Q&A: Richie James Follin of The Willowz Talks Maturity and The Letter Z. Also: A Giveaway!
Anaheim, California's The Willowz have been doing the punk/soul/garage/blues thing since 2002--and to some fine results. In 2004, two of the band's songs added much-needed grit to the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack.
Featuring Richie James Follin's screeching, J. Mascis-inspired singing, The Willowz' six albums are hard-charging, room-clearing assaults.
(Update: Contest is over. Congrats to our winner!)
In the meantime, we recently caught up with Follin over the phone. Speaking from a tour stop in Salt Lake City, Follin spoke on a variety of issues.
What's the biggest difference between the band's most recent release, Everyone, and your previous releases?
The songs are more focused. This was the first time we went into a real studio and worked with a name producer. The songs are better. Well, maybe. I don't know.
Do you dislike the fact that the most common word used to describe
the new album has been "mature?"
Not really. I mean, we are more mature. We're older. I think we may have got that word used more on the record that came before, Unveil. I think people think this new record sounds like we've gone back to what we've done much earlier. Back to our roots. Perhaps the songs are tighter and people call that mature. I don't know.
What are your roots?
When me and [bassist] Jessica [Reynoza] first met, we were working in a record store and we were exposed to a lot of different stuff, a lot of stuff that nobody was buying, just stuff that looked interesting. We liked punk and jazz and we try to incorporate a lot of stuff into our music.
The band is often referred to as a garage band. Is such a title a
badge of honor?
I think maybe that term is pigeonholing us a little bit. It's not my favorite term. I definitely don't see is as a badge of honor.
How does the term pigeonhole you?
I think that when people hear the phrase "garage rock," they have a certain expectation that may not apply to our music. We're huge fans of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth and I don't think you would call their music garage rock. I just saw Dinosaur Jr. and I think that was the loudest show I have ever been to.
Are there bands that you are often associated with that you wish you
weren't associated with?
No. Well, I don't know. Not really. Most bands we get compared to I like. I think we combine early Rolling Stones and early Black Flag and I like to be compared to bands like that.
You enjoy a lot of that old school, West Coast punk.
Yes, bands like the Adolescents and T.S.O.L. That sound was a very big influence on me.
How did you manage to get two songs onto the soundtrack for Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Did having those songs in the film really
help the band?
Gondry, the director, heard us and got in touch with our manager. There was a big spike in our sales once the movie was released. It has been a major blessing.
Why a 'z' instead of an 's' in the band's name?
We approached the 50's band called The Willows and asked them if we could have the name and they said no.
The band has changed labels a couple of times. Is there a reason for
Well, Sympathy [For the Record Industry], I don't think they put out records anymore. I mean, you are always looking for better distribution or more promo cash.
So, you're happy with where you are now, on Dim Mak?
Well, I don't know. We're always trying to move forward.
The Willowz perform tonight at the Double Wide