Santa Barbara band Howlin’ Woods came to UCSB and performed at Storke Tower last week. The four-piece band, which includes Matthew Farrington (drums), Griffin Chetakian (lead guitar), Brian Chandler (bass/keys), and Jordan Chetakian (vocals/guitar), met in Goleta and has been playing together for about ten years. However, the band itself did not form until 2009.
“Where’s the whisky?” Chandler said half-jokingly as the band gathered underneath the shade after sound check. The rest of the band shared a few chuckles as they whipped out their pre-show cigarettes before our interview.
The first distinguishable characteristic of Howlin’ Woods is its range in sounds. The band’s sound takes on a variety of shapes, ranging from blues to funk to folky to ambient. When I asked them what genre they thought they might fall under, the band as a whole refused to box themselves within a certain music category.
“We’re still experimenting all the time,” Farrington said.
Nevertheless, Griffin Chetakian went ahead and, in an almost tongue-and-cheek manner, classified themselves as “rock ‘n roll.”
“You can be whatever you want when you’re rock ‘n roll,” he said.
The claim seemed appropriate as the band stems influence from bands such as the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes and even the Wu Tang Clan.
The band is currently on a West Cost tour and will be performing at the Dead on the Mountain music festival in Wrightwood, Calif. from May 6 through May 8.
Farrington, who is named as the band’s “acting band manager,” explained that money is the most difficult part about being a performer. Both he and Jordan Chetakian have day jobs in addition to the band’s funding program on the website Kickstarter, which provides funding methods for creative projects.
“We like making people happy and getting them to dance,” Chetkian said. “As for us, it’s really the only cardio we get.”
The band’s advice to aspiring bands was simple: “Keep playing and do it because you love it.”
Although the band hardly interacted with the audience during their actual set, their energy and distinctive alternative sound was received well. Jordan Chetakian’s smooth vocals converged with Chandler’s vibrating bass, while Griffin Chetakian’s fast fingers slid up and down dexterously across the neck of his guitar. In the middle of the set, Farrington busted out with an impressive drum solo, whipping his body around as he drummed and received a shower of validating yells.
As a whole, Howlin’ Woods provided the UCSB demographic a strong set with a sound that deviates from what is typically circulating the indie airwaves. They were catchy and melodic, but still showcased a varied repertoire, making them a prime local band to lookout for.
They are currently working on finishing up their first full-length album and can be found at www.howlinwoods.com.