With a name like "Walk Off The Earth," you might say this band sounds otherworldly. In fact, it's very much grounded in reality.
"We wanted to come up with a name that would make people forget about their problems, not worry about everyday issues," says Gianni Luminati. "And walk off the earth with the music."
Let's meet the band: There's Gianni, a dynamic producer and multi-contributor. Gianni has been obsessed with all aspects of music for pretty much his whole life. He started on the pots and pans (a make-shift drum kit) at age 3, while his mother played the piano by his side. Over the years he's picked up different instruments, while also learning about engineering and producing. He has developed an unconventional vision and sound for the band, and music in general, that is one of the major driving forces behind WOTE's determination to become one of the most unique bands of all time. Gianni creates his own opportunities through sheer perseverance. "If someone tells me something is not possible, I make it possible."
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Blackwood began playing music when her father showed her a few chords on a guitar at the age of 12. Soon she began writing and producing her own music. Being the female vocal in the band, Sarah adds a dynamic that will captivate you. She has played in bands that have taken her to over 30 countries, and with her experience and infatuation with music, she was a perfect match for WOTE's work ethic and motivation. It didn't take long for her to join in full throttle. Sarah also creates most of the band's artwork, though she'll laugh if you ask her if she's had any formal graphic arts training.
Marshall stands out with a raspy yet silky voice that is truly unique. He is as adept at manipulating trumpet valves as he is guitar strings. Marshall's very first instrument was the mouth harp at age 3, given to him by his grandpa, and it was the first thing that steered him towards a future full of music. Now he is an accomplished blues harp player, in addition to mastering a myriad of other instruments. Marshall adds an incredible amount of charm to the band's sound. When he wasn't immersing himself in music, Marshall somehow found the time to study hard in college, where he earned a Bachelor in Economics.
Keyboardist Taylor is better known as "beard guy" for his mysterious facial hair. And mysterious he is. However, do not be fooled by his YouTube persona. Taylor began his musical adventure at the age of 4. Being classically trained on piano, it is clear from any live show that Taylor's skills hold up to many of the greats. He is also known to rock the trumpet and perhaps a glockenspiel every now and then.
Then there's Joel Cassady on drums, who recently left college to learn from the school of life by playing music. He is the most computer savvy member of the band. When it comes to drumming, he is incredibly unique and captivating. And every once in a while, Joel will step out from behind his drum kit and throw a left-handed curve ball your way, so watch out!
WOTE formed 6 years ago in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, releasing two full length albums and several singles independently. The band began creating low-budget YouTube videos that quickly resulted in an ever-growing fan base all over the world.
The band is no stranger to attracting fans, or "Wote-lings," with their unique homemade videos. They hit upon something special when they decided to shoot their videos all in one take, originally a necessity in order to film and edit their videos quickly. The single-take videos became their signature, and to date 90% of the videos they make are done in one take, even though their editing skills have developed over the years.
The band's axis shifted in 2012 when a cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" went viral (and then some) on YouTube. Recorded and filmed in Gianni's kitchen the day after a New Year's Eve party, the now-infamous video shows all five members playing, in unconventional ways, one guitar. The video was shot in one take using a Canon 3Ti named "Tamera." ("She's the only other girl in the band," says Sarah. "We call her Tammy for short").
They uploaded the video, thinking it wasn't necessarily their best work. But they woke up to inboxes overflowing with hundreds of emails, endless voicemail messages and the news they were being talked about on radio stations around the world.
"There was just a vibe in the air," says Sarah. "And we kept saying, 'Something's happening. Something really cool is happening.'"
The song earned 4 million views in one day, and won praise from celebrities like Russell Crowe, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay, Jason Alexander and Adele. Even Gotye offered his congratulations. The sudden spotlight snowballed into a plethora of viewers exploring their YouTube channel and enjoying the 60+ videos/songs they have posted since 2010.
The band quickly broke away from the path of a typical viral YouTube sensation, and it is clear that WOTE are much more than a novel talking dog. Walk Off The Earth now has over 300,000,000 views in total on their channel. And they certainly have a lot to share with the world.
Soon Ellen DeGeneres came calling, and then the band made appearances at Lollapalooza, Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo, Japan, as well as a string of sold out shows in Europe, keeping the band on the go. But they were determined more than ever to keep the buzz going, and WOTE got down to work in Gianni's studio in Burlington, recording their debut album for Columbia Records, called "R.E.V.O." The title is an acronym for "Realize Every Victory Outright." For the band, it also represents a revolution, a call for listeners to stay positive and keep striving for their goals. A way of life. Their way of life.
"Speeches," blends the gorgeous signature harmonies of WOTE's three vocalists with a measure of urgency provided by the ukulele and trumpet. The track "Red Hands" was the first song penned by all members of the group since solidifying their current line-up and it is downright anthemic. The drumbastic chorus has such thrust it'll wake every cell in your body and have you thinking, "this is a band that wants to be heard."
"'Red Hands' is about taking responsibility for your actions and not always trying to blame other people when something goes wrong," says Gianni.
In keeping with WOTE's commitment to visual counterparts for their songs, the band will be releasing several videos for the tracks on "R.E.V.O." One of the first videos to debut is for "Red Hands," and was directed by Ellis Bahl and the band. The video was, in true WOTE form, done in one take, and is an incredible vision that touches on everything the band is about stylistically. It is completely idiosyncratic, and will stun you as you watch over and over again, studying every move and truly appreciating how amazing the strategy and production really is. It required the musicians to perform parts of the song backwards, completely rearranged and at different speeds, all to be pieced back together at the end for a seamless rendition of the song while the band is walking through a warehouse. But the video was no sweat really for five artists who can switch instruments as easily as a chameleon changes colours.
Watch any of WOTE's videos and you'll see such sights as a ukulele falling from the sky into Sarah's hands, or Taylor playing piano with his feet. And Gianni can find the musical merit in just about any household item -- a broom to sweep, a wall to tap.
"There are no rules in this band." says Gianni.