Encinitas Music Legend Joe Wood by Kyle Thomas – October 2019 (Encinitas Magazine Stories of Encinitas CA)
80’s TSOL punk rocker, singer-songwriter and guitarist, Joe Wood, after five years of quiet solitude, self-reflection, and surfing Grandview, is coming back fiercer than ever with a newfound creative force and his new band, Change Today.
In the beginning, young Joe Wood was first and foremost a surfer. Growing up in Long Beach and living on his own at a young age with his brother and sister, thirteen and fourteen, they would live at a friend’s house or would sleep where ever they could.
“I had an older friend that would drive me down to Encinitas when I was nine or ten,’ Joe reminisced. “We would surf Grandview, and Beacons but mainly Swamis.”
“I’ve always lived a simple life,” muses Joe, “I just wanted to be a surfer, then music came along.”
Joe made the permanent move to Encinitas in 2007 and will tell you, “I’ve been more prolific in the past six months than I’ve been in my whole life. I just keep thinking it’s going to go away any minute, because for me it does, the creativity and the songs. It goes away and then it comes back, and when it comes back it’s on. But when it’s on, it’s unbelievably cool,” Joe exclaims with a sparkle in his eye. “I’ve written some of the best acoustic songs sitting right here,” says Joe referring to the chair he’s sitting in, in the outdoor patio of his cozy Leucadian home on North Vulcan Avenue.
Joe spent ten very successful years of his life, between ’83 & ’93 as the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the high energy Punk-Rock/Hard-Rock band TSOL (True Sounds Of Liberty), but as Joe explains, “I get bored after three songs of any one genre.”
In that era, TSOL’s raw driving musical force and Joe’s deep connection with the west coast surf culture came together explosively In 1986 with the release of Billabong ‘s groundbreaking surf film, Surf into Summer and also 1988’s Filthy Habitsand together it is said they “changed the surf video forever.” TSOL’s music in this film and others to follow was now destined to become an indelible soundtrack for an entire generation of surfers, skateboarders, and hard rockers.
After ten years with TSOL, it was time for Joe to move on. “I just wanted to learn to play my guitar, the craft of playing blues and all the different kinds of blues – Chicago, Texas, Delta. That’s all I focused on.” So for thirty years Joe’s band, The Lonely Ones, evolved and his blues music thrived.
During this period Joe Wood opened up for the likes of “BB King, Buddy Guy, Alice in Chains, Cheap Trick, Joe Walsh, The Greg Almond Band, the list goes on and on.”
Joe, who is also a talented artist also spent his quiet moments at home painting portraits of his favorite musicians.
Through the years however, every musician he’s played with all ask of Joe the same thing. “I’ve been bugged for thirty years to play my old music,” says Joe. “I actually attempted a couple of times but I never had the right band. I was not into moving backward at all. I knew that if and when I did it, that it was going to consume my life. I just basically wanted to be a folk singer.”
Then guitarist Jimmy Zollo came into the picture, and he too, asked Joe to play the old music, but this time it was different. There was something special happening in the band. As Joe explains he told Jimmy and the band, “I’ll do one show,” of the old TSOL material, “to see if anybody likes it. We did the show, it sold out, and it went viral. That was about six months ago.”
“I then promised the band I’d give them two years if they did the work. It’s an investment in time and energy. I promised them that partying and women wouldn’t get in the way for two years and they had to promise me the same thing.”
“It took me a lifetime to find Jimmy,” Wood states emotionally. “If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in.”
“I’ve always mixed the punk and blues my whole life,” Joe explains. “That’s why the blues festivals won’t hire me because I’m too punk, and the punk festivals won’t hire me because I’m too blues.”
Joe Wood and Change Today just finished laying down the tracks for their first recordings, Red Shadow and Trauma Baby, to be released as a vinyl 45, and will leave Halloween to begin their east coast ten-day-ten-city tour including New York and Boston.
“I’m a bluesman that learned how to play blues through punk rock. Now I have to revisit the punk rock so I can turn people on to the blues again.” – Joe Wood