Friday, June 16, 2017

Interview: Matt Chrystal Talks to Will Wood of Will Wood and The Tapeworms Who Play The Makin Waves Rock Circus on Friday, 6/16

Photo courtesy of Will Wood.

Will Wood: The CoolDadMusic Interview

by Matt Chrystal

If you aren't already familiar with Will Wood and the Tapeworms, then I suggest you go do a quick Google search. Go ahead. We will be here when you get back.

Ok, welcome back.

So, what do we know about Will Wood?

We know that Will Wood as a musician is an uber-talented pianist, poet, performance artist, and band leader of Will Wood and The Tapeworms (WWATT).

We know that Will Wood as an entertainer can be often be enigmatic, erratic, and energetic.

We know that the world of Will Wood is filled with facepaint, confetti, gender-bending, genre-defying, over-the-top antics, big sounds, and infectious grooves.

And if you have checked out any previous interviews with him, you know that Will Wood can keep things interesting to say the least. Sometimes he's ridiculous and sometimes he's difficult. And, whether that is a part of his performance or that is the real Will Wood, I do not think we know.

I must have I caught Will Wood on a good day, or maybe I just caught him at the right time.

So, did I answer the age old question, "Who is the real Will Wood?"

No. I did not.

But, I did have a nice little chat with Mr. Wood about his upcoming Live Recording Event of The Real WWATT and his thoughts about playing this Friday's Makin Waves Rock Circus, his new music video, his reflections on getting to perform with his musical influences, the psychedelic experience that surrounds WWATT, his hatred for writing, and even a little politics.

CoolMattyC: You recently put out a video for "Hand Me My Shovel, I'm Going In."  The video seems to accurately capture your vigor, the party-like vibe and weirdness of a Will Wood and the Tapeworms (WWATT) performance. What was the experience like for you to make that video?

Will Wood: The "Hand Me My Shovel" video was a disease-ridden explosion of a process. Confetti and smoke burning in my trachea, bright lights in my eyes, shattered glass and wilting balloons littering the floor -- a noxious, toxic, obnoxious environment that only the brightest, boldest, and most bombastic visions can come from. You know how they say suffer for your art? That can include sweating and choking with glitter in your eyes for a music video.

My performances with the Tapeworms can be just as dangerous and twice as explosive. We've had members hang from pipes on the ceiling, crowd surf, ride audience members' shoulders, and destroy instruments countless times. This kind of chaos is the WWATT baseline.

CMC: In addition to the spirited playing of WWATT, there's a lot going on and a lot of excitement packed into the fishbowl frame of the video (dancing mermaids and skeletons, an archer, a businessman enjoying a meal and a woman getting tattooed just to mention a few). The amazing aerial acrobatics of Vertical Fixation are very captivating… 

WW: Vertical Fixation are a fascinating troupe of tangled limbs locked into a tango with a dying art form. The circus is undead with shows like this. Sequins and chromatic scales are the name of the game, amigo. Vertical Fixation will also be joining WWATT on August 11th at Roxy & Dukes to perform specially choreographed routines set to my songs. Oh yeah, a real show. I'm thinkin' Tony.

CMC: Vertical Fixation will be performing alongside WWATT and several other up-and-coming NJ acts as part of this Friday's Makin Waves Rock Circus which also takes place at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen, NJ. You have been featured at a previous installment of the Makin Waves Rock Circus and I was wondering if you could tell us more about the event and how WWATT fit in with the festivities…

WW: People keep telling me I sound like a circus. If the shoe fits, then I won't try it on. If people say what I do belongs in a circus, hey as long as you're buying the peanuts and snow cones I don't care what I am. Just don't hurt the elephants. I guess that's why Makin Waves wants us at the rock circus shows, because they need a bear on a unicycle and I'm the closest they could find.

CMC: Legend has it that WWATT hit the scene out of nowhere in 2015… and in the relatively short time you have worked with some well-known artists and heavy hitters in the industry. Would you care to name drop a few of them?

WW: Yeah, I've been told it was around 2015. I won't argue with that; I think that time period makes sense. Two years? Working with members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Foxy Shazam, My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero's solo project, and Fueled by Ramen's The Front Bottoms filmmaker / Rolling Stone & Billboard photographer Mark Jaworski has been an honor.

CMC: Speaking of heavy- hitters… just this past weekend, you were able to take in some performances as spectator at Punk Rock Bowling in Asbury Park. What were some of the highlights for you?

WW: What are you, following me? Good friend and manager Tom Petta of NJ punk legends Bigwig invited Tapeworms guitarist Mike Bottiglieri and I to the show, all access clearance at the famous Stone Pony Summer Stage. Was a treat to watch the show from the stage itself, get a shoutout from Bigwig onstage, and have a surprising number of people at the show recognize me despite not knowing me. Real trip.

CMC: You have cited the band, Man Man as one of your influences and you recently played a show with Honus Honus of Man Man. Did playing with one of your inspirations live up to your expectations? What are your reflections on that gig?

WW: Honus Honus is a cool dude, real nice guy. Forgiving considering how many times I harassed him over social media with a head full of hallucinogens and a belly full of vermouth back in the day. It was a cool experience playing alongside in such a close setting with a musician I've been listening to as long as I have Honus. I had a similar feeling when I played alongside Gogol Bordello at Starland Ballroom not long ago, although I didn't get a very good opportunity to have a chat with Eugene, as he was mostly naked and just trying to change at the moment I met him. Closed the door right on my face.

CMC: I read a comment in an interview you did with MyCentralJersey where you stated that you did not know how you wrote when you were drunk and now that you are sober you are still not sure that you have a process or pattern to your songwriting. You went as far as to say you hated writing. Yet, you have a pretty prolific writing career as a musician and poet… does that make you a masochist?

WW: Well let me ask you; would you ask someone with a different job if they were a masochist if they hated doing it? There's this weird notion in our culture where everyone assumes being a musician is something you do for fun. Sure, there's intrinsic motivation, but I got bills to pay. Hard work is hard work, pouring your guts and your soul into your hard work hardly makes it any more pleasurable.

CMC: Is it safe to say that your performance art is a release for you? And if so, what are you releasing?

WW: What, you mean like therapy? Nah, that's what therapy is for. If I got stuff I gotta release before getting on stage I can't enjoy my performance and neither can anyone else. Sure, yelling at a crowd of strangers and getting paid to do it can be cathartic, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I owe the world something better than myself. And because it's the only thing I'm good at. Oh, and money.

CMC: Much attention has been focused on the fact that you perform with facepaint, makeup, etc.  I am curious as to the symbolism of it… is it a mask? Does the third eye represent vision into the future? Is it a preshow ritual when preparing for a gig?

WW: If I tell you it stops working.

CMC: I have seen psychedelics referenced many a time when a WWATT performance is brought up. What are your thoughts on the use of psychedelics? And do they play a part in the WWATT experience or is that just part of the mythos around you?

WW: Drugs are dangerous and are not toys. I cannot in good conscience recommend them. In bad conscience I can say hallucinogens are beautiful tools of self-discovery and a powerful force for good. But in good conscience they're honestly not all that safe and you can absolutely fry your brain on acid. Trust me. The walls still breathe. Mythos though, what does that mean?

CMC: Let's talk about your band, The Tapeworms. From what I gather you have gone through a number of lineup and personnel changes before settling in with this current unit. Was it difficult to assemble a band that can keep up with your energy?

WW: There have been nearly three dozen different people wearing the name "The Tapeworms" since I first started playing with a band. It's not done though, so no settling has occurred, and the assembly has not finished. On August 11th at Roxy & Dukes for The Real WWATT, I will be playing with NINE Tapeworms, a TEN-PIECE big band the likes of which you cannot see anywhere else or at any other time. And nobody will be keeping up with that energy. I will drain you all.

CMC: Your August 11th show on at Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse is being filmed and recorded for a live album. That venue seems like a perfect backdrop for WWATT. What do you like about RnD? And Can you clue us into what that event will look like?

WW: Roxy & Dukes is the last of the great American Cabaret Theaters, a fiery pit in the heart of New Jersey that we'll be drenching in gasoline on August 11th. There will be a trapeze quartet spinning around the house, a massive ten-piece big band, gypsy punks Bella's Bartok, firewater out of a nozzle, giant floating eyeballs, a laser light show and the fullest house you've seen in ages. VIP Packages have already sold out, tickets are flying out the door, and I think you can expect to see some action you can't see anywhere else. I'm not fucking around here. I'm changing the game. Tickets are on sale NOW at!

Also… people keep telling me there's a DVD, I never said DVD. There will be a film though. It will not be what you expect it to be. It will be much, much, worse.

Photo: Jake Feldman

CMC: I watched a video where you were involved in a "slam poetry" session where you were given the topic of "Trump" and replied only with the repetition of the word, "America." I was wondering if you would like to expand on that or share your thoughts on the current political climate in today's America and your hopes for the future.

WW: I have nothing but deep reverence and respect for Dear Leader and have no reason to fear the gulag. MAGA, centipedes, 6 Dimensional Chess. Pepe Milo Yianoppolous Spicey Spencer John Oliver Fake News Putin Comey Flynn Pizzagate Bernie Sanders Hindsight is 2020.

CMC: In closing can you answer the questions: WHO IS THE REAL WILL WOOD? 

WW: No.

CMC: I figured you may want to leave that question unanswered at least until the 8/11 Roxy & Dukes show. So, I was wondering if you have at least rendered a decision on a question you posed in your song "Love Me Normally," as to whether it is considered "courageous or is it escapist to leave quarantine when you're contagious?"

WW: Also no. August 11th will not be providing answers to any questions you knew you had.
See you at the show!

Will Wood & the Tapeworms will be performing as part of the Makin Waves Rock Circus which takes places This Friday June 16th at Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen, NJ.

Will Wood will return to Roxy & Dukes on August 11th for The Real WWATT Live Album/Concert Film Recording Event.

Tickets can be purchased at the SHOP at

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