From out of the woodwork, among the bustling streets of Montreal, comes emerging indie folk-pop band Callahan and The Woodpile.
While a bit newer on the scene as a unit, Callahan and company spur immediate intrigue with their debut single, “With The Sun.”
Fronted by singer-songwriter and former solo artist Callahan, The Woodpile may only be having their introduction now, but most members have been playing together for the better part of a decade. After playing together on the road for Callahan’s first album, Where Are You Going, in 2018, Callahan began writing new material with the band in mind. And though still true to his singer-songwriter roots, he felt ready to bring The Woodpile into the mix with him.
“With the Sun” offers more than just an acoustically melodic easy listen, as it hits with a very nostalgic and youthful energy behind it, especially when paired with their music video. It delivers on the angsty young love side of the aisle, with more melancholy lyrics over an upbeat instrumentation. The instrumental is precise and driving, and the song harnesses a definite sticky quality to it. The more you listen, the more the vocals and lyrics shine through, and the product as a whole comes wrapped up tight with a bow.
The band is set to drop their debut album, Burning Each Light, next month barring any unforeseen circumstances. The 10-track album dips into lapsteel-laced alt-country, indie pop-rock, folk rock, and is chock full of anthemic choruses and thoughtful lyrics.
We had the opportunity to ask Callahan some questions about the track and much more.
So how did Callahan and The Woodpile come together?
My guitarist Adrian Buccella and I met in high school in Montreal when we were 13, and have basically played in bands together ever since. We played in cover bands at high school Talent Shows until eventually, when I started writing my own songs for our bands, I would show them to him and we would flesh them out together. He was always very advanced, both technically and theoretically on the guitar, a real student of music, and I totally revered him for that.
After I recorded my first solo album, Where Are You Going?, in 2018 (which Adrian had played guitar and bass on), I needed a band to perform the songs live. I had moved to Toronto, and Adrian was there studying at Humber College with a couple other Montreal musicians I knew well from our music scene. It was myself, Adrian on guitar, our friends from Montreal Matt McCormack and Marco Petrella on bass and piano (respectively), and our new friend Bill Kervin, from North Bay, Ontario, on drums. The timing was oddly perfect and as soon as we started jamming, I knew they were the people I wanted to play with. We played for a few years under my solo moniker, Callahan, but then once the pandemic hit and I was working on new music, I knew I wanted to introduce those songs under a new identity — a proper band.
So then we became Callahan and the Woodpile.
How would you describe your sound and style to those wondering what you’re all about?
I feel like this is always a tough one to answer. Short answer: I would say we are an Indie Rock/Folk band. But we all draw from a wide range of influences and styles — I started singing because of songwriters like Dallas Green and Jeff Buckley, so the acoustic singer-songwriter side of me always shines through. Whereas the band all have a jazz background and are true students of music, so the intricacies of their playing styles come to light as well. I would say it’s a happy blend of Indie, Folk, Canadiana, a little dreaminess, sprinkled in with some emo because I love emo music and I can’t help it.
How does the songwriting process work within the band?
I usually approach the band with a draft of a song that I wrote on acoustic guitar and play them my quasi-“finished” version. From there we just jam and float around ideas of how to flesh the song out. There is usually a vision I have in mind when I bring a song to the band, how I imagine it should sound with everyone playing behind it, but oftentimes the best ideas/parts come from when everyone is contributing and the spontaneity of us playing together creates something entirely unique. I was really happy to tap into the collaborative process on these new songs, I think everyone in the band lent their voices beautifully throughout.
So I was hoping you could talk about your new single, “With The Sun.” What’s the inspiration and influence behind it?
I wrote the song “With the Sun” late in the fall of 2019, right around the time of year where the days get painfully short and the sun starts to set around 4 or 5pm in Montreal. Like many people, the persistent darkness of the early winter makes me feel a little gloomy. Funny enough, though the song was written in 2019, it encapsulated many of the feelings of isolation that the pandemic brought on. People asked me if I wrote it during lockdown, because I mentioned feeling cooped up and saying “these are the months I stay inside”. The truth is, I wrote it months prior after coming off of a relationship that sort of ended before it could begin, and tied in with the change in seasons. I really felt a lack of desire to do much of anything.
But like most of my songs, I feel as though there is a glimmer of hope beneath the surface-level melancholy. The song has some pep! I always liked the juxtaposition of having somewhat sad lyrics beneath a jangly, upbeat instrumental. Listening to bands like The Smiths and The Cure do this has always really inspired me to do the same, and I was glad I was happy to find that marriage on this song, or at least get close to it.
And this single will be on an upcoming EP or LP then is that right?
I am very excited to announce that this song is part of a record called Burning Each Light coming out very soon!
Where was it recorded and who helped produce it?
The song (as well as the album) was recorded at Petit Maison des Arts Studio in Montreal, QC. The studio sessions were produced and engineered by my friends Charlie Joy and Solomon Rex. The song was then mixed by Jace Lasek at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, QC. He has mixed a ton of my favorite records so it was a real pleasure to work with him, a really sweet and supportive guy. Finally, it was mastered by Philip Shaw Bova at Bova Labs in Ottawa, ON. Another dream person to work with. A huge fan of his work as well.
What does success as a band/musical artist mean to you?
To me, success is self-sustainability. Singing, playing, writing, and recording music with my friends is my favourite thing to do, so any way that the band can sustain itself such that we can keep on playing and performing — that is success to me.
What does a dream gig look like for Callahan and The Woodpile?
Honestly, any gig where the club is packed with people dancing and singing would be a dream gig right now — we really miss performing! Although, in terms of specific gigs, having grown up going to this festival in Montreal, playing Osheaga would be an absolute dream come true.
What might fans expect from the band as we get into fall, and frankly, the rest of the year?
Expect another single coming out in the next month or two! We are looking to have the record out by the end of the year, coupled with a few shows in Ontario and Quebec around that time as well. And then 2022, sky’s the limit.