Fan of the Month – Chris Wood

Chris Wood spent his formative years in Salt Lake City, UT, but currently lives and works in Huntsville, AL, as a mechanical engineer. However, he considers Seattle, WA home, having spent the majority of his life there. Chris enjoys fine cigars, cheap wine and sassy women. He has played keys in two bands making all original music. Today, though, Chris is here to discuss the music that moves him.

One Louder Magazine: The desert island question: if you could take the collected works of five artists, who would the five be?

Chris Wood: Elton John, Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, David Sylvian and Beck.

OLM: Who’s David Sylvian?

CW: Ahhh, David Sylvian…at first I wasn’t sure whether to put him on the list or not. I haven’t listened to him much over the past few years, but when I thought about artists that I would really miss if I couldn’t hear their music again, he was definitely in the top five. David started out in a band named Japan in the late ‘70s and followed that up with a solo career in the early ‘80s after Japan disbanded. In addition to his solo work, David has been a part of numerous collaborative projects, working with Robert Fripp [King Crimson et al], Holger Czukay, and Hector Zazou. That stuff is great!

OLM: Are there any particular albums of his that stand out from others?

CW: All of his albums are interesting for different reasons, but three really stand out to me. Secrets of the Beehive (1987) is a haunting album that I believe contains some of his most compelling work. Gone To Earth (1986) is a mix of intricate compositions and soundscapes featuring Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, and Richard Barbieri [Japan, Porcupine Tree]. The First Day (1993) with Robert Fripp. Rumor has it that Fripp had invited Sylvian to join King Crimson but Sylvian turned it down; they made this album instead. It’s really too bad that he turned down the gig because I would love to hear Sylvian singing ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’. Now that would have been different!

OLM: How were you introduced to him? When did you get into his music?

CW: I first heard Japan and Sylvian back in the early ‘80s. I liked the music and distinctly remember the timbre of his voice, but I didn’t pick up any of his albums until the early ‘90s. A friend of mine played some music that he thought I might like. In addition to Sylvian, we also listened to Jethro Tull, Elton John and Queensryche, among others. I immediately went out and picked up Secrets of the Beehive and a few months later Gone to Earth.

OLM: Have you seen David Sylvian live?

CW: I have not seen him live. He doesn’t tour regularly and when he does, it is usually limited to only a few shows in bigger cities. Maybe one of these days he’ll make his way to northern Alabama…but then again, probably not.

Having said that, I do have one of his live albums (Damage) that is outstanding and I’ve seen several live concert videos. As a musician, Sylvian is very competent and he surrounds himself with other exceptional players. His renditions typically stay true to the original album. I have heard a few recordings where he mixes up the groove or feel of the song but he doesn’t really go off and get jiggy with it. His energy during a performance has a Zen-like calm about it while his musical delivery is focused and intense. That sounds a bit ‘Hannibal Lecter’, but my point is that he definitely isn’t “Hello Cleveland!”

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