Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak will return to Columbia July 21, and they are bringing a new, unique sound.
Wye Oak’s new album, “Shriek,” stands out among the band’s other three records. For the first time in the band’s history, Stack was not living in Baltimore, but in Portland, Oregon, making the development of “Shriek” slightly more challenging.
“We were sending ideas back and forth on email and talking on the phone a lot about creative aesthetic ideas,” Stack says. “It was very different from any of our other records, where we would be in the same space recording, writing and creating. I think that creative process brought some pretty new things to the table for both of us."
While being separated was a challenge, Stack says it was made easier by the band’s long history together.
"We have been playing together in one form or another for twelve or thirteen years. This particular band, Wye Oak, came about eight years ago,” Stack says. “It sort of formed out of the ashes of this previous group we were playing in.”
Stack says the duo’s musical efforts have varied over the years, noting an evolution in their sound. But while their music has changed, Stack and Wasner continue to be on the same wavelength when it comes to songwriting. “We can sort of read each other's minds in a sense. We always know the direction the other is going,” says Stack.
Wye Oak’s creative connection is obvious in “Shriek,” where the band decided in the removal of all guitars.
“We decided pretty early on in this writing process that we wanted to eliminate the guitar as the main instrument that everything rotates around, and I think for us that was less of a enormous decision as it may have seemed to the rest of the public,” Stack says.
Both Stack and Wasner play multiple instruments. Stack says the departure from guitar-driven songs has been liberating, allowing the band to redefine itself and pursue a sound that’s “a lot different from anything we've done in the past.”
Wye Oak’s music stands on more than instruments alone, which is something they take pride in.
"Ultimately, the songs still stand up as songs, which is really important for us because we're a band that's based around songwriting,” Stack says. “You could take away guitar, drums or whatever fills are in there and there has to still be a song there.”
Wasner and Stack have dedicated much of their time to creating a live show that provides depth for the audience.
“The music goes beyond what you would expect from a two-person band. That's been a really big thing for us. We've always made music that was pretty layered,” Stack says. This latest album is no different, as it features songs comprised of many layers and subtleties.
Wye Oak is excited to be back and playing music in Columbia.
"We look forward to coming back,” Stack says. “We've only played at Columbia once but we had a great show. We've also passed through and spent some time there. It’s a really cool town. We're psyched to come back.”