Gavin Gardiner, the charismatic frontman of Toronto rock band The Wooden Sky, has been grappling with uncertainty lately.
He’s parted ways with his long-time record label Black Box Music to start a new imprint, Chelsea Records. Meanwhile, founding member, bassist and close friend Andrew Wyatt has moved on after spending nearly a decade performing with him, both as The Wooden Sky and Friday Morning’s Regret, their original moniker. Add to that the routine drudgery of life, the evolving friendships in his life and a variety of projects he’s working on for film, and the Canadian rockstar has a lot to think about. But lately he’s been learning to accept how little control he has.
“I find as I get older I get better at accepting that things won’t necessarily always be the way I want them or to be, or the way they have been. Nothing’s static, and that’s not a bad thing,” he said.
This is a theme he explores in the Wooden Sky’s fourth album, Let’s Be Ready, which was released at the beginning of September. And much like his emotional headspace, their essential sound is starting to morph.
“There’s no way for a sound not to evolve. You bring three, four, five people into a room and everybody’s bringing their own unique experiences, their own attitudes and thoughts and feelings, and that accounts for the evolution,” he said.
“Our goal for this album was pretty loose. We said let’s make a record that sounds more like we sound as live band. We wanted to have that kinetic live energy.”
Gardiner found, while touring extensively, he was having trouble connecting to his music in the same way. Some of the songs he’d played repeatedly didn’t have the same emotional hook, and he found he was going through the motions. Introducing a spontaneity and live energy to their performance was exactly what he needed to rediscover his passion.
“I don’t have much time on this earth. I don’t want to spend it pretending I’m happy playing music, I want to actually be happy playing music,” he said. “When we play live, there’s an energy just from being in front of the people, and we’re trying to push that as far as we can.”
On the album, this energy manifests itself both in sparse atmosphere tracks like “Write Them Down”, acoustic country/folk-influenced tunes such as “Maybe It’s No Secret”, and aggressive rock anthems like opening track “Saturday Night” which is their current radio single.
Gardiner said he’s especially attached to the final song on the album, “Don’t You Worry About A Thing”, which he wrote in a panicked hurry near the completion of recording.
“It was tempting to end with ‘Let’s Be Ready’, because that’s the title track. But we were listening to it and there were 8, 9 songs and it didn’t have an end. It didn’t finish. So I sat at home while we were in the studio and I wrote. It started with the spark of the idea and then it all came running out, and I was so excited about it I ran back to the studio to show them,” he said.
The Wooden Sky are playing at Spiritbar on September 26. Tickets are $15 and are available from the Hume Hotel.