What began as a solo folk music project for Steven Beddall turned into Wooden Horsemen, a eight-member rock band that mixes blues and soul.
“I got bored doing solo acoustic shows. It just turned into a band naturally over the span of a year or two,” said Beddall, Wooden Horsmen’s guitarist and vocalist.
On Aug. 19, Wooden Horsemen will be performing at the Queen’s along with Bend Sinister.
“I haven’t been there in so long and we’ve never played in Nanaimo,” Beddall said. “I am super stoked.”
The Wooden Horsmen were officially founded in 2013 as an acoustic trio. The Vancouver-based band has since grown tremendously, not just with their sound but physically. Today the band includes members Owen Connell, Peter Bowles, Cole Graham, Joseph Lubinsky-Mast, Paul Clark, Alex Hauka, Devon Kroeger and Beddall.
Beddall said the band’s transformation was spurred on by boredom with the simpler sounds of folk music.
“We were bored with the mellow vibes and we thought our music was something that could be translatable into something that was high energy and I think that it all changed once we got a drummer on board,” Beddall said.
In February 2016, Wooden Horsemen released a six-track EP called Sentient. Beddall said the album features a range of styles including rock, blues, folk and Latin.
“Some song are really heavy like straight-ahead rock and others are a little bit more on the dancy side of things,” he said. “We sort of incorporate some Latin vibes into it as well. It’s bluesy, folky rock music. We just get off on getting people dancing and moving.”
Wooden Horsemen’s large size has provided them with unique challenges that smaller bands often don’t have to deal with, such as a stage size and transportation.
“When we go on the road I can only fit five people in my van, which is unfortunate and I am working on fixing that,” he said. “I’d like to bring six to seven people on the road with me at all times.”
Beddall said Wooden Horsemen try their best to play as a full band, but it is challenging with so many members. He said it is rare that all his bandmates are available at the same time as many of them are part of other bands.
“Even as a five-piece we are still really rocking and heavy,” he said. “Honestly, it is amazing that we’ve been able to make it work with so many members, who are all so busy all the time. I am grateful for that.”
When it comes to performing, Wooden Horsemen have played to crowds nationwide. They’ve also played at festivals like the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Sunfest, Junofest and Rifflandia. Beddall said one the key moments for Wooden Horsemen was performing at the Tiny Lights Festival in Ymir, B.C., back in 2013.
“That was a game changer for us,” he said. “When we got there they [festival organizers] were so stoke to have us there that they introduced us to a lot of other festivals. We sort of became a festival act because of the people who were running that festival. We just had such a great experience there and we love coming back to that festival.”
The Wooden Horsemen are working on a new record, which they hope to release early next year. Beddall said the record will incorporate elements of gospel.
“I grew up in a church … and I’ve always sort of thought spiritual music was really powerful, not to say that we are trying to turn into a Christian rock band or anything, but I’ve been watching a lot of old gospel music and to me that is kind of the most powerful stuff out there. I think that is what fascinates me the mosts and inspires me to write music,” he said.