Elijah Wood, 31, successfully made the transition from delightful child star to quirky, deft adult actor. The blue-eyed star of the off-beat TV showWilfred has also grown creatively off the screen: he has his own music label, is building up a roster of deejaying gigs, and recently releasing a music compilation on vinyl for Bushmills Irish Whiskey’s “Since Way Back” campaign.
“Last year I started this thing where I had record parties,” he told Parade.com. “Friends would come over, everyone would bring a stack of vinyl, and you would get a turn at the turntable to play songs. It’s as much as a social experience as it is to get a chance to hear records you’ve never heard before.”
His appreciation for 45s didn’t occur until he was in his mid-to-late twenties. ” I was traveling a lot and carrying a lot of music with me so it was more CDs then,” he explained. “More than anything vinyl had impact on me a little later in life. We live in a world where most of the music we listen to is through playlists or iPods or Pandora. All of these mediums where it’s relatively scattershot and we’re not listening to albums in the same way we’re used to. The great thing about vinyl is it’s an active listening process. It’s dropping a physical needle on a physical disc and you actually have to be present enough to flip it to the other side.”
As for his own music talents, don’t hold your breath to catch him onstage: ” I don’t play amy instruments. I’ve never really dabbled in performing or playing music though to me, deejaying is an extension of that.”
He was more than game though to return to his Frodo Baggins character for the upcoming The Hobbit.
“It felt like home,” he said. “I think after so much time had passed, it was also quite surreal. But I think the most surreal thing about it is that it felt oddly normal. I think I expected it to feel like eight years had passed and in a way it felt like no time had passed. In that way, it really surprised me. It was like a family reunion. It was like stepping back in time. It was a gift. It was really wonderful to revisit old friends and be in that space again. And not having the responsibility of three movies. It was nice to pop in and pop out and have a lovely visit.”
A lot of the second season of Wilfred has been building towards the inevitable meeting, or more like confrontation, between Elijah Wood’s Ryan and his still unseen father but this week’s episode is more interested in the return of his other parent. That’s right, get excited as “Service” sees the return of Mary Steenburgen as Catherine Newman, Ryan’s mother who made her first and only appearance in the first season’s “Compassion.”
“Compassion” was the ninth episode of Season 1 so there’ a nice bit of symmetry to the timing of her reappearance for “Service” (depending on how “Progress,” the special preview, factors into your Season 2 count) and, in case you’ve forgotten, there’s also a lot of symmetry between her character and her son in terms of their mental state. Catherine was not only sprung from a mental institution at the beginning of the her guest spot but I think what occurred at episode’s end might offer a better comparison.
Mom isn’t just back in the picture, but “Service” finds the Newman family going on a road trip. You would think that would be heaven for WIlfred, with a dog’s instinctual love of the ‘car ride,’ highlighted by the bit where Ryan shakes his keys at the pooch, but apparently he’s not that into it. Especially since Catherine doesn’t seem to know (or respect) the rules of shotgun not to mention that the long trip seems to be destined for Mexico and we all know they eat dogs down there. The official synopsis says that the “impromptu road trip leaves Wilfred, Ryan, and his family in peril,” so I wouldn’t expect a leisurely and scenic ride. Well, maybe scenic sinceWilfred‘s cinematography never disappoints but not leisurely! At the very least, we’ll witness some animal cruelty.
Wilfred airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX. It stars Elijah Wood, Jason Gann and Fiona Gubelmann.
As anyone who’s ever been to one of his DJ gigs (or watched the dvd Lord of the Ringsextras where he shows off his massive CD collection) can attest, Elijah Wood takes music very seriously.
The actor, perhaps best known as Frodo Baggins from The Lord of The Rings trilogy and the upcoming Hobbit films, has been a fervent music geek since his teen years, cultivating a large and impressive collection of CDs and LPs, exploring genres as conventional as classic rock and as obscure as Turkish psychedelia.
So getting the chance to create Sounds of Since Way Back, a limited edition box set of 10 relatively obscure singles on five 7″ records in conjunction with Bushmills Irish Whiskey was a dream come true for him.
“I love music and getting a chance to create a box set from the ground up and choose songs, some of which haven’t been reissued on vinyl, some of which are very hard to find, some that aren’t even on 7″, that was very exciting,” Wood tells Spinner. “It was a blast to put together.”
The final 10 songs he selected include a taste of old country, garage rock, and blues, and feature names like the likes of The Sonics, The Remains and Lefty Frizzell. Picking these songs provided the actor with some hard decision along the way.
“I came up with a list of probably 35 songs. That was easy. Trying to whittle that down was difficult, but then there were also songs that just naturally gravitated towards other songs and the notion of, like, an A and B side of these 45s, so it started to really become quite clear towards the end.”
Still, there were some songs that got away for various reasons.
“I wanted to put together an A and B French 45 with Jacques Dutronc and Nicole Croisille. That was a combo that I was bummed I couldn’t do. There was an Electric Prunes song I really wanted on there, too.”
Save for a space rock single featuring fairly recent tracks by The Simonsound and The Natural Yogurt Band, the Sounds Of Since Way Back collection is, quite generally, full of songs from way back, boasting tunes that were originally released between 1951 and 1970. According to Wood, that’s pretty representative of his personal collection and musical interests these days.
“I spend more time digging into the past and learning about older records and buying used vinyl than I am looking forward, and sometimes I think it’s just difficult to find a balance between those things,” he says. “I sort of feel like, as a music fan, I’ve either been like all in one direction or all in another direction. So I spend far less time listening to new records and new bands than I do digging into the past. Because it’s kind of an endless process. I sort of feel like a musical excavator. There’s a million stones yet to upturn and it’s sort of an amazing process.”
The fact that the box set would be pressed on vinyl was also important to Wood. Like any music lover worth his salt, he loves the warm sound, the feel and the permanence of records. He was so invested in the idea that he even visited Rainbo Records, the factory where Sounds of Since Way Back was made.
“Vinyl is made in an old kind of craftsman way. The way that vinyl is made is very much the same as it’s always been made. I think the medium also forces the listener to pay attention to it,” he muses. “The way that we listen to music largely these days is through playlists and Spotify and it’s largely not in an entire album format. The thing about vinyl is that when you put the needle on the record it’s almost like making a commitment to listening to the thing in full, and it’s an active listening experience, because you actually have to physically drop the needle, you have to move the record, you have to turn it over when the first side’s finished. And I love that about it, too. It connects us to the experience of listening more than the way that we listen to music in general these days with the technology that we have.
“But yeah, to be able to get a chance to put together a box set of 45s. It’s far more exciting, I think. Just simply doing a mix wouldn’t have been motivation enough to want to do it. I think the fact that we actually got to put together a box set of records on vinyl was the thing I was most excited about doing.”
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