by: Thomas D. Mooney
Earlier this year, Erick Willis released the three song EP, EP Spring ’13. It’s the follow-up to last year’s EP Summer ’12.
We caught up with the singer-songwriter a few weeks back to discuss the EP, the differences between writing for himself and for a band, and what’s coming around the bend.
Erick Willis will play full band tonight (June 26) at The Blue Light.
Listen to EP Spring’ 13 below.
New Slang: You released your acoustic about a week or so back. You think you’ll ever record those songs full band for an album?
Erick Willis: Yeah. I had intended on–I had actually recorded them, just scratch tracks form–as soon as I finished that other EP, I was just going to add more full band tracks. I did the acoustic recordings of them and then thought, money costs for one and time’s sake, it was so much easier to do them acoustic. And they were songs I’d played acoustic for so long. So I just thought we’d try them acoustic. But I’m definitely thinking about it. We’re already planning on recording a whole album, hopefully we’ll start before the end of the year. Most of those, hopefully we’ll do a full band version. That’s unless I write some other stuff I’d rather record. I like playing those songs full bad and everything so I could definitely see me recording them that way.
NS: You’re obviously playing a bunch of songs acoustic. Then you’ve got this full band thing going and playing here and there. So what’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed in a song between the two?
EW: Yeah. I don’t know if there’s so much with a specific song, but I’ve noticed a lot of my original songs that I never played acoustic–because I felt they were too naked or whatever–I’d never play them acoustic. So with the band, I’m a whole lot more comfortable playing them. It wasn’t a whole lot of songs, but it just felt better. Some songs, you just need a band for. Know what I mean?
EW: There’s just some that don’t fit the singer-songwriter. There’s definitely songs we play full band and just never played them before. I like both of course though. I like my fair share of acoustic because it’s just you. You’re able to change up a song if you want to and it’s no big deal. We’re definitely not to the bone structured, this hardcore strict band or anything. We’ve had five times as many shows as we’ve had rehearsals [laughs]. So we’re pretty jam bandish.
NS: Has it effected your songwriting? Has it got you thinking when writing something, “this would sound so much better since it’s more than me up there?” Stuff like that?
EW: Yeah. I think so. The later stuff I’ve been writing, I think I’ve been thinking with a band in mind. So you’re thinking about–I don’t want to say you’re not focused on the lyrics–but you’re a lot more focused on the music part of it.
NS: Something I was wondering about when a guy like you goes from being more so a singer-songwriter to having a band is this. When you’re up there by yourself, the songs by all means are yours and yours alone. They’re you playing them. People think of them as being strictly yours and your ideas, thoughts, etc. But once that band starts playing with you, they’re your songs, but you’re sharing them with another two to four more people. They’re yours still, but people think of them more so as being the bands. Have you thought about that aspect? You get what I’m saying?
EW: Yeah. I think, since they’re my songs, I definitely have the overall say in what can happen, but that’s the nice thing about having a band. They pick up things that I never would, just because of their musical experience. I’ve only played guitar since high school. And still, I wouldn’t consider myself a great guitarist. I learned fucking four chords and started trying to write songs [laughs]. It’s nice to have more experienced guys to bounce ideas off of. You’re able to get stuff that maybe is different from what you envisioned, but maybe better.
NS: The song “She Already Knows,” it has this real soulful thing going for it. You could have made it a lot more in your face–obviously it’s on this acoustic EP. But, I think it has this real laid-back, Sunday morning smoothness to it. In a lot of ways–I’d assume you’re a fan of guys such as Marvin Gaye or Otis Redding.
EW: Yeah. It does have this Otis Redding groove and feel to it.
NS: Yeah. Where were you when you were writing this song?
EW: Well basically, I’ve never been one who vocal with my feelings for a girl or anything like that. So the lyric, don’t have to tell her, she can see it in my eyes. I think that was the first lyric written. It was basically a song about how she knew already. Then it grew into being a well, she already knew, but shit, maybe I still should have said something type of deal. That’s how the story goes. And I didn’t have that last verse on there. I added it kind of late, but I think it adds to the story element of the song.
NS: So I think it was a few weeks ago that I saw a few tweets between you and Tori [Vasquez]. You had asked her to come in and do some backup vocals and that you had a song in mind for her. What’s that all about?
EW: Yeah. I’ve got a song in mind for her. I’m going to play it tonight. I had sat and listened to “That Makes Two of Us” over and over. I had come to the decision that Tori was going to do all the harmonies for it. I had decided that, but thought, “Man, I want to do another duet type song.” And you know that “That Makes Two of Us” wasn’t intended on being a duet. But this one, I wrote a song catering to her voice. I don’t have a name for it yet. And I may add another verse or two, but every time I play it, I can hear her in my head singing on it [laughs]. We haven’t worked on it yet or anything, but I think it’ll turn out pretty cool. I’m wanting it to be a real naked song. Just acoustic and maybe some piano. Just a two-part harmony on the whole song. Not just on the chorus, but the whole song.
NS: Yeah. I can imagine just being a songwriter. I’d just think of different ways for talented vocalists like her to end up on my record [laughs].