What's an underemployed musician to do when—after 10-years, five full-length albums, and hundreds of thousands of miles driving every direction on every highway in the US, Canada and Europe—he and his band decide to take a yearlong break? Guitarist and vocalist of Larry and His Flask, Ian Cook, and the rest of the band are weathering that proposition in 2015, and Cook is taking on the challenge by spurring a new project, Woebegone, made up of a mixture of members of The Flask and some fresh blood.
"Woebegone is the coming-together of a ton of songs that have been on the back-burner for a long time," explained Cook, who serves as the balladeer band-leader of the new project. "I've been wanting to put another project together for quite a while. Actually, last winter I recorded an EP that I never did anything with, and with The Flask taking a break we thought now is a perfect time to see where this can go."
The most recognizable elements of Woebegone are Cook's vocal bravado and his hyper-speed guitar solos that command the bridges of songs with a heavy minor-key edge. The familiar horn interludes—now with much less ska point and more melodic course—and harmonies of Andrew Carew float atop Cook's villanelle stories of growing up, living, learning and dying.
What is strikingly different from The Flask's music, is the downtrodden tempos, drawn-out bellowing melodies that showcase Cook's full vocal punch, and the lack of string section—no banjo, no mandolin, no upright bass. In fact, Carew, banjo picker for The Flask, and Kirk Skatvold, the band's departed mandolin player, are going back to their roots playing guitar and bass respectively in the band. A new addition on drums, Dayne Wood, adds a grounding cornerstone to Cook's fleshed-out collection of one-man-and-his- guitar songs.
"Andrew was a guitar player that got handed a banjo and figured it out with The Flask—rather masterfully, I might add," said Cook. "After years of plinking around on acoustic instruments we just wanted to plug in and turn up!"
That amplification has a welcome, and forthright rock aesthetic, far and away from The Flask's folky influences. The elevation of volume doesn't take away from Cook's masterful crash and lull song crafting. And it's not all sheer rock power, the demo for "I Will Be Waiting" starts out like the intro to "The X-Files" a ghostly track with a waltzing circus twist.
"A lot of the songs that are making up Woebegone's setlist are songs that were much different from what we were trying to do in The Flask. Slower tempos, ballads, grooves that just didn't work with banjos, mandolins and acoustic guitars. I was surprised to find that pretty much every song turned out to be way more rockin' than we all anticipated," explained Cook. "But I think that's badass! Being big fans of huge, grandiose rock n' roll a la Queen and many others, we all were pleasantly surprised. It's really nice to stretch our legs a little bit. Woebegone is kind of an anything goes project and in that aspect it's very different from The Flask for me. We have the opportunity to invent whatever we want Woebegone to be to people, and to us."
9 pm. Fri., Jan. 9
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr. $5.