When Metro Detroiters hear the name Woodward, the first thing that usually comes to mind is M-1, Woodward Avenue. However, over the past few years that has started to change. Woodward the band burst onto the Detroit music scene and has quickly become a popular addition to our fantastic music family.
Woodward took their name from the Detroit thoroughfare. When they were considering band names, it came up and seemed to fit. As J.P. Zammit explains, “Woodward Avenue connects the Northern suburbs to the heart of downtown Detroit, and we tend to think of our sound as one many different types of music lovers can enjoy, bridging the vintage and modern and the young and old”. The band, all native Michiganders, consists of J.P on guitar/vocals, Mark Zammit on Bass/Vocals, Dave Tilove on drums/backing vocals and Steve Hull on Keys/Synth/vocals.
Woodward was formed back in 2004 by J.P. and his childhood friend, Dan Karmel. Mostly performing as a duo, they did not fully realize their potential until Dave and Steve joined them in 2006. After recording and promoting their debut album, “…but your kids are gonna love it” in 2007, J.P.’s brother Mark joined the band as a second guitarist, eventually replacing Dan on bass when he left to pursue a law career. Since then it has been a whirlwind of playing gigs, time on the road and the recording of another album and single in 2010, “Switch Hit Resistor” and “What I’m in Need Of”.
One unique thing about Woodward is the fact that the guys switch off on who sings lead vocals. They entered the studio to record “Switch Hit Resistor” with the understanding that J.P. would be singing it since he had written the song. However, once in the studio, Mark gave it a shot and though he had never sung the song before, something just clicked and he nailed it. That was it and the song was recorded. That is how Woodward rolls. They go with the flow, always try to switch things up and throw in some kind of vintage or old-school sound to keep their audience wanting more.
Whether it be connecting with fans or incorporating their very diverse tastes in music (everything from blues to hard rock to techno) Woodward loves what they are doing. They have fun with their shows and though they have a deep respect and passion for writing and music, they try not to get too caught up in the politics and take themselves too seriously. All they look to is “the crowds, the people, the art and the ubiquitous human search for connection and camaraderie”.
It was this connection to the fans that ended up helping the band out of a difficult situation one dark snowy night a few years ago. As the band left a show in Kalamazoo to travel to Chicago, suddenly Dave noticed that the taillights of the car in front of him had vanished. Not knowing where he was going (and slightly annoyed) he called Steve to find out where he had gone. Steve’s reply, “Well, my car is in the median and I think J.P’s engine exploded”! As they traveled, a piston from J.P.’s engine had come loose, shot into the oil pan and filled the highway with a cloud of black smoke! Steve being unable to see swerved onto black ice and as his car shot by J.P’s doing doughnuts, he went into the median. Luckily he, and the equipment, were all fine. However, now they had a gig to get to and a car out of commission. But as luck would have it, a WMU student (and fan) came to the band’s rescue. Driving 40 miles down the icy highway, he picked up the band and the equipment, became their roadie for the weekend and got them to Chicago in time for the show. Now that is loyalty!
Another really great aspect of Woodward is their ties to the Detroit area. Their video for “Switch Hit Resistor” was shot locally in Northville. They had such a great time shooting it that the local police dropped in to see what all the commotion was about. Not only were they very cool about the shoot, they ended up coming back later to be in the video. Even more recently, Woodward can be heard in the local Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers’ campaign, In the D.
Woodward has huge aspirations for their music and they show no signs of slowing down. They are a band that offers a little something for everyone. Whether it be their obscure nods to the Beatles or Marty McFly, their crazy stories of life on the road or their very catching and melodic tracks, this is one band that Detroit can be proud to calls its own.
For more information about Woodward, please visit their site at www.woodwardtheband.com.