Ryan Boldt of The Deep Dark Woods on the Rough Streets of Saskatoon
Hailing from the frigid confines of Saskatoon, Canada, one might think a band like The Deep Dark Woods would be happy touring the warmer climes of the Southern United States. Not so claims singer Ryan Boldt. Seems the cooler temperatures have an explicit and implicit influence on his band's music.
The Deep Dark Woods
Touring on 2011's The Place I Left Behind and in anticipation of tonight's show at the Prophet Bar, Boldt took some time to speak about the differences between Canadians and Americans.
One writer described the band's sound as "gloriously gloomy Americana." Your music is described as gloomy quite a bit. Are you really that depressing?
I certainly don't mind that description. We do play our share of slow songs, so I guess that sort of fits.
Why do you think alt-country goes over so well in Canada?
Canada has a great history of folk/rock stuff. Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and the Band are all from Canada. I think Canadians just like the idea of rootsy stuff. Blues and country and folk and bluegrass go well in Canada. I'm totally obsessed with it. We grew up on country music in Saskatoon. My grandmother introduced me to Hank Snow and the Carter Family.
Your song "West Side Street" is about a rough side of your hometown. How rough could it be in Canada?
There are definitely some places you don't want to go after dark. The side of town I was talking about is certainly not the friendliest place to be. It's a beautiful city. It has its rough areas, just like anywhere.
The average temperature there in May is 28 degrees. Does the cold affect your mood?
Yes, it probably has some affect on it. We don't get out much in the wintertime. All that you can really do is play guitar and write songs. It definitely has an effect on the sound of the band.
Outside of Canada, your new album, The Place I Left Behind, was released by Sugar Hill Records, a company that is renowned for releasing albums by seminal folk and bluegrass artists. Was that important to you when signing with the label?
Yes, I've been a big fan of many acts on that label. When I heard that they were interested in us, it was mind-blowing to me. We are just a bunch of kids from Saskatoon. It is pretty exciting.
You've been fairly successful in Canada and have earned a Juno Award. How do you translate that success to the U.S. market?
Success in the U.S. is absolutely important to us. A lot of bands get stuck in Canada. It's almost like they are afraid to venture out. We've toured for a long time in Canada and out. Some bands just want to build that audience back home. They get comfortable with that. It is definitely important to all of us to make it in the U.S. I don't know why it's so hard for Canada bands to do well in the States. There's a lot more people and it's harder to catch on. But it's easier to spread the word.
The bio on your website claims that your music is influenced by "temporal and geographic alienation." Is it as serious as all that?
That's a good friend of ours who wrote that. He's a good pal who's an English major. That probably explains a lot.
Your 2007 effort, Hang Me, Oh Hang Me, was the one that really attracted a lot of attention. How has your songwriting grown between that album and the new one?
I hope to think it has gotten better. I am getting a little older and listen to a lot more records since then. It hasn't changed a whole lot. I still write three, four and five-chord songs with nice melodies. I think the lyrics have gotten a lot better. That is for sure.
What's the biggest misconception that Americans have about Canadians?
That we are all extremely friendly.
Isn't that true?
I grew up there, so when I come here, I think Americans are a lot friendlier than Canadians. I think when you go to another place, people treat you differently. I think Canadians treat American bands real nice. The same thing happens when you go to Europe. I find Americans to be just as friendly, if not more, than Canadians.