By Staff Writer Tanisha Srivatsa
Combining aspects of pop, jazz, rock & roll, and even cabaret, Will Wood and the Tapeworms is a band best described as a sonic amalgamation of nearly every genre under the sun. Based in New Jersey, its members include Mike Bottiglieri on guitar, Matt Berger on saxophone, Mario Conte on drums, Vater Boris on bass, and the titular lead singer, Will Wood.
Since the group’s inception in 2015, they have released three albums, the latest of which, The Normal Album, was released in July 2020. While their music is already incredibly compelling with its hypnotic melodies and downright peculiar lyrics about everything from skeletons to thermodynamic lawyers, the band’s infamous live performances are only heightened by their usage of stage tricks — keyboard smashing, headbanging, and screaming are hallmarks of their live shows — and visual art drawn by Wood himself.
Wood’s “Hypnogogia No. 3,” featured in the cover art for the band’s second studio album.
Inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong, lead vocalist from the punk rock band Green Day, much of Wood’s music reflects a compositional style that is more instinctive than conventional, using delivery and style to enhance more abstract lyrics.
Lead singer Will Wood was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has spent much of his career raising funds for charity and using his music to help those also struggling.
Many of the Tapeworms’ songs also tackle unique social issues through genre-bending melodies and lyricism; in “I / Me / Myself,” Wood sings about his experience with the limitations of the male gender role and how he has coped with his own gender identity. Wood’s self-described avant-pop melodies enhance these lyrics with unconventionally textured arrangements and vocal themes that often defy the radio-music limitations of traditional pop songs.
In early 2020, Wood directed a documentary titled The Real Will Wood (available to rent on Amazon Prime Video for $2.99), a psychedelic rollercoaster of a film chronicling the singer-songwriter’s rise to stardom, fit with live performance clips and mockumentary-style comedy bits interjected in between. In terms of the group’s next steps following the release of their latest album, Wood said, “I’ve been cooking up new material for a while though — stuff that’s really very different from what fans of my earlier work might expect, which to me is kind of what it’s all about.”
The Tapeworms’ most recent album, The Normal Album, was crowdfunded at $27,000 and includes work from producer Matt Squire.