Just before one of his three sold out performances at the Rivoli in downtown Toronto, Royal Wood sat down with Bestfan to chat for a few minutes about his musical career. With quite a successful tour across Canada Royal has been very busy jumping from one Canadian city to the next. The unique aspect about this tour is that it is called the Sneak Peak Tour, and Royal is playing brand new tracks for his fans. We won’t see the new album from Royal until sometime in 2012, but if you were able to catch this tour then you will get a brief sample about what is to come. With a Juno songwriter nomination at this years award show, Royal has proved that he is one of Canada’s most respected artists. He was a pleasure to interview, and we were so happy to catch up with him. Enjoy reading about Canada’s own Royal Wood!
(Bestfan): At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
Royal Wood: My first conscience moment was that I wanted to be an artist and make music. My earliest memories come from playing the piano and playing the guitar and trying to write songs and trying to emulate whoever I was listening to that week. This was it, this was a vocation on profession.
(Bestfan): Do you have any musical influences?
Royal Wood: Everyone does. You are sort of a sum of what you have been exposed to, not just from music but from literature, film, relationships and life. I listen to a lot of music and it crosses huge genres, and even though I hate to use the word eclectic, my taste in music is very eclectic. I have three older brothers so my music education began at a young age and so I got to skip the buffet of boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, and N**Sync. I grew up on Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and old vinyl.
(Bestfan): With your new album set to be released in 2012, where did your inspiration come from for the new tracks?
Royal Wood: I write life based. I really do write about things that I’ve experienced. It’s also a question about not filtering it. For example I don’t sit down and decide “today I’m going to write an up-tempo pop song, or today I’m going to write a ballad”. It’s just what comes in that moment. The best way is not to think. As Tom White said “the great things come from when you are still, and quiet enough to listen.”
(Bestfan): You have been touring all over the country in the past few weeks, how has the tour been going?
Royal Wood: The tour has been amazing. I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go because its the Sneak Peak tour, and I’m performing songs that people have never heard before. The record isn’t even out, so its kind of a novel idea, but it has been amazing! It’s pretty much been all sold out, all three nights in Toronto were sold out, and the fans have rallied to my support which is good!
(Bestfan): While on tour you have asked your fans to provide feedback on some of your new songs. This is such a unique approach to the new album. What responses have you been receiving from your fans so far?
Royal Wood: Its been all positive, which leads me to believe that they are all lying, or I did okay. It wasn’t so much that I wanted feedback on Twitter and Facebook, it was more so gauging the room night after night and feel the energy from the audience in the middle of the performance because a performer can tell whether or not something is resonating well with the audience or not. So it seems like the new material was really striking a chord, which was what I wanted!
(Bestfan): So when you get down to the deciding moment how difficult will that decision be?
Royal Wood: It’s always difficult! I always seem to write more than one record can hold. And I don’t want to release a double record, and I don’t want to be that person who puts the 18 songs all on one disc, and people are tired by track 10. So it’s a long process to ween stuff out. I just have to come up with the concept, and then I build that emotional journey and figure out where I want it to go, and then go from there. The record in my mind is planned, but I’m still trying a few songs during the last few shows, and see if something will get bumped.
(Bestfan): In the past you have collaborated with Kathleen Edwards, Ron Leary, and Sarah Slean, is there anyone that you would like to work with in the future?
Royal Wood: It’s funny because with my Juno songwriter nomination the offer to write with people seems to be coming fast and furious. There are a lot of people that I admire and respect and people I would like to co-write with, but for myself, other than producing people’s records, I always want to write my own record. I don’t let people into that world, its pretty private, intimate, and special.
(Bestfan): Where do get most of your writing done?
Royal Wood: I’m not one of those guys who writes melodies in the shower, or anything like that. Lyrics, I will continue to work on and do over and lie awake at night and have things kind of come into my head. I’ll always be at an instrument, there will always be a guitar or a piano near by. Definitely over the last few years I have taken the idea of changing locations. Most of this record was written in Montreal. We just picked up and moved there for a while. I just wanted a change of scene from Toronto.
(Bestfan): What would you say has been the most rewarding experience of your career thus far?
Royal Wood: Well, I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my career. The writing, the performance, the recording, the touring. Most rewarding would just be building my career. As a little kid I had always had these aspirations to do this thing as a career. Then you get out in the real world and you realize it is a lot of work, and sacrifice and lots of closed doors rather than open. But you just have to be true to who you are, and not change your art because you think it will fit in a little better with whats on mainstream. I just kept my head down and made music I wanted to make, and I have had a really great career.
(Bestfan): Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Royal Wood: There are many goals I have set, but one thing I would like to do more of is tour more in Europe. I’ve done a fair bit of touring, but I would like to build my career up to the point where I have in Canada and in the States as well. But I would like to start producing more records for other people as well. That’s basically it! I just want to expand. But I have my sights set on Massey Hall, so that’s my goal for Canada. Three sold-out nights at Massey Hall!
Bestfan Quick Q’s
Fall; I love the colours. I grew up in the country and I love the colours of the trees at this time of year.
Favourite thing to do on a Saturday?
To be honest, my weekends are when I make my weekends. But on a day off, I just like to cook, have a nice bottle of wine with my wife and listen to some vinyl.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I hate people that talk on their phone on the streetcar!
What is something that fan’s wouldn’t necessarily know about you?
That I went to the University of McGill for Business and didn’t study music. I was one of those kids that hated the idea of studying music at school because I wanted to make my own and didn’t want to be held to the page.
-End of Interview-