The Room in the Wood. Taking aim with a can of Red Stripe

It must be something to do with the water, or maybe the economic malaise that has plagued the city since its boom times last century, but Liverpool seems to have always been a hotbed of great musical talent. The Room in the Wood are no exception.

The key members, Dave Jackson and Paul Cavanagh, can trace their roots back to the post-punk The Room from the mid-eighties. Loved by John Peel, and by members of the Go-Betweens, they sadly remained a secret to most, despite touring the US and having an album produced by Tom Verlaine and John Porter.

More influenced by Americana than many of their fellow travellers, which became much more noticeable in Dave Jackson's later band's Dust and The Dead CowboysThe Room fizzled out after problems with their record company preventing their records being released or distributed. And now, two of the original members of the band are back, performing and releasing records as The Room in the Wood.

The self-titled debut album, available on vinyl from all good record shops as well as bandcamp, is a real grower. Delicate guitar work, which veers from lullaby tweaking to rocking out, partners with storytelling lyrics to produce an album that increases in depth and enjoyment after every listen.

Standout tracks are the slow acoustic Raven Girl which builds into a rocking out crescendofollowed by Greedy Stars  which would not be out of place on The Room's 'In evil Hour' album, and the hypnotic Sky Pool which, accompanied by headphones and a nice glass of red, will lull you to sleep at the end of the day.

Don't just take our word for it, go and have a listen on the bandcamp page, and if does not gel with your ears on first listen, bookmark the site and come back again and you will find the songs begin to slowly work their magic on you.

We caught up with Dave on an early cold and wet Liverpool morning.

BTA: It has been over twenty years since The Room called it a day, what happened to get you and Paul back together?

Dave Jackson: "Well a few years ago when I was playing with the Cathedral Mountaineers, we got booked to play a gig but the other members of the band couldn't make it. At the same time Paul
Cavanagh, who played with me in The Room, got back in touch and suggested we do some cover versions together for a laugh.

So we ended up doing the gig together. We learnt a whole load of songs, really varied stuff like Hank Williams, Frankie Laine, David Bowie, the Velvets and threw in some old Room songs.

It was great fun, so I asked him if he fancied writing some songs, and he said yes. He had been in loads of bands like Top and Gloss since then, but had been out of the music industry for a while except for doing some songs with Mike Badger from The La's.

Over the last year or so we have been pretty busy writing songs, Paul would email me a guitar riff and I would write some lyrics to go with it, and then we went into a mates studio in his house, Yorkie who used to be in a band called Space years ago and where the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes used to rehearse.

We did a few demos and they sounded good, so we booked a full studio with Steve Powell who suggested Colin Lamont, who had played with Mark Lanegan, as the drummer, and recorded the single, Magical Thinking, and then the album".

BTA: You decided not to go with the original band name?

Dave Jackson: "There were suggestions we keep the name, which I kind of liked, but Paul was not in favour of it. He had been in a band called Cabin in the Woods so we ended up merging the two names together.

It is also better for googling since 'The Room' is a famously bad film and always comes up first!".

BTA: So will you be touring as a full band or just a duo?

Dave Jackson: "We tend to play as a duo at the moment. Colin, the drummer, has popped up to the Outer Hebrides for a bit, so we tend to get session players if we do a full gig, and we have to pay them.

Which means the money has to be reasonable if we are to do full band gigs, otherwise we will just go out as an acoustic duo".

BTA: I read that you had been fairly prolific in your songwriting and had recorded two albums worth of songs? Clearly, we should be hearing a lot more from The Room in the Wood.

Dave Jackson: "We do have loads of song, although most of them exist mainly on my phone. I'm having to catch up as Paul keeps sending me songs all the time, so we do have enough material for a few more albums.

He is now writing songs on his electric guitar, rather than just the acoustic one, so they are getting rockier.

Just recently we have recorded some new songs, which go on a mini-album. We have one about Elon Musk called 'Mars won't save us', one obliquely about Donald Trump called 'Every Lie' and 'Get Clear' about leaving the Scientology movement.

They all have more than of a rock riff and are less acoustic sounding, so the next album may be a little different".

BTA: Going back to your time in The Room, what was it like working with Tom Verlaine?

Dave Jackson: "When he was producing In Evil Hour he was in some sort of recovery mode, sleeping until mid-afternoon and then eating a block of ice-cream for his breakfast.

He wanted a different sounded than John Porter who produced half the songs, with a real full live band sound including the drums, while John Porter used sampled drums. It turned out the first
Smiths album was full of sampled drums, unknown to Morrissey, and he would not let our drummer Alan Wills near them during our recordings, while Tom always wanted a fuller sound and mic'ed them up.

Tom was a bit intolerant of people and kept having a go at the engineer telling him he could do his job better, but he was fun to work with and put his backing vocals on 'Jackpot Jack' and the reprise, where it stops and starts near the end, which is a bit of a 'Marquee Moon' thing".

BTA: I have to say Jackpot Jack is my all-time favourite The Room song. It tells a story, has great lyrics and builds to an almighty crescendo before that Tom Verlaine reprise. I remember it as a great show closer, that could be done with real venom depending on how the gig was going.

Dave Jackson: " It was always a good excuse to get loud at the end. I remember we played it one time at some university in Yorkshire and these guys from the rugby team had decided to stand at the front and were giving us lots of lip like "That was Shit" "Get the support band back on" and so on.

As the song ended I threw a can of Red Stripe I had just opened and it caught one of them right in the head. We weren't a particularly hard band even then and were very lucky that the security headed to our dressing room at the end of the show before as all these rugby players managed to get to us".

The Room in the Wood are still not a hard band, and Dave rarely throws cans of Red Stripe at dissenting members of the audience. Buy their album and see them live as they tour the UK over the next few months.

Catch them in acoustic mode at Rough Trade Records in London on the 27th October.

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