Here is a familiar story for you, but with a not so familiar ending: your buddy invites you to check out a band, a band you haven’t heard about, so you drag your feet about making that Saturday night commitment. But after having one of “those” weeks; I laid down, adjusted my headphones and decided to give Wells Road, “the cursory listen.”
Within 15 minutes I was up, taking a strong pull of my favourite bourbon as I leaned against the kitchen table; my mind too unsettled to sit down. I was experiencing one of those rare occasions when long forgotten memories - memories which you didn’t even realize you still carried with you - spring from that distant and unlit part of your mind. I was thrown back to the time in my life when the future, still hidden beyond the horizon, was uncertain and hard to imagine; a time when I had no awareness that the seemingly unimportant decisions of the day, were in fact at work charting a course that I was about to sail.
These songs were tracks that I had to play a couple times - layered messages marbled within- sparked something more than the initial reawakening. I had to rewind and replay those “forgotten days.” They gave me the feeling that today, as the future is flying by us at a seemingly increasing pace, it’s nice to take pause, take inventory, and be reminded, that wherever you are: ‘be there.’
The next evening I attended an excellent show and afterward I stayed behind spoke with the guys in Wells Road. And, after I shared with them my story about the previous night, I welcomed their offer to write a band bio for their webpage. We sat down and I discovered little of what’s behind the band, Wells Road.
Nordmark kicked it off; “I’m from Stockholm; Stu, north of San Francisco , Gossard, a place that from 30,000 feet looks like small patch of grass in the cornfields of central Ohio. And I’ve heard it said that this sort of cross-pollination is what’s behind the origin of our sound, (and) our style of music. But in truth, from the first time we met up a few years ago we all knew what musical road we wanted to travel, and that has hopefully served to work favourably in terms of what we are trying to accomplish. We don’t dump, or drop an idea because it doesn’t fit a certain template; if we like a riff or melody, or the feeling or story it creates, then we wrestle it down. So, to answer your question, we’re a little Southern Rock, a little Roots and Americana, Heartland Rock, and Rock; it’s fair to say, it’s all in there at times.”
And he’s right - at times, the guitar is bright and catchy, while at others, a fine-spun and subtle melody is highlighted with keys and violin or other strings, which - when combined with vocals - form melodies that you feel you may have always carried with you. On some of their songs the bass is crunchy and raw and rumbles along like a gravel truck as it barrels by you on a rural state route. Listening to others is like running into a familiar friend, or into your younger self.
Taines said, “although we come from 3 different, so called, corners of this rock , and now all currently live in a fourth corner, it’s just like hanging out with the guys I grew up with in California. When Mike or Dan talk about a girl he used to date, or a job he used to hate, I think, ‘Hey man, I’ve run down those rails. I tell Mike and Dan all the time, ‘you just stole my story, I got that story too,’ just the names and places change. So maybe this has played into that thing people refer to as chemistry, and what we’ve done from a musical point of view.”
These stories are a real highlight – and there are many moments when the melody and lyrics combine in a way to spin familiar tales which lead the audience to believe that for them, the music is autobiographical. In fact, at their show I spoke with a fellow who was noticeably older than the rest of the crowd. He had apparently just stumbled in looking for a drink and some company; “That tune they played, Rust and Graffiti, ” he said in a way in which his lack of eye contact oddly added to the tone of his honesty, “I just kept thinking, (pause), well , let me just back into it this way…..maybe I should have made that left turn, instead of taking that right all those years ago…..there’s more to it, but you see what I mean.”
Gossard, “We’ve put a sincere foot forward with this album. Hopefully the authenticity is more than just recognizable, it’s felt. In the end though, we’re like everyone else; we’ve all collected a few experiences over time and write about them. When I kicked my feet up on the couch for some therapy, it’s not in front of someone wearing that white coat; it’s only me, a pad and a pencil. But again our songs, obviously they’re not just about us, they’re about people, the common man and woman, and how we are all, victors and victims at some point, and through it, we all deal in love , pain, change and even the mundane. It’s encouraging to us when we find that one of our tracks has moved someone to laugh, or gotten friends to tell a story and reminisce, or even better still, moved someone to just think quietly to themselves.”
Within the music from Wells Road and from their new album, Not Every Story ’s a Lie, lies plenty of truth, but the most touching truth might be that there is be no better way to build a bridge to an audience than to share a common story which creates among strangers an uncommon shared experience.