Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DEEP WOODS

Self proclaimed Lumberjack Punks from Timberlea, Nova Scotia. Starting out in 1989 under the name Septic Tank, the band went through some line-up changes and settled on the name Deep Woods. If you were going to shows in Halifax in the early 1990's you no doubt saw play more than a few times. Here we have an interview with their singer Don Trim-Macdonald done in March 2015. It's a bit more conversational then the other interviews I've done and has been edited to flow better. MP3's included as per usual - you get the very rare 1994 demo tape (thank you Greg Baller!!) plus a live set from the Green Room at the Dalhousie Student Union Building from 1992! Enjoy!

Deep Woods live @ Cafe Ole

How did Deep Woods start?
We probably started playing late '89 or '90. I grew up with all of them. Gordie and Rob Francis were brothers and lived down the street from me. Rob Mills who was the bass player… he lived up the road a ways. But this was the first go-around...this was Septic Tank. They were a bit more into metal. We were all headbangers but the punk came from me going to St Andrews ramp. Rob listens to a lot of punk that I don’t… like Stiff Little Fingers. I know the first time I played the DKs for them and they laughed and laughed. They couldn't get over Jello's voice. We had the band together but it sort of fell apart. Then I jammed with No Offense. We never recorded anything – I just jumped on a set they played at a party behind KOD on Blowers St. I wound up singing for them because I knew all the words. That was pretty short lived. Then I left because Deep Woods started jamming again.

What were your influences when you first started?
For me – black flag, circle jerks, SNFU – seeing that first show of SNFU and seeing Chi Pig and the way he jumped and leapt all over the place…that was a real big influence on me. All I wanted to do was be a rubber ball. I remember Robert screaming at me cuz I started leaping off the bass drum cuz I’d seen Chi Pig do it…and he was losing it that I was gonna break his drum kit.

Whose idea was the Cro Mags cover (Hard Times)?
We just really liked the song. May have been rob mills who wanted to do that…it wasn’t my idea. I like the Cro Mags…I never bought anything by them but I liked the songs that I heard like Hard times or We Gotta Know. I was never into the whole skinhead thing one side or the other.


Would you say your sound changed over the course of the band?
We changed from the original lineup. When we first started, we had a guy playing drums named Greg Rankin. He was a friend of Zack from Pro Skates. I met him at Zack’s place on Morris St. and I hung out there a lot cuz I skated with Zack. I met this guy Greg who played drums and that’s actually how the band got back together. We got talking and this guy Greg really wanted to jam. With him we were more…I wouldn’t want to say  RHCP cuz we weren’t as skilled by any stretch of the imagination, but the songs were a little more…jazzy….but they certainly weren’t hardcore. They weren’t as heavy. But he went to university in St John's…so when he left we didn’t have a drummer so that’s when Rob Francis became the drummer for Deep Woods cuz he was off doing whatever with other bands. And that was a big change cuz all of a sudden we got heavier cuz Greg’s influence wasn’t there anymore….he was quite outspoken trying to keep Gord and Rob Mills slowed down. When Robert first showed up he was just trying to learn the songs and pretty much did what we asked him. And he is an incredible drummer. So we got heavier and tighter. 

When was your first show?
First show was in March 1991 pub flamingo $2 Tuesday. We opened up for DPR. There weren’t many shows, so everybody came to shows back then. There was like one show a month. If it was metal or punk or anything remotely heavy, everybody went. Which was cool...it was a good mix.

I know you had a demo tape? Was it ever for sale?
It came out just as we were breaking up. We may have sold it at our last gig in 1994 at CafĂ© Ole. We played there a lot…at least once a month. For a while there, Donner Party Reunion and us would literally play there two times a month, maybe three…it was a lot! We played with them a lot everywhere. The 2 bands went together. It was fun. That's who we were with on the infamous Moncton trip. 


Let's talk about that, what happened up there?
We went up to play a show; I can't even remember the name of the place. We went up on a Friday night. We were supposed to play Saturday night and we thought we'd go up a night early and check the place out and just have some fun of it. So our whole band went in a van and Jon Johnson and Reg and maybe Dean (of Donner Party)...there were only 2 or 3 of them. Anyway we went to the bar next door to where we were going to play. We walked in and there was a band playing and they seemed pretty good. We are sort of walking around, I remember distinctly pulling Reg off to the side and saying something is not right here, like we are seriously getting stared at and he's like "no, no people don't know who we are it's all good." Right, they're wondering who these people are. We went in the bath room, came back out, we're standing there drinking and all of a sudden the band on stage, starts playing a Skrewdriver song. Which is very racist band and all these guys with shaved head stood up and started put on bomber jackets, covered in KKK patches and nazi symbols. And John and Reg at least were wearing bomber jackets with S.H.A.R.P patches. So you see where this starts going. So anyway we kind of realized things weren't good. The idea was nobody was supposed to go outside by themselves. Immediately after we made this decision, somehow Gord Rob Mills wound up outside by themselves. And somebody punched Rob in the back of the head and his glasses went flying off. The police got called, we wound up in the back parking lot. There was like 8 of us or something like that. And I think 30... but I'm assuming time making me blow it a little out of proportion so it's probably more like 20 of these guys squared off. The funny part was Jon Johnson had a bat that he had drawn on with a sharpie and it said S.H.A.R.P. on it. So back to the van, Jon with a baseball bat in his hand and this group of them wanted to pulverize us. And the police showed up. One of those guys got arrested because he had an outstanding warrant. We parked the van at the police station for the night and slept in the club that we were going to play. Now the club was attached to the other club that we had been at via one of those glass doors. And they were in there all night drinking after the club closed, playing music. You could hear them and we're all sleeping on the floor. And about 4 o'clock in the morning the alarm went off, the burglar alarm. So everybody was like going around to the doors with weapons and stuff checking to see if somebody had snuck in. It was a bizarre situation, everybody wanted to go home.

Did you end up playing the next night?
Yeah we stayed, we played and absolutely nobody showed up. There might have been 15 people. That's pretty terrible. We made no money, it cost us money to go there. The guy couldn't pay us anything because he didn't bring in anything at the door. He gave us some free subs for supper.

Back to the recordings you did. Was there anything else besides the demo?
There was another recording done by Jake Evans when he was in the band briefly. It was done on a reel to reel at Jake's place. I haven't seen it in a while but I did have the reel. I think there were 2 reels actually. Guessing there were 15 to 20 songs on it. Everything we ever did or could think of including possibly a cover of beat it by Michael Jackson. Jake could play it on the guitar; it seemed funny at the time. I looked into getting it transferred onto cassette or CD, and there was something to do with the machine he had used a thinner, tape like was quarter inch to half inch or something and nobody had anything that would play it or you could get it off of. And I know because he had a small studio in his basement for a while when he was living in Spryfield. He's living in this little house across from all these ghetto apartments. Anyway somebody broke in and stole all the gear, including his instruments I think. So yeah that went missing, so we could never get the actual and nothing ever became of it. I may have even thrown it out a few years ago.

I also have recording of the green room show.
Oh yeah, yeah I've heard that we've played a few shows at the green room, I like that place. Yeah it was neat with the sunken floor. We play a few shows there; Gord's got one on VHS somewhere. He lent me a tape that we had of us playing. It was a different one at the green room. We probably had 3 or 4. 



How did you get on the "Punk, The Next Generation" CD compilation?
Yeah that's the one out of Thunder Bay or maybe one of the bands was out of Thunder Bay.
I don't know, I got a letter in the mail? Yeah....letter in the mail because D Rock had done a thing I think, a story on Halifax scene from Maximum Rock N Roll. We got letters from like Hungary and stuff like that. We are looking for tapes, looking for music and I never sent anybody anything. So terrible, I wrote a couple of people back but we really didn't ever get anything out. We did have the stuff that was live to the floor for cab can hear. That was at the Double Deuce, we're told not to use it but we did. Obviously I mean Greg hands me, here's a tape, master tape for your show, pick a song and one other compilation. He's like and I want the tape back, you can't keep all those other songs, obviously we did.

Did you play outside of Halifax besides that Moncton show?
We played Kentville. There was a small venue in Kentville for a short period of time, but Donner Party had been up the week before us and I not exactly sure what went down. The people that owned the place weren't overly pleased with them and when we got there, there weren't a lot of people. And all they kept saying was like somebody handed them a script. I was like "so why don't you guys like Donner Party - they're great we play with them all the time." They left the bad taste in our mouth is what every kid said, almost word for word. It had something to do with Jon smoking something in the basement. But I mean really that's not that big of a deal. And I was there skateboarding out in front and stuff and it was crazy .They said we had to stop skateboarding on the sidewalk or the police are going to come and they're going to take it. It was funny, it was very strict. We probably played Truro maybe, played Bridgewater a few times. Yeah we played a show with Hip Club Groove at the Exhibition in Lunenberg once, yeah we played a few shows around I can't remember where they all were now.

Were there ever shows in Timberlea?
There was one in Timberlea at the fire hall. Septic Tank played and Adrenalin played, Adrenalin was the headliner. When we were in Septic Tank we got to play at the Dartmouth Sportsplex show in that little room. The place was packed; it got destroyed that's why there was never another show there again. Holes in the roof, in the walls, it was crazy. Actually Zavin’s band was there too - Poke. That was probably 88, 89 something like that.


What are some of your favourite memories of playing shows in Halifax?
My first flamingo show opened up for DPR was incredible, just cause we had, I've been trying, I've been talking everybody knew cause I knew you, I do a lot of people in the scene from skate boarding. And I was trying to get shows but shows were few and far between and the bands that were well liked. It was hard to break in when you were new back then cause like I said there might have one show a month or one every two months. And I mean it was always going to be moral support system over load right. And I'm not knocking those bands because they were great I love seeing them play and stuff but it made it hard to get your foot in the door. And then you know Reg and I were out skating and drinking or both. I was complaining to him about it, he's like we got to two back Tuesday, we've only got so many songs. So an opening band would be good and the place was freaking packed. We postered for like a month and a half leading up to it. I was sticking posters up in the buses, like where the little ads went, all over the universe like everywhere; my parents had a photo copier, a black and white photocopier, so I made hundreds of copies.

 



















Why did Deep Woods break up?
I think we really just got on each other’s nerves after a while. Towards the end, we were showing up, we were jamming at  Rob Mill's place and this could have been another reincarnation cause that band got back together several times. But yeah we basically were just getting on each other's nerves, I mean it happens. Relationships are hard enough when there are two people, let alone 5. That was in 1994, but them of course like I said there were reunions. We got back together in probably 2000. We played a show at the Pavilion; we had written a couple of new songs. A friend of mine came out dressed like leader face with a chain saw, cut me up on stage. We played with the Dayglo Abortions there and got in a bit of a rowel. Not with them per say but with Jacquie She booked the show and the band she was in. It was her and Mike, nice guy. I know a few people who know him, the guy who worked with off shore knows him pretty well. Yeah they were playing way over into our time slot, like 4 songs or staring the 5th or something like that. And I got kind of mad and I walked out on stage when they finished the song, shot off all the amps, grabbed the mike and said thank you good night, which didn't go over very well. We also opened for Chixdiggit at the Marquee and they were really cool..

And what have people from the band gone on to since then?
Yeah I went on and did Slitch, I was in Butter Side Down for a while...that was a little more rock and roll. I know Rob still does cover bands... he's sort of like a hired guy, he'll play for whoever when their drummer is sick and out. But yeah he does The Persuaders quite a bit. Rob Mills plays bass in a band I don't know what they're called. It might be sort of jazzy or something like that. But yeah he still plays a lot. Gord doesn't play at all, I don't play at all anymore.

Do you think you'll ever play another show?
Oh for sure, if we could get like No Offense or The Shitheads or Donner Party. If we could make a night of it and get three or 4 bands from the day, that would be neat.  A couple of years ago, Gord wanted to get back together again, but then trying to organize time that we'd all show up... They jammed without me one night and I got kind of mad because it turned out I was actually home. They were like, well we just assumed you were at work and I was like well you could have called and asked but whatever.

Any other final thoughts on the legacy of Deep Woods?
I don't know.... I've had a lot of fun, met a lot of cool people. I met some people who weren't so cool, like MDC - Millions of Dead Cops. What a bunch of asses. Yeah they sort of seemed nice at first, but they were staying at Jakes house. Jake Evans was in Deep Woods for MDC. They ate him out of house and home, made all kinds of collect calls when he wasn't around. And they went and did an interview with Richard and then started slagging us because they didn't like the name Deep Woods cause lumberjacks are evil cause it cut down trees. They missed the whole fact that it was a joke. Well compared to like some other bands I've met, like yeah they were just a bunch of burn outs. That drummer reminded me of Jim Ignatowski from Taxi. He was literally across the street from Jake's house trying to score crack. But I mean you know people have problems. Yeah that's it, lots of fun, lots' of cool people, lots of fun shows. Play the double deuce when it first started. We got in on that before there was a stage or anything, before it was cool. It was nice to be there to start and to finish.



DOWNLOAD MP3s!!!
DOWNLOAD THE LIVE SHOW: Deep Woods - Live @ The Green Room

Or just listen to it here. Note there are maybe 20 seconds long gaps between songs:







4 comments:

exexalien said...

An interesting and informative article. I was at the gig in Lunenburg that Don mentioned; in fact, I think it might have been the first show I ever went to. I'm can't remember exactly when it was (I'm thinking it was early to mid 1994) and it was held on the Exhibition grounds (in the "big blue building"). I believe 7 bands played that night: Madhat, Deep Woods, Hip Club Groove, Plumtree, Speed Shifter, Stump and the headliner who for the life of me I can't remember the name of. Madhat was the local favorite at the time, so after their set most of the hall cleared out and there were only a dozen or so people left by the time the headlining band started their set. They were (relatively) older and played kind of mellow, slightly psychedelic rock; they also had a liquid projector which was pretty cool. Maybe you or one of the other readers knows which band I'm talking about?

Anyway, it was a great show. And reading this has brought back some great memories, so thanks!

exexalien said...

EDIT: Make that 8 bands; I believe Causing Chaos played that night as well.

Patlaj said...

Loved reading this - so glad you're collecting this stuff Ian.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article! I'm pretty I was at the Dal Sub show of the poster you have there. I recall someone broke out a PB&J sandwich just as the song of the same name started. It was thrown into the pit, where it kind of crowd-surfed for a few second, then it suddenly disintegrated. A defining moment of my youth. :)