Exploring the unique, hybrid sound that is ‘Jo-Jo O’ & The WOODS’

Lacombe-grown Jo-Jo O’Donoghue and Rylan Woods have created an amazing blend of punk, blues and folk music with ‘Jo-Jo O & The WOODS’.

Lacombe-grown Jo-Jo O’Donoghue and Rylan Woods have created an amazing blend of punk, blues and folk music with ‘Jo-Jo O & The WOODS’.

The pair has been making music together for over a decade and is currently exploring Ireland to seek inspiration as they prepare for their next full-length album.

O’Donoghue and Woods caught up with the Express via Skype to talk about the evolution of their sound, their recent digital release of their EP Old Friends & Lost Souls and their experiences as musicians.

The pair talked about their ambiguous sound and why they find it hard to describe specifically.

“We didn’t set out to write a certain sound – we just kind of started writing songs and picked our favourite ones and recorded them. I think it’s blues-rooted for sure, and I would say that I’m a blues singer,” O’Donoghue said.

“I wouldn’t say that we shoot for any specific sound. If I wake up tomorrow and want to write a folk song, and a blues song the next day and then a rap – I probably won’t ever write a rap – but I’d like to have the freedom to do that.

“You are always changing, so you can’t just subscribe to making one kind of music because as it changes, that music becomes you,” she said.

Prior to Jo-Jo O’ & The WOODS, Woods played in a punk band for several years that O’Donoghue eventually joined.

“I would say that we both have a thing for ‘roots’ music – blues, and folk and those kinds of things. It’s that, and then it’s our childhood upbringing which was more playing punk rock, so it’s a cool little branch where these things come together,” Woods said.

He added that with Jo-Jo O’ & The WOODS, the writing and creation experience was very different than previously and it allowed him to embrace new styles and kinds of writing.

“I think the way that I go about songwriting is definitely different because when you’re playing with rock bands there’s a big group and you’re focused more on the music first. We’d almost put a whole song together, then give it to Jo and tell her to do something with it,” Woods said.

O’Donoghue chimed in saying, “They’d write these big rock songs that were all just the boys being rock stars, and then I’d just have to throw something over it. Now, it’s not all just ‘cool’ guitar parts or ‘cool’ drum breaks and then trying to squeeze a song and a melody or story into that. Now, we write the song, write the melody and then write the story and then take that and make it into a song.”

Woods laughed and continued, “Now I’m a lot more focused on the song as a whole. With this EP, we wrote everything just us two, and rehearsed everything just by ourselves so a lot of it was done acoustically. When we went to the studio with a full band and brought in other instruments– it was almost like we started building something that we didn’t know we would.”

The Old Friends & Lost Souls EP was produced in Alberta with help from friends Nich Davies on percussion and keyboards, Kurtis Cockerill on bass and Natalie Humble on trumpet.

Woods said this was a challenge but also a fun aspect of recording Old Friends & Lost Souls.

“Sometimes, bringing in other instruments also makes you feel like some things shouldn’t be there, because the song becomes too over the top, or too long or whatever. A lot of things can switch. We didn’t switch too much, but there are layers of guitar parts over top of each other so you have to make room for them and making it all work with the other components of the song.”

Jo-Jo O’ & The WOODS has a small repertoire of songs, but have dedicated much time and effort into ensuring that they produce a quality product.

“Recording is a cruel mistress. I am anally retentive – I am a perfectionist. I’ll do it all day, and then the next day and then the next day and it will keep me awake at night. That’s what my challenge is – it’s never good enough. There just comes a time when you have to just have to say it’s done,” said O’Donoghue.

“The process changed from just focusing on what we were writing to also working on ourselves as songwriters.”

Currently, the two are in Dublin planning out a small tour through the country.

“During out time here in Ireland, we are gigging our way across the country and hopefully the British Isles as well. We are also in the early stages of writing our next full-length venture.

“We hope to finish writing that here in Ireland and return back home sometime this year to record in our own studio. For me, Ireland is a very spiritual place, a dear friend of ours said it best – Ireland is a hospital for the soul,” said O’Donoghue.

Old Friends & Lost Souls is streaming on Soundcloud and available on iTunes.


Just Posted

Rebels, Hurricanes kick off their WHL playoff series

Game 1 starts the series Friday night in Lethbridge

Town of Blackfalds announces annual census

Census helps determine population and eligibility for Provincial grants.

Black and Gold Moth Ball coming this weekend

Fundraiser supports the Lacombe Generals trip to the 2018 Allan Cup

The Lending Cupboard lands new location on north end

New location - 7803 - 50th Ave. to be fully operational by August

Rotary Club donates $6,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters

Donation is equal to half of 2018 mortgage costs for charity

WATCH: AFSC unveils new CEO

Steve Blakely comes to AFSC after a 40 year career in the finance sector

Alberta’s budget sets path to balance

The Alberta Government announced the 2018 budget on March 22

McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump’s national security adviser

President Donald is replacing National security adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton

Two killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

French counterterrorism prosecutors are taking charge of the investigation into the shooting of a police officer in southern France

Three-car pile-up on Northstar Drive and 58th Street

No injuries reported at Thursday afternoon incident

Canadian women move to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Canadian women match all-time high, move back to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

A one-time senior aide to former prime minister Stephen Harper has been found guilty of influence peddling by Canada’s highest court.

Annual inflation rate rises to 2.2% for its fastest pace since fall 2014

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index in February was up 2.2 per cent compared with a year ago

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Most Read