Art & Woodhouse is a five-piece folk-rock jam band from Toronto. Co-founded and led by Dan Sadler and Andy Delisi, the group blends acoustic guitars with drums, bass and keys for a full and all-encompassing sound.
Sadler and I e-chatted about coming to that specific sound, and what fans can expect next from the band.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): How did the band come together?
Dan Sadler (DS): Andy and I met in our first year at Queen’s University… at the time we were both really into Dave Matthews, which I think is what originally brought us together. We loved his intricate guitar riffs, the musicianship of his band, and the percussiveness that he played his acoustic with… he really laid into his guitar, and so did we. We started playing together a lot, jamming some tunes we were both into: DMB, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, good acoustic stuff. Andy had already been writing tunes for a while, so we worked on some originals… adding myself onto his tunes really made for some cool interplay between the guitars. We eventually got some gigs in Kingston, made a bit of money and had a ton of fun. It was too much fun not to keep playing after we graduated, so we moved in together in Toronto (Kensington Market) in 2013, and decided to form a band around us. At the moment we have keys/organs, drums, and bass backing our acoustic guitars and vocals.
RMM: What does Art & Woodhouse mean?
DS: Art is an old nickname of Andy’s… Young Art we sometimes call him. Woodhouse is a family name of mine… my Grandfather’s first name was Woodhouse. We thought it had a nice ring to it, and knew that we wanted to name the band a “duo” name, as the two of us were the driving force behind it. It’s better than Hundy and The Batchdarts at least, which was our second option (laughs).
RMM: How did you guys come to this sound? Were you in music previously?
DS: We’re both self-taught guitar players, which I think is somewhat unique. We don’t know much theory (just enough to get by), which allows the ear to take over and determine what really sounds good, as opposed to what “should” sound good, on paper. Our sound (at the moment) really stems from the organic “rootsiness” of our acoustic guitars, rounded out by keys or organs, and with a rhythm section. We both play pretty percussively, hitting it pretty hard. That definitely comes from the acoustic, riff-oriented tunes we played together when we started. Vocally, Andy always gets compared to Cat Stevens, although our newer stuff strays a little farther from that classic sound. I’m also singing now, and our new tunes are full of harmonies.
RMM: You recently released a handful of singles. Why go that route instead of releasing an EP or full-length?
DS: It just gives more content to release over a longer period of time. Keep people interested… don’t blow it all at once. Next stop is a full-length album though.
RMM: You have been playing a lot of shows lately. Do you prefer live shows to recording, and why?
DS: We’ve definitely had a really busy summer of playing. We love playing live… when it comes down to it, we’re a band best experienced live. We do a lot of improvising on stage, extended solo sections, etc. Our studio stuff doesn’t do complete justice to our live experience. I think in a lot of ways it’s easier to connect with the audience at a show than over a YouTube link… it’s easier for us to win over fans that way. And that’s what music is all about, connecting with the audience.
RMM: You also just finished recording. How did that go?
DS: It went well! We finished up a couple of months ago, all songs are mastered and ready to go. Still have a couple more singles from this batch of recordings to release, which we will likely do over the next two months.
RMM: What is your writing and recording process like?
DS: Andy is the main songwriter, he’s been doing it forever. I’m there to bounce ideas off of, give my input, and play the riff for an hour while he thinks (ha ha). Although he almost always performs on guitar, Andy often the uses the piano as a creative tool, a different way to hear the song that can lead to some cool melodies or chord changes that might not have been discovered on guitar.
The recording process of our most recent releases was interesting. We approached our producer (Ross Hayes Citrullo) with a number of tunes we thought could make the cut. With his help, we ended up re-working the tunes to hit harder, be more memorable, and be radio friendly. It was quite a process for us, as we’re used to extending our songs live. We really had to trim the fat and deliver the song in the most concise version of itself. It’s funny now listening to the way we used to play the same songs. A lot has changed in the past year.
RMM: Who are you guys listening to right now?
DS: A pretty interesting mix of old stuff and new stuff in a couple of different genres. We still listen to the classics all the time: Simon and Garfunkel, Beatles, George Harrison solo stuff, Cat Stevens, CSN(Y), Eagles, Billy Joel, etc. Personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Incubus, Phish, and 2Pac recently. Hip-hop really gets me going sometimes. Andy’s been into Sturgill Simpson, D’Angelo, The Beaches and My Morning Jacket. He also likes Coldplay… so get over it, Coldplay haters.
RMM: What’s next for Art & Woodhouse?
DS: In November, we are playing a residency… every Tuesday at Cherry Cola’s. This winter we will be writing our first-full length album, which is exciting. We’ll still be playing live, but really focusing on writing a complete, cohesive, conceptual album to be recorded midway through 2016.We also want to expand our sound to incorporate more electronic elements. I think the eclectic mix of old school rootsy sounds, acoustic guitars, with newer electronic, experimental sounds will be insanely cool. Assuming work on the album gets finished on time, next summer we’ll be on tour. Exciting stuff.
RMM: Any other comments?
DS: It’s an exciting time to be a musician in Toronto! Lot’s of amazing stuff going on, so much talent… thanks to anyone who supports local live music, you guys are the Art to my Woodhouse.
For more on Art & Woodhouse, visit artandwoodhouse.com.