Red Wood (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
Upon walking into Red Wood’s practice studio in the North Bay, you’ll find a plethora of guitar amps, a mass of cables covering the floor, and Whole Foods shopping bags hanging from wall hooks. The room looks well lived in, though four of the five band members reside an hour or more away. The rehearsal room in Santa Rosa is full of so much equipment that members have to move around each other as they settle in for practice. Despite the lack of room, they look comfortable at Manzanita Studios, a place where they can hear trumpets of a mariachi group a few rooms away in the quiet times in between songs as they practice.
Red Wood’s live chemistry is visible here, and you can see each person in the band vibe off of each other as they practice. Singer Anthony Diedrich Boyd knocks part of drummer Campbell McIntosh’s drums mid-song from jumping around, yet neither seem fazed and continue to play. Bass player Austin Holgate has little space between both guitar players, Kevin Parnow and Patrick Rice, but the three still sound in sync.
These are elements the group showcase with the newest release Wildfire, a collection of four songs Red Wood recorded a year ago at The Atomic Garden Recording Studio in East Palo Alto. Band members completed the album during a two-day session with engineer Jack Shirley, who helped the group maintain the band’s live energy on vinyl.
"We place moments in songs where we can kind of expand and get into an unrehearsed groove,” says Rice during a rehearsal break.
This intentional improv has become a signature part of the group's sound during live shows, and on past recordings, too. ”When we play live, that's when we kind of experiment a little bit. I don't know, maybe it's just because we're feeling it," says Parnow.
The band's creative flow thrives off of building each other up. "Pat usually brings a general idea for a song, and then it comes together once we all get together," Boyd says." We usually just jam it out."
It’s during this break that you can’t help but notice just how close-knit the band members are as they walk to the corner store near Manzanita Studios. They joke around with each other and help each other remember details of stories. "If the songs sounded like how I wanted them to sound, it would sound awful," Rice jokes. "The thing is that I'll play a riff, and these guys will write their own parts and it sound very different and good in ways that I didn't think that it would."
Rice goes on to say Shirley watched the band play a show the night before the band went into the recording studio to get a feel for its sound. This, along with completing each song within one or two takes, gave the record the same type of sound you'd find at one Red Wood's concerts. "We weren't trying to really deviate much from how we sound when we're normally playing,” Rice says. “When we listened to it, we were like ‘Yep, that's what we sound like.’”
From there, the band knew it wanted to release the record on vinyl via Don’t Look Down Records — a label Rice founded, and one full of North Bay artists such as OVVN, Brown Bags and The Illumignarly. Though the band had the songs recorded and a vision for the EP, it took a full year for the group to press copies because the project is self-funded.
"Vinyl is an expensive and time-consuming process, and we weren't necessarily prepared for that after the recordings. That set us back a little," Rice said. As the group searches for snacks, he talks a bit more about just how hands on the band have been with Wildfire. He shares that he was behind the album layout and Parnow shot the photograph on the cover. "When I look at the record, everyone is represented in some way."
Time setbacks aside, today, November 1, marks the release of a four-track collaboration between friends.
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