Davey Woodward And The Winter Orphans


 For about as long as there has been a Bristol indie scene, Davey Woodward has had a hand in it somewhere. With approaching four decades as a working musician behind him, he was still able to find time to talk with Deviation Street about his new album, current plans and one or two other matters :

JG: I’ve taken some time to listen to your other bands, The Brilliant Corners and The Experimental Pop Band and my first question is, how far are the Winter Orphans a continuation of your previous work? Is the folk rock sound a new departure or a definite next step for your music?

A lot of the early Brilliant Corners eps and albums always had a few country and folk songs on them, same with the EPB, there would always be one song on the album that would be simple, stripped back. So the folk/country thing has always been with me. I just never put together a whole album out with a folk leaning. In fact I don’t think I have achieved that yet. As you say the current album is more folk rock, alt Folk, something folk, it has that mood.  I think it’s a brave step to put out a whole album of quiet folk/ country songs, I’d like to do that sometime.

 J G: Obviously lockdown has affected everyone attempting to make music. How have you recorded ‘Love And Optimism’, has it been done virtually or were tracks recorded before last spring? Or some combination of that?

B W: The album was recorded in summer 2019 before the pandemic. It’s been really strange hearing people saying the songs reflect these times, linking it in with what’s been going on the last 12 months. None of it was intended. I’m no Nostradamus either or I would have planned my environment better if I saw all this coming

J G: The Brilliant Corners recorded covers of songs by The Who and The Beatles, not very usual for a mid 80s indie band. ‘Love And  Optimism’ has a definite 60s sound on at least some of its tracks. Which are your biggest influences on this album, or are you more determined to create a certain vibe?

BW: I think the 60s was such a creative time for music, in a few short years The Beatles went from being a covers band to witing their own songs to creating a new form of pop music. There are countless bands from that decade that evolved and turned rock n roll into an art form. There was a lot of innovation and risk taking, bands on Island Records were mixing jazz and folk with pop and rock- check out Rainbow Chaser by Nirvana (Not Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana) it blows my mind whenever I hear it. Sorry you weren’t asking me about songs that blow my mind!

My record collection is full of records from that period. For a number of years I was one of the djs at a Bristol Club called The Trip, on Frogmore Street,I played lots of 60s music. Without a doubt it’s in my psyche and soul so its bound to come out in some songs I write. Influences, the list would be endless, I remember I was listening to a lot of Nina Simone and Richie Havens when we recorded the album.

 Davey Woodward & The Winter Orphans 

J G: You touch on issues such as BLM and personal isolation in some of your songs and lyricism is definitely a big part of your work. Which writers, songwriters or others, influence your own words? 

 B W: Writer influences, tumbleweed moment, seasons pass, perhaps the moon has stopped orbiting the earth, difficult to find a succinct answer, so much easier to ramble and be fanciful. Mmmm. The strange thing is I don’t listen that keenly to lyrics, I know great lyrics when I hear them, the obvious lyrical gods are Reed , Dylan  and Cohen. Theres also gods like Jonathan Richman who lots of people dismiss as writing childish naïve lyrics. Then there’s gods like Josephine Foster who write lyrics like how I dream.

J G: Any favourite moments from your career? Interesting gigs, tours,  anecdotes, etc. Any unfulfilled ambitions? 

B W: Career favourites? Played a gig with Nico and John Cale. Meeting John Peel and doing sessions for him. Choosing a dress for Bjork to wear when she performed at Glastonbury. Dancing with James Brown in a club in Munich.

Ooh plenty of unfulfilled ambitions, I’m learning how to play a Lyre, I’d like to play drums in a band, I’d like to walk down the catwalk in a Saint Laurent suit, ride in the Tour De France, swim nude in the Missouri, win at Cluedo,  Jools Holland has yet to invite me on his show.

J G: Lastly, and inevitably, how do you see your music continuing to develop, what  does the future hold for the Winter Orphans?   

B W: Apart from Jools Holland inviting us on his show I think the Winter Orphans have plenty of scope to develop. I’d like to do a whole bunch of quite songs with them and a bunch of more experimental songs too, keeping the organic feel though. That sounds like double album territory, maybe throw in concept album too. Be great to do a proper tour when life gets back to normal, play in Europe if all the Brexit crap can be solved.

‘Love And Optimism’ by Davey Woodward & The Winter Orphans is available from Tapete Records