Toy cars, baseballs and comic books were common pass times for most kids when Royal Wood was growing up, but surrounded by musical instruments, he was drawn to a more creative world.
Their house was full of instruments; a piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica were among the instruments available to Wood and his three older brothers.
“When my uncle passed away when I was a kid we got all of his records and his reel to reel. My Dad gave it all to the kids. I was listening to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, while my friends were listening to New Kids on the Block,” he said. “I kind of skipped the bad music portion of my child hood and went to the education.”
Wood’s education when he started high school and his enthusiasm for music paired with the passion of his teachers led him to learning more instruments.
Every day he would bring home a new instrument. One day a tuba, the next a bass guitar followed by a trumpet.
When Wood graduated from high school all he wanted was to create music and start his career, but his parents encouraged him to take two years and experience university.
“When I finished high school I had straight As and was the valedictorian but I just wanted to go out and be a song writer and create music,” he said. “But my parents encouraged me to use my scholarship and go experience university for two years. They were concerned I might regret not taking advantage of the experience.”
Instead of studying music at McGill University in Montreal, Wood decided to study business.
He’d watched how people had taken advantage of some musicians and didn’t want to be one of them.
“I was educated. I knew how to read music and I understood theory and I was a master I believe at the instruments that I played,” he said. “I didn’t see the point in carrying on with the music education because I wanted to be creative, I knew the language. I could write my scores and do all these different things myself. But I wanted to create music.”
After two years at McGill, Wood packed his bags and moved to Toronto to pursue his career.
Like many other musicians, he began in small, crowded bars playing to a sometimes uninterested audience.
He’d pass a hat through the crowd hoping those who had enjoyed the show would toss in some money.
“I think like everything in life, it was a natural evolution. You start with something very very small and you work on it,” said Wood. “. It’s interesting to be in on this full band tour where I have my guys that I have been playing with since 2006 plus an extra member on a tour bus, plus there is a manager and sound and a merch person, we sort of have this machine out on the road, but some of these guys have been with me since I was passing the hat. They are my family at this point. I am enjoying the ride. It is meaningful. I’ve put a lot of work into it, but it doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do.”
Since debut of his first album in 2004, Wood has toured Canada, the US and Europe releasing now five albums with release of We Were Born to Glory.
After the release of The Waiting, Wood found himself craving the time to create and write music.
He had spent much of his time on the road and had few moments to write new songs.
“I was always on the road, there was almost 200 dates that one year. I realized I wasn’t writing because I just didn’t have a moment to create anything. I took myself off the road and I went into the studio every day and wrote in my apartment,” he said.
In the quiet of his French home, with no computers or phones, Wood created the music that would appear on We Were Born to Glory.
“I was feeling reenergized and hopeful and I ended up making the most energetic up tempo album I’ve ever made in my life,” he said. “There is that thread of hope through everything, I was still examining darker things and it was still philosophically driven and wasn’t on the strongest of foundations in certain times, but cathartic ally I could always see hope there.”