Something like a whimsical pumpjack sat atop a reserve of the purest liquid indie rock, Ead Wood has consistently offered some of the most immaculate examples of the genre since the band formed in 2018. With each song, Ead Wood present a new portal into their fuzzy world, blending psych with surf and an inimitable sense of humour with a distinctive beating heart. This is perhaps best illustrated by how comfortably a song like ‘Skin’ sits with a song like ‘Cold-Hearted’. The former is a song literally about the strength and ubiquity of human skin while the latter is a touching and desperately self-critical exploration of the ‘true self’ – that however genial we might appear we can still believe or know our heart-of-hearts to be frigid and inhospitable. No stylistic tension exists between these two tracks in Ead Wood’s portfolio despite their somewhat varied lyrical content – they’re both just very Ead Wood.
Coming ashore in June is Ead Wood’s second four-track EP, Songs In The Quay Of Sea. Lead single ‘Environmental’ feels like classic Ead Wood and fits in snugly with the band’s output to this point as another slice of their proprietary guitar pop. Nonetheless, it’s a slice sprinkled with a touch of grit, as between surging guitar lines, frontman Ed Soles ponders the implications of our increasingly superheated climate and how we have basically no time left to sort it out. It is again testament to the band’s confidence in their sound that a song drenched in existential dread, and one that at one point lists every bit of indigestible human rubbish that a contemporary Jonah might see in the belly of a whale, is as catchy as it ends up being.
Yearning for the ocean and bearing definite and timely shanty influences, the nucleus of second single ‘Deep Blue’ (out now) is the dulcet tone of a reed organ. With shades of the synthier sound of debut EP Beige Hands, but speaking with and delighting in a folkier language of salt and spray, Deep Blue pines for the swell and a simpler coastal existence. It’s a real road-trip jam; the soundtrack to montages of young couples falling in love at the seaside, or of wizened and pickled sea-captains in cable-knit jumpers squinting from the deck of their rusty she-might-not-look-like-much-but-she’s-all-I-need fishing boats, or of buoys bobbing gently as the tide comes in and the sun goes down.
To get the scoop, I interrupted the band via Zoom mid-practice and had a quick chat, albeit one serenely accompanied by the throbbing bass bleed from an adjacent practice room.
How’s band practice going?
Ed: Factory offered some free sessions because bands have lost out because of COVID. So we took them up on that and now we’re in the massive live room, which is awesome.
Dave: It’s about ten times the size of our regular practice room. It’s cavernous.
Ed: It’s great. It feels like a gig actually.
So how’s this year been for you? It’s been a bit of an odd one.
Ed: Annoying, obviously. Right from the beginning we had recording sessions cancelled.
Pete: The tour was cancelled as well.
Ed: That was the first week. We had a European tour, like a little ten date thing that we were doing with Langkamer. Then we had recording sessions cancelled. But since then, we’ve kind of just swept that to one side and we’re just thought let’s just write.
Dave: We wrote an album.
Oh nice. Is that super top secret?
Ed: No, we haven’t started recording yet. But we’ve got 16 or so songs to choose from that we’re recording in May.
I actually saw when you cancelled the tour, and I thought it was the funniest cancellation post I’ve seen. It was the one-two punch of announcing a tour and then in the very same breath cancelling it that made me giggle.
Ed: We had an acronym for the tour as well that I can’t remember. It was a funny acronym.
Cool Original Rockers On New Adventures. I think that was it.
Ed: Well remembered.
I don’t know how I remembered that. That’s probably quite creepy. Moving on – the single’s out and there’s the rest of the EP in June. What was the recording process like for that? How did that all come together?
Ed: It started not last December, the December before. And then we had a session cancelled because the producer was ill. And then we had a session cancelled because of COVID. So it took like, a year to record…
Band in unison: …four songs.
Ed: Yeah. So it was so drawn out, which was very frustrating. But yeah, it’s finished. It’s ready.
I get the impression you’re looking forward to getting rid of it now.
Dave: I mean, it was a long time ago. It feels like we recorded years and years ago.
Ed: Especially with ‘Environmental’, because that was the oldest song so we’d already been gigging that for like, a year prior to recording it. That song is old news to us. I mean, the rest of the EP we’re less bored with because like two of the songs we’ve never even played live – ‘Old Lady Blue’ and ‘Deep Blue’. We’ve never played them live, so they’re still quite exciting. So more just ‘Environmental’. I think our sound has probably changed a bit since then as well. Or at least we’ve honed in more cohesive sound I would say.
Pete: Yeah, I think so.
I’m very much enjoying hearing all the other bands playing in Factory at the moment. They’re coming through as just a sort of a low fart. Can you talk me through some of the inspirations behind the new EP?
Ed: The whole EP is written about the coast, hence the name – Songs In The Quay of Sea. So all the songs are about the sea. There’s a few love ballads towards the sea, which I wrote in Cornwall, and another one that I wrote in the lockdown yearning to be by the sea. That’s ‘Deep Blue’, which was intended to be a bit of a modern take on a sea shanty, I guess. I found an old reed organ in my garage, which was my mom’s from when she was a kid that I didn’t even know we had. I brought that back to Bristol, and then made a little organ-y sea shanty with that.
I’d love to know more about your process, and for that I need to use an example – ‘Skin’ – which is one of my favourite songs of yours. Where did that song come from? I mean, it’s about skin, obviously, but what possessed you to write a song about that, other than just an appreciation of the largest organ in the body?
Ed: That was a weird one.
Pete: We ask him these questions as well.
Ed: I had a really random rash. It started on my head, and it took over my whole body. My whole body was covered in this huge rash, and it took like six or seven months to go fully at least. I’ve still got all the pigment bits over it. I was very self conscious of it at the beginning, and then after a while, I was just like, “nah, fuck, everyone’s got skin,” you know. It doesn’t really matter.
No, fair enough.
Ed: So just overcoming the anxieties of having a full body rash.
You mentioned that your sound has sort of changed and you’re moving towards more of a cohesive sound. Could you talk through that? Is that born out of playing together more or coming back together after not being able to play together for a while?
Ed: You were saying something about this the other day Dave – like when you joined the band it wasn’t really the style of the music that you’d played before?
Dave: Yeah, definitely. I think you for you as well Pete, both of us were used to just jamming with our friends and so coming into Ed’s band where he’d already written songs and had other people play them, I guess we were kind of like session musicians a little bit. But obviously, more recently, we’ve been writing stuff together, and it feels like it’s all come together somewhat. And also Chris joined the band.
Chris: They had different bass players for a long time.
Ed: Yeah, we’ve had three.
Chris: I think it helped having just a single bass player for the EP.
What do you keep doing to your bass players?
Ed: They just couldn’t hack it. Too many rashes. I think we’ve also been bringing together all our different influences. The first EP was recorded in London with my friends from the band Margot, and then I formed the band afterwards with these guys. So they were essentially just playing other people’s parts at the beginning. But now it’s evolved to be written together. So that the sound has changed as this development happened, I guess.
I imagine you’re bringing sorts of different influences on your different parts. What would you say is the first influence that runs through your songwriting?
Ed: I guess musically – I’m sure every band in Bristol says this, but Pavement. Also Wilco and My Morning Jacket – just basically that American 90s indie sound for the music side of it. Lyrically, I think it’s just my humour. I like being silly and light hearted and I just follow my humour. I’m trying not to be too serious. It’s a lot of hard work to not enjoy it, so I don’t get it when bands don’t seem to be enjoying it and they just take it seriously, and it’s all pretentious. So we just try to have fun.
So you aim to avoid that tableau band shot of you all looking a bit serious and quite unhappy in a deserted post-industrial landscape.
Ed: Yeah, exactly. Which is basically just outside of here.
Just quickly for my own records – Songs In The Quay Of Sea, are they all actually in the key of C?
Ed: No, they’re all in the quay of sea. I don’t think any of them are in the key of C. Are they?
Pete: No they’re not.
That’s quite disappointing.
Ed: It’s just too good a name to pass on really. We could do a remix album where they’re all just like pitched up.
I’ll look forward to that. But what would you call that – Songs In The Key Of C Except For Real This Time?
Ed: Songs Actually In The Key Of C.
What have you got planned for post-lockdown?
Ed: We’ve got a release show at the Lanes, and that’s kind of it at the moment. We were just focusing on writing and not committing ourselves to stuff which would slow down our writing process. I think our main aim is to, by the time the EP is out, have an album recorded.
Pete: It’s all booked in.
Ed: So all going to plan by the time the EP is out the album will be recorded, hopefully. That was our main goal post lockdown. I guess after that we’ll look at getting back into gigging again.
Words: Ed Hambly // Photos: Lydia Cashmore
‘Songs in the Quay of Sea’ is out September 6th. Pre-order the album and listen to singles ‘Environmental’ and ‘Deep Blue’ now via Bandcamp.