The Werks Are Throwing A Party & You’re Invited: Exclusive Interview

(Photo: Psychedelic Eyes Photography)

This weekend while attending Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan, Festival Squad had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Chris Houser, Jake Goldberg, and Dan Shaw from The Werks! This jam band from the Dayton, Ohio area have been a major force in the festival world for years now playing at different festivals including Summer Camp, The Peach Fest, Camp Bisco, Electric Forest, High Sierra and many more. The Werks even host their own music festival each year at the one and only Legend Valley Concert Venue in Thornville, Ohio! During our discussion we talked about their festival experiences, brand new music, this years Werk Out Music & Arts Festival, and more!


(Photos: Psychedelic Eyes Photography)

Festival Squad: First of all, thank you guys so much for taking time out of your weekend to talk to us! You guys are the reason I fell in love with music festivals after attending The Werk Out in 2014! I wouldn’t be here today without you guys!

The Werks: Wow that’s awesome! No problem! Thanks man!

FS: So this isn’t your first time performing at Electric Forest is it?

Chris: I think 2011 was our first year then we came back in 2013, 2015, a pre party last year and now we’re back for both weekends this year!

FS: How do you like it compared to some of the other festivals you’ve been able to perform at?

Dan: Electric Forest definitely stands out! It’s a great festival!

Chris: The production quality here is second to none!

Dan: Just seeing all of the different installations and thinking about the manpower, and womanpower, that went into every detail is really cool.

FS: I agree, this place is crazy! So you guys released your latest studio album ‘Magic’ back in 2017. Are you guys currently working on any new music or just focusing on touring and live shows?

Chris: YES!!! All of the above! We are working extra hard right now on the original material and getting those songs typed up. How many do we have that we are currently working on? Like four or five?

Dan: Yeah, we’ve got about four that are pretty well conceived, two that are in the bag, and about four that are going to be worked on that we’ve all kinda brought to the table! We’ve got a whole batch of songs! Rumor has it that we are looking at January 19, 2019! That’s when we’ll have a whole slew of songs ready.

FS: I can’t wait! I know a lot of people that are going to be happy to hear that! Now let’s dive into The Werk Out Music Festival. That’s coming up in about a month in Thornville, Ohio! How is it putting on your own festival compared to touring and just focusing on headlining shows?

Chris: It’s a lot harder than just going to others! *we all laugh* Rob is the one that does most of the booking and deals with most of the stress involved with the festival. The three of us are lucky enough to just be able to play for the most part. But you’ve got your heart in it, it’s our baby and we really care! When you hear people complaining about anything it gets ya.

Dan: We’re party hosts and want everyone to have a great time!

Chris: So yeah, there’s a lot more stress involved with having your own festival compared to just going to others. The cool thing about playing other festivals is that as we go we see different things that we like and we’re always learning from them. Every year as we play more festivals and bigger festivals we see things and think ‘Oh this would be great at The Werk Out!’ So were always keeping our eyes open for new ideas.

Dan: Going to different festivals also opens the door for a lot of collaborations too! We’ve had the privilege to have a lot of collaborative sets with other artists!


Dan: Yes! We will be doing another 90s set this year!

FS: Any songs picked out yet?

Chris: We’ve got a lot of different ideas but nothings set in stone yet.

Dan: We like to get a good survey of what everyone want to hear and get a big list together then widdle it down. We are in that process now! We’ve got hours worth of ideas that we need to narrow down to only sixty minutes. Sixty minutes to showcase an entire decade!

The Werk Out presents Twerkapod

(Photo: Everyone Orchestra Facebook)

FS: Speaking of collaborations, Chris, you and Rob are apart of Everyone Orchestra this weekend right?

Chris: Yes! Rob is actually doing it right now, that’s why he couldn’t make it here. I had my go at it late last night!

FS: Oh nice! How was that? Have you been apart of it before?

Chris: It’s always a pleasure! I’ve done it like ten or twelve times now. I was actually apart of a couple three day run tours! I did one with them last year in the Pacific Northwest, Washington & Oregon, and then I did one in the Baltimore, D.C. area with them just a couple months ago!

FS: I love watching those superjams!

Chris: It’s a lot of fun and you get to mix it up with some really good musicians! For me I just get up there and hope i’m not the worst one *we all laugh* but luckily there’s no wrong notes! It’s all improve so you can’t really mess up!

Chris: Touching back on going to different festivals compared to ours; when we play at different festivals were playing for a new group of people as far as we know and we are trying to spread the word. When we play at The Werk Out we are playing for family and it’s very comfortable! It’s a big stage but at this point everyone, even the new guys, feel like that’s home.

Dan: It’s home field advantage man! It’s awesome

Chris: Having multiple sets also lets us take our time. We’re not trying to squeeze a whole bunch of stuff, the A-game stuff, into one set for the new ears. We get to dig a lot deeper in the repertoire for The Werk Out sets!

Dan: Absolutely!

FS: You guys also bring back a lot of great local bands each year for The Werk Out.

Dan: Yeah it’s a little of both! We love bringing back the Ohio bands but we also want to bring in some new music from other areas. In addition to always looking for new things on the grounds at festivals were also always looking for new bands. We try to see other acts that we want to bring to Ohio! So it’s a little of both, we want to showcase the local talent but also bring new stuff to that same family base.

FS: Last year at The Werk Out you guys tried something new when you debuted your Werkatronic set. You guys are also doing a Werkatronic set this weekend for Electric Forest! What was the inspiration behind creating that or did you guys just want to try something new?

Chris: In a sense we are an old school jam band. It’s an attempt to kind of reinvent ourselves and to gear our minds a little bit differently when we approach songs. So we take our own songs and remix them to a point to make them more dancy to maybe hit the more electronic crowd. No vocals either! Kind of like how The Disco Biscuits have Tractorbeam.

FS: Ok, I know this one is going to be hard but what are some of your favorite memories from The Werk Out?

Chris: One of the great times we’ve had was two years ago when we all wore the tuxedos for the Saturday night set. After the show we didn’t take the tuxes off and ran around the festival all night

FS: I remember Rob sitting in on one of the late night sets still in his tux!

(Photo: The Werks Facebook)

Chris: Yeah!! That was a lot of fun, that was one of the best memories *we all laugh*  Gosh there are so many, another great time was back during the first one when we all decided, you know, to get a little extra crazy after the last set. I remember our friend Space Panda played this set until sunrise back in the Grassroots Tent and it was as hilarious as you might imagine.

Dan: I’d say my favorite moment was back in 2014 during the Dark Side Of The Moon set with Papadosio and Dopapod! It was really special! A lot of really cool things happened around it that were super fun. It was a great culmination! It was really awesome to be apart of that moment.

The Werks, Papadosio, & Dopapod – The Werk Out 2014


FS: Are you guys excited to have Umphrey’s McGee back this year?

Everyone: Hell yes!!

FS: The last time Umphrey’s was at The Werk Out (2015) was my first time there!

Chris: That was probably the best one we’ve had in my eyes. Well until this one! Were really excited about this years lineup!

FS: How has it been watching The Werk Out change and grow over the years?

Chris: Well the first year we had about 500 people there. The second year was about 700, third year was 1,100 I think, and its grown every year since then! (2016 brought in over 5,000 people) It’s crazy, the first year it was thrown together by a bunch of people that didn’t really know what they were doing. Kind of had the if there’s a will there’s a way mentality and made it happen! By the third year we switched management for various reasons and by now we pretty much have it figured out and have the right people for the right positions. It’s a family putting this on now and I’m very very proud to be a part of it! This will be our ninth year putting this together and I think that says a lot. Keeping your head above water in the festival game for nine years is a feat! But its changed so much over the years. For the best I would say!

FS: Awesome! I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for The Werk Out!! I already know it’s going to be a great time! I think that’s all I have right now! Thank you guys again for sitting down for this interview! Good luck with your set tonight and i’ll be seeing you all very soon!!

(Photo: Alex Rowland)

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