The Ws are a crazy group of 6 young fellas who wanna skank and swing (And will make you do so as well in the process).
Recently, I caught up with their bassist Todd "the Rodd" Gruener for an interview during their Supernatural Tour.
This interview took place on: 4/20/99.
Jesus freak Hideout: What made you pick the name, "The Ws?"
The name is the product of four very bored college students sitting around
scratching themselves, and not thinking too hard. No hidden meaning.
JFH: How did the band get started?
Todd: Again, four bored college students sitting around scratching themselves and
not thinking too hard. The W's all met in the wonderful college town of
Corvallis Oregon. Val, Andrew, Todd and past member Zak, got together to
kill time, and do what made them happy: play music. And so began the legend
of the W's.
JFH: How would you describe your sound?
Todd: The inability to play ska correctly. The W's music is our version of ska.
Seriously, we started out trying to play ska. Then once we got signed and
went into a real studio, what came out was a more refined version of ska - a
swingy kinda ska.
JFH: What bands have influenced your sound?
Todd: Down by Law, Face to Face, They Might Be Giants, Primus, MxPx, Nofx, Five
iron Frenzy, Brian Setzer, Frank Sinatra, U2, Paul Simon, and that punk band
that had the album Out Come the Wolves. Shoot, I can't remember the name.
Maybe one of you guys will know.
JFH: What is the story behind the song, "Pup?"
Todd: "Pup" is a story about a boy who follows a dog's owner home. Then feeds the
dog and gets arrested by the police. No other meaning. Just a folky song.
JFH: Who is "J.P.?"
JP is a guy most of us used to live with when we were at Oregon State
University. He actually wrote most of that song, so its coming from a
JFH: What is the song "Frank" about?
The song "Frank" is about my next door neighbor who thought I was a punk kid
who listened to that "rock n roll" music. The story is a bit embelished,
well extremely embelished, but it's artistic license.
JFH: What do you guys yell in unison at the end of the song, "King of Polyester"
At the end of "King of Polyester," we yell "Mark 'em Up." It's a bowling term
for a high score.
JFH: What is the song "Hui" about?
Todd: Its about an 80's surfing movie called North Shore. Since Bret, James,
and Andrew all like to surf, Andrew wrote a song about it. Go rent the
movie. It's corny.
JFH: What is your favorite Ws song?
Todd: I think "Dexter" is my favorite song. Just because it talks about when I was
a kid, and it reminds me where I came from, so I don't get a big head. It
helps me to remember that I'm white trash, not a rock star. I guess that
songs keeps telling me that I'm a normal American.
JFH: What is the story behind the goofy hidden track at the end of the disc
and who sings it?
Todd: When we went into the studio to record "4th From the Last" we had just come
off touring with Five Iron Frenzy. FiF has shown us so much about being a band, playing
shows, how to sleep in a van. We really wanted to do some sort of tribute
saying "thank you." So we listened to some Wesley Willis recordings, a paranoid
schizophrenic, and tried to copy some of his famous keyboard and drum
technique, just to say "thanks." Val sang it.
JFH: What is your favorite movie?
Todd: I'm pretty hip on the Matrix right now.
JFH: Do you prefer Mountain Dew or Surge?
Todd: Pepsi, of course.
JFH: Currently, you are on tour with dc Talk for the Supernatural
Tour. How did you score a spot on this tour and how is it going so far?
Todd: All the credit for this goes to Frank Tate, the Man who runs 5 Minute Walk
Records. We really had nothing to do with it. The tour is really fun, but
we are getting spoiled riding around in a tour bus and eating catered meals.
I can't wait to get back to the summer tour and travel in a van and eat at
gas stations. CAN'T WAIT!!!
JFH: What does the future hold in store for the Ws?
Todd: We plan on recording a new album at the end of this tour, in May. Then
doing a summer tour with FiF and Smiley Kids. Then having some time off
doing local shows in Oregon and Washington. After that we plan on touring
with a secular band.
JFH: The Jesus freak Hideout site was started out of appreciation for good
Christian music. We've set a goal to try to use the site to spread
Christian music, as well as God's Word, & show others how great Christian
music can be. Do you listen to Christian music? If so, what bands?
Todd: Yes and no. I listen to MxPx, and the bands I listed above. There is some
good Christian music, but also some cr*ppy stuff. Just like secular, general
market, non-Christian, whatever you want to call it, they have some cr*ppy
Right now, I'm listening to the new Jimmy Eat World album Clarity. It's
really rocking my world right now. I also listen to that Hum album with
"...she missed the train to mars. she's out back counting stars...." Ya
know, it was a hit song a while back. But these aren't Christian bands.
Face to Face supposedly has 2 or 3 Christian members, out of the four. I
listen to them, but I don't know if you'd call them a Christian band or not.
But they are some very good punk.
Andrew also listens to Sixpence None the Richer. They are all Christians,
but would you call them a Christian band? Hmmm.
JFH: I really appreciate you taking out the time in your busy schedule to
answer some questions for us. Are there any last comments you'd like to make?
Todd: Nope. Thanks for letting the W's do the interview. I hope my answers don't
make anyone mad. I just hope they make people think, that's all.
love the rodd.