By Thomas Johnson, March 16 2018 —
“We’re hitting some new ground,” boasts Mike Baddington, the vocalist and bass player behind Woodhawk, a Calgary desert-rock trio with a future as bright as a red sun.
Woodhawk’s sights are set beyond the outer reaches of our known planetary system. The opener to their debut album, 2017’s Beyond the Sun, makes that clear. For the rest of the year, though, the band’s trajectory will settle somewhere east of Hudson Bay. A free concert on March 21 at the Ship & Anchor is kicking off the band’s most extensive tour thus far. The aptly titled Magnetic North Tour has the band trekking across Canada, where they’ll reunite with their heavy-rock brethren.
“We’re doing few shows out east with the band Mountain Dust from Montreal. We’re friends with several members of the band and they’ve been in other bands we’ve played with or been fans of,” Baddington says. “[Some] members of Woodhawk have been in other bands out that way so we’re looking for some people out there we can reconnect with and fans that we would like to meet again. Or a bunch of new fans we haven’t met.”
Fellowship runs strong and deep in Canada’s metal community. For example, Kevin Keegan, Mountain Dust’s ex-vocalist, sings backup on Beyond The Sun standout “Living In The Sand.”
“We ran into [Keegan] and he was already a big fan of our music which we didn’t even realize — we had only played a couple of shows with them,” Baddington says. “The next morning he sent us some messages saying ‘I want to be on it. Here’s the part I want to do.’ He showed up, did two takes in the studio and after that we went on a tour. We’ve been good friends ever since.”
In addition to Keegan, outside help came in the form of Japandroid’s sound engineer Jesse Gander, who produced and mixed Beyond The Sun in Vancouver.
“We’ve been following [Gander’s] work for a long time,” Baddington says. “Once we showed up we were instantly friends. His band, The Uptights, tours a bunch and whenever he comes out this way we hang out and play a couple shows. When we go out that way — same deal.”
The product of these kinships find Beyond The Sun’s nine anthemic jams veering left of stoner rock’s exhausted tropes. Instead of fuzzy, washed-out doom and overlong riffs repeated ad nauseam, Woodhawk’s work brims with a brand of metal best heard amongst a bevy of inebriated voices. These songs, from “The High Priest’s” faux-religious sneer to the thinly veiled Star Wars allusion “A New Hope,” are deeply rooted in the fantastical and fictional elements at metal’s heart. But Woodhawk smartly cleans up much of the surrounding noise that often buries such imagery.
“There’s almost a pop essence, some catchier choruses and melodies,” Baddington says. “We were just trying to make it sound unique but not something completely brand new that people would be afraid to listen to.”
Catch Woodhawk at the Ship & Anchor on 17th Ave. on March 21. Listen to Beyond The Sun on Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.
Check out “Living In The Sand” below.