Genre-bending artist Will Wood has quickly become known for his creative and experimental songwriting, and his newest single, “Cicada Days” is no different. Taking a step away from his usual genre-bending, high-energy sound for a more stripped down, folk-leaning almost-acoustic number, “Cicada Days” showcases a side of Will that fans haven’t had the chance to see quite yet. What begins as a melodic acoustic piece with lilting, gorgeous vocal lines, “Cicada Days” slowly builds and then explodes out of its carefully crafted shell into a wall of absolute chaos and distinctive sound, much like the insects themselves.
“Cicada Days” follows the beautiful “Tomcat Disposables” and “Your Body, My Temple” released earlier this year and serves as a teaser for his upcoming album, In Case I Make It, out July 29th. Opening even more doors for the future and arriving just after his successful run of shows that wrapped up earlier this month, the meaning behind “Cicada Days” – a track that celebrates coming out of your shell and crying out to the world – marks a perfect jumping-off point for Will Wood.
We recently caught up with Will Wood to talk about his growth as an artist following The Normal Album and during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as his new music and plans for the future. Read more about the stunning new single before it drops tomorrow below!
Prelude Press: You’ve already had an exciting and busy 2022 with an almost completely sold-out tour that just wrapped up and new music. What has been the highlight of your year so far?
Will Wood: Seeing the response to the new material has been really exciting. I wrote my last single, “Tomcat Disposables” as a sort of ode to a mouse I found in my kitchen, because I felt bad for having trapped it and for how humans see perfectly innocent and fully conscious creatures as something to kill on sight and then feel nothing over, and after the single dropped there were thousands of people all over the world mourning this one mouse. It felt like I had really managed to convince people to see the light in the eyes of pests, and it really moved me to see so many people care for something nobody ever really cares about. I’m really hoping that the more personal element of what I’m putting into these newer songs continues to move people in real ways like that.
The last time we caught up with you, you were just about to release your third album, The Normal Album. So much has changed since then! How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist between then and now?
It’s hard to describe it succinctly, but I think the changes that I’ve undergone go deeper than just my artistic goals. In some ways I think I’m practically unrecognizable compared to who I was when I was putting together The Normal Album. Ultimately I think these changes led to me wanting to take more risks with my writing, wanting to communicate more transparently and with a bit more vulnerability, and needing different things out of my career. I’m not concerned much with impressing people with high-flying piano solos and wordplay or trying to say something profound these days, just with writing what’s real and meaningful to me. Because I think the more direct and open I am with my work, the more effectively I’ll be able to connect with people who might really find something in it that brings them some sort of inspiration or comfort. Something to relate to and connect over in a real and deeper sense, you know?
You kicked off 2022 with the release of “Your Body, My Temple”, which is a massive, jazzy anthem. What goals did you have in mind when you were working on that song?
That track was commissioned by the producers of a podcast as part of a soundtrack, so it was really about trying to capture something about the character and the story that had been presented to me.
Your brand new single, “Cicada Days” is a really stunning departure from the rest of your music with a really folky undertone to it and a massive ending. How did this song come about? What was the writing process like?
A couple years ago I was taking on a challenge to try and write a song every day for a month (which didn’t pan out, but still produced a lot of material) while also going through some really major life changes. I had just started playing ukulele, which is a really neat instrument for writing with and about the furthest thing from a piano short of a piccolo. Some of the major shifts in my life over the past couple years have just naturally guided my head toward an interest in using more traditional sounds when it suits the song, either for the sake of sort of stripping the fat from the message or for the sake of establishing a baseline on which unconventional decisions can have the most striking effect. It wasn’t until I was putting together the demo that the concept for the ending came together. The song establishes a sound and language that the ending subverts, or maybe breaks through.
Can you tell us about the concept of “Cicada Days”? What inspired the song?
Cicadas spend the vast majority of their lives underground feeding on the roots of trees, and somehow after seventeen years of just existing like that in some unknowable state of consciousness, the chemicals in their brain just know instinctively that it’s time to start climbing the tree. They break out of their shells, scream for a mate, and die just a month or two later. I feel like cicada days are when you’ve finally come out of your shell and are desperately crying out to the world. Maybe knowing it’s your last chance, that it’s all been leading up to this, and that it’ll be too late pretty soon. Or maybe they’re when you can’t stand to go outside because it’s just too damn loud.
Did you learn anything about yourself when working on the song? Reflecting on it now, what are some of your favorite things about it?
I guess I learned a lot about the depth of the experiences that inspired it, and the mistakes I’ve made that I’m singing about. I’m afraid of the song, to a certain extent. I think that the best songs often are the ones that the writer fears a little. I’m baring my soul a little more than I used to with my material, which is fitting in the world of the song as well. I like to think of that screaming ending of the song, with its blunt lyricism after soft abstraction for the majority of the song, as kind of like the actual cicada days of the tune if that makes any sense.
What would you like for fans to take away from the song?
I think I’d like for people to hear it and feel a little less alone. That’s kind of my main goal with this new record, is to give like-minded people something that maybe reminds them to try to forgive themselves their flaws and errors so they can move forward from them and become the person they want or need to be. People like to talk about artists’ responsibility a lot these days, which is all well and good, but they often do so with this weird idea that the second you hear or see something with any ugliness in it you’ll turn into a monster. That the “normalization” of darker parts of humanity will make us worse people. Sometimes though, I think it can be the other way around. Sometimes I think art needs to show the stuff that “content” can’t get away with as easily. To say things like “let all my red flags fade to white” and “what have I done?” that acknowledge the author’s imperfections and failures and identify them as such, and encourage others to recognize and see the humanity in their own flaws in a healthy and productive way. Because it’s precisely when we feel unworthy and alone that darker and uglier parts of us thrive.
After “Cicada Days”, what’s next? Do you have any other big plans for 2022?
I have a few more singles on the way, then the album “In Case I Make It” comes out 7/29. After that, I might do a few shows, and then I need to take a long break.