INTERVIEW: Will Wood & The Tapeworms

1. Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Well to be perfectly honest Rafa, I’ve seen better days. I woke up this morning with unfamiliar scabs in a few places and an overwhelming desire to stay in bed, and now it’s the middle of the night and I’m drinking black coffee and desperately trying not to switch to whiskey but every minute that passes I come closer to losing that battle and allowing myself to sink into the lifestyle that beckons me with a skeleton hand at the edge of every sunset. The black-eyed soft-spoken maelstrom of hedonistic self-indulgence and self-destruction, the inevitable future wherein I succumb to every will of my id and lower myself into an early grave like a fat man into a hot tub. The void calls my name like a drunken Irish lullaby. So, you know, hanging in there. TGIF, huh?

2. Can you talk to us more about your latest single & “Mr. Capgras Encounters a Secondhand Vanity”?


3. Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

No, not at all. I don’t choose how I write songs, I can’t have an experience and just go “oh, I’d love to write a song about that.” The song happens by itself and is born on its own terms or it doesn’t happen at all. On the rare occasion I’ve been able to yank a song out of myself like an ingrown hair it’s come out ugly and fragmented and suffering from whatever made Tommy Wiseau’s face the way it is. This song curdled in my belly and grew arms and legs until it had enough energy to hoist itself out of my esophagus and hang itself from my jaw, hollering like a klansman on mephedrone.

4. How was the film experience?

The filming experience was either an ego death or an ego trip and the fact that I can’t quite distinguish the two probably means I’ll be stuck in psychedelic limbo for a thousand eternities. Richard Alpert would be embarrassed. Myself and four nude ex-lovers of mine soaked each other in body paint and confetti until we couldn’t see ourselves, and then we put the whole experience on film in the middle of a strange warehouse our friend Papa Reese Van Riper introduced us to. The incredibly talented Adam Nawrot was behind the jib and it was as if he was well-versed in shooting extremely average naked people. The band got naked, I got naked, the girls got naked. And then we dumped money on each other. What’s not to like? I felt like Miss Punk-Rock Star of Stage and Screen, like Hedwig & the Angry Inch meets Timothy Leary in the summer of ’69. A piece of me was born that night, high on painkillers and on the set of what might have been a porno had the cameras kept rolling.

5. The single comes off your new album Self-ish – what’s the story behind the title?

There’s a little piece inside the human head that seems to be very important. Maybe it’s in the fusiform gyrus, the amygdala, the hippocampus- I think different sources make different claims in regards to its location. I suppose it may even simply be a series of places that make up some network in the gray matter but no matter— there’s a piece that functions as a sort of glue, a foundation on which the behaviors, the affect, the personality of a person is built. The thing that makes people singular, cohesive, solid things. The thing that holds their pieces together and keeps them who they are. I do not have that thing.

6. What draw you to make a concept album and this theme in particular?

The whole concept album thing happened by accident. I was flipping through the catalog in my head of little homeless songs I had written since Everything is a Lot was released, and the ones that jumped out had some very specific things in common. The more I looked at them, the more patterns and connections I found. After kicking around together for a while they found a home together in a one-bedroom flat with yellowed windows that looked right onto the railroad tracks and would shake every time a train arrived or departed. They began to take on one another’s traits, they shared their flaws, their cycles synced and they really opened up to one another after a few oddball experiences experimenting with research chemicals they took at the gay bar on Court Street. The more I got to know them, the more they got to know me, and by the time I was in pre-production they had more in common with one another than I had with myself.

7. How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was fragmented and almost nonexistent. It was fits and starts made out of bad nights and worse days in too many different dorm buildings for one education. The recording process was even worse. I corralled the poor bastards I was calling the Tapeworms and shoved them into a stuffy room in Backroom Studios, and demanded they make magic happen. They did, somehow, but not before I made them ride my emotional rollercoaster and dance the mood swing in a windowless basement for three weeks while I smashed paintings in the parking lot, ripped open my blisters with my canines and yanked out my molars in the control booth. You try living in that sort of fish tank for a month and staying sane. To be surrounded with constant reflections of your own deepest fears and flaws— staring into the void while the void stares into you— while trying to make them sound like music? It’s like trying to get a good picture in a hall of mirrors. Try another angle. Try another angle. Try another angle.

8. What was it like to work with Kevin Antreassian and how did that relationship develop?

Jonathon Maisto, who plays bass in the Tapeworms, who recorded my first album and has been my friend for longer than I’ve been his, introduced me to Kevin after Everything is a Lot was released. Kevin had expressed interest in recording me, and so we began recording only a few months later. Working with him was a pleasure- his skill and creativity repeatedly impressed all of us, as did his hospitality and professionalism. Recording with Kevin included using a power drill to play a guitar, throwing chairs in a mic’d up room, and arranging the studio however our hearts desired to meet the “vibe” of any piece of music we were recording. We watched psychedelic visualizations on a giant TV, hung flowers everywhere, played in the dark, and did whatever we wanted to help ourselves get into the character of the music. Kevin gives each artist the freedom they need, and then some.

9. How much did he get to influence the album?

His experience as a guitarist and guitar technician for The Dillinger Escape Plan really shines in his work with our guitarist Mike Bottiglieri; who independently can create some killer sounds, but with Kevin by his side really blew the door off the hinges. It’s also present in little tricks and pranks the record plays on itself- small moments that have larger implications than the decision itself might seem to have at first glance. While the songs are still mine, and the performances are still very Will Wood and the Tapeworms, Kevin’s work absolutely gives this record its signature sound.

10. What aspects of human complexity did you get to explore on this record?

I can’t really answer this question without sounding like the biggest douche in the drum circle, or the guy in the front of your sophomore philosophy class who’s going to get a really good grade in participation at your expense. I explored me, and discovered nothing. Just give it a listen, it’s all in there, I promise.

11. Any plans to hit the road?

Nothing is set in stone at the moment, but it looks like we’re going to be making our first foray into small tours pretty soon. It’s about time we got the hell of out Jersey.

12. What else is happening next in Will Wood & The Tapeworms world?

Always something, Rafa, always something. I’m writing new songs- they’re very different from anything I’ve put out so far. I’m putting together new art. But until the wound in my gut that this cretinous alien fuck of a record crawled out of heals, I’m staying inside and speaking to nobody. I have heart palpitations when the phone rings and I hyperventilate when the doorbell goes off. I squirm and fidget and desperately try to settle back down into the calm person I was before this ugly bastard of an album started bubbling up inside me. I go to therapy. I work retail. I stay sober. I quit smoking. I go for a jog now and again. I sleep in my basement. My girlfriend brought me a sunflower for the desk. It’s in an old wine bottle filled with tap water. It’s beautiful. Sunflowers are my favorite. It will wilt though, in the dark of my bedroom. That’s why I always use plastic flowers. They don’t die.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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