’s warm enough, jump in for a daily swim as well).
You’ve been playing alone this tour. As an experience how does that compare to playing with a band? I imagine it would be quite lonely, but perhaps also somewhat liberating?
It’s interesting having no-one else to hide behind. Everything really has to speak for itself. In Bristol, for example, it was an even bigger challenge to do so as all of my pedals shorted out and I wasn’t able to put together the loops and effects I typically have been lately. But, at the same time, it’s definitely a good way to test the songs and my abilities to relay them to people. If the songs don’t fly simply on their own, then there’s clearly something missing, I think.
You’ve (ahem) lived a lot of places. Do you find that being somewhere new influences the kind of songs that you produce (will we look back on Thumbtacks and Glue as your “Vienna period”?)?
Thumbtacks was actually written in Regina, Saskatchewan! And believe it or not, I haven’t actually written all that much during my time here in Vienna. There’s about an album’s worth of material sitting around at the moment, but I’m also kind of enjoying the act of having put my writer’s pen down for some time. When I’m ready to get back to it, I think it will be much more of an energized thing for me. I’m hoping to find new routes of putting songs together instead of relying on all the tricks I already know.
At the very start of the new album, you sing “the saddest music in the world/ those songs we sing that don’t get heard”. Is there a literal element to that line? Do you find yourself applying an emotional filter the songs you release?
I try not to have any sort of ‘emotional filter’ to the songs I put out, but instead to always try to be as honest as I can be. That song in particular was more about the idea that there’s so much amazing music in the world that should have the ears of the planet tuned into it but just seems to fall between the cracks.
Finally, purely by chance, I caught you talking on the radio over here one morning (maybe a couple of years ago now) about exchanging tapes of Smashing Pumpkins shows. Are you aware of any Woodpigeon live bootlegs? Or do you have a sense that people are less interested in listening again and again to whole live sets?
There’s a couple of Woodpigeon bootlegs people have sent me over the years, which is always interesting to hear back. I’m not sure if people still listen to bootlegs or if there’s quite the same culture around it as there was when I was trading cassette tapes. A little while back I listened to a couple of old boot tapes (including an Elliott Smith one that I remember loving the heck out of some years ago), and was surprised with just how bad it all sounded. The audio fidelity was shocking. On the other hand, I think there’s a new culture springing up where so many bands are allowing folks to tape and it all goes up on archive.org, which to me, really makes it much less exciting.