Having only been together for two years, Haunt the Woods are getting consolidated as one of the best up-and-coming rock-folk bands of the year. Taking this unique psychedelic style they have collectively developed onto the stage is no easy task, but the Devon four-piece have successfully put together a widely acclaimed show and are now halfway through their biggest-to-date UK tour promoting their latest EP ‘The Line’, from which we reviewed its two singles, ’Beautiful Catastrophe’ and ‘Twisted’ earlier in the year.
We had the chance to talk to them before they travelled North for their Glasgow and Manchester gigs.
Hello guys, thanks for taking some time to do this interview. First of all, how are you today? Where in the world do we find you?
Hey, nice to speak to you! We’re currently still buzzing from our last gig at Carnglaze Cavern, and having some chill out time before the next run of gigs on this tour. Looking forward to hitting Newcastle, Glasgow and Manchester next, for the first time too!
You’ve already had your own headline gigs and have supported the likes of Sunset Suns and Dry The River, but for those who don’t know you yet, could you tell us who you are and how you started the band?
We loved playing with all of those guys, some of the best experiences gigging with people who make music we love, but we’re excited for more of that to come. Haunt the Woods are Jonathan Stafford (Vocals/Guitar), Phoenix Elleschild (Lead Guitar), Alex Skinner (Bass), and Olly Bignell (Drums), but first and foremost we’re just 4 friends from the southwest who enjoy making music together. We’re all pretty local to each other and have had an interest in music for a long time, so we naturally met each other, and after the first few jams we suddenly find ourselves here and there’s no going back!
How do you think you have musically developed in these last two years you’ve been together?
Massively! We started out really folky, with a Cajon and even a flute at one point, and transitioned over time very naturally to full drum kit, bass and piano making up the psych alt rock kind of thingy sound we have today (we’ve always struggled to label it). We like to think we’ve developed into something unique, hopefully different to a lot of stuff out there, but we imagine all bands like to think that about their music! Our writing process has definitely changed to a point were we collectively contribute to the sound. Jon will come up with the initial idea of a track, Phoenix will arrange and we all put a piece of ourselves into our parts.
Furthermore, do you think the 17th century church you have been living and rehearsing in has had an influence on your music?
Spending so much time together makes us really productive at the moment and we’ve been talking about setting up a studio to come up with some ideas for new songs, maybe even working on recording some new tunes, as it’s such an amazing sounding space. Living in the Southwest, we are lucky to have continual inspiration from the beautiful surroundings, so this inevitably has an impact on our music too.
Your debut EP is titled ‘The Line’ – can you tell us more about the concept behind it?
The concept behind The Line was basically made on life’s decisions, and the impact these have on your own life. The cover kind of puts this across visually, the line itself represents the choice someone is given, the tree is the positive outcome inspiring growth and progression in life, and the black semicircle is the negative outcome. Each song holds its own individual meaning separate from this, based on real life experiences.
Each track in the EP is a journey itself. How do these grandiose songs come about?
Thanks! We try to make each song its own entity, we don’t have any formula or structure, and we can’t seem to write short songs – believe me we have tried! All of the songs are written about personal experiences, so I guess any emotional turmoil or poignant event in life is quite a journey in itself, so they tend to reflect this.
You recently played a sold out show at Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall. What was the whole night like?
It was phenomenal, we’d all agree it was the best gig we’ve played! It was amazing to see 300 people spend their hard earned cash and make the journey from all corners of the UK to see us play in a cave! What a lovely group of followers we have, the buzz still hasn’t warn off and we’re already planning the next weird venue to play in, so watch this space!
Is there any particular behind-the-scenes moment you would like to share from the tour so far?
Yes! So this sounds crazy, but we are four Cornish hippies, born and bred, and we find ourselves in the middle of Camden town on a Friday night just about to play a gig at Spiritual Bar with our wonderful friends BURNZ. We were minding our own business and getting some food, when suddenly we saw a man surrounded by a group get punched in the face and fall to the floor, with blood pouring from his head, unconscious. So Olly runs over, pulling his jumper off like Tarzan and starts holding it against the man’s head to stem the bleeding and Jon calls an ambulance/the police. When the guy regained consciousness we found out his name was Solomon, a lovely guy, shocked to find these 4 hippies surrounding him and helping him – was quite a picture. Long story short the ambulance came and police took our details, but we haven’t heard from Solomon since! So if you read this mate, we hope you’re well!
You just released a live session of a new song, ‘Sculpture’, which hints at a future recording. Are we right to guess that this track might be the starter for a new EP? How do you think the second EP will be different from the first?
Yes, we definitely have something in the works at the moment but we’re not quite sure what kind of record it will form, whether it’ll be an EP or an album or something entirely different all together. We have a collection of loads of new songs that we are yet to even really start looking at, so after this tour we’re going to take a few months away from gigging (other than the festival circuit) to jam some new material and get new songs in the live show and recorded – starting at the church, ‘Sculpture’ being one of them. It’s a very exciting time for us with all of this new music on the go!
Now for some random questions:
– What’s a song you wish you had written?
Wow there would be too many to name! For now let’s go with any song on the Sound and Colour album by Alabama Shakes, we’re all digging that record at the moment!
– First CD you ever bought?
Cannot remember! Jon’s was probably some emo-rock CD from the 90s, we’ve all been there.
– What books are you reading at the moment?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
– If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Seeing glimpses of the future, but not having any power over what specific things in the future you get to see.
– Describe your dream gig.
The gig we did in Carnglaze Cavern the other night wouldn’t be far away! But I guess our next dream gig would be at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, we plan to play there soon hopefully! If we had a time machine? To support Pink Floyd, at any show, ever. That would have been incredible.
Haunt the Woods play Manchester’s Night & Day tonight, before continuing on the tour to London’s Sebright Arms (Monday 22nd May), culminating on Sunday 28th May at Exeter’s Poltimore Festival.