The actor, perhaps best known as Frodo Baggins from The Lord of The Rings trilogy and the upcoming Hobbit films, has been a fervent music geek since his teen years, cultivating a large and impressive collection of CDs and LPs, exploring genres as conventional as classic rock and as obscure as Turkish psychedelia.
So getting the chance to create Sounds of Since Way Back, a limited edition box set of 10 relatively obscure singles on five 7" records in conjunction with Bushmills Irish Whiskey was a dream come true for him.
"I love music and getting a chance to create a box set from the ground up and choose songs, some of which haven't been reissued on vinyl, some of which are very hard to find, some that aren't even on 7", that was very exciting," Wood tells Spinner. "It was a blast to put together."
The final 10 songs he selected include a taste of old country, garage rock, and blues, and feature names like the likes of The Sonics, The Remains and Lefty Frizzell. Picking these songs provided the actor with some hard decision along the way.
"I came up with a list of probably 35 songs. That was easy. Trying to whittle that down was difficult, but then there were also songs that just naturally gravitated towards other songs and the notion of, like, an A and B side of these 45s, so it started to really become quite clear towards the end."
Still, there were some songs that got away for various reasons.
"I wanted to put together an A and B French 45 with Jacques Dutronc and Nicole Croisille. That was a combo that I was bummed I couldn't do. There was an Electric Prunes song I really wanted on there, too."
Save for a space rock single featuring fairly recent tracks by The Simonsound and The Natural Yogurt Band, the Sounds Of Since Way Back collection is, quite generally, full of songs from way back, boasting tunes that were originally released between 1951 and 1970. According to Wood, that's pretty representative of his personal collection and musical interests these days.
"I spend more time digging into the past and learning about older records and buying used vinyl than I am looking forward, and sometimes I think it's just difficult to find a balance between those things," he says. "I sort of feel like, as a music fan, I've either been like all in one direction or all in another direction. So I spend far less time listening to new records and new bands than I do digging into the past. Because it's kind of an endless process. I sort of feel like a musical excavator. There's a million stones yet to upturn and it's sort of an amazing process."
The fact that the box set would be pressed on vinyl was also important to Wood. Like any music lover worth his salt, he loves the warm sound, the feel and the permanence of records. He was so invested in the idea that he even visited Rainbo Records, the factory where Sounds of Since Way Back was made.
"Vinyl is made in an old kind of craftsman way. The way that vinyl is made is very much the same as it's always been made. I think the medium also forces the listener to pay attention to it," he muses. "The way that we listen to music largely these days is through playlists and Spotify and it's largely not in an entire album format. The thing about vinyl is that when you put the needle on the record it's almost like making a commitment to listening to the thing in full, and it's an active listening experience, because you actually have to physically drop the needle, you have to move the record, you have to turn it over when the first side's finished. And I love that about it, too. It connects us to the experience of listening more than the way that we listen to music in general these days with the technology that we have.
"But yeah, to be able to get a chance to put together a box set of 45s. It's far more exciting, I think. Just simply doing a mix wouldn't have been motivation enough to want to do it. I think the fact that we actually got to put together a box set of records on vinyl was the thing I was most excited about doing."
Seven of the songs in the Bushmills Sounds of Since Way Back box set curated by Elijah Wood can be heard below. Folks can also enter to win a box set and a turntable here.
Watch The Natural Yogurt Band's "Eastern Promise" Video