"We started off wanting to make a sonically unique, unpolished rock LP. I believe we did exactly that."
Those are strong words, coming from Mark Wendell, singer/guitarist for Chicago's THEDEADWOODS. However, the power trio has worked for years to build a reputation to back them up--they're known as much for their uncompromising commitment to their craft as they are for their unpredictable and chaotic live shows. Throwing guitars and drums around is a rock tradition, but it doesn't work if destroying the stage is the only thing a band is good at; fortunately THEDEADWOODS put the emphasis on the songs; trashing the joint is just for fun.
"I was used to playing other instruments for many other Chicago bands as a guitarist and drummer growing up," Wendell said. "I would record two or three songs a day, but could never finish them, because I didn't have a vocalist. So I thought, 'Why not? I'll do it.'"
Wendell met Sean Fagan in early 2011, working as a producer on the then-18-year-old Fagan's solo record. After playing a couple of future THEDEADWOODS songs, Fagan and Wendell recognized each other as kindred spirits. After bringing Wendell's old friend Austin Getz into the mix in 2014, Fagan switched from drums to bass, and the trio has been inseparable.
The group's debut, Seventy Cedar, is a heavy-hitting collection of rock bruisers, with Wendell's strikingly smooth vocals adding a level of sophistication to the proceedings. Songs like "Lights" walk the line between muscular and manic, while "Guilt Trip" is built on a bass riff that would make John Paul Jones green with envy.
This May, THEDEADWOODS will release the follow-up, a celebration of all that is raucous. Opening with a wash of feedback and a flurry of drums, the album quickly launches into "I Don't Have Your Money," a Strokes-inspired stomp with a massive hook and a fuzzed-out bass. The chorus to "I'm Guessing That's What Love Is" roars with ferocity reminiscent of the Pixies' heyday, while the guitar stabs that kick off "Cold Hands (Hold Them Against Me)" lead into a stadium-ready chorus worthy of Oasis. "Forget That I Said That" sees the trio's vocal harmonies riding roughshod over a powerful groove. Getz's drumming takes the forefront during the song's instrumental bridge, while Fagan's bass is an immovable object to Wendell's unstoppable guitar. "Get You Out" is a high-octane reimagining of classic Britpop, and "On My Last Trip" explores dreamy atmospherics that serve as a reminder of the days when Radiohead were a guitar band.
THEDEADWOODS will celebrate the release of their new album with their third U.S. tour. Having shared--and destroyed--stages with the likes of Chicago stalwarts Local H, ††† (mbrs of Deftones and Far) and Seattle grunge supergroup Truly (members of Soundgarden and Screaming Trees), they make a point to make each show uniquely unforgettable. Don't miss them when they come through your town.