We're all a little art starved here in the desert, and Wally Boudway of Wooden Indian argues. Perhaps that's why they're going on a show binge of sorts, performing their first residency at Long Wong's on Fridays throughout April (they kicked it off last week).
The Phoenix-based psych-blues-rock purveyors talked to us about keeping their performances in line while watching Top Gun, beholding the talent of the local music scene, and combating on-stage boredom, one tweaked song at a time.
Up On the Sun: How did the first show of the residency go? You had quite a list of acts that you shared the bill with.
Wally Boudway: Playing Long Wong's is always great because you don't remember much. It's not just the alcohol. It's the cramped space, the unhinged interior layout, the disarming regulars, the fact that loading gear there is like starting a colony in the New World. Just a whole lot of work. The fact that live music even happens there seems miraculous, which all goes to say that nights there produce pretty hazed memories. I remember St. Ranger played some new songs that I really liked. And Future Loves Past. I mean, if you heard them blasting out of a cop car's open door after being billy-clubbed and cuffed, you'd still dance. Me Vale Madre was super-sonic and focused. It was a good night.
Obviously you're going to play a bunch of shows in one place in a short amount of time. How do you keep the act fresh throughout the month?
Well, I don't think we've ever played a single song the same way twice (which isn't necessarily a good thing,) but aside from that, we have enough songs now to play different sets each of the four Fridays. It would be nice to say that we're carefully tweaking each performance to be totally unique, but fortunately, things beyond our power do this sort of tweaking for us. Maybe next week Top Gun won't be playing on the TVs over the bar and we won't be subconsciously trying to break the sound barrier.
What are you guys working on these days?
We're recording an album slowly, writing new things, changing old ones, trying to fight off creative malaise. We just did a live track with video at a place called Studio at the Farm in Gilbert. That video should be on the web soon.
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You guys have said that the "Only thing we love as much as we hate Phoenix is Phoenix." What's the love-hate relationship there?
All I can say is that if any Phoenician has an uncomplicated love for his/her hometown, this person has an interior life that I could never fathom. Also, I'll be trying to answer this question for the rest my life, so odds are this go around will be unsatisfying, but here are some random thoughts about the whole thing: Abstractly speaking, desert is the very landscape of love/hate, hot/cold, bloated/dehydrated. I mean, you find a river here and you have no choice but to drink yourself to bursting and then you curse water, your thirst, the river, and yourself. Despite our designs and the mirage we've made by stealing water, I think we all absorb the desert anyway. Its range, I mean. Unless you live on Roosevelt or in parts of Tempe, for example, this city shuts down at night. And even the way we consume art contains the desert. We feast on it a little rabidly because we're all a bit starved. I think anyone who's made music here for more than a couple of years can identify with this: People (audiences and musicians alike) get very excited about what's going on, maybe too excited, and then they can't sustain it. We scale high, then sink low.
How does that attitude affect your songwriting, if it does?
I think our music has a lot of range. It moves between extremes of loud and quiet in a sort of manic way. It resembles love/hate and hot/cold. It's from the desert.
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Wooden Indian performs each Friday in April at Long Wong's in Tempe. This week they are joined by Former Friends of Young Americans, Nicholas Villa, and Colorstore.