Willy Mason tour hits Liverpool Sound City – interview

Posted on 17 May 2011
By Matt Barden
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Willy Mason will be bringing his own style of lo-fi folk music to Liverpool Sound City festival this Friday.

Purple Revolver caught up with the American singer-songwriter ahead of his appearance at Zanzibar and found out what Willy had to say about his tour, the new album and futurising.

You’re doing a massive tour of the UK, how’s it going so far?

“It’s going pretty well. It’s pretty mellow. It gets real busy in August, that’s when it’s really going to kick off.”

Is it different from touring in the States?

“Yeah, it’s different. More people are more familiar with my stuff in the UK; we get more people singing along and stuff.”

And you’re in Liverpool next week for Sound City, the Scousers take their music pretty seriously, are you looking forward to it?

“Yeah coming into Liverpool next week, it’s been a little while since I’ve been but I’m looking forward to getting back there, Sound City is going to be a really good festival.

“I’m hoping I can live up to the standard that the Scousers expect. My brother’s (Sam) coming along too; he’ll be onstage with me at Sound City playing the drums, just like the good old days.”

Are you hoping to catch any of the acts at Sound City?

“King Charles are playing after me I think, so that should be a good show.”

So the Beatles or the Stones?

“Oh come on man! Hmmm, I don’t know, I might just have to sit on the fence on that one.”

Fair enough. You’ve toured and recorded with pretty prestigious UK acts like Radiohead and Chemical Brothers, why do you think the English have taken to you so well?

“Maybe it’s because I’m a foreigner. Sometimes it’s nice to hear things from a stranger; it makes it easier to stomach.”

You also have an almost philosophical approach to lyrics, like you’re studying human nature through music, is that something you do consciously or does it just come about naturally?

“Yeah, that’s sort of my natural thought process, just trying to figure out how everything works. I like to bring out a new narrator, a new voice that I can speak through, one of the alien frequently, you know? Someone trying to understand human nature a little better.”

You’ve built up a reputation as one of the best young songwriters about, who influences you?

“A lot of it comes from the roots, mostly American roots, but I’m starting to get into some traditional English stuff, folk music, the less commercial music, early forms of communication and revelry. But Radiohead were a huge influence on me coming up.”

If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

“I don’t know really, there’s a lot of people! But I’m going do some recording with The Spokes, which I’m really looking forward to. We’re just going to spend a couple of hours with them when we’re in Newcastle.”

How do you gear yourself up for a festival gig? Any superstitious rituals?

“I like standing in the crowd and pretending I’m there to watch the show for a while.”

What’s next for you? I heard you’re working on a new album, how’s it going?

“Yeah that’s true. It’s really feeling good to be back in the studio. We just did one session, we got most of it done, and we’ve just got to touch up a couple little parts over the next couple of months, in between tours.”

And will this be an independent release?

“So far it’s just been me and the producer working together, so we’ll see what happens from there.”

We’re launching a 90s season on Purple Revolver and have identified ’93 as a pivotal year in the throwback nostalgia now beginning to take hold of today’s trends.

What are your memories from the early 90s, ’93 in particular? Any music, movies or cultural highlights that have influenced you?

“I was young then. But I remember that was the year that my parents split up and I remember in all the little kids movies and every TV show the hero’s parents were always splitting up and I think that that had an effect on me, when they started splitting up it made sense.”

“Other than that it was the year I got turned on to Nirvana. Previously the other cassette that I had was MC Hammer, so that was a big change.”

Did Grunge have a big effect on you musically then?

“Yeah, I picked up the guitar to the sound of Bleach and Incesticide.”

Purple Revolver are into predicting the future, what is your vision for the future?

“Well I think the other part of the 90’s was extreme trends. Like viscous trend cycles, so my vision for the future is culture levelling out, so it’s less about reacting to things and more about finding things that work.”

Finally Willy, do you think Phil Collins gets a bad rap for his music?

“I don’t know does he? Yeah, I guess he does! He just does what he does, he has to deal with the trash talking, but it doesn’t bother me, he’s got some good melodies.”

That’s it Willy, thanks a lot.

“Sure, good talking with you. Have a good one.”

Willy Mason will be performing as part of Liverpool Sound City on Friday 20th May. Tickets and wristbands are available from www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk

For information on Willy’s UK tour and all his latest news head on over to www.willymason.net