Who, what, when, where, Wiyos
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Watching the Wiyos play isn’t just an auditory experience. They make sure of it. Not only does the New York City foursome play a lot of tunes inspired by (or plucked right out of) the 1920’s and ’30s, but they dress and act the part, putting on lively shows with a strong tang of Vaudeville. More recently, the boys have been changing up their sound, adding some more modern, personal songs to their mix of twangy numbers. Yet, the base of even their newest stuff still has more than a hint of that old Americana influence. It’s just too ingrained in them to ever really leave it be, explained the Parrish Ellis.
Here’s a bit more of what the Wiyos’ resident singer, resonator and archtop guitarist, banjoist, guitjoist and ukulele player had to say.
“There are lots of elements of music, American music from the ’20s and ’30s mainly, I kind of consider it the golden period, the halcyon days of American recording. Other things that appeal to us about it: We’re drawn to process stuff like mountain music, string band music, New Orleans ragtime, country blues players from the Southeast, the Piedmont blues players, jug band from Memphis, that kind of stuff. … It was genuine. It was real music made by real people, man-made music that they were creating on their own. A lot of it was part of this big evolution, where they weren’t just listening to the radio, Clear Channel radio, or MTV that was very formulaic and just copying what was already going on. They were injecting some of this early ragtime, early jazz, early blues sensibilities and their own personal creative elements and twisting it a little bit and contributing to the evolution of that type of regional or idiomatic style of music they were playing. And the genuine directness of acoustic music. No filter, no net. It’s all real and in the moment, with all the mistakes included.”
“Yeah, sometimes. Definitely.”
“Yeah, that’s true. We were, ourselves, worried as we were progressing, moving forward and writing more original songs that this was going to be disjointed. But I think, in fact, it all can co-exist quite well, actually. We can do a hillbilly swing tune or silly ragtime, kind of hokum tune to a tune that we wrote that isn’t at all kind of goofy or silly. … The majority of audiences can kind of go with you on, it’s sort of like a ride. The show, over two 45-minute sets can be this sort of musical progression, this journey.”
“… Here’s the way that I look at it. We get a lot of comments from people that say this stuff is really fresh. That always knocks me out. I think it’s great that people say that. Because, number one, it’s not really true. It’s 80-year-old, 90-year-old music ” we’re obviously not talking about the songwriting we’re doing now. But when we’re playing a hillbilly swing tune, it’s not new. The way that we put it out there, perform it, you’re not really hearing that from any of the bands out there. And most of what you’re hearing, whether it’s MTV or Clear Channel radio is very derivative, formulaic crap, and people are tired of that. It’s dead. It’s got no spirit, no soul. It’s got no energy. And it’s just the same old, same old crap. And they hear us. It’s like, ‘I’ve never heard anything like that before.’ It’s an exciting thing.”
“… Maybe jarring people out of ” musicians and songwriters and audience, listeners ” jarring them out of their same old, same old patterns of just listening to whatever is presented to them on commercial radio and to seek out independent, local bands and more interesting, dynamic music. That would be nice, if we have an effect that way, if we’re sort of cultural ambassadors for, well, for American music, but for, you know, certain, forgotten art forms in periods of American music. And I think that could be used as sort of a platform, as a jumping off point, for bands to develop their own, unique sound and for songwriters, you know ” for people to listen to music that’s been really inspiring to us. … I’d like to be able to open up people’s ears and eyes more to that.”
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