The framework of Woe began four years ago when John Hannon and a friend were discussing a particular kind of music they wanted to play. Inspired by the emotional energy of the punk and hardcore scenes of the 80s and early 90s, they were envisioning a kind of music where mood and feeling took precedence over melody and harmony. But rather than punk, the sounds they imagined had more in common with folk or blues, where live performances would be small and acoustic, allowing the audience to hear the music directly from the source. By staying true to this rule, they felt they could create something out of the ordinary.
These ideas came to life in 1997 when a young filmmaker asked John to score music for a new film. John enlisted the help of his friend and long-time music collaborator, Pete Wilkens, to put the music together. They took one evening to score the film, using trumpet, trombone, and double bass, instruments none of them could play at the time. Pleased with the sound the captured for the film, the guys thought if they could transfer the inspiration they had found in the visuals of the film to other situations or moods, they wouldn't be far off their original idea. Resisting temptations to fall back into traditional methods of using riffs and song structure, they continued recording. After tracking many different pieces, they selected nine songs for They're All Dead, Woe's first release.
Fast forward to 1999, when saxophone player Mick Lain and bassist Kev Hutchins joined the group and Woe began recording tracks for their debut LP on Some Records. The band entered Mushroom Studios in London, England with a definite idea of where it wanted to go, but little notion of how to get there. Each piece was recorded straight away without rehearsal. Woe aimed to achieve a more bass heavy, repetitive sound than previous recordings, using a lot of dub effects and track layering. What they got was the beautifully orchestrated chaos they call Last Stop.
Unusual and arresting, Woe brings a new dimension to jazz not unlike Tortoise brought to electronica, Trans Am to rock, and Stereolab to 60s pop. Without emulating these bands, Woe manages to fuse elements of all three, forging their own unique blend of instrumental discharge. In touch with the deepest human emotion and feeling, they create a swirl of ambience, all the while pummeling you with dissonant noise and hooks, as well as smooth and jazzy instrumentation.