Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood Talks About Dropping His Truth at Red Rocks

The Wood Brothers are hardly a secret in the folk/blues/Americana community, yet they have not headlined Red Rocks. However, this fact will only remain true until tomorrow, when they step into the spotlight at our favorite venue. They’ll be supported by two other dearly beloved bands, the grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers and Portland’s Fruition.

Before we all get our bluegrass on at this heavily stacked evening, we were able to chat with Oliver Wood, the lead vocal crooner of the Wood Brothers, about their recent album (One Drop of Truth), their upcoming live release (Live at the Fillmore), how their creative process has evolved and who he thinks would win in a scrap between his opening acts.

303 Magazine: You are from Colorado, what is it like for you when you return to perform?

Oliver Wood: We weren’t born in Colorado, but we spent formative years there. When I was about ten years old we moved to Boulder. It is super fun and we love playing Colorado in general, but Red Rocks is especially cool. It’s amazing. When I was a teenage that’s where I saw my first rock concerts.  I saw amazing shows there not realizing how good we had it.

303: Do you have a golden memory of Red Rocks?

OW: I saw Tom Petty, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Talking Heads. I think the first one was George Thorogood, but that was trumped later by the Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense Tour,” that amazing tour where they made a movie about it. I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan where the opening acts were Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, that one stands out as amazing. Tom Petty, of course. They were all memorable. 

 303: Your fans are very eager to see you headline Red Rocks. What are you most looking forward to?

OW: You know, we have played there many times over the years as a support act so we know it well as performers. The feeling of headlining is an honor, but a little daunting. The biggest places we usually play are 2,500-3,000 people. But, when we come to Denver we usually play a night in Denver and a night in Boulder and it usually sells out, so we usually do well in that area. I think it will be fun either way, and I’m excited. The other bands that are playing with us are great.

 303: Have you performed with Fruition or the Steep Canyon Rangers before?

OW: We have played with Steep Canyon before, but I do not think we have played with Fruition before. I think we have shared a bill at a festival but we have not played with them. We have played and hung out with Steep Canyon over the years. 

 303: Who do you think would fare better in the wild, in a Survivor type of situation, Fruition or the Steep Canyon Rangers?

OW: I don’t want to go too far into that, but I know the Steep Canyon guys are from the Mountains of North Carolina, so I’m sure they’re pretty outdoorsy and handy. Fruition I don’t know too well but they seem like hearty folks. 

303: Last year you released One Drop of Truth, and you have called it “the freest album” you have ever done, and the most “purely” Wood Brothers. How do you think the experience of creating that is going to influence future projects?

OW: Well, I will say it already has. We have already made another record, even more, the same way. To qualify the earlier comment, it was our freest album because we made it very independently and produced it ourselves. We went to smaller, less fancy studios and we mixed up the production ourselves and we made it over a space of time, rather than compiling a bunch of songs. We recorded the songs as we wrote them. Then we went on tour in between, and we came back to listen. We gained perspective by getting away from it. 

It was so much fun and it was such a luxury to experiment and not watch the clock. We decided that we are going to do that from now on. Each song gets plenty of attention. Whereas, when you’re recording a song every day in the studio, you feel like this one has to be done, we don’t have time for it. But, we never ran out of time for any song on this record. 

Our finishing touches are going on a new record that is going to be coming out next year. We made it in the same fashion, although this time we have our own studio. All the musical gear is there like it is our clubhouse or headquarters. We go there any time we want and experiment and do weird stuff and it has been a dream come true for a musician. So, this is even more Wood Brothers. We joke that we say that on every album. 

303: How do you keep your projects diverse? Is that a conscious goal?

OW: I think it is purposeful. That was another thing we learned by using different engineers and studios. We came up with a more sonically diverse record, as opposed to the more homogenous record that you get set up and you work on the whole record in one sitting. We can go all over the place creatively but it still sounds like The Wood Brothers because it’s still us. 

303: Is there anything else that you would like to touch on before your performance in September?

OW: Well, we have our live at the Fillmore in San Fransisco album coming out the day after the Red Rocks show. We also have our new album that we’re very excited about coming out next year and we will start sharing tracks from that in the fall. 

This interview has been condensed and edited. You can buy tickets to the Red Rocks show here and listen to the Wood Brothers here