Interview | Introducing…The Woodwards

The Woodwards - Elisabete Shoot

Last year we were seduced by the sleazy, country-meets-Eels ‘The Wood’, the first song on The Woodward’s second album – see below for a detailed description of its actual name. Comprised of Peter Schuyff (acclaimed painter, friends with Andy Warhol and Basquiat) and Stevie Guy (Y’r Impossible, Johnny 5th Wheel and The Cowards) they couldn’t make for a more fascinating or unlikely pair, something which feeds deliciously into their music. This is their low down.

Hello, please introduce yourself and your music to the uninitiated.

I’m Peter, the older and wiser half of The Woodwards. At present The Woodwards are two of us, me and Stevie Guy. Stevie’s pretty and she has a sweet voice while I on the other hand am not and don’t. It’s a good combination, a beauty and the beast kind of thing. I write all the songs. That’s the point I suppose. They’re usually about being old, wise, a bit tired and really horny. I haven’t been doing this very long. I left New York in 2004, I’d been living at the Chelsea Hotel for sixteen years and then suddenly I’m in Vancouver. That got boring real fast and so I started writing songs. It started as a joke but then I figured I was pretty good at it… The Woodwards is something we do in the evening.

Tell us a bit about your latest release?

It’s our second recording produced by Attie Bauw. That’s why it’s called Two, though it’s not really called Two. It’s called that hand gesture, the one that’s on the cover, where you point up with two fingers and show the back of your hand. It seems to mean different things in different places. But that’s what our album is called, a bit like how Prince changed his name to that symbol thing. Attie’s a mad genius. First he had me learn how to play in time. That was the deal. If I learned how to play in time he’d make me a rhythm section. Attie wouldn’t make just any record…He likes Stevie…I think he’s got a bit of a crush on her.

What was your best ever gig?

I want to say the Prince Albert in Stroud. The place was a total mess. Like, it had closed a few months before and then some people with kids and dogs had moved in – never have The Woodwards felt so at home. Hardly anybody showed up but we had the time of our lives up there. And then there’s those gigs where a lot of people show up and they’re listening and though it never makes a difference in the long run it gets me hard having their attention for a minute. Especially when there’s a lot of them, more than you can concentrate on.

What’s the worst thing about being a musician?

Finding myself performing whilst uninvited, in some dive, singing about something I probably care about deeply and then there’s a Bruce who just wants your set to be over because he wants to get back to talking to his girlfriend, or his buddies, he probably doesn’t have a girlfriend so he wants to talk to his buddies but it’s hard and he has to shout what with me in the background singing as loud as I can.

What inspires you?

The past, girls, poets better than myself.

If you won a billion pounds what would you do with it?

A billion is a lot. Like, a million would change my life but still, there are those people around these days for whom a million is chump change. My paintings have suddenly been getting a lot of love. For the first time in a while I’m flush, I can afford it again. I’ve spent the last decade learning how to live well on very little and now, in the last few weeks, I’ve earned more than I know how to spend. So yes, that’s the question: what am I going to do with a billion dollars?

Which of your songs is your favorite and why?

If I picked a favorite then all the other songs would get jealous and angry. I usually have a song that I like playing the most. If I’m going to play a song or if I’m sitting by myself just noodling around then there’s always a song that feels the most right. It’s a thing that changes every few months. This winter it seems to be ‘By The Time I Came Back’.

What are you plans for the future?The-Woodwards-Peter-Front small

Oh man I thought this was it! I figured this was the future! What, it gets bigger?

Finally, we’re always looking to expand our musical horizons. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?

I figure if you really want to expand your musical horizons then read poetry. Stick to English poems, choose a bunch of them and just read the shit out of them. Take some time, like on the toilet is good… I don’t much listen to music. Whenever I do I have to stop everything else I’m doing and listen. I like the Be Good Tanyas a lot. I can’t listen to music while I paint. It’s either paint or listen to music. While I paint I like to listen to those awful true crime documentaries on YouTube. They’re great, I barely have to pay attention, only just enough so that I don’t pay too much attention to my painting.

The Woodwards II is out now on Wood Records