Interview: Roddy Woomble from Idlewild

posted July 17, 2003

by Corinne

Roddy Woomble from IdlewildHow are you?

I’m all right, yeah.

You guys were just here in March, was there any particular reason for your quick return or did you just want another cheese steak?

Um, [laughs] No, basically we got offered to headline the Siren Festival in New York and we were also going to do a television show. Called like Jimmy Kimmel Show. So we thought, what’s the point in going over and doing two shows? Cause it’s quite expensive for all of us to fly so we thought we’d play a few more shows around. And cause it was short notice we couldn’t do a tour and there wasn’t the budget to do a nationwide thing. We thought we’d play Washington, D.C. because we haven’t played for ages. And last time we played here [Philadelphia] was so good that decided to -- and you wanted to have us back so there was no real reason it was that we wanted to play a few shows around the Siren Festival. It just seemed to kind of make sense cause it’s close to New York and it’s a cool place.

You were touring the US with Pearl Jam, how’d that go?

It was good.

Do you enjoy the large scale arena tours or the club-size shows better?

Well it’s different. We’re, obviously, not a big enough band to play arena shows ourselves headlining. So when we headline in clubs, or halls or whatever, we’re comfortable playing in that environment. When it’s arenas for us, it’s always been supporting bands which is a completely different way of viewing it and sort of act and play your songs. So I couldn’t say. Maybe if we’d headlined in an arena it’d be more comfortable doing that. But at the moment, they’re just too different to compare, really. I prefer, obviously, headlining. It’s more relaxed and you can enjoy yourself more. Whereas when you’re supporting bands you always feel like you’re trying to impress with every single chord.

You had one band member leave and brought two new members in. What made you decide to add a second guitar player?

Well Allan’s been playing with us for years live. Y’know, maybe since 2000, because the “100 Broken Windows” record had so many different guitar parts that we needed to put two guitar players on stage to make it sound right. And Allan was one of my best friends so he just joined. He wasn’t ever an official member even though he pretty much spent every waking day with us. So when Gavin joined the band, it just seemed like the right thing to do to make everyone more legitimate and make Allan be apart of it. Because he was involved with “The Remote Part,” as well, he came up to the Highlands to write songs with us. Yeah, it was just refreshing. It was sort of like a second chance, y’know; it’s different. It’s rare for bands to do that – to be able to alter their line up and their whole kind of aesthetic and at the same time grow stronger, I guess.

Where’d the “Support You Local Poet” motto come from?

I just made it up. [Laughs] I guess it’s because it’s sloganeering, almost. People really took that. I mean, we got asked a lot of questions about it. To us, it was a number of things. It was kind of tongue-in-cheek, sort of self-mocking. But it was also a fun little phrase that looks cool on a tee shirt and it’s a nice sort of Generation X kind of phrase, isn’t it? And on the other side of it, it is good to support your local poet. And it’s quite funny now cause fourteen year olds, wherever, to thirty year olds all over the world that like Idlewild try to check out, find, their local poets. I guess we’ve started some kind of trend. But it wasn’t entirely supposed to be so serious, like “go out and seek your local poet.”

Who’s your favorite poet?

Probably Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet. But I like a lot; I mean, I’m not any academic I just like reading. I like Edwin Morgan a lot, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost.

Do you have a favorite Idlewild song?

No, probably -- It changes. I don’t really make a point in listening to our records that much. Because when we’re writing the songs and recording them we’re living them so much; y’know, we’re listening to them all the time. Songs exist for me just purely live: it’s the way I play them and the way I sing them every night. That’s the songs to me, it’s not the recorded version, that’s for other people, really. Last night [in Washington, D.C.] is the closest I can think of and last night probably, actually, “I’m Happy To Be Here Tonight” was a good one. I don’t have a favorite; it changes from day to day.

What was your most memorable concert to play?

We’ve played a lot. We’ve played at least 500 concerts since the start. It’d be tough to remember them all, though I probably can if I think about it. Recently -- I’m trying to think -- we played a good show with Pearl Jam in Chicago. That was when we were actually comfortable. We felt quite relaxed on stage. Last night was good, too. I can’t think of one definitive concert where I had some sort of musical epiphany. Most of them have got their high points. And their low points, which makes a good concert.

What are your favorite albums?

That’s hard. Off the top of my head: “Damaged” by Black Flag, “Murmur” by R.E.M., “The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan,” “Horses” by Patti Smith…that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Oh and “Back in Black” – AC/DC.

Name an underrated band you think deserves more attention.

I don’t know. I mean, my favorite bands at the moment are probably Bright Eyes, Mars Volta, and Cat Power. And they all get the kind of attention they need, y’know? I guess a good Scottish band called Aereogramme. They’re got a couple of really good records. They don’t really get much press but they’re a good band.

What have you been listening to recently?

I’ve been listening to the Fairport Convention, actually. They’ve reissued all their early albums. That and the Mars Volta record which I think is excellent and the new Mogwai album and Creedence Clearwater Revival which has become a firm favorite on the tour bus -- a mixture of stuff. A lot of jazz, as well and I don’t really know anything about jazz but I kind of like it.