Edinburgh pop punks Woes’ name may be something of a misnomer. The quartet’s rise has been steady and unrelenting since forming in 2016 from the ashes of several other bands. Ahead of their Highland bow on Friday night at the Tooth and Claw, bringing new EP Self Help with its Drake-inspired single HLB2 with them, we caught up with frontman DJ to get the Woe-down on the band...
You were playing Download just a few weekends – how did Donington Park treat you all? Did you raise a proper amount of hell?
Yeah, Download was incredible! None of us had actually ever been before, so I suppose you could say we had quite low expectations going in. The tent was almost full by the end of our set, which was a great feeling. We opened the avalanche stage on the Friday, and we decided to stay for the whole weekend to party. Everyone was wasted from about 30 minutes after we finished playing until when we went home. We raised small amounts of hell, but it was great watching tons of awesome bands and catching up with some mates we hadn’t seen before.
Have you played the north of Scotland before? Looking forward to the Tooth and Claw show?
Not as Woes! We’ve played Aberdeen a couple of times in other bands, but we’ve never played Inverness before. We’re looking forward to it! My parents actually lived in Inverness when I was born, so I spent my first couple months there before they moved back to Fife. It’s always great playing places that don’t get bands too often – when you play the big cities, people are used to going to gigs once or twice a week, and the shows often have the same feel to them. When you play the less-visited parts of the world, you find that shows can be quite unpredictable. Which keeps it interesting for us.
I’d love a bit of history about Woes – how did the band form? What brought you all together? What influences your music?
We have all been playing in various bands together for years now – none of which had really went anywhere. We had the name Woes for a couple years before we actually started the band, and at our lowest moments in old bands we would kind of joke that we should just quit and start Woes. In 2016, we started getting really into songwriting and as a result came up with 4 or 5 songs that we were really, really proud of. Our band at the time was kind of dying and we just decided that we were going to do it. Those songs became our first EP and the rest is history! As for influences, everyone in the band would give you a different answer. But generally speaking we just want to sound different, if there’s an opportunity to do something no-one else is doing, we’ll take it.
How would you describe yourselves, your music and your live shows to new audiences? What can Inverness expect when you guys arrive?
So if you’ve never heard us and you’ve read this far –firstly, thanks. We’re a pop punk band from Edinburgh, we sound kind of like Blink 182 if they could actually play their instruments and sing. If you come to our show, we’re a band that takes a lot of pride in playing well and being tight sonically. But we also like to put on a show.
You’ve got a new EP out – Self Help. How are you feeling now it’s out to the world? How have people been responding to it?
Yeah, it’s been awesome. The release was delayed by about six months due to us changing labels during the recording process. So we’re just really happy to have it out there. It’s been a great feeling to see people reacting to these songs, some of them had been with me for 18 months by the time they were released. So I had almost kind of forgotten why I liked them in the first place. But playing them live, and having people sing a lot has been amazing and it’s made me really inspired to get more new music out.
I love HLB2 – anything that pays a bit of homage to an outright banger like Hotline Bling while also being a total punk rammy is always a good ‘un as far as I’m concerned! How did the song come together for you all?
I demoed a really early version of the song around January 2017 and I was super, super excited about it. So as I was saving the session on my computer, I wanted to give it a filename that would get the lads hyped. Hotline Bling was the biggest song ever at that point, so jokingly, I called the file Hotline Bling 2.mp3 and the name just kind of stuck. The rest of the band liked it, our manager liked it, the label liked it, but the lawyers just gave us a hard no. So HLB 2 was the compromise, but it’ll always be Hotline Bling 2 to us. As for the song itself, we’re really into using sounds that are unique or distinctive. We had the bridge and the chorus written, but couldn’t think of an intro, so we transposed the chords for the bridge onto keyboard to try and get some inspiration, but the piano sound that came out was so amaxing that we decided to build the whole song around that!
So you’ve toured with some great folk over the years, and you must have played some great venues big and small over the years – what’s been your best gig? And what’s been your...weirdest?
Best – hard to say. Brixton Academy was a highlight, Slam Dunk Festival was great too. Personally the Apollo in Manchester was my highlight, it was sold out AND it was my birthday. Great day
Weirdest – We’ve been quite lucky in that we started our band and started getting ‘proper’ shows almost straight away. Although we did play to three people in Nottingham the first time we played in England. Which is good, it’s important to play at least one of those, so you can at least tell people you started at the bottom. It’s good punk rock credibility.
What’s been the best bit of advice you’ve been given as a band? What’s been the worst?
The best bit of advice we’ve been given is just to always trust your instincts, you know your band, or your fans or whatever else better than everyone else. As your band gets bigger, you’ll have more and more people involved giving you opinions and that’s great, it can be genuinely helpful. But at the end of the day, you know best. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. I genuinely can’t think of any super bad advice we’ve been given.
So you’ve got this new EP out last month, this tour of Scotland – what’s next for Woes?
We’re currently in the middle of writing our debut album. It’s been on hold for a month or two due to being absolutely swamped during festival season. But looking forward to getting that finished off and getting some new music out there. Then in October we’re touring the UK and Europe with State Champs, Seaway and Stand Atlantic.