WOODSMAN ARE doing their best to get out there. The current tour is the band's 10th in three years.
"We've been playing some of the best shows we've done so far," says guitarist Trevor Peterson. "It's been a gradual thing but we all agree—this [tour] has been the best."
The reason, Peterson figures, is in part because they're returning to cities multiple times. Plant a seed and feed it. Something like that. "It's a natural thing," he says.
From their elemental, evocative, and at times entrancing tunes to a smattering of lush green handmade artwork, Woodsman is reminiscent of their naturalistic namesake. They're a tactile band whose primarily instrumental songs require a bit of open air in which to unfurl. You gotta feel it. Get your hands dirty.
The band sprouted in Denver in the shadows of the looming Rocky Mountains, where the natural world towers majestically and triumphantly before crashing down from one schizophrenic extreme to the next. The creative cycles such a setting foments should be familiar to Portlanders.
"There's just this melancholy that sets in when the wintertime comes," Peterson says. Instead of heading to the slopes, Woodsman opted to hole up. Some of their standout work, including bits from the Rare Forms LP and the Mystery Tape EP, came from these cascading, prolific sessions. "Music definitely took over," Peterson says of the winter months.
And while the harsher, brooding aspects of a dark and heavy winter are surely represented in Woodsman's percussion-driven, krautrock-inspired grooves, they're no strangers to warmth. (Denver gets about 300 sunny days a year.) In these brighter moments, Woodsman resemble early Animal Collective, an influence they wear with pride.
But after spending many years in Denver, Woodsman had begun to see the scene as limited. The members splintered. Guitarist Mark Demolar found work in New York and essentially commuted for condensed stints of recording and touring. Woodsman found themselves in need of re-planting.
"We love Denver," Peterson says. "But it was time for a change and time for all of us to just be together." The move to New York, however, may have altered the lineup. Eston Lathrop, one of the group's two drummers, recently decided New York wasn't in the cards. With Lathrop's return to Denver, so goes Woodsman's mirroring effect of two drummers and two guitarists. "Eston not being in the band at the moment is gray territory," explains Peterson. "For now he's not playing with us, but the future is open at this point. This all happened very recently and we're just letting things unfold as they will."
But as a trio (now two guitars and drums), Woodsman find themselves more agile. They're also happy to again be living in the same city. "Now we can share our whole lives with each other," Peterson says. "And that kind of helps us all grow—as far as creatively—together, as opposed to bringing our own individual ideas to the table."
And for a band that's been so largely captivated by its natural surroundings, making the move from the mountains to the city might appear a trifle ironic, but Woodsman see no reason for concern. "I think bringing music sort of inspired by nature into a city like that has been a good experience for us," Peterson says. "Hopefully it will be for the people [who] see us as well."