From the Football Field to the Recording Studio: A Conversation with Jesse Woods

By Minimal Beat
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Minimal Beat contributor and musician Tom Schraeder recently spoke with friend and Dream Twang artist Jesse Woods about his amazing new album Autoflower . A lot of ground was covered so without further adieu… we present… From the Football Field to the Recording Studio: A Conversation with Jesse Woods.

TMB: “I’d rather be miserable with you, than happy with anyone else, I’d rather be miserable with you, than just about anything else” is an incredible chorus. Just one of great lyrics on your latest album, “Autoflower.” Lyrically, I’ve always appreciated your honesty, personification, and double meanings; do you write your lyrics/music at the same time, or a separate lyrics writing session? Describe your songwriting process, if you have one.

JW: Thanks Tom, good to hear from you!  I wouldn’t say I have a process, but there does seem to be patterns when it’s really flowing.  I’ve always written the lyrics while playing.  Never really been able to do one before the other, but I still try.

TMB: Have there ever been any points where you’ve almost given up on music? If so, what brought you back?

JW: No, my other options are limited.

TMB: What I found inspiring from when we worked together on a few tracks. You were proficient with playing drums, bass, guitar, electric, organ, but also irregularly tuning violins, cellos, and playing the part. In retrospect you garnered this Beckish spirit, of performing the parts, as well as exploring songwriting. Was Autoflower tracked in a similar way or was it a more collaborative effort?

JW: I tracked most everything on “Autoflower” besides drums and bass.  I would say I’m the opposite of proficient on those… I really love the feeling of coming up with a part that’s just a little outside of my playing ability. I could probably find someone to play the parts perfectly, but I dig the imperfections.

TMB: It seems as though you’ve garnered great success over the years; however, usually the artists are the last to see their success, stuck somewhere in limbo of where we were, where we’re headed. Have you had any moments where you recognized your own success, while it was happening. What was it? And what would you consider success? Money, larger venues, more capital for recording albums?

JW: Success is a funny word.  

TMB: As an artist myself, I find great comfort in diving into different facets of art, dipping in and out of music, film, painting, writing, etc. How do you occupy your time outside of music and in what ways do you feel it transcends to bettering your music.

JW:  I’m kind of obsessed with gardening.  It’s really the only zen practice that works for me.

TMB: Art and Athletics (Texas A&M Football) are most times considered different minds. However, you’ve experienced high accolades in both industries. What correlations have you found between the vastly different worlds, as athlete and musician?

JW: Nothing beats hard work.

TMB: Years ago, I recall us talking about you having an epiphany, a nearly-prophetic-moment with feeling the spirit of Townes Van Zandt. Can you expound upon that moment and has this channeling continued?

JW: Wow, I wish I remember this moment!  Please tell me about it!

TMB: I believe it went something like this but it was over a decade ago; I vaguely remember you mentioning driving in the mountains (Colorado, I believe) and while listening to Townes Van Sant you had an epiphany where you found inspiration enough to pursuit life as a songwriter… If I remember correctly or I completely mixed up a couple solid Austin binges and conversations… haha

TMB: Moving along… Through the years, your tones have progressed, your lyrics have even more depth, seriously in many ways you’ve evolved. Yet through the evolution, I love that the movement of your songs have remained the similar across the board. After collaborating with you, I learned from you The importance of capturing your energy/the moment, rather than obsessing with the precision of the performance. Is this the so called “movement” that Inspoke of? Would you say you’d prefer to sacrifice the perfect take, for a more authentic take?

JW: Yeah, I don’t think I believe in the perfect take.  If I heard it, I’d probably rerecord it.

TMB: Back in a Austin, you picked me up on the side of the freeway, walking from the airport. I jumped in the back if your truck, we went and partied until dawn. In fact, I wasn’t allowed on the plane until I sobered up. After a few hours of drinking games – I looked up ina drunken stare, and you were standing at the edge of the 3 story-roof, wearing a sombrero, and performing a song, which appeared as though you were singing to the moon and no one else…It was beautiful to witness and I see that image, every time I listen to your music. I see you playing for yourself, the present moment, vibing off your surroundings. Does remaining this present with your craft – require your constant quest to move and explore?

JW: These are toughies, Tom.  I do love the solo aspect of music, but I’ve learned the community’s where it’s at.

TMB: To studio-nerd-out, what did you use to track “Autoflower?” There’s a warmth and cohesion to it – did you track to tape? Home recording? Are you still tracking demos at home on your own?

JW: Ha, all tracked in protools, then stem bounces to tape.

TMB: Many musicians today skip out of the idea of album for the release of “singles.” Both are great ways to release, however, as a songwriter, I appreciate when artist captures a world in each of their records that embodies their current situation. Do you see an importance to creating a cohesive album each time as well? Or is it a happy accident? Your records seem as though, they’re each an audible journal for your life. Is this the case or are you leaning towards just releasing more “singles” and abandoning the album concept as well?

JW: Nah, I like singles too.  I guess it just feels better to unload a group of songs all together…

TMB: Lastly, Chicago has a strong songwriting scene, maybe one of the strongest, or I’m just biased. Either way, for many years I’ve felt strongly that you’d do particularly well apart in this scene. Any thoughts on a Chicago extended stay and record?

JW: Absolutely. I’ve never been to Wrigley

Autoflower is out now in Digital + Cassette format via Bandcamp

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