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Inspired By Sleepless Nights, The New Woods Album Is 'Strange To Explain'

The band Woods has always incorporated diffuse influences, taking inspiration from lo-fi rock, Ethiopian jazz and psychedelic folk sounds. Guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Earl, who recently became a father, says his group's latest album, Strange To Explain was influenced by something else — a lack of sleep.

"Those first few months or first year of having a newborn kind of put me in a dreamlike state," he says. "And that was my escape: to start writing."

NPR's Scott Simon spoke to Jeremy Earl about how his sleeplessness affected his creative process, collaborating with his long-distance bandmates and how frog sounds made their way onto the new album. Listen to the radio version in the audio link above and read on for highlights of the interview.

Interview Highlights

On how becoming a father affected his songwriting

Starting to write the record was an escape for me from my everyday reality and anxieties. Being in those first few months or first year of having a newborn — everything circling around sleep for both [my daughter] and myself and my wife put me in a dreamlike state. And that was my escape: to start writing.

On collaborating with his bandmate Jarvis Taveniere, who moved to California from Brooklyn, and creating remotely during the coronavirus crisis

This was our first record recording it that way. And while things didn't change that much, we couldn't meet up spontaneously to rehearse or anything anymore. We just had to plan things out. But in the state that we are in now, we're starting to think about recording remotely and doing it over email. We've been working together for so long that it's easy for us both to work in our own spaces and kind of collaborate remotely, just from being used to the way each other work for so long. We've known each other for two decades now.

On the unique sound effects on the song "Where Do You Go When You Dream?"

The spring peepers — those are the frogs that you're hearing — that's in my area of Stoneridge, N.Y. If you're out at night in the spring, you can't hear anything else. So during the writing of that particular song, "Where Do You Go When You Dream" that's what I was hearing, that was on my mind, and it seeped in there.

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