Nate Wood – fOUR
“I’m an introvert,” insists Nate Wood. “I actually get more energy from myself than with others. I can work days on end by myself and stay motivated.”
The acclaimed multi-instrumentalist (who, despite his protestations, is actually quite affable) is no stranger to working with other musicians — throughout his storied career, Wood has recorded or performed with the likes of Wayne Krantz, Tigran Hamasyan, The Calling, Donny McCaslin, Chaka Khan and Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders. He’s also a core member of the Grammy-nominated jazz collective Kneebody and a sought-after studio engineer.
But his new project, fOUR, is truly an ambitious take on going solo. Here, Wood is playing everything — analog synths, drums and bass, while sometimes adding vocals — at the same time. As well, he’s recording every song in one pass with no overdubs, click track or pre-recorded backing tracks. “That’s why it’s called fOUR, because it’s me with four limbs playing four instruments at once,” says Wood.
Musically, fOUR veers from complex, space-y prog rock to electronic-tinged instrumentals. The project certainly touches upon all aspects of Wood’s career (jazz, improv, rock, singer-songwriter) and influences (long-time favorite Aphex Twin in particular).
While Wood has recorded three singer-songwriter albums under his own name where he’s played all the instruments, as well as played multiple instruments on stage at once for other projects, fOUR is the first time he’s brought those concepts together. “I wanted to keep this separate from everything else I do,” he says. “The records under my own name are a certain kind of guitar-based composition, with overdubs and layering, and I perform those live with a full band.”
fOUR operates under a different philosophy. Says Wood: “Technology now is so amazing, you can make a perfectly edited record on an iPhone. So I wanted to strip away all the tools and crutches of modern music, get rid of laptops and keep it raw. I think it makes for a richer experience in the long run.”
Lyrically, fOUR finds Wood disaffected by the current political climate and pondering the technology of today and tomorrow — twice, he muses on the idea of cryo-freezing (including one from a rabbit’s point of view, its genesis an actual news story). Elsewhere, he ponders building a ship to leave Earth. “This is certainly a different perspective,” he says. “My songs here are less about myself and more tech based.”
Currently, fOUR has released a number of viral videos on YouTube and Facebook (where some of the clips have topped one million views), with a full album of music on its way in July. As well, Wood’s ambitious one-man project has already debuted live, with several more dates to follow.
“I want to tour a lot and hopefully make fOUR my main project,” says Wood, before ending with the year’s biggest understatement. “I certainly don’t want to limit myself musically.”