In this series, Trevor Abes sits down with local lights in the Toronto music scene.
Since 1986’s hit album Just In Time To Be Late, former Eye Eye vocalist Bill Wood has had a family and started a successful renovation business. Yet his dedication to music has never waned. In 2007, he released a solo record called Take It; in 2012, he formed the folk rock outfit Bill Wood and the Woodies and released an EP; and on May 10, 2013, Wood and his daughter appeared on a MindCare-sponsored compilation record in support of mental health.
Trevor: What about music fulfills you?
Bill: For me, the fuel that keeps it all going is the songs. I need to have a certain amount of time in my life chipping away at writing.
Trevor: How do you approach writing songs?
Bill: I have to sit down with no idea and start doodling on the guitar with different rhythms like a painter swishing paint around until I know what to do next.
Trevor: Where does your relationship with folk and rock and roll begin?
Bill: After the first Eye Eye record, two records landed on my lap, Copperhead Road by Steve Earle and Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys: they established in my heart how I wanted to continue writing for the rest of my career.
Trevor: Tell me about the Woodies’ creative process.
Bill: We tighten up the music live in front of people. We play without rehearsing and pull it together organically over two or three gigs.
Trevor: How do you look back on Eye Eye?
Bill: We were signed through CBC Rock Wars and the buzz was fantastic. We toured with Glass Tiger in the middle of their success, and it was a frenzy opening for Platinum Blonde. We were also constantly reminded that the 80s scene was going to end; the record company ordered songs like pizzas. When Eye Eye ended, I felt a relief to not have to write songs that were products for a market.
Trevor: How did you get into the renovation business?
Bill: I went from stay-at-home dad/pop-star-guy to needing a job when the second Eye Eye album tanked. I worked as a bike courier, a driver, a dispatcher, then I went into flipping houses with a friend of mine. I learned on properties that I owned until I had enough skills to go independent. Now I do property maintenance at a community housing building.
Trevor: Did fatherhood affect your music?
Bill: Fatherhood enabled me to sit with my guitar and write more songs; it kept me home. If the phone rang from wherever, I didn’t really care because I was happy raising my kids.
Trevor: What are you listening to?
Bill: Rogue’s Gallery, a compilation of sea chanteys and pirate songs, and I picked up the new Bowie; it’s a little noisy in parts, but I like the first single.
Bill plays Graffiti’s the third Friday of every month.