Winston Cook-Wilson, lead singer and songwriter of Office Culture, has announced his third solo album as Winston C.W., Good Guess. The record follows Cook-Wilson’s 2017 album of originals, Thirty, and his Bandcamp-only COVID standards album Without a Sail, released in March. Good Guess consists of a collection of melancholic, jazz-inflected songs Cook-Wilson wrote earlier that year in the leadup to the release of Office Culture’s album A Life of Crime in November. He spoke with The Fountain about the record as well as the scenes he is presently missing.
TF: You have a new album coming out, what can we expect from Good Guess?
The record is out about as late in the year as people generally release albums – December 4. It’s not a holiday album, sadly, more of a melancholy, reflective deep-winter album. I hope that timing is okay for listeners, and that it is something people in lockdown will feel like spending time with. This is not a quarantine album—it was recorded before New Years of last year. But hopefully lyrics about people drifting apart and feeling listless aren’t too much to deal with right now. Also I don’t think the record is devoid of hope about rebuilding one’s mental universe and support system.
It’s a very special record for me—a total team effort with the other members of the trio who play on it: Ryan Beckley and Carmen Rothwell, who play in Scree, which is one of my favorite bands doing it right now. Their ability as free improvisers and writers (a lot of their parts may sound loose, but they are composed very carefully) just completely transformed these songs and what they mean to me. The solo piano and voice versions of them just feel like different pieces of music.
TF: How would you sum up the LP in one sentence?
It’s Grammy material for the Best Improvised Jazz Solo or Best Historical Album categories.
TF: What is your plan for the remainder of the year, after this release?
Well, December 4… that leaves us pretty much with just the holidays and America’s future civil war. So I’ll be buying friends gift cards and packing the bunker with Annie’s Mac and ammo. We’re actually planning on recording my band Office Culture’s third album right after this record comes out, which is completely different stylistically, and I’m excited and very in-my-head about it right now.
TF: Where is your favourite venue for playing live, where is the next place you look most forward to gigging?
This is a difficult one. All I want to do right now is play music in a small room with my friends. It was always most comfortable for me to set up shows at Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing, which is a brewery with a small side room with a piano, which sometimes sounds great and sometimes sounds like John Cage messed around with it ahead of time. It always feels full and people listen. You can run the show basically however you want it, and there’s a good chicken sandwich. One of the main sound people there, Nate (who is in a great band called Water From Your Eyes), used to play terrifying late Scott Walker between sets; that kind of thing is important.
There are other great small venues in Brooklyn, but generally the process is enough of a hassle booking-wise that I would just set something up at Threes with my friends rather than worry about whether the bill looks cool or what the draw will be. Of course this information is now all outdated and none of this will exist as such if things do come roaring back. RIP to great times at Threes—here’s hoping for the best for the future.
Good Guess is out on 4th December, via Ruination Records Co