Woodbox Gang brings ‘jug punk’ to Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado “-The cacophony of sound delightfully termed “Trashcan Americana” by the Woodbox Gang ” who play in Vail, Colorado Saturday night ” is a mixture of early American bluegrass, country, and rockabilly.
The band uses everything from the conventional (guitar) to the exotic (didgeridoo). When Hugh DeNeal and his brother started the band 10 years ago, multi-instrumentalist Alex Kirt gave the group a more modern sound that is described as “jug-punk.”
“We came out with this roots-based aggressive punk-driven band type of thing known as The Woodbox Gang,” DeNeal says.
Dick Dime of The Sandbar says that the band’s lyrics are darkly humorous and topical.
1. You’ve been playing together for 10 years. Has your style evolved in that time?
Hugh DeNeal: It’s possible that you could say that. Our first album was pretty raw because it was me on acoustic guitar, my brother on bass, and Alex on washboard and banjo. I think it was recorded in just a couple of days, and that was “Trashcan Americana.”
Then the following albums we had some other people … But the idea behind it has pretty much stayed the same. We had a diverse bunch of tunes but the music comes from a familiar place of blues, country, rock and roll, and bluegrass, but with more modern ideas, with a subject matter relating to the modern world. Which is probably why most of the songs have such a dark nature to them.
2. What bands have influenced your music?
I’d say Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, The Popes, Hank Williams Sr., The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin.
3. How does it feel to be playing alongside The Legendary Shack Shakers?
We are very excited about that for sure! Those guys are incredible. … Looking forward to meeting them.
4. Some of your music, like “Devil’s Got Dibs on Me,” combines a happy sound with very serious undertones. What influences you to give the music these poignant and harsh lyrics?
Well, I’ve always had a bit of a twisted sense of humor. I find humor in a lot of things that settle in that dark sense of Edward Gorey’s books. Those are like children’s books for demented people, and they were highly inspiring. The sense is that they are so twisted and wrong it’s hilarious. That’s a feeling that I’ve never escaped from.
Deep down [the songs] are really really funny. It’s always inspiring when someone finds the humor in something that is so incredibly serious. I’m not completely a morose person entirely, but it’s pretty entertaining.
5. The song “Termite Song” has a foreboding sound but is sung from a termite’s point of view so it’s actually quite funny. Tell me about that song.
Well to be honest I wrote that song when I was about 20 years old and living in Florida. I’ve had my share of termite experiences by living in the country.
It kind of started off as more of a serious tune . . . Not that I’ve read too much of Kafka, but it’s a similar sort of thing and his “Metamorphosis,” where the bugs are humans and some human beings are creepy crawly treacherous things.
Maybe with that particular song it might be a foreboding thing that it will eventually destroy us, us being the Woodbox Gang and the termites being termites and how they love to attack the wood.
6. Your lyrics seem Christian-oriented but your band’s logo is a seated figure that is a mixture of Buddha, Kali, and Jesus all wearing a cowboy hat and carrying American instruments. What was the inspiration for this hybrid image?
Alex deserves the credit for that one, he did the initial drawing … a friend of ours added too it … that’s a logo that’s worked really well.
We are a compilation of different things … and it’s kind of fun to play and tinker around with that sort of stuff, the combination of religious ideas and philosophies with a mandolin and the cowboy hat and such.
7. What made you want to perform in Vail twice in one weekend?
Well, I think it will be really good to give a preview to our own show by playing with the Shack Shakers. We’ve never played Vail before, and the Shack Shakers knew we would be in the area. We are very excited about it; we don’t do this sort of thing normally at all.
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