By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – If Woodhawk was the boy next door, they’d be that denim-clad rogue who revved his motorbike in the driveway on Sunday mornings and dumped you on the eve of your Junior Prom. Or, at least that’s how you’d imagine the events leading up to bassist Mike Badmington and guitarist Turner Midzain’s first time on stage together in Grade 9. Fast-forward to Halloween of 2014 and they’re showing off a tight-but-curvy six-track debut album with a title to match their band’s smokin’ new moniker, Woodhawk. Breaking hearts and throwing sparks, the freewheeling trio may have experimented with different percussionists, but it was the heavy ‘n’ steady Kevin Nelson (Nosis, Doberman) who rose above the throng.
“We kind of pretended that the part before Kevin never happened,” says Midzain. “There’s no bad blood, or anything. I just think we didn’t figure out which direction we were going until Kevin joined the band. Honestly, since he started with us in September of 2015 we’ve got more momentum and found what we wanted to do.”
So… it was you and not them after all. Not surprising really, given Midzain and Badmington’s playful approach to laying down stony causeways and volleying big, bold riffs back and forth between them, it was only a matter of time before someone snapped them up.
“Kevin had been to a bunch of our shows and knocked at our door asking to join the band after hearing about us through the grapevine at our mutual barbershop,” recalls a well coiffed Badmington.
“He came in, and had a bit of catching up to learn some of the previous stuff, but we pretty much started writing right away. And the rest is… Woodhawk!”
Anchored by Nelson’s technical prowess and capacity for effortlessly shifting from ‘70s grooves to punked-up blues, the collaborative three-piece has already been trying out material from their upcoming full-length album, Beyond the Sun, in live performance. Staying close to the realms of fantasy and science fiction, the much-anticipated album appropriately features the cosmic designs of artist Mark Kowalchuk.
“This album represents a year’s worth of our writing and pushes into a more evolved sound,” articulates Badmington. “I think it was more about trying to avoid restricting ourselves and seeing what we could do.”
Trusting their instincts, Woodhawk travelled to Vancouver to recording their forthcoming LP with producer Jesse Gander, who graciously received the band at his Rain City Recorders facility.
“The quality that he can produce instantly was amazing! I’ve never seen someone work a studio so quickly,” Midzain recalls. “So, it was exciting from day one, because we knew it was going to be a big sounding album. Every day we woke up ready to record and we actually ended up finishing a couple of days ahead of time.”
By his account, one good thing about having time to burn was that it gave Woodhawk the opportunity to explore the hospitality of the abundant breweries that surrounded Gander’s studio. The other benefit was that it freed the energetic threesome up to accept the gig of a lifetime. So far.
“Jesse stopped me mid-take while we were recording and said ‘Hold on, you’ve got to check your phone. They’re calling you to open for Airbourne at The Commodore Ballroom tomorrow!’”
The memory is clearly sweet.
“Trying to focus after that was kind of hard; we tried not to shit our pants and managed to finished the recording.”
Woodhawk release Beyond the Sun in Edmonton on Friday, April 7th at the Sewing Machine Factory in Edmonton with Mothercraft and Iron Eyes. They perform at the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club on Saturday, April 8th in Calgary album release with Chron Goblin and Mothercraft.Beyond the Sun, Calgary, Chron Goblin, Edmonton, Iron Eyes, Mothercraft, Palomino, Sewing Machine Factory, Social Club, Woodhawk