The A.J. Woods InterviewBY M. BRIANNA STALLINGS As a songwriter, Albuquerque native A.J. Woods possesses the rare gift of direct eloquence. He says what needs to be said in clear language that’s also poignant and powerful. Fleshed out with minor-key acoustic guitar and feathery drums, the resulting work is populated by narratives and atmospheres he conjures up. Nature’s fingerprints are all over Woods’ latest release “The Fence,” out now on TinyAmp Records. On tracks like “The Water,” “Movement in the Grass” and “Against the Wind,” melody lopes, tangs, wails and moans through riverbeds run dry, a world dusty with quartz sand and haunted by tumbleweeds. Listen to a raw rendition of "The Water" below: Woods releases “The Fence” and limited-edition live album “Movement In the Grass” at the Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE) on Friday, April 8, starting at 11 p.m. The evening also features a reading by writer George C. Moreno and photo projections by Johnny Gomez. Woods is also slated to do a live spot on KUNM’s “Music to Soothe the Savage Beast” program on Tuesday, April 5. Tickets are $5, and the show starts at 10 p.m. on KUNM 89.9 FM.
On tracks like “The Water,” “Movement in the Grass” and “Against the Wind,” melody lopes, tangs, wails and moans through riverbeds run dry, a world dusty with quartz sand and haunted by tumbleweedsI met Woods for an interview at the South Broadway Library. We initially set out to do an outdoor interview at Kit Carson Park – in the middle of March in Albuquerque. As I feared, the notorious March winds got the better of us. Nature cares not for deadlines. By the time we actually met, it was so blustery out that I half-expected to see Winnie-the-Pooh flying Piglet by his scarf like a kite. Like the kindhearted bear, Woods was a good sport throughout our “Windsday” chat.
Tell me about “The Fence.” What were some of the influences for your songs?It’s a collection of songs. Some are new, some of them I’ve been working on for 10 years almost. It’s hard to say where they come from. It’s kinda like I put an antenna out, and then they come.
Why did you want to meet at the park at first, and what significance does the natural world have on your creative process?I mentioned the park because it’s a beautiful place with big old-growth cottonwood trees and decent shade. I definitely pull some influence from the natural world. I grew up in New Mexico; I’m from Albuquerque and I feel like I have a definite connection with the land and the natural world here.
Why’d you choose the Guild as the venue for your album release?
‘People ask me where I went to school, and I tell them. But if people ask me where I got my education, I tell them that I got it at the Guild Cinema.’ – A.J. WoodsI love that theater, and I thought it would be cool to release my material in a place that has such distinctly wonderful intellectual property coming to it. They’re very selective about the films they show and about putting good things on there. I’ve seen so many wonderful films there. People ask me where I went to school, and I tell them. But if people ask me where I got my education, I tell them that I got it at the Guild Cinema.
What do you appreciate most about the Albuquerque music scene?The diversity of everything. There’s a wonderful noise music scene here that I really appreciate. There’s so many layers to our scene. It’s cool because a lot of it happens on the underground level, in houses or art spaces. It’s not Los Angeles or another one of these big entertainment district cities. It seems like we’ve been protected from the kind of corruption that comes from big money entertainment here. The people who make music and art in this city are more interested in self-expression and the genuine aspects of creating art, rather than using art as a vehicle to make money.
‘There’s so many layers to [the Albuquerque music] scene. It’s cool because a lot of it happens on the underground level, in houses or art spaces’ – A.J. Woods
The best thing I see here is a healthy blend of competition, collaboration and cross-genre support. George C. Moreno is giving a brief reading as part of your album release. Other than your friendship, how did you get him to participate?He has such a brilliant mind. I know his interest in literature and his genuine pursuit of greatness, so I thought it would be good complement to the set. My friend Johnny Gomez is also showing photography that night. He does his own prints at home; he’s an analog photographer. In all of the places he’s lived, he’s always had his own makeshift or DIY darkroom. He’s also going to be doing some projections. He’s very prolific, has an enormous amount of photos and just has a great eye. M. Brianna Stallings writes so you don’t have to.
Playing Against the Wind was originally published on Albuquerque Alternative Newspaper