Categorizing the music of Will Wood & the Tapeworms can prove elusive. Wood and his band defy expectations by mixing genres – show tunes, cabaret, pop, jazz plus a heavy dose of Rock & Roll – into a truly unique and original sonic amalgamation. The New Jersey-based ensemble has toured frequently, released three albums and garnered a growing and loyal cult following. At the center of this psychedelic musical theater is Will Wood, singer, songwriter and keyboard player. Hypnotic, original and unabashedly peculiar, Will is one of the most theatrical performers currently gigging. No two Will Wood & the Tapeworms shows are alike. Wearing face paint and often confrontational with the audience, Mr. Wood is an extremely animated singer and musician. The band – which also includes Mike Bottiglieri (guitar), Matthew Berger (saxophone), Mario Conte (drums) and Ben Scardo (bass) – put on a powerful, hallucinatory show at White Eagle Hall last autumn in a supporting slot for the Trophy Scars 15th anniversary celebration. Since then, Will & Company have been touring and released an acclaimed new album The Real. Poised to make a return engagement at White Eagle Hall to help celebrate our one year anniversary, Will talks music while espousing a wide range of interests and perspectives.
WEH: What was the last song you heard before talking with me?
WEH: Do you apply your own face paint? Does it change every show?
WEH: Your stage persona is so wonderfully strange. What are you trying to convey?
WEH: Your Facebook page says your genre is Avant-Pop, which makes sense because you are definitely questioning traditional harmonics of pop songs. How would you describe avant-pop?
WEH: Some people might just classify it as prog-rock.
WEH: There is a great texture to the arrangements, what is the challenge of arranging your songs for your band?
WEH: Where does cabaret music end and Will Wood & The Tapeworms begin?
WEH: What is your favorite time of day and what do you like to do to make that time perfect?
WEH: Are you an agent of chaos or a reaction to chaos?
WEH: Is your music a response to the world you’ve known?
WEH: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
WEH: Do you have to get into character for your shows?
Will: Not any more so than I have to get into character for anything else. Everyone’s always in character. It’s all made up. None of us are what we think we are in terms of identity- we’re not even really individuals. We tend to think of ourselves as individuals but we’re not moreso individuals than the cells in our bodies are. We are the imagination of ourselves, just dreams in the mind of Brahman. Or maybe I just have a Cluster B Personality Disorder. This could all just be from me listening to too many Alan Watts lectures.
WEH: How rehearsed or how spontaneous is your stage act?
WEH: Your antics are so physical, does the piano help with your stage show or is it an obstacle you’ve overcome?
WEH: What is your favorite color?
Will: I like black or I like rainbows, I can’t seem to pick.
WEH: What is your favorite time of year?
WEH: If you can be any animal, what would that be and why?
WEH: Your Facebook page mentions Tom Waits as an influence, which I can see because you blend genres and your music and lyrics are filled with the unexpected. What does Tom Waits mean to you and is there a preferred period of his work?
Will: Tom Waits is more than just a songwriter, he’s created this sort of microcosm. He communicates in more than just lyrics. He uses genre, instrumentation, character. Has really found a lot of creative ways of self-expression or exploration that’s really unique and powerful.
WEH: Waits has been making music for more than four decades, do you have a favorite period?
Will: The newer stuff, actually. Surprisingly enough I think his latest album is my favorite, Bad as Me. I loved Glitter and Doom. I’d say anything after Kathleen Brennan came on the scene.
WEH: What is your favorite movie?
WEH: Do you have a favorite writer or book?
WEH: What is your favorite flower?
WEH: Plaid, stripes, paisley, polka dots – what is your favorite pattern and why?
Will: Plaid and polka dots can take a long walk off a short pier. Paisley is naturally-occurring, their designs are based on hallucinations. You can see them in mundane textures when soaked in Hoffman’s Potion. Stripes make me look like Beetlejuice.
WEH: Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton?
WEH: Do you have a favorite form of theater?
Will: I’d have to say musical theater. Listening to the soundtrack to Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, always brings on a very friendly LSD flashback.
Don’t miss Will Wood &The Tapeworms at the White Eagle Hall Anniversary Party, May 5th, which also features: Rye Coalition, The Rocknroll Hi Fives and Long Neck.
Find out more about Will Wood &The Tapeworms, visit: www.willwoodandthetapeworms.com