Hi folks! This week I’m doing something completely new for me – an interview, and not any old interview but one with the Kings of sweater and Chad memes – The Woolhouse Boys.
In this new age of Social Media, Twin Peaks groups on Facebook and Twitter have been spawned bringing humour and fun to the scene, and in particular The Woolhouse Boys have brought us a lighthearted pleasure that even cast members are happy to join in with and their following is going from strength to strength. So let’s find out more about the men behind the wool.
LS: Its a pleasure to virtually meet you Joel Peacock, Mark Zandi and Guy Thair! Thank you so much for chatting to me. So tell me, how did the Woolhouse come to be? What was the inspiration behind it?
MZ: After filming wrapped up in North Bend, I dived head first into every Twin Peaks related discussion threads, particularly Dugpa. The spoiler thread is where I met Tony, Joel and Dan. Since we all had a similar sense of humor and wanted to chat more privately, we formed a Messenger group. We soon realized we were able to talk about anything and none of us seemed bothered by it. The four of us were on the same wavelength, understanding where thoughts and ideas were going next. While Dan and I were talking about Sherilyn Fenn returning, our thoughts turned to John Justice Wheeler. So while we are joking about how Jack wore the heaviest wool sweater known to man, tucked in to his pants riding above the naval, Joel is posting hilarious memes. Tony follows with some photoshopped pics and the rest is history. I’ve never laughed so hard as I did during those times. And that’s what we wanted during those months of waiting, levity. The discussions on Dugpa and social media sites were becoming heated at times, so having some place to go and get some comic relief with friends was nice. I feel very blessed that they are my friends and Twin Peaks family.
JP: Yeah, those were magical and hilarious days. We were all chasing spoilers and stumbled upon each other. When spoilers started drying up and folks started getting too tense about sharing them with each other, it got to the point of the four of us just shooting the shit. The aforementioned turning point was while Sherilyn was having one of her (not too infrequent) Twitter meltdowns. We made some ironic memes about her having to settle for JJW over Cooper which were pretty funny and very tongue-in-cheek. It led to us speculating that the iconic spoiler of the scene shot at the Palmer House was Laura screaming because she saw JJW in the window. I made a photoshop of that and it was good for many laughs, so I found my particular niche in the group by photoshopping Billy Zane’s face on other characters from Twin Peaks. Nobody was safe. It got so weird at times that I even photoshopped him onto a loaf of bread. Everybody had a unique style and approach for their memes, which kept it fresh.
After a while of this going on we agreed to slowly start posting our memes in public spaces. Someone in the group one day changed our Twitter chat group name from some random obnoxious things like “Joel’s Hairy Nipple” to “The Woolhouse Boys” and it was just right. We started getting traction on the major Twin Peaks groups, but also met with a lot of resistance from JJW haters. That lit our fire even more, and when we started getting rebuffed and then outright blacklisted by those same groups (yes, it got that petty) we had enough of a following that Christian Hartleben suggested we either make a Facebook group under that name or he would. Thanks for the Inspiration, Christian! Guy came aboard after we went public and took it to a new level that included some hilarious animated gifs. Just a few short months later we had a thousand members. Not to shabby for a singular meme idea.
At one point we were clogging up Google image searches with sweaterized versions of characters if you searched for Twin Peaks. A Twitter account was made, and we tagged @BillyZane in every tweet. Our shining moment was when he not only acknowledged what we were doing, but professed he liked them and told us it was his father’s ski sweater from the 1950’s. He promised us a current side-by-side of him and his dad wearing it (his dad still has it) and we’re patiently waiting…
But it was that sense of like-mindedness and appreciation for comedy in its many forms which brought us together, and I’ve made lifelong friends as a result.
GT: Not sure what I can add to the origin story of the Woolhouse, really, as I just jumped on someone else’s already fully-laden bandwagon. All I did was muck about with photos and had a bit of a laugh at po-faced, chin scratching nerds in the process.
I will happily take credit for the popularity of Chad, (the utterly fabulous John Pirruccello) the result of the Logposter-baiting “I love Chad” meme included here, which has snowballed into a spin-off Facebook group, The Cult Of Chad. John has been such a great sport about our constant use of his brilliantly portrayed scumbag character in our daft photo collages and memes, retweeting practically everything we post on Twitter and frequently engaging with members of the various Woolhouse Boys groups. He’s a perfect example of how cast members show their love and appreciation for genuine fan affection.
I can’t bear the point at which fans of any art form become elitist and self-righteous about the thing they profess to admire.
Once you start excluding others from discussions because they’re “not proper fans”, (an accusation that really pisses me off, no matter who it’s levelled at) then you have lost the right to call yourself a fan. The same applies to making fun of the things you love in an affectionate way, without resorting to the kind of mean-spirited character assassination and personal criticism that seems popular in other meme groups. The philosophy of The Woolhouse Boys as I see it is to spread a little bit of laughter and good natured fun (with the enthusiastic blessing of many of those who are being lampooned, I might add) whilst maintaining intelligent and informed debate about a show we have all loved and been immersed in for half our lives.
The fact that so many of the cast have engaged with the group and it’s individual members on a personal level and made their delight at our silliness clear, well that’s just the icing on a great big woolly cake and I for one am inordinately proud of what we have achieved.
LS: How do you all know each other?
JP: I met Dany and Tony in person at Twin Peaks Fest 2016 before the Woolhouse was even a sparkle in our shifty eyes. One of them introduced me virtually to Mark after I learned he was an amazing artist AND a keeper of secrets. I remember fondly seeing Mark post about “sand worms” in a closed Facebook spoiler group before he accepted my friend request, and once I learned the double meaning of that phrase, I knew we’d be fast friends.
Guy, on the other hand, fell into our laps like manna from heaven, and I’ll let him tell that story from his perspective, but suffice to say it was destined for him to be one of us, and it feels like he was there in spirit all along, just waiting to come into the light.
GT: During all the hype and build up to The Return, (whilst rewatching the original series and not having any local Twin Peaks nerds to theorize about it with) I joined a few Facebook groups and was amazed at the huge global community of fans who seemed just as obsessed with the show as I had always been.
Having met and befriended a number of like-minded folks, I started to regularly post on a few of the main “official” groups and also the meme-frenzy that is Twin Peaks Logposting™™. After a couple of weeks, sometime in February I think, I began to notice photos of Billy Zane’s widely-derided love interest character, John Justice ‘Jack’ Wheeler, being amusingly Photoshopped into scenes from the show or, more often, his memorably garish striped sweater being ‘shopped onto other characters, all of which I found highly amusing.
I’ve always liked mucking around with photo editing, so I started posting silly JJW pictures to some of the groups for my own amusement, (the first one of which, the iconic bathroom scene from the season two finale, is included here). Then one day I noticed a #WoolhouseBoys tag on one of those mysterious memes, so I followed it to their newly created page and sent a member request.
Purely by coincidence, (after laughing myself silly for ten minutes at their gallery of bizarre and hilarious photo montages) the first post I saw was the founding members of the Woolhouse Boys having a conversation that went along the lines of;
– “Does anyone know who Guy Thair is?”
– “No, why?”
– “He just posted a couple of sweater memes and we don’t have any mutual friends.”
– “Hello, are you talking about me?”
– “Hahaha, I didn’t know you could see this thread. Nice meme, by the way.”
– “Thanks. I just followed the #WoolhouseBoys tag to the page and hit the ‘join group’ button.”
Joel and I hit it off straight away and I soon discovered a wonderful core of warm, funny and creative people who were drawn to this little enclave of silliness and friendship; an oasis of peace and good humour in the increasingly snarky and abrasive virtual world of fandom and meme groups.
And I guess the rest is history, but is it past or is it future…?
MZ: I met Joel in the Dugpa forum. And like Joel said, Guy was destined to be a Woolhouse member. He knew right away what frequency we were tuned into. I think once Guy joined and started contributing, that’s when Woolhouse felt solid and real. Then the floodgates opened. Pretty soon it was a deluge of memes and photoshopped images of people wearing the wool. I never thought Woolhouse Boys would become this viral yet beautiful thing.
LS: Have you all been life long Twin Peaks fans?
GT: No question. I watched the original run obsessively and drove all my friends mad, analysing each episode to the point that one or two even stopped watching it, just so they had an excuse not to talk to me about it. It’s odd, though; there are so many other, apparently even more obsessed fans, nerds, geeks, Peakies, whatever you call them, but I suppose we all think we’re THE number one fan.
When I first joined all these groups on Facebook I felt slightly ill-prepared, not having been to festivals, read all the books, theorized for hours at a time about FWWM and TSHOTP or made it my life’s work to decode Lynch’s soap noir masterpiece.
But I’m really an in-universe, on screen Twin Peaks fan and that timeless world has lived in my head, in its own little unchanging bubble, for more than half my life and I’ve rewatched it many times (more than once as a non-stop 24 hour session) and always love introducing it to new potential fans, most recently my wife, Rhonda.
I was actually ok with the original, open “ending”, sudden as it was and more so after FWWM gave us such a visceral insight into the life of our tragic anti-heroine.So I didn’t concern myself about waiting for The Return like so many others did over the years, possibly because, in the back of my mind, it seemed obvious that Lynch and Frost would “see you again in 25 years“, just like tragic Laura promised us she would.
JP: Yeah, I was sitting in front of a puny little 19″ crt color television with a dial and no remote control when the pilot aired.
Guy pretty much summed up my take on the series except I actually screamed “NOOOOO!“ when the final scene aired. A bunch of us were having a finale party and a couple people were crying.
It was and still remains the most original and compelling show to ever air on broadcast television, and is arguably the best television show ever made.
LS: What are your opinions of Series 3? What did you love and what did you hate about it?
MZ: I loved it, but the parts I disliked I wish to keep to myself until I have had more time to watch them again. I’ve been wanting to watch it as one long movie but been too busy. It deserves to be appreciated that way I think. Fans on social media have been posting their theories about The Return and it’s ending. You can get lost in a sea of theories, so much so that you really can’t formulate one of your own. There is nothing about it I hate. Hate is a dirty four letter word anyway.
JP: I love four letter words! Love is a four letter word! I was blown away by Season 3, while I have a love/hate (see what I did there?) relationship with parts of it. As a whole the series was phenomenal. I think it challenged our senses and our patience in a way no other work by David Lynch or Mark Frost has, in particular Parts 3 & 8 (my personal favorites). I have my theory that began to take shape as of Part 3 that I feel stayed intact through the conclusion of the series, but it’s just a theory and that’s another thing I and so many people appreciate about Twin Peaks: it makes you think. That’s surprisingly refreshing in this so-called “golden age” of television that, in my not-so-humble opinion, had started turning into brass until Twin Peaks came back.
But was Season 3 “perfect?” Certainly not. Complaints about it are all over the place. My complaints are Wally Brando, 99% of the Roadhouse scenes/performances, and the shockingly sparing approach to an ambient, Badalamenti-scored soundtrack. But, as I stated, I have a love/hate relationship with many elements of the entirety of Twin Peaks. So many elements of Season 2 are panned, if not reviled, and yet as a whole, I love that painting despite its flaws, and Season 3 fits right in nicely.
There were obviously particular moments that the Woolhouse Boys could love too, and while we didn’t get the triumphant return and cameo of John Justice Wheeler we were hoping for, we did get Audrey pining over Billy, which was good for a laugh as a kinda meta (but unlikely) wink-and-nod to Billy Zane, and the beloved Dr. Lawrence “Amp” Jacoby went on a whole rant about our Wool. Wool is a four letter word. What’s not to love about that?
GT: The Return was quite simply the most astonishing and original thing I’ve seen on TV since the first time David and Mark Frost took us into the woods, 27 years ago.The range of visual styles and plot directions the show took make it almost impossible to pick anything out as something I especially loved about it, but the bleak sense of dread that overlaid even the most innocuous scenes was certainly very powerful.
In no particular order;
– Dougie, Carl, Chad, Gordon, Albert, Hawk, Tammy and Diane were all brilliantly played.
– The “new” Lodge scenes were amazing.
– A lot of the show was genuinely hilarious
– Goodnight Margaret.
Like fellow Woolhouse Boy, Mark, I haven’t rewatched any of the episodes yet, (I only watched them twice, once the night they aired and again immediately prior to the next one) so I have barely processed the extraordinary number of theories that surround what the ending actually “means” for the story as a whole, let alone all the other tangential subplots. But I am happy with how it ended and have a pretty good grasp of how events unfolded, I think, so I don’t have any complaints on that score.
As to anything I specifically disliked? Hmm, well there were a few performances which I didn’t especially enjoy, put it that way, but not enough to spoil the show for me in any meaningful way. As for the “Hipster Band of the Week” slot at the Roadhouse; it’s no secret in our group that I thought it was a terrible idea right from the first episode. I’ll leave my own musical preferences aside and just say that the way that sudden breakaway each week only served to drag us forcibly out of the narrative in a way that jarred with me and I could easily have done without it.
LS: Do you think there will be a Series 4 and would you want there to be?
JP: It’s hard to speculate on the possibility of a Season 4. For ages Lynch famously said “it’s not gonna happen” regarding a return to Twin Peaks of any kind, and yet here we are. As for a desire for Season 4? Nope. Not at all. Season 3 was artistically mold-shattering and psychologically wrenching. It was everything I had hoped for and more. It was satisfying on every level except for Wally Brando (sorry, Noah) and most of the Roadhouse scenes.
‘Season 4: The Misadventures of Richard and Linda’ (if they even actually exist)? No thanks. ‘Twin Peaks: The Millennial Years’? Hell no. Five minutes of thinking about more of those miserable Roadhouse performances from Season 3 is making me want to throw up in my mouth again. Heh.
I thought The Return ended wonderfully. They snapped off the lights to the Palmer house and then that whole reality. Leave well enough alone. But I would watch a Season 4 out of morbid curiosity If and ONLY if Lynch wrote and directed the whole thing again.
GT: To say I wouldn’t watch a fourth season would be disingenuous, to say the least, but I genuinely hope they don’t try to extend the already tangled and fragmented mythos of Twin Peaks any further. It’s always been a source of irritation to me, particularly with American shows, that they seem incapable of saying “Right, that’s it, we have reached a satisfactory conclusion, let’s quit while we’re ahead“, but of course it’s all about the money, so they wring every last drop out of a franchise until it’s hard to remember what made you love it in the first place. So unless they’ve already secretly shot a whole season of extra footage and are just trolling us, I’m hoping that Lynch and Frost have enough to occupy their creative talents, so that they don’t need to resort to diluting our vision of a TV universe so unique, that almost every episode broke new ground in narrative style and visual flair.
We’re used to David leaving us with more questions than answers and I think he, himself, said it best in 1990: “ ‘Closure’, I keep hearing that word. Everybody knows that on television they’ll see the end of the story in the last 15 minutes. It’s like a drug. To me, that’s the beauty of Twin Peaks: we throw in some curve balls. As soon as a show has a sense of closure, it gives you an excuse to forget you’ve seen the damn thing. ” And there’s a meme for every occasion…
MZ: Yes (I do think there will be a series 4), but that’s my own personal opinion. Does that mean there should be one? That’s the real question. It’s like painting a picture, it’s hard to tell when you’re finished. That’s because you could keep working on it, but at some point you feel like you’ve done too much and have overworked the canvas. You just have to know when to stop. And would I want there to be a Season 4? I would only want a continuation if Lynch/Frost believe in their heart of hearts it’s necessary. And would I watch it? Of course.
LS: What has been your favourite/greatest Woolhouse moment?
JP: At this point that question feels a bit like being asked “Who is your favorite child?” These months have been filled with so many memorable moments at every corner of the spectrum. We’ve had Facebook hatred toward us (which still made us laugh), we’ve had random strangers use our pictures for their profiles, we’ve had quite a few Twin Peaks cast & crew join in, and we’ve had the MAN himself, Billy Zane, aka King Tuck wade into the fray and show his support for us.
But I guess if I absolutely had to pick a favorite child, it would be a magical day in late July, 2017. Mark offhandedly threw out an idea to have a “Woolhouse Boys Breakfast” at his house in Twin Peaks (North Bend, Washington) during Twin Peaks Fest weekend. Bear in mind that at this point, I still had never met Mark in person. I really liked the idea of this as an opportunity to surprise Mark with an in-person visit. I reached out to his lovely lady-friend, Erin Craver, and we hatched a plan. The event began to take shape, RSVPs started coming in, and all the while I was falsely lamenting not being able to attend. As the day drew near, I was able to solidify a family trip from Montana to Washington for the weekend, but we secret squirrels didn’t stop there. I reached out to two celebrity Woolhouse Boys members who were attending the Fest that weekend with a secret invitation, and they immediately agreed. Flash forward to that weekend, and not only was Mark pleasantly surprised by my family visit, but Saturday morning, as he’s slaving away in the kitchen to make us all breakfast, there’s a knock on the door, it opens it up and in walk Deputy Jesse and Mickey, James Grixoni and Jeremy Lindholm. We had celebrities, three of the four original Woolhouse Boys and several members of the group hanging out, eating delicious food and chatting about art, hiking, sci fi, David Lynch’s directing style and so many other things, all the while with the majestic Mt. Si as a backdrop. That was a spectacular moment for The Woolhouse.
MZ: I would have to say it was the pancake breakfast during the fest. Joel recounted the day perfectly. That was another defining moment for the Woolhouse. It was by far one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever been given. Erin Craver is the best for making it happen, I love her so much, she kept everything a secret. Getting to meet Joel and his family was a tremendous blessing, they have done so much for me and I love them all dearly for it. Seeing Noah Saftig in his Woolhouse shirt during fest was more than epic, it was classic. Making friends with James Grixoni was another highlight, I love that guy! So down to earth and just an incredible person. Having everybody together that day deepened my love for The Woolhouse.
GT: Like Joel, I find it hard to pick an absolute favourite moment or image, but I guess having Sabrina Sutherland declare her love for The Cult of Chad was a highlight.
and I think I’d have to go with one of my gifs as my most unique contributions. Here’s one from the “Charlie’s Head” series.
LS: Who has donned the JJW sweater the best?
MZ: The Packard Sweater Mill pic is one of my favorites. There are so many good ones now, but a lot of the quality ones with precise detail were made by Dan when we first hit Facebook. I remember saying “If you haven’t seen Twin Peaks, you would swear they were really wearing that sweater” The Photoshopping was that good.
GT: Oooh, this is a hard one. Again, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favourite, but I’m going to go with one of my earliest attempts and a more recent one.
The earlier one is just because that bag looks SO comfortable and the second one is purely because it still makes me laugh every time I look at it.
JP: I’m mostly just going to include those I created myself. Others in the group have done so many great ones that it would be impossible to showcase all of my favorites from around the group, however one in particular, created by our erstwhile Founder Dan, makes me laugh hard every time I see it, so I’m including it here to honor him. Like I said in an earlier question, my niche has been more JJW’s face than his sweater.
Here they are:
“Have you seen this man?” by Dan Jones
“ZANEy Woodsmen” by me
“ZANEy Log Lady” by me
LS: You have some great merchandise! What’s coming next and when? How can we get our hands on it?
GT: Hahaha, yeah, that was another thing that started as a quick gag and then got slightly out of control. Somebody (Joel will know who) made a Photoshop version of the Bookhouse Boys patch that Harry gives Cooper in the original series, adding the stripes of JJW’s sweater behind the fir tree. I liked the idea, but thought I could improve on the look of it, so I pinched the idea and made my own version.
I used it as my Facebook profile picture for a while and then it occurred to me that it would make a pretty good sticker, so I had some made online and ended up sending out dozens of them all over the world for a couple of quid each, not to make money, just to add my tiny contribution for Twin Peaks fandom. Anyway, later on I decided to have a t-shirt printed with the design on it and sent one to Joel as a surprise gift, in recognition of his perceived “leadership” of the Woolhouse Boys.
After that, it seemed a bit selfish not to offer the opportunity for others to wear their woolly colours on their sleeve, so to speak, so I offered to have a limited run of them made for group members (some of which are now being proudly worn by members of the cast) and they proved so popular that we are about to start offering strictly limited, numbered editions, of one-off garment designs, based on the most popular of our huge back catalogue of memes. Fortunately for us, I have a very talented friend who has been printing my home designed t-shirts for over ten years and he loves new challenges, so we should have something new to offer you soon.
Watch this space..
JP: Yes, I do know. That original patch photoshop was created by Dan Jones, whom I dearly wish had been able to hang in with us for the long haul. While I had quick and intermediate photoshop skills, Dan’s manipulations of the sweater to create textures and all sorts of other amazing manipulations of imagery eclipsed us all. He had quite a number of brilliant creations.
LS: What does the future hold for the Woolhouse and its sister groups (Cult of Chad etc)?
MZ: It has momentum now and I think it will continue to thrive. We’ve added some new administrators and I feel it’s in good hands. Cult of Chad is hilarious, and the fact that John Pirruccello is genuinely supportive makes it even better. What does the future hold? You’d have to ask Jack…..
JP: Here’s a breakdown of the affiliated groups and their purpose:
– Woolhouse Boys: Self-explanatory, but basically all things JJW and The Sweater
– Woolhouse Boys Secrets: It started as an April Fool’s Joke I played this year, and evolved into a spoiler-friendly Season 3 discussion
– Woolhouse Boys Contests: Participate in JJW or Sweater related activities for real prizes (first contest coming real soon)
– The Cult of Chad: Inspired by Guy’s groundbreaking devotion to that loveable asshole Chad, the “Albert Rosenfield” of Season 3
– The Roadhouse Sucks: A place to meme and rant about how bad the Roadhouse acts were in Season 3. With love.
As for the future? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The most drastic thing that has changed since the inception of our community was to make The Woolhouse Boys a public group and add mods/admins. I will do my damnedest to make sure these groups retain their civility, humor and format in perpetuity or, like Guy said about American television, we’ll forget what we even liked about them in the first place.
GT: I’m sure we’ll go on pretty much as we have, now we have an entire season’s worth of footage to muck about with and all those new characters to dress in Jack’s glorious sweater.We’re all just childish nerds who make stupid pictures to give each other a laugh and while other people think what we do is funny, I see no reason to stop.
The Woolhouse Boys is the best Twin Peaks group on the internet; there I’ve said it, fight me (as the “proper” memers would say). It’s the most friendly, the funniest, the most intelligent and creative collection of people I’ve ever met in such a short space of time, all with a common love of a show that has been bringing like-minded folks together for over a quarter of a century.
LS: Do you have other projects ongoing either as a group or individually?
JP: I’m not very creative compared to Guy and Mark, so not much to say here other than my family plans to open up a pizza joint in northwest Montana in the next 6-8 months. It will feature a couple Twin Peaks inspired pizza “pies” on the menu, and will be decorated in part with some Twin Peaks themed art and images, including Guy’s excellent Woolhouse Boys patch design, and poster-sized prints of Mark’s unparalleled Twin Peaks-inspired original art.
Guests who show up with Woolhouse Boys memorabilia eat for free.
GT: My main hobby, before all this sweater insanity, was blogging on WordPress (as dalecooper57, coincidentally) which I still do regularly.
I have half a dozen sites which are all linked from my main blog, which until very recently was Diary of an Internet Nobody, but I ran out of storage space there, so moved to my new home at the imaginatively named Return of the Internet Nobody, which features the same mix of humour, fiction, photography, animation, music and general nonsense as I’ve been writing since I became hooked on it five years ago.
LS: Thank you so much Joel, Mark and Guy for chatting with me, I have had so much fun getting to know about the history of The Woolhouse Boys and what’s going to happen next. This is just one of the many brilliant friendships and creative masterpieces that has been spawned by Twin Peaks. I am not sure there is another show that has this sort of impact on people, we owe the great friendships we have found in people we would have been unlikely to meet otherwise to David Lynch and Mark Frost, of that there is no doubt. I hope that one day I get to make the pilgrimage to North Bend and can catch up with you all. Please bring one of your Twin Peaks pizza pies for me Joel.
The future is bright for the Woolhouse Boys – the future is black, ivory and a funny sort of orangey red stripe.