Wovenhand: Individual interpretation

by Rodney Lotter

The last 13 years David Eugene Edwards has slowly realized his creative vision. The 46-year-old Edwards is perhaps best known as the lead singer of the influential Denver-based band 16 Horsepower, but it has been his recent work under the name Wovenhand that has garnered him critical praise.

Wovenhand started out as Edwards’ solo project in 2001 when 16 Horsepower went on hiatus. Eventually 16 Horsepower called it quits for good and Wovenhand was born. Edwards is the lead singer, primary songwriter and multi-instrumentalist on the bulk of the recordings for Wovenhand. Since 2001, the band has released seven full-length albums – the latest being Refractory Obdurate, released earlier this year. Wovenhand’s music is hard to pigeonhole, as Edwards combines traditional folk instrumentation (banjos, mandolins, etc.) along with rock and gothic influences, as well as Native American music, gospel, alt country, post-punk and pretty much every sub genre of Americana music you can think of, along with lyrics that are heavily rooted in Edwards’ Christian faith.

Edwards’ Christianity is probably one of the aspects of the music that gets the most attention from fans and critics alike. It’s not very often that someone with very obvious religious overtones to their music can connect with an audience of devout atheists. It may be because Edwards’ brand of preaching is reflected inward, he is not trying to recruit anyone, he is using his religious beliefs as a filter to think about and attempt to understand the flawed world around him and the struggles within his even more flawed soul. This dichotomy can best be seen in the intimate and intense live performances, which in many ways does make one feel like they are experiencing some kind of religious ceremony.

“I don’t really know how people experience the live shows,” Edwards said. “Music is such a personal thing, that prefer people to listen to it and make their own interpretation of what it means. I just put out what I am interested- as far as the music, imagery and themes- and go from there.”

The new album Refractory Obdurate, is a much heavier album than the previous Wovenhand releases. It still contains the powerful theatrical aspect that has made the previous releases so hypnotic and intense, but it is much more guitar-heavy, and in many ways seems like a nod to The Cult – which is something Edwards has heard a lot since the release of the album in May.

“I actually have never really liked The Cult,” Edwards said with a laugh. “But, I can see where the comparison comes from: we both use Native American imagery and play Gretsch guitars, I guess. I play in a lot of open tunings, which I am not sure, but I don’t think they do. I did see them play once, but I left during their set.”

Refractory Obdurate was released through a partnership between Glitterhouse Records and Deathwish Inc. and reached #47 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers Chart, which is only notable because Wovenhand does not exactly get too much attention in any “mainstream” sort of way.

“In America, I feel like no one really knows who we are,” Edwards said. “The bulk of our audience is overseas and it seems to be where we are really embraced.”

Mainstream success has always been something that has eluded Edwards, dating back to his days with 16 Horsepower. His first band garnered a ton of buzz during the mid-90s, when alternative rock was as hot as it probably ever will be, and was even courted by major record labels – which all fizzled out. To this day, Edwards prefers a barebones approach to promotion, recording and everything else involved with the band. He personally updates Wovenhand’s Facebook page on a daily basis. Most of the posts are passages from the Bible, as well as artwork and photographs that usually reflect Native American culture and religious themes.

“The Facebook posts are just a way for me to communicate with the fans,” Edwards said. “It’s a way for me to further the experience of what Wovenhand is and what we are about.”

LIVE SHOW: See Wovenhand perform at the Shakedown on Nov. 18, with Pontiak opening. For more information about the band, see www.wovenhand.com.

 

Published in the November 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine