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Widowspeak
by: PopGun Booking - July 26, 2011

Up and coming Brooklyn trio Widowspeak has been catching some serious lo-fi waves since last fall if you haven’t noticed. Forming less than a year ago, the band hooked up with Captured Tracks and landed some pretty sweet bills (oh yeah, and a bunch of people fell in love with frontwoman Molly Hamilton’s vocals). I recently exchanged a few questions with the band about Widowspeak’s very promising past, present, and future, and they were more than happy to fill us in on all the great stuff they got going on!

So how did Widowspeak come together? You’ve been official since last summer, were you guys already playing in other projects or just friends that decided you were sonically made for each other?

Michael and I are both from Tacoma, Washington and were involved in this label called Dear Records, which was putting out monthly compilations a few years back. I moved back to New York, and Michael was going to school here, but we didn’t think about music until last spring, when the idea came up at a friend’s party. It took a lot of coaxing on Michael’s part, I have always been really shy about singing in front of people. I had also only ever played banjo and acoustic guitar, and we wanted to be electric, so I bought a Danelectro and a tiny amp. Rob was Michael’s friend from school, and we invited him to our first official practice in my living room. It was weird for me at first to play with a stranger, but he was the perfect guitarist for the band, we knew right away. In such an incredibly short amount of time, from your October Tape EP to your recent 7″ with Captured Tracks your sound has become more layered and full, is that a direction in which you are consciously moving?

The tape was recorded with the built-in microphone on a Macbook, and Garage Band, so we didn’t really have control over sound. We were still figuring out which direction we wanted to take each song. We definitely realized in the process that not having a bassist is kind of limiting, and that we’ll eventually need to expand to a quartet. Recording with Jarvis was great, because we were able to use much more professional equipment, and take our time. We’re really proud of the 7″ (and the LP, which is almost done!). By the way, who did the album art on theHarsh Realm/Burn Out” single?

John Stortz, a friend of ours through Rob. He’s incredible I showed him some 1970′s Bantam Classics book covers of Hesse books (Steppenwolf, Demian), which I wanted the art to be based on, and he came up with the “Harsh Realm/Burn Out” cover. It was even better and more fitting than we thought it would be. We’re definitely going to be using his work in the future.

Do all three of you nerd out over the same genre/time period of music or do you each have a sort of specialty you each bring to the table?

I think during the first practice, in my apartment, we talked about the 50′s… Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, early Elvis, and we initially wanted the band to have that sound. I don’t think that happened, but that first practice was cool because all of our weird obsessions came out. Michael and I share an encyclopedic knowledge of the grunge era because of our Northwest upbringings, as well as a love for the Sonics and 60′s garage. Rob’s more into the 70′s, Television and the StonesRob and I love Pavement, but Michael is crazy and prefers Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. We all dig the Velvet Underground. I also listen to a lot of really old country and blues, and 90′s pop music. We cover “Wicked Game”, but we’ve also talked about covering the Cranberries and the Carter Family, if that says anything about how weird our influences are.

You guys have a lot of really rad things going on for Widowspeak right now, do you have anymore recordings or projects in the works? You seem to be pretty diligent workers, so many accomplishments in less than a year!

It’s been an amazing year. We are about finished with the LP, which will probably be out this summer. It’s so wild that we were able to record a full-length album we’re really proud of everything we’ve done so far and it’s incredible to be able to document it right away. In the meantime, we’re just kind of focusing on getting our live sound where we want it.

BTW did you score any cool finds on Record Store Day?

Michael was working at Other Music that day, he says it was insane. All he wanted was the Nirvana Hormoaning EP (originally an Australia/Japan only tour EP, with all those Vaselines covers on it), but instead he bought the Arthur Russell World of Echo reissue. Which he says is the best New York City record ever.



 
 

"We’re just kind of focusing on getting our live sound where we want it."


Widowspeak
"Self Titled"


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what it is

Simple, droney but twangy guitar chords, bare-bones drums, and alluring siren vocals for those who like Velvet Underground, Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star.