Relative newbies Woes are, together with Lizzy Farrall, supporting Canadian pop punkers Seaway on their European tour. The Scottish five-piece have hit 2018 full pelt, signing with independent record label UNFD and releasing their new single ‘Real World’, which has got air time on Radio 1’s Rock Show.
Last week, we got the chance to interview them before their first show –
Let’s have a quick intro, what are your names and what do you play?
DJ: Hi, I’m DJ and I sing in Woes.
Sean: Hi, I’m Sean, I also do a bit of singing in Woes and play bass.
You’re from Scotland, Edinburgh. How would you describe the pop punk scene up there?
DJ: Edinburgh in general there’s not a big scene, there’s not a big scene of any kind of alternative music … Glasgow’s always had a much bigger scene…there are tonnes of great Scottish bands, but in terms of pop punk maybe only four or five.
Sean: Yeah and that’s been a huge hurdle for us, not a lot of people to play with. Not lots of bands to get people stoked to come down and see … people are really starved for really, really good music. … but when they do come out they come out pretty hard, that’s the good thing about Scotland.
How did you find each other then?
Sean: Match.com !
DJ: (Laughing) Sean and I met in high school … we both liked NOFX, both like skate punk. I think Sean had been looking for an opportunity to come talk to me for quite some time.
Sean: I used to think DJ was cool, I don’t think so any more. (laughs)
DJ: It so happened that I pulled his cousin at her party. After, Sean came up to me like ‘Heyy, I heard you pulled my cousin’ (laughing) … normal way to introduce yourself.
Sean: And it’s been relatively normal ever since.
DJ: Yeah just been playing in bands for years and years. Stuart (Laing – Guitar) and Ryan (Neish – Drums) have been playing in bands with us before Woes and all just came together through the music scene.
Sean: Yeah, played together for a long time, when other projects failed, this is something new, something fresh. We learned a lot from our last bands. Fundamentally, our song writing skills just got to a point where they were just better than they were before and that’s helped us do a little bit better than our previous bands.
What kinds of things have you learnt?
DJ: A lot of people have said you should just write for you, and not what people want. When I write for me it just turns out really weird (laughs). What I like is not very structured, I learned to just take a step back, try and make things make sense. Not let it get too weird.
Sean: We just actually got good at writing a song … we’ve always been competent musicians, quite technical or whatever. But it’s can you deliver a story? Can you evoke an emotional response? That was kind of lacking from our previous stuff. I think we’re better at telling stories now and getting our message across.
DJ: Used to play in songs that were really technical and then we realised that the most technical thing you can do is get people to dance and sing along. Create something that people have to singalong to and tap their feet to. And that was a turning point for me.
Sean: Anybody can write a technical riff, but can you make someone feel something?
You recently did a tour with Neck Deep, how was that?
DJ: It was wonderful.
Sean: Dream come true. The first show was the smallest show, and already that was the biggest show we’ve ever played at.
DJ: We had no right to be on that tour, a band of our size (laughing) .. but they asked us to play with them.
Sean: They were keen to teach us, we learned so much. They knew we’d never been on a tour that big and were just like ‘Yo lads, this is what you need to do, don’t stress about it’… Great tour, loved every minute of it.
Congrats on signing to UNFD, have you got a single out with them?
Sean: Yeah we released it today, it’s called ‘Real World’. It’s about everybody feeling negative about their own problems, not trying to help anyone else or see it from anyone else’s point of view and how destructive that can be. We’re psyched to get it out, it’s been a long process … We really wanted to have everything out ages ago, in time for the tour. We recorded it ourselves, but we ran into all sorts of problems. I’m just such an anal guy… it was one of the most stressful and rewarding experiences of my life so to have the single out on UNFD is an amazing feeling. It’s gone down really well, people are stoked.
DJ: Video is done, directed by Lewis Cater. I usually don’t like them when they first come out, but I liked that one.
Sean: It was in the dead of winter, we had to drive like 8 hours to get there on 2 hours sleep all in one day. So we were like ‘Please be good!’, and then it turned out sick so we were really, really happy.
Any highlights of the past year?
DJ: When we played Brixton in London, such a huge classic venue.
Sean: 5000 cap sold out gig… I was stressed out my box.
DJ: You were a nightmare.
Sean: I was a fucking diva, boii. But although it’s been stressful it’s been a great year, we’ve learned a lot, one of the best years of my life.
What are your hopes for this year?
DJ: Just to play to as many people as possible. Last year we spent more time in the studio than we did on the stages. This year I wanna change that… We’ve got an album to write and release this year …That’ll be a challenge too but I’m looking forward to it.
Sean: My answer is I’ve got no fucking idea (laughing). Because the bar keeps changing all the time… who knows what’s round the corner, you could get offered anything at any time… Just do the best that I can possibly do.
You do tend to mix the dark with the light in your songs, what has inspired those elements?
Sean: Ooh that’s a long rabbit hole you get into there. I could go on a 15 minute rant.
DJ: I like to write lyrics that make people feel something. If you just write stuff that’s happy all the time, or sad all the time, you’re just not going to have the desired effect. Make it relatable to people so they think about things that have happened to them in their life, that’s when people can connect to your songs. I always try to share my experiences in life through music.
Sean: I like stuff that’s catchy and I like stuff that’s absolutely crushing. I guess sonically that’s where the light and dark comes from. And yeah, you can’t have dark without light.
How do you feel about what’s to come for pop punk in the UK?
DJ: Yeah great, the scene is as strong as it’s ever been. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on,
Sean: Shout out to Trash Boat, (Laughing)
DJ: I think we’ve established the baseline of yeah I think we can do pop punk quite well, but I’m excited to see what bands do next to try and make it more exciting for the listener.
Sean: I think that pop punk has been strong for so many years now, but if you keep doing the same thing, people just generally lose interest. I think that bands need to be innovating, they need to be trying new things, we’re starting to get there now. Now where can we go? Can we bring in more influences? I personally feel the pop punk scene will start doing that as well, they’re probably gonna start doing their own unique and original thing. I think that’s really exciting, I think there’s some really, incredibly talented bands. I think the future’s very, very bright.
Woes were interviewed in January 2018