He’s just an ordinary guy. We know that because he’s forever telling us he’s just an ordinary guy in that likable, down-to-earth, “fancy a drink, pal?” sort of way.
But how many ordinary guys do YOU know who amble nonchalantly on stage looking as if they’re about to pick a fight with a karaoke machine and then sing with a sublime power that charms and chills in equal measure? How many ordinary guys do YOU know who write a whole catalogue of songs with such emotional depth that they sound like classics the instant you hear them?
He’s a Midlands lad called James Maddock from the English city of Leicester, famous for… well, Leicester’s not famous for anything at all really. But for years, he’s had this unfeasible dream of making wonderful music under the name of Wood and, hey, dreams come true… “We used to be called ‘The Gift Of Love,’” he remembers, “and we were talking one night about music and I said, ‘On all the records I really love — like Dylan and The Band — you can picture the room they’re playing in and you can hear the wood.’ And it suddenly hit me. WOOD! That was the name I wanted for my band.”
James picked up his first instrument — the ukulele that his granddad used to play in wartime bands — at the age of eight. His dad, an optician, filled the house with jazz and if you venture into Leicester on a wet weekend you might still find Mr. Maddock playing in a jazz band in some remote corner.
“By the time I was 14, I started thinking seriously about being able to play the guitar,” James recalls, “and I was pretty good at it. I had this great guitar teacher and at the end of a lesson he’d say, ‘You should check out this record by Neil Young… ’ I worked on a market stall on a Saturday and I’d go in, get my wages, and then go and buy a Neil Young record. And the next week he’d say, ‘have you heard Ry Cooder…?,’ and it went on from week to week… The Eagles, Jackson Browne… and all the West Coast stuff…”
“Then I found Born To Run at a friend’s house and it completely blew me away,” he continues. “I was a big Bruce fan, still am. The Band’s second album was a seminal influence on me too. Bob Dylan is a big hero for me.”
James Maddock moved to London when he was 20 and served his apprenticeship in covers bands working the …ahem… boisterous London Irish pub circuit. He played in the Arsenal Tavern, North London, every weekend for several years, an achievement that surely merits some sort of long service gold medal award. It was hard, the audiences took no prisoners and you could play there for a hundred years without being discovered, but James wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And besides, from this unglamorous environment of beer, tobacco and loud covers of old standards and the hits of the day, the first splinters of Wood began to emerge about three years ago. “I took over as singer and started doing my favorite songs — Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bob Marley stuff — but all the time I was also writing my own songs.”
They even recorded some demos of his material (at Abbey Road Studios, no less, where they fantasized about being rich and famous as they arrived to be gawked at and have their pictures taken by Japanese tourists) and waited for unspeakably lavish offers to flood in. Strangely enough, they didn’t. But James somehow knew his music’s spiritual home was America. “Two of the albums I most identify with are Late For The Sky (Jackson Browne) and Harvest (Neil Young). I love songwriters and I try to combine melodies and story. I’ve always liked my music to be quite gentle, with an acoustic, friendly feel…”
At a time when nothing got signed in the UK unless it came with nasal voices and loud twanging guitars and could be marketed as “Brit pop,” James suddenly found himself flown to New York where a chance play of the demo sufficiently impressed Columbia Record executives to offer him a record deal. Classic songs. Beautiful melodies. Great lyrics. Choruses just made for dancing on the ceiling. A voice to sell your grandmother for. Where had this boy BEEN all their lives?!
“They got me to fly out there and do a gig in their offices!,” James exclaims. “It was pretty scary! You spend all your life trying to get to this point and suddenly you’re standing there with your guitar and it’s all hanging on what you do in 20 minutes in that office.”
The boy obviously done good. His old Leicester schoolchum, Bill Newsinger (guitar), and the other two Wood mainstays, Jim O’Malley (bass) and Steve Jackson (drums), found themselves finally summoned to Tongue & Groove Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to record, with producer Dave “Stiff” Johnson, the album they’d begun to despair would ever get made. “It really is a dream come true!,” James admits. “When you’ve spent so long scrubbing around trying to get £50 together for rehearsals you think it will never happen. But when it does happen it’s a huge responsibility. I’m learning a lot about myself through this.”
The first Wood album, Songs From Stamford Hill, is not only full of unfeasibly memorable melodies and immaculately crafted songs, it has some telling lyrics. “I’d written hundreds of songs before,” James estimates, “but when we called the band ‘Wood,’ everything seemed to fall into place.” The album’s title was inspired by the area of London where James was living at the time most of the songs on the record were written.
You may already know the opening track, “Stay You,” which is featured on the best-selling Top 10 album Songs From Dawson’s Creek (Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax). “Never Ending,” the album’s closing song, is another key track, a particularly poignant, nostalgic autobiographical song about growing up in Leicester and losing touch with schoolfriends. All of James’ years of frustration are reflected in the lyric of “Knock It On The Head,” in which he promises to allow himself just one last crack at this music nonsense before giving it all up to get a proper job. Then again, you don’t have to spend long in his company to know he could NEVER give it up!
James has a rare way with a sentimental love song, as well. “I really love ‘Our Time Has Come’, it’s so SOPPY!” he laughs. “There’s only about three chords in it too, but there’s a symmetry as well.” And then there’s ‘You Make Me Feel Bad.’ “Oh, that’s about a girlfriend who made me decorate the apartment about four times,” he admits. “I’d do it and she’d turn round and say, ‘Oh I don’t like that color!.’” All human life is here.
Wood. Crazy name. Perhaps. Ordinary guy. We think not!
(2)Wood is rapper from Houston, Tx.
He is member of S.U.C. ( Screwed Up Click) & Half Dead Organization.
(3)Wood is also an instrumental band from Wheaton, IL. They are, what you call, like-minded forward thinkers. http://www.myspace.com/ourbandwood
(4)Wood is also a project by Wouter ‘Wood’ Loderichs, operating from Apeldoorn, The Netherlands . On his debut he mixes hiphop, funk, rock, blues and a tinge of industrial. More info can be found at his MySpace page.
(5) Wood is also a young Norwegian pop comet, also known as Elsa Marie Skjong. http://soundcloud.com/woodnorway/wood-honey-youre-a-dog
Edited by Barbajagal on 11 Jun 2012, 19:09
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- Founded in
- Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
- Band Members
- Wouter 'Wood' Loderichs
- Official Website
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