‘Glastonbury was amazing - and much bigger than we expected’

There’s no escaping the fact that Derry is a melting pot for up-and-coming musicians. And among those who are making their mark are The Wood Burning Savages.

Fresh from a performance at Glastonbury, the quartet are on a high, and are currently planning a tour around the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, which will kick off in September.

It’s soon clear from talking to two of the band members, Paul and Dan, that they are also one of the hardest working bands on the circuit.

Currently unsigned, their enthusiasm is boundless, but beyond the promotion, managing and social media, what really matters is the music.

Paul tells me, “All of us have been playing music for as long as we can remember. Even though the band only really formed properly ten months ago, we’ve individually been jamming with musicians for a long time.”

Their music is by their own description, ‘energetic rock music - with a touch of pop’. “But it’s more David Bowie pop than modern pop!”

It’s this accessible sound coupled with catchy lyrics that no doubt had a hand in getting them their slot on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury where their 25 minute slot went down well, with their performance streamed live on the BBC Red Button.

Talking about the experience Paul says, “Dan got the phone call, to say we had been chosen to play, and when he rang the rest of us, no-one believed him! We had been lucky enough to be picked up by Tom Robinson, of BBC6 Music, and it appears it was that connection that got our name in the ring.

“To be chosen to play, while we’re unsigned, was amazing. We played at 1.45pm but before we got on stage we went out and about the crowd, handing out flyers and badges, doing our own promotion. It really paid off as we could see faces we had met standing in the audience, and sometimes they had brought 10 or 20 people with them too. We had an idea of what it would be like, but it was bigger than we expected. The vibe and atmosphere was something else.

“It was also a great networking event, as we were able to see and meet people in the business.”

It’s their hands-on approach that’s so refreshing. The band admit that it’s a side of the business they like to do, but time isn’t always on their hands.

“Being unsigned means we have to do it all. It’s something we enjoy but ideally we would be concentrating on our music full-time.”

At the minute the band is their full-time jobs, and the quartet collaborate in a garage in Coshquin, with Paul coming up with the lyrics. Dan describes the process “like building a set for a piece of theatre. Paul has the lyrics and the rest of us build the music around his words”.

As for the inspiration for the songs Paul says they “come from everywhere. It may be something I’ve read in the paper, heard in the news, or a snippet of a conversation”.

But it’s keeping the band’s music fresh that is time consuming.

Dan says, “We like to keep the music fresh. If I was going to see a band I wouldn’t want to hear all the same tracks all the time. We also curate the set list so that it complements the audience, and any other bands we may be playing alongside.”

Their track ‘America’ was a huge hit during last year’s City of Culture. Paul says, “We purposely made it a catchy track, to get people hooked in, but our sound generally is probably a touch more rock!”

With an Irish tour under their belts, the band are now looking ahead, with tour dates planned in September across Europe.

“It’s been exciting putting it all together, but hard work too. That’s the difference about being a signed artist - you have someone booking venues, accommodation, talking to promoters for you. But at the minute we’ve been sleeping under a lot of tents!”

There’s dedication there but there’s no denying a record deal would make life a lot easier for the Wood Burning Savages.

It’s surely only a matter of time before that happens.