The Woodsman’s Babe

Babeland

Woodsman Bio 2018

    I am returning to my solo project The Woodsman’s Babe this year to release my next big project. In April, I will be releasing Babeland, my second album, through CI Records. The upcoming effort will reunite me with long time friend and producer Stephen Keech in Nashville, TN.

    My last album, the self-titled debut album (produced by Jake Durrett) was really me just getting warmed up, because I’ve never really been a solo artist before. The songs that made it on the record, had been written for quite some time, and I genuinely just needed them to be released so I can move forward and not feel as if those songs were heavy weight holding me back from releasing more contemporary music. I am not unfamiliar with releasing music, or getting on a stage, but back in the early days of this project, I could not image how vulnerable I would feel once an audience hears me and only me; my ideas, my thoughts, my feelings, my voice, and my musical skills.

    A long time ago, I had this dream and in this dream it was as if I was sitting in a theatre and I was watching myself in a movie or something. In the movie that was in my dream, I left home and never returned. I went and lived alone in the woods, I left all technology behind, I worked on and lived off of my land, and lived there for the rest of my life. When I woke up, I had this funny thought of people that spend an entire life working on something, that they never finish or working towards a goal but the goal is some greater vague idea that doesn’t conceivably mean accomplishment. I had a buddy tell me once that he wanted a job at a bank, because it paid well. I could be totally wrong, but at that point, you’re just a small cog in a vague greater machine, and that small cog might pay better than working at Starbucks, but you really are there to help the guys at the top make their larger amount of income. Regarding my dream, I remember thinking that I needed to work on a project in reality that kept that dream alive that I don’t have to bank on. I wanted a project that I can pour my heart and soul into and treat it as my baby, but I don’t have to anticipate millions of dollars in revenue. That project became The Woodsman’s Babe.

    I will lightly touch on the reason why I had this dream. It was because I was at a diner in L.A. in the middle of the night one night, and I was sitting outside with a friend, and some cooky old man started talking to me about technology. He was terrified that my generation is oblivious to privacy through technology regarding our devices and believed the theory that the government or some illuminati-like organization has the ability to hack into our devices and look into our cameras, access sensitive information, and listen through our microphones even when we think it’s off. Most people I know would waive this as just crazy talk, but I began thinking about it, and I concluded that I really have no idea how my MacBook works, or how my iPhone works or what the developer software looks like. I have no idea if in those long terms and conditions documents is just all lies and they (developers, hackers, corporations) are hacking in our phones and computers and watching us, and that maybe the government is secretly allowing this. I once read in an article that Edward Snowden unplugs his hotel room telephone as soon as he arrives in the room, because there is a device that exists that allegedly some companies utilize that has the ability to remotely turn on a telephone microphone and listen in without the guests awareness. I can go on for days about this, but I’ll spare you the fear.

    Anyway…

    I decided to build The Woodsman’s Babe in Los Angeles. The initial reason is that I had a buddy in L.A. that wanted to start it with me, and that seemed like a good opportunity. It was probably as far as possible of a location I could have gotten from an idea of me living alone in the woods. But at that point in time, Los Angeles was the exact location I needed to be to create this project. By the way, this project was never was intended for me to actually be in the woods, all my friends, as well as every single interview I do, someone asks about me being in the woods.

    I will however, admit that when I wrote the songs for my first album, the original conceit for this project was more American-folky. I initially envisioned banjos, fiddles, and mandolins to accompany the acoustic guitar. At one point, I only wanted to wear Canadian tuxedos and brown boots. I cannot pin-point it, but somewhere along the journey, I had realized that, that was fucking stupid and way too neo-folky like mumford or lumineers or something. and I let go of that idea. I went in a different direction and something different manifested, if you happened to listen to my first album, you might understand what I mean; there are no banjos or mandolins featured anywhere on the album, there no lyrics where I list off state-names, sing about rail-road tracks, or where I am building fires near a cabin.
    
The new record is firmly the direct progression of where I mentally was last year. I got that first album done and released, and now I am more comfortable in my own skin. I am much more self-aware of who I am, what my voice sounds like on a recording, what my emotions are, and where I am at this point in my life and maybe where I am headed next in life.

    Where I once used to write fictional characters and scenarios that took place in distant locations and in arbitrary periods in history, I am now very present in my music. As much as I love my first record, there are no more lyrics about Jungian psychology, Emily Dickinson poems, Eternal Sunshine references, or Montague and Capulet style forbidden love. I am now every character in every song. I am now present in my music. I was driving around today and I was listening to my first album, which I very rarely do, but I’m currently attempting to understand how I got here, respectively due to the upcoming release of my second album. My first album, as much as I love those songs, looking back it is so distinct to me, that I was trying to wear a costume. I’m still not sure what the costume was, maybe flannel and denim, but I think I know why I wrote those songs. I was not sure of who I was at that time and I felt like I needed to be someone else, even if that meant fabricating stories and singing them under a hollow contrasting moniker such as The Woodsman’s Babe.

    My mission in creating Babeland, is thus far the most important aspect of my work. In place of this key element is the idea that my music is drunken and in-depth excavation of my personal psyche. If one word could embody summation to this album, it would be “wine.” Wine became apparent to me, when I was listening back to the songs when the studio finished up with them and sent me some mixes. I was driving around in my car alone at around 1 a.m. and the only thing that came to mind was “wine.” I forgot that I drank like 500 bottles of wine when I wrote this album. I just hope the next album would be, “vodka.”

    In my mind, I wrote these songs where I was the main character of this blissful, dream-like, beautiful world that is full of art, free-time, community, and laughter, but again I created all that in my mind. Instead, I, as well as all of us, are stuck in a- Netflix, T.G.I.McFunsters, go to work everyday, Brooklyn, hearts in our cappuccinos, Instagram, memes, and yeah yeah yeah all that stuff that makes me sound old, world. I feel like I’ve ranted about this before. I feel like this side shows in my new music here and there, it certainly is apparent how much I’ve grown since the last album. I was putting together a set list for a show recently, and I was looking at my catalogue of songs. I was blessed with the adversity of selecting songs that either were old and sad, or songs that were new and grumpy.

    Anyway, since the advent of this project, I’ve been in course of acutely studying myself. I’m recently aware that I need to be more present. I need to absorb my surroundings, feel my heart beat, and acknowledge every breath I take. I need to understand that other people I come across, also have a heart beat, and breathe, and are also in possession of stories and feelings, and I might be able to learn something from them or grow to love them, or hate them. I’ve met a lot of people since the advent of this project and in some manners, I distinguish this project as one big learning experience. A learning experience to document this part of my life, my twenties I suppose, hopefully my thirties if I am still making music then. This project initially was established in the winter of 2011, (which I’ve discussed a million times before and am going to spare you of that conversation here, if you care to know, go read any other interview I’ve done) it is now 2016, and as time goes on, I will presumably be releasing new music that represents who I am, what I feel, what I’ve learned, and what moves me. Maybe it’s okay to think of this musical project as a blog. There are some people out there that blog content about some obscure artsy ideas for an on-going duration of time they feel represents them to some discretionary extent. Maybe i’m a blogger! Maybe The Woodsman’s Babe is some big elaborate blog and y’all are just following my status updates. Maybe each album I release, is a status update/blog post. What if my songs were lyrics of what I’m doing, what food I’m eating, or my political views.
Blogging! I’ve found my calling!
How terrible is it, when you meet someone new and when you ask what they do, they say “I’m a blogger…”
……..

    Level with me, you’re reading this because of my new album, Babeland (produced by Stephen Keech, you may know Stephen from his band Haste The Day). If you discovered this project on your own and have no idea about my previous band, and you are more than likely a progressive minded, left-leaning person who in lounge behavior conversation regarding the globo-political ramifications of Invisible Sky Man contingency laughs consciously so as not to be subjective and very reasonably capitulates “Well, I don’t believe He’s some invisible sky man” at which point everyone agrees on [enter benevolent middle-ground] and moves on.

    I did not turn my back on religion, but I don’t feel I developed growth with faith in the last several years either. I love my religion, but I still struggle to fully understand religion, I’ve been trying to understand all religions for just over a decade now. I’m not going to preach here, but I’ve been struggling to hug it for nearly a decade, I feel as though I merely have some fingers grazing spirituality. I think i’m holding on to the idea that agnosticism is not flawless. I think when I used to talk to like-minded Jesus freaks everyday about what Jesus did and why he did it, I had to. It was the world I subjected myself to, and I absorbed the rhetoric and vernacular and at one point in time, even I may have shoved that rhetoric down your throat. If so, I’m sorry. But maybe you willingly put yourself in that situation.

     Maybe people spend too much time not in the right setting for constructing Faith. Maybe they are not in the proper company for that. Assuredly one may go and seek out whatever it is they want, meaning they can physically go to church or read the bible, but why would it be wrong for someone to not seek that out? Perchance that person is precisely where they should be at that point in their life.

    Don’t get your panties in a wad, this album is not about religion, at all as a matter of fact. But consider, what if a better way to understand religion is to create your own?

    Maybe an applicable adage is that one where people shrug their shoulders and say, “whatever.” Why do people focus on that one time in your life, and expect that to be you forever. Maybe I amcurrently on a personal discovery. I think if I was me right now but existed in the 60’s and 70’s you would have seen even more “sides” of me. I would have been inspired to travel even more, maybe Morocco or Greenwich Village, write more, read more, experiment on worldly things and ideas more. Why can’t I be me and still change? Do I always have to be that old-timey Joe? Head-banging Joe, ugh. I set my focus on one thing, and I have ended up here. Goldmund couldn’t stay at the monastery, he was hungry for knowledge and worldly satisfaction, Narcissus protested, but understood that Goldmund had to go, Goldmund had no choice but to go.

    I’ve been thinking about Cathy Ames/Trask lately. Why did she do all those things? Why did she have to leave Adam? She stayed with him, she let him love her, she married him, she birthed his children, she two-timed him with that bloodsucker Charles, then became a whore. Adam loved her and would have done anything for her, why is he the fool that gets hurt? Why are people capable of horrible things? Why is it that women, can be so beautiful and so evil at the same time? Maybe Adam had to go through those experiences for some greater vague purpose. Maybe we all must endure a terrible experience to become a better and stronger person on the other side.

    You’ve read this before, I’m not the first person to go “rogue”. Hell, you might have even heard me say this all before. I forged my own path to end up here. I did a whole bunch of shit and now I am here with this an album, Babeland. After the release of my first solo album, I thought I was born again, I mean, I was verbally, but this time it feels real. This album is proof.

    I wrote this album in my apartment in Silver Lake, what now seems in retrospect quite a short amount of time. I initially tracked everything in my bedroom closet. Then I took it to the studio to properly lay it all down. Then I sent those recorded songs to the studios to get finished up and… Voila. Babeland. My personal mandate is not to change someone else’s life with this album, it’s mostly for myself, I admit. It’s therapeutic. There are some events in our lives that happen to us that are so magnanimous, that ultimately change us for the rest of our lives, and we must live with those ghosts and take those ghosts everywhere we go. Something happened to me, that made me write this album. I did have another album that was already written, that I will do I love, but this album holds stronger relevance currently and requires priority. I won’t tell you what happened here, but if you listen to the album it is blatantly obvious what happened me. I don’t regret writing an entire album on this topic, I actually wish I didn’t have to make this album, but I did, and we are going to make the best of it, and we’re moving forward. Always.

-Joe

Babeland

Recorded by Jon Gross and Joe Lengson at Light and Company Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

Produced by Stephen Keech at Dirty Denim Studios in Nashville, TN.