INTERVIEW: Turner Midzain of Calgary’s Woodhawk

Earlier this year, Calgary’s Woodhawk released a storming debut LP, Beyond The Sun. It’s a fantastic stoner rock album and was recorded right here in Vancouver at Rain City Recorders with the help of Jesse Gander.

When I spoke to Turner Midzain, Woodhawk’s vocalist and guitarist, he said that working with Gander was “an absolute pleasure.”

“He is a man of his craft,” says Turner, “and knows how to capture your band’s sound better than anyone I’ve ever met. Jesse really pushed us to get the best out of us. We all played in the same room at the same time, and I think it really sounds like that — which we love. He also played keys all over the album, and it really filled out the sound and created another element we don’t usually hear in our band.”

For the most part, Woodhawk’s songs are written by Turner, who says, “I typically come up with a riff that sticks and build from there. Once I feel the riff is solidified enough, I take it to the band. So most of the time, I bring about a 75% completed song to the band, and we build it from there. It sometimes changes a lot and sometimes not at all. But it all starts with a riff.”

Many of the album’s songs deal with science-fiction themes, but as a whole, Turner says, “It kind of tells the tale from start to finish of someone who ventures off on their own to try and rediscover them self and rebuild their life from the ground up. But through that tale, there is conflict, discovery and resolution. Kind of the overall idea is that you spend so much time trying to escape and get away, that you need to look around and see how good you actually have it around you. Sometimes leaving isn’t that answer, but seeing the world through new eyes.”

Turner’s personal favourite track from is the eponymous ‘Beyond The Sun.’

“It was one of those songs that really morphed into something bigger and better in the studio,” he says, continuing: “It also sparked the idea for the album title and themes surrounding. We had a lot of fun tracking that song, it was the only one that we ended up going back and redoing the bed tracks because we knew it could be better.”

The album also features from Kevin Keegan (lead singer of Vancouver’s Dead Quiet) on ‘Living In The Sand.’ Dead Quiet is Turner’s favourite Vancouver band.

“They’re great buds of ours and we love them,” he says. Other Vancouver bands Turner is a fan of include Bison, Anciients, Black Wizard and Waingro, who he calls “Just great people all around and they’re all making amazing music.”

Music aside, Turner also loves Vancouver’s food. (Who wouldn’t?!) He says, “When we spent two weeks recording, Jesse would take us somewhere new every day. So now we make sure to get into Vancouver as soon as we can, to eat our way through the city. We pretty much live off Peaceful Dan Dan noodles when we get to town.”

Woodhawk has been playing a whole bunch of shows to support Beyond The Sun (including one at The Astoria on September 16), but the band also has an eye on the future.

“We’re currently working on the follow-up record,” says Turner. “We hope to take our time with it and not rush it. With the release of Beyond The Sun and some touring, we’ve definitely grown and are trying to harness that energy and emotion into the writing as much as we can. We’ll be heading to Eastern Canada in early 2018, and hoping Europe/UK for summer 2018. Just trying to keep busy.”

See Woodhawk live at the Astoria on September 16. Click here for details.