Will Dailey Talks New Album, Dogs, Red Sox Memories, and a Gift from Stephen King
Wed, 21 Sep 2011 09:05:08
Will Dailey & The Rivals don't mess around on their self-titled third album.
In fact, the Boston rockers come right out of the gate with an energetic anthem, "How Good It Feels", backed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Dailey's voice takes flight on the vapors of hypnotic guitars and robust strings. Then there's "Big Bright Sun", which swirls from a subdued, sensitive verse into one of the biggest hooks you'll hear in 2011. As a whole, the album proves to be a landmark for Dailey. It's his first for Universal Republic Records, and it's not only his most inspired work yet, it's one of the best rock releases of 2011.
In addition, Dailey contributed to The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the forthcoming T Bone Burnett produced musical by John Mellencamp and Stephen King alongside Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Rosanne Cash, Neko Case, and more. Dailey is bound to take over pop and rock…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Will Dailey discussed his latest album, storytelling, his favorite Red Sox memory, movies, dogs, and a gift from Stephen King.
Did Will Dailey & The Rivals turn out the way you'd envisioned it from the beginning?
In terms of energy and vibe, it reflects the initial goal, but every song—if you have a healthy studio environment—should surprise you. Someone should play something or add a part to a song that surprises you and blows you away. I try not to listen to the album too much so I don't lose my mind, but when I listen back now, there are things in everybody's performances that still surprise me now.
Have you evolved as a storyteller?
Yeah, I think in the past I could do that, but I also would invest a lot in the three-dimensional image. My thought was, "Let's make sure everyone can have his or her own interpretation of this". On this album, I feel I've mastered the whole idea of telling the story right up front without sacrificing depth or intrigue at the same time.
Is that intrigue important to you as a songwriter?
There should always be those corners of a song. Those are the dark hallways that make you ask, "Does he mean something else here? Is there more to this story than the song suggests?" I love when you can listen to a song and imagine it going places even after the music stops.
What's the story behind "Out on the Floor"?
It probably originates from worrying too much about tomorrow. Everyone right now is worrying how they're going to pay for something tomorrow. We probably shouldn't be enjoying ourselves right now because there's a steep hill tomorrow, whether it be saving your house, keeping your job, finding food to eat, or acquiring the basic necessities of life. The very stress of that can add to the trouble. The person in that song is following someone they trust and letting go. In the music, we let go too. On that song, we have three different drum kits going on. There's a jazz kit for the verse beats and a rock kit for the choruses. Then we have what we call, "The Duran Duran drums" going on over the outro. We let go on the composition. I always like to make sure I address that on songs. If there's a message in the lyrics, is there a way the music can draw that out even more? Even if it's subtle and one person gets it, that works. There are a lot of fun things in that tune which mean the same thing for us. We're letting go of what we thought we needed to worry about when we were making this album. That's how we get into it. In the past, we were more of a roots-y band. We'd come from the song just as I wrote it. Now we let go and don't worry. In a lot of ways, the whole album is like that.
Did you always know "Victory" would conclude the album?
I did not, but I love it. Usually, I lean to having a nice chill song to close out a record, and this one just seemed appropriate. I know "How Good It Feels" would either open or close the record. It felt like a nice way to kick things off though. "Victory" was the choice to end it. A rocking song is a good way to close it. London Calling closes with "Train In Vain", and it's such a catchy tune to close out a stellar, amazing record. That always stuck with me.
Outside of music, where do you draw inspiration? Do you read a lot or watch many movies?
I love my dog! I read a lot. I love books, and I wish I had more time for books. I love movies, and I wish I had more time for movies. My movie queue is way too long right now, and it stresses me out that I can't get to them all. Also friendships are quite inspiring.
What kind of dog do you have?
I have a catahoula hound! They're Southern dogs. They're a hog-herding dog, and I have one in Boston. He doesn't quite belong in the city [Laughs]. When I got him from the shelter, they said he was a mutt. It turns out he's a full-bred, guard, farm-herder. His name is Tonka. I love dogs! I like rescuing dogs and training dogs.
What are some of your favorite movies?
I love this movie called King of Hearts which is a French film. I also love Groundhog Day. I love this Japanese movie, Old Boy. I just revisited The Commitments, which is a great music movie. Right now, I'm most excited to see that movie Drive. It's supposedly phenomenal. It looks like it has a Michael Mann vibe to it.
Do you have a favorite Boston sports memory?
This summer I sang "God Bless America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" at a Red Sox game, which was mind-blowing. I had the best seats I've ever had in my whole life right behind home plate. They were literally behind home plate. It was the first seat in the whole place. I thought, "If I knew I could sing and get tickets like this, I would've started doing the national anthem a lot younger" [Laughs]. I spent my life in the bleachers! I remember when I was kid, getting close to first base late in the game was amazing. This decade for Boston sports has almost been overwhelming, especially '04-'07.
Did you get to meet Stephen King?
I didn't get to meet him, but I got a bouquet of flowers from him which blew my mind. I was really exciting at first. As I was falling asleep that night, I realized I was scared of what these flowers might do and what might happen. It was quite an arrangement. He gave me a "thanks for all of your hard work" bouquet of flowers, but it's Stephen King so these flowers might come alive in the middle of the night and choke me [Laughs].
You can only hope!
Have you heard Will Dailey & The Rivals yet?