A melting pot of melodic music, Melbourne’s Wooden Dolls have been chipping away at their shape since 2015, handcrafting their show and carving out their unique sound.
The four-piece, consisting of Simon Wood, Jaiss Lloyd, Thomas Walsh, and Finbar Concaig, have etched their names into the local music scene playing shows at the likes of The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, Mr Boogie Man and The Bendigo Hotel, but have recently found their calling with the release of their four-track EP, The Calling.
“I think it’s been 20 odd years in the making,” Lloyd laughs. “Simon and myself were together in school and then lived together and putting tapes together back in the day and recording. I don’t think we ever really got to where we wanted to go, even though we were trying so hard.”
“What has been great about reconnecting with Jaiss after all of these years, six or seven years ago now, was discovering that we had grown in similar directions,” Wood says.
While Lloyd dabbled in the DJ world and bands came and went on the Wood wagon, The Calling is the intertwining of both songwriters’ musical havens. As such, the most striking elements of Wooden Dolls’ music is two-fold. Firstly, it is the undeniable bellow of Wood’s baritone and the dark blanket of sound that is deeply reminiscent of the prince of darkness himself, Nick Cave.
“He is definitely one of the most important artists in the world – that’s probably the fan in me talking there – but just his ability to create a lyrical narrative and create worlds; he’s always been a writer who has sought to go beyond meaningless lyrics to creating something meaningful and poetic, and that has always connected with me. I think also being a baritone has meant that my voice sits in the same register a lot,” Wood explains.
“He is certainly a huge influence and there are themes that are similar for sure. There is that gothic, at times melancholy, at times dark sound.”
Lloyd agrees, “From a very young age my cousin gave me a record called Door, Door from The Boys Next Door [who later became known as The Birthday Party] who Nick Cave was the singer for. But the guitarist, Rowland S. Howard, made this unbelievable sound and it stuck with me. My biggest influence when I first picked up the guitar, and learning how to make a wall of noise, to this day is him.”
The melancholia that clouds and caresses the musical poetry, offering theatricality and drama, is quaking and the Cave storytelling and haunting pillars of noise are present, but the thread runs deeper. The name of their independent record label, Tell-Tale Heart, is a tell-tale sign of the profoundly poetic nature of their writing as derived from the godfather of melancholy, Edgar Allen Poe.
“Every song, we want to craft as best as we can. I love songwriting and I’m very invested in the lyrics and that fact that the music and the lyrics should go together to tell a story,” Wood says.
Lloyd interjects, “I think that metaphors are something that are highly engaged in our music and Edgar Allan Poe’s writing is very metaphorical. We want to generate as much feeling in as many different ways for the listener, both sonically and lyrically, to create a story for everybody.”
While elevating, it is not this element that is unusual; you can just look to Finnish love metallers, HIM, for this treatment. It is the inclusion of our distinctive Aussie rock roots on ‘American Oil’ that adds an additional edge to the Wooden Dolls.
“It’s got the real, old Australiana punk rock sound to it, like Midnight Oil or The Angels or the Divinyls, but with our obvious elements to it,” Lloyd says. “I think we’re a whole lot of genres blended together to make a good smoothie.”
Wooden Dolls’ new EP, The Calling, is out now. Listen to it here.
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