Smile Politely

The Woodchips carve out a musical space that’s all their own

Three individuals are standing in front of a mural that is black and white with abstract designs of swirls and lines. The person on the left is clad in a red and white plaid shirt. The individual in the middle is wearing a gray t-shirt. The person on the right is donned in a green camouflage jacket.
The Woodchips on Facebook

Fifteen years and some change ago, Rob Weller was sitting on AOL Instant Messenger, as one did in those days, when he received a message: “You talkin’ shit about me?”

Weller went back and forth with the random messenger a few times before inviting them to settle this face to face. Tyler Taylor showed up on his doorstep with a guitar, and thus the roots that would turn into The Woodchips were laid in Jamaica, Illinois.

The Woodchips is a three-piece acoustic group made up of Taylor on guitar and vocals, Weller on bass, and Chase Hughes on drums. They’re an all-original group with a sound all their own, citing influences from metal to reggae, something you can hear in Taylor’s vocals as well as Weller’s rhythms.

I got to sit down with these guys at Vermilion River Beer Company, enjoy a couple of drinks, and see what The Woodchips were all about. “In a sense it’s coming back to our roots,” Taylor said of their current project. Taylor and Weller have been friends for decades and performed in multiple groups both together and separately. After moving to California and back together, various metal bands, a reggae group or two, they wanted to get back to their roots. “I always thought of the wood chips as like your roots of where you’re coming from, so in a sense that’s what we are doing,” Taylor said. “Some of the stuff that I’ve [written] is back to our roots. I played heavy metal as a kid and we’re playing a couple of new songs that are a mixture of our folky style with a little bit of that emo/hardcore style.”

Their song “The Color Blue” is a perfect example of how they mix genres and styles and make something to get you tapping your toe and bobbing your head.

The scene captures a band performance on stage. The backdrop is black with “The Wood Chips” written in white. Three band members are present, each engaged with their instruments: drums, guitar, and bass. They are all casually dressed and wearing baseball caps.
The Woodchips on Facebook

Hughes joined the band just six months ago after meeting Weller at work. He introduced Hughes to Taylor, and eventually the two of them got together and jammed, and the rest is history. “It went from jamming once a week, to twice, three, four times,” Hughes laughed as he talked about it. Hughes is a self-taught drummer who picked up the instrument in high school and played in a pop-punk “garage band.” He had taken a hiatus before meeting Weller and Taylor, but jumped into the swing of things quickly and enthusiastically. “[Hughes is] somebody who loves to show up and just enjoy the music,” Taylor said.

In the time I got to spend with these three, it’s easy to tell they love what they’re doing; their excitement and optimism are infectious. Much like their folky sound, they are down-to-earth people with no delusions of grandeur; they are three friends making music together, and the music just happens to be good. “It’s great to play music with people who are so talented,” Hughes said. “You would probably never expect it. For them to be so open with their songs too, for it to almost completely change from what it was before… They’re giving me a lot of freedom with that.”

Taylor writes most of the songs and then brings them to the band to bring to life. He has been writing since he was 14 years old, and some of the songs you can hear them performing now are ten years old. “With Taylor’s brain, I feel like we could write two songs a practice,” Weller shared. The future looks bright for The Woodchips as they look forward to starting to record their first album this November at SCP Studios. “The goal is to have a single out by the end of the year,” Taylor said. “With a music video,” Weller added.

In a music scene that often feels saturated with more of the same, The Woodchips bring a refreshing blend of authenticity and variety to their sound. From their deep-rooted friendship to their eclectic musical influences, this trio is a testament to the creative spirit alive and well in our community. Whether you’re drawn to their unique mixture of metal and reggae influences, their folky undertones, or simply their palpable love for what they do, one thing is clear: The Woodchips are carving out a musical space that’s all their own. Don’t miss a chance to experience it; keep an eye out for their upcoming album and check their social media for live performances. You won’t be disappointed.

The Woodchips are currently booking. They have a one-hour set of all original music, but are considering adding some covers to be able to fill more potential jobs. You can find them on Facebook or their website.

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