Portlan, Oregon’s Wooden Indian Burial Ground is living proof that rock n’ roll isn’t dead. basking in a jumble of gritty retro garage, wavy psychedelic rock, and abrasive punk, WIBG have emerged as a raw guitar-driven force to be reckoned with. The band is gearing up to release their latest full-length album, Winnie & the Nihilist– a follow up to 2016’s How’s Your Favorite Dreamer?. After corresponding with vocalist/guitarist, Justin Folwer, who talks the band’s formation and experiences thus far.
SR: Tell me about the band’s history. How did Wooden Indian Burial Ground come together? We’re you in any other band’s before?
Justin: WIBG was myself and a wonderful lady named Judy back in 2008. We were lovers for 7 years and we did this couples thing where I played guitar and drums with my feet while she played bass and percussion. We disbanded after a few years, a record and a few good tours. At the end, Dan our current drummer sat in on percussion and made it more of a full band sound, then Judy and I broke up and that was that. Four years later I was approached by an old friend who had started a label in NYC called Mon Amie. Her name was Mona… She asked if we were still a band and if we had any recordings…I said YES, tho we weren’t and we didn’t. I had some recordings from a different project (still with Dan on drums), and we pressed a 10”. After that our buddy Perry jumped on bass and our friend Paul played keys and we recorded a full length in 2012 in my living room. Paul moved to bass and we toured as a three piece for a few years, then Sam was on bass for a few years. Dan has always been in the band, he keeps me on track these days with the business and the organizational side of things and Iv’e never known a better drummer. We now have a steady bass player (Nathan) that rips any instrument he touches, and a keys player (Cory) that is so good I can’t comprehend. Cory engineered and mixed most of our new record at his studio called Old Unconscious in Portland. I suggest tracking him down if you are looking to record or need something scored (Cory Gray). We’ve all been in many bands over the years, I’ll mention the current below.
SR: Where did you get the idea for the band’s name and the album title for ‘Winnie & the Nihilist?”
Justin: The band’s name is a shit show based off an old Portland legend of a scumbag duping someone. I wanted to retire the name long ago, but it was resurrected by the labels request when we put out that 10” record in 2011. We only go by WIBG now, that can mean what you want…maybe “When I Become Goo” or “Who Invented Bubble Gum.” It’s open game.
As far as the record title goes, we met this gal Winnie in Europe. She stole an inflatable palm tree from an Austrian tripping his nuts off on LSD. I was stuck on this song about a fictional nihilistic type character and didn’t really know where to go with it… I knew it would be called “Somehing & the Nihilist” But I didn’t have the Something figured out. Winnie was perfect phonetically and it’s a great Juxtaposition. I hope Winnie is cool with us using her name. Winnie, if you are out there, thank you.
SR: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard WIBG?
Justin: We refer to ourselves as SHITSTYLE or loud and shitty. Most people refer to us as psych rock.
SR: Who are some of your influences?
Justin: We are all big Neil Young fans. We also listen to a lot of Hip Hop on tour. Dan is a living music encyclopedia, I get a lot of new music from him. I grew up on Dead Moon, Dr. Dre and Billy Childish but love so many genres, so it’s a hard question. Lenard Cohen, Mulatu Astatke, Magnetic fields are big ones…Nathan and Cory both have crazy diverse music libraries…Might as well throw Kendrick Lamar and The Cure in there too, I’m sure we can all agree on that.
SR: Favorite album of all time? And why?
Justin: Depends on the day! I can’t go through this again after the last question. Probably a Velvet underground boxset or “Tonight’s the Night” if I’m stoned and drunk on tequila.
SR: What was the writing and production process of ‘Winnie & the Nihilist’ like?
Justin: I wrote and demoed songs at home then brought them to the band and we reworked them as a group. We don’t practice often, maybe ten times a year, A lot of reworking is done on the fly, in the back of a tiny tour vehicle and solidified during shows. We tracked live in Cory’s studio over a couple days, and did some overdubs there. I did the majority of overdubs and vocals at home then went back into Cory’s studio for mixing. I was on tour texting him fixes hehe. SHITSTYLE. He’s a pro tho and a champ for putting up with me.
SR: Who has WIBG shared the stage with?
Justin: We toured really hard in the states 2012 – 2015 and played with hundreds of great bands. We also did support tours for FUZZ and Built to Spill which were great experiences. There have been festivals where someone like John Prine or Charles Bradley played, but I dare say “shared the stage.” Last year we toured Europe a few times and it’s crazy! Even the 15 year olds are super well rehearsed and have nicer gear than us…These kids make me feel my 37 years and like I’ve gotten lazy even tho I work all time.
SR: Will their be a tour in the works?
Justin: Just got home from a month long PNW/West Coast tour, heading back to Europe in March!
SR: Is their anything else you’d like to add? Anything else we should stay tuned for?
Justin: I’m going to make a solo record this winter, I’m starting work on it after i finish this interview! Check out our members other projects:
Cory – Old Unconscious
Nathan – Sport Fishing USA
Dan – Run on Sentence
Paul Seeley – Father Times
Perry Pfister – The Tiny Spoon
Sam Farrell – Fronjentress, Curly Cassettes
And Big thanks to our label! EXAG’ Records outta Belgium.
WIBG’s new album, Winnie & the Nihilist, is due out this Friday (11/3) via EXAG’ Records. Listen to some tracks below: