I love music, I love creativity, and I love quirky.
And I think I may have discovered the perfect blend of all three in the music of Walk Off the Earth. (WOTE)
WOTE has been around since 2006, and I’d actually watched one of their videos from a few years ago, and I remember coming away quite impressed by a group of five people playing just one guitar.
The video was a cover of Gotye’s big hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know“. The Gotye video has garnered over 1.2 billion views, but the WOTE version hasn’t done too badly either. Currently, it has over 187 million views.
I think I actually prefer the WOTE version.
That video came out in 2012, and I never thought to look into what else the band might have done – what a mistake on my part.
Fortunately, one of my fellow bloggers, SuperNaturalHippie, recently posted a story about WOTE, and based on her description of the group, I knew I had to check them out.
I’ve just spent the past couple of hours watching their videos, and all I can say is that they are now one of my favorite groups. They are not only talented musicians and singers, but they seem to have a lot of fun with the videos that they make, are quite creative in how they play their songs, and just a little bit quirky.
What else could you ask for?
Before providing some background on the band, let me share my favorite video that I came across, Gang of Rhythm. If you do nothing else tonight, watch this video.
Here’s some background on the band from Wikipedia:
Walk off the Earth were formed in 2006 in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The band began releasing music independently and created a variety of cover versions of songs. In early 2012, the band’s live cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” on YouTube gathered over 175 million views in a mere four months, receiving positive reviews from both Gotye and his co-singer on the song, Kimbra. The band released an accompanying video where all five members are shown playing on the same guitar simultaneously. The production was taken from the 26th cut of a 14-hour session. featured the band on her January 23, 2012, show where they played live, again on one guitar.
Here are some of the highlights of WOTE’s career:
- the YouTube video of Lorde’s “Royals” was featured in the 2014 Grammy Awards.
- the original single “Gang of Rhythm” was chosen as the theme song for the Catalan TV show El Foraster.
- WOTE won a 2016 Juno award for Group of the Year
- in August 2017, the band’s single “Fire in My Soul” was certified gold.
- WOTE performed during the half-time show of an NFL playoff game, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018.
- WOTE sang O Canada at game 4 of the 2019 NBA finals in Oakland, where the Toronto Raptors played the Golden State Warriors.
When not sharing a guitar, the group incorporates multiple instruments into their songs, ranging from the ordinary (guitars, drums, shakers, harmonica, trombone), to the quirky (theremin, ukelele, cigar box guitars, beatbox vocals), to found objects (water jug, microwave). Many songs also feature heavy use of the loop pedal. How these instruments enter and exit the videos is often a draw for video watchers.
While many videos feature guest appearances from friends in the music business, the core band members are:
- Gianni Luminati – Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo, Kazoo, Keys, Drums, Vocals, Theremin, Beatbox, Xylophone, Cigar Box Guitar, Cigar Box Ukulele;
- Sarah Blackwood – Guitar, Electric Guitar, Kazoo, Ukulele, Banjo, Bass, Vocals, Piano, Glockenspiel, Tamborine, Cigar Box Guitar, Xylophone;
- Ryan Marshall – Guitar, Electric Guitar, Ukulele, Vocals, Trumpet, Drums, Bass;
- Joel Cassady – Drums, Cigar Box Guitar, Ukelele
Longtime member Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor passed away on December 29th, 2018.
Some of the more innovative aspects of their videos featured the group members trading instruments with one another mid-song or doing elaborate one-take performances where the song was built piece by piece by a single member playing every instrument.
OK, enough with the background. Let’ enjoy some of their videos. There are way too many WOTE videos to share here, so I tried to select a handful of videos that shows their versatility, creativity, and quirkiness. Enjoy.
Here’s a cover of the Adele song, Someone Like You, which features a bit of the building and trading of instruments noted above. By the way, I think Sarah is my new favorite female singer – an incredible voice.
Here’s a cover of Taylor Swift’s, I Knew You Were Trouble, and gives WOTE a chance to show off their a capella chops:
Here’s another video that features the quick transitioning of instruments from one band member to another:
And finally, here’s a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” that features some unusual instruments, to say the least.
Bonus: you know you’ve made it when there is a parody made of a song that you covered. Here is The Key to Awesome’s parody of WOTE’s cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know (got all of that?). I found it quite humorous.