Local band sets its sights on Guam, then the world
On the eve of Wooster’s CD release show, GT spoke with rhythm guitarist/vocalist Brian Gallagher about the local band’s new album, If All The Dew Were Diamonds, their popularity overseas, and the inspirations behind their rock/soul/reggae amalgam.
GOOD TIMES: I hear Wooster’s going to Guam…
BRIAN GALLAGHER: Yeah, we’re playing five shows in early October. I’m excited. Apparently “Ooh Girl” is one of the top requested songs over there. I don’t know exactly how that happened. There are also 17 or 18 covers of it on YouTube.
Have you ever been to Guam before?
I have not. I don’t think anyone in the band has. I’m 6’3”, so spending 14 and a half hours in a plane is a little bit of a bummer, but there’s a big music community over there, so I’ll do it for them.
What’s the most exciting part of the trip?
The shows. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m excited and little anxious. “Ooh Girl” is a great song and I’m very proud of it, but we play a lot of other genres too, so we hope people like it.
What three things are must-haves on tour?
Our No. 1 thing is our drummer, Nate [Frederick]. He’s Mr. Fix It, he’s MacGyver. He can rebuild the van engine, he can make me a guitar strap out of a string—he’s unstoppable. The second thing is our tour binder from Jenn, our tour manager. And then, I guess, our merch.
Some bands give odd answers to that…
Yeah, [laughs], we know a band called Doug that always brings a Shake Weight.
How did Wooster form?
Wooster formed in 2007. I played volleyball at UCSC and then I coached at Harbor High. Caroline [Kuspa] was on my first volleyball team [at Harbor]. We ended up singing together. I knew Zach [Donoghue], who also played volleyball at UCSC. And so we all went into the studio with Bobby [Hanson] and Nate, a Santa Cruz all-stars rhythm section, and they ended up staying on. It’s all still original members, which is unique.
How has the band transformed over time?
Our live shows have gotten so much more professional and tighter. We’re more into it and freer on stage. When we first started, it was exciting and also stressful. Now, it’s like you grab your suitcase and go to work. But it’s what we love to do most in the world.
Was it your goal to play many genres?
No, it’s always just been about, ‘How can we write the best possible music?’ We have diverse interests, and Caroline can sing pretty much anything. I’ll hear a Black Keys song one day and want to do something like that, or I’ll hear a hip-hop song and want to do that. It’s weird for a band to only produce one vibe, especially when there’s so much music out there.
What inspired this album?
Everyone in the band would say something different. But for me, the last song, “Day I Die”—it’s a song about my grandfather who passed away—it was the one song I needed to get out.
Where did the album name come from?
It’s a “Tortilla Flat” quote from [John] Steinbeck. There are two paisanos sitting on a stoop, and one says, “If all the dew were diamonds, we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives.” I wrote a thesis on it in college. It’s a lot like Wooster—just as they believe that sitting on a porch is as good as it gets, being on the road, that’s the best part [for us]. It’s rough, but we’re stoked.
What will the album release show be like?
Our last release show was an insane blowout. We rented a huge backdrop and dressed like Team Zissou from The Life Aquatic. There was a photo booth and the tickets were 3D glasses. We want to make it even better. There will be a similar vibe, you know—smoke, lights, glamour.
Wooster will play at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20/adv, $22/door. 479-1854.
Photo credit: kerrie lee photography