If you know anything about Will Wood, then you’re well aware of the fact that he doesn’t half-ass anything. Throughout his career – from his start in 2015 as Will Wood and the Tapeworms with Everything Is a Lot, to completely reinventing himself on 2020’s The Normal Album and his latest dynamic release, “In case I make it,” – he pours his heart and soul into everything he does. It’s the reason why his music has resonated with listeners so consistently over the years, resulting in millions of streams, sold-out tours and an incredibly devoted fanbase. His next, and potentially final album, In Case I Die is no different.
Yes, you read that right. Final album. (Maybe).
Comprised of twenty career-spanning songs, In Case I Die is a unique live album, featuring new and strikingly different takes on songs from throughout Will Wood’s discography. The album consists of live-in-studio performances, previously unreleased tunes, and a closer look at Will’s songwriting with a vulnerable, bare-bones presentation of his artistry. But it’s not simply a trip down memory lane – In Case I Die is a reflection; a raw reimagining of some of his most personal songs. It finds Will taking back the narrative, looking inward even more than ever, and it serves as a perfect conclusion to this chapter of his life.
Out January 13th, In Case I Die is Will Wood’s final message to listeners and fans before his indefinite hiatus. Ahead of its release, we had a chance to catch up with him one last time to reflect on an insane 2022, his career thus far, how fame and a captive audience have affected him, and his hopes for the future. Read more now below.
In Case I Die is available for pre-save now HERE.
Prelude Press: You just closed out an incredibly exciting and busy 2022, which consisted of sold-out tour dates and the release of your latest album, “In case I make it,”. We always find ourselves reflecting on the year as it comes to an end, so I have to ask: What was the highlight or the most exciting part of 2022 for you?
Will Wood: The “In case I make it,” tour was a really gratifying experience. It was the first time since before the pandemic that I felt so close with my audience. How they stuck with me through all the rougher stuff that happened this past year and seeing how they were moved by my more personal songs really showed me that we understood each other better than I knew. Every fan I had the pleasure of meeting I felt I had something sort of essential in common with, and I could see it more clearly than ever.
On top of reflecting on this year, it’s clear that you’ve already been doing a ton of thinking about your future as well. To kick off the new year, you’re releasing another new album, In Case I Die, which features some stunning live renditions of new and old songs, in-studio performances and some unreleased material. What are you excited for fans to hear on the album? What were you most excited to work on?
I’m excited for Cicada Days and Against the Kitchen Floor, because I think the live versions allow them to sort of speak plainly in a way, and I hope people will get something new from them because of it. I’m also really proud of my performance on White Noise. Hopefully it sort of shows why I always kind of insist on putting humor and seriousness into the same space. Also very excited for the songs that didn’t make ICIMI. Honestly giddy for the whole thing.
What was it like to rework some of the older songs on the album, whether live or in the studio? Have they taken on a new meaning for you as they’ve aged and you’ve grown?
Funny enough I only ever played The Song with Five Names with the band once or twice. So in a way it wasn’t re-working at all. I’m hoping this and other tunes on the record might help end rumors that I don’t like my early stuff. Cause I have no problem with it – relationships with songs can just change over time.
Ten years after writing it, I feel Skeleton Appreciation Day now sort of means something about the importance of accepting one another, bones and all. Which is something I care about – trying to spread a message that love and progress require a commitment to compassion (especially when its challenged) that our culture currently lacks. And singing it in G while strumming sort of sheds its cartoonish plumage and I think invites greater intimacy.
I also think the softened I/Me/Myself has the chance to say a lot about the song as people know it, and maybe about the confused controversy around it. (which I sort of regret ever responding to, because it only gave people more to misinterpret and fight over) I’ve got complicated feelings toward the track, because it sort of made me, and I could never have prepared for or predicted the sort of abuse that comes with notoriety in the era of algorithm culture. But it’s still my baby, you know? And while what it put me through pushed me away from parts of who I was, reconciling those parts with the person I’m becoming makes me feel the elements of the song that are special to me more deeply than ever.
“I think it being such a big collection spanning such a long time, with a focus on songs from what was originally going to be published “in case I die,” may do well to serve as my sort of final message.” – Will Wood
You’re also announcing that In Case I Die will be your last album for the foreseeable future. Many artists don’t get to make the conscious decision to choose which album will be their last – how does it feel to go out (however long you choose to go) on an epic release like this one?
I’ve mentioned that “In case I make it,” was originally going to be called In Case I Die because I was having sort of premonitions of my death while making it. Then, to make a long and complicated story short and simple, I decided to make the name something positive, and now some folks see ICIMI as my “I’m good now” album. Which guts me, because the doom I was foreseeing was life as “Will Wood” getting to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.
Having what was essentially a musical suicide note somehow heard as “I’m happy now, and I hate my old music because I was mentally ill then” despite the amount of death and transparency in the lyrics and what I think is a lack of evidence for the perceived meta-commentary in them really sucks any meaning from the songs and speaks to the stigma around mental illness. It says my other records were wackier because I was crazy, not because I’m creative and have a variety of interests. It romanticizes and sensationalizes an inherently ugly thing, and the story it tells says progress is a straight line, which is bad for young people who need to be told that it can be a rocky journey but still be upward. Sure, I was definitely crazier when I was younger, but the time period ICMI comes from was probably the most miserable I’ve ever been.
Point is, I’m now releasing something more raw, and calling it In Case I Die. Not because I still think I’m going to die – I’m doing okay these days – but because I’m going away and I’m not sure I’m coming back. I think it being such a big collection spanning such a long time, with a focus on songs from what was originally going to be published “in case I die,” may do well to serve as my sort of final message.
How does it feel to have a sense of control over how this chapter of your story ends?
Well, I’ve talked a lot about feeling disconnected from my public persona, but that’s often interpreted as me saying I want to get away from the character work I have a history of doing onstage – which sure, sometimes I do. But what I mean is that “Will Wood” as the perceived source of intentions and perspective the art is perceived to come from, often feels alien to me.
The public persona created by the artist and audience interaction is always going to be different from the artist’s real-world self, of course. But I’ve tried closing that gap a little over the past year or so, and while the gap feels tiny when I’m face-to-face with my audience, I’ll never really have control over the story that people hear. It’s not just that art is subjective, or just that perception of the artist is, it’s also that people tend to want and think of the world as stories. So my hope is that this last release will be an ending or cliffhanger for a story that my audience and I can at least both find meaningful.
“I hope to find enough peace with myself to feel like I don’t need to create and publish art, and maybe enough peace with the world to feel like I want to again.” – Will Wood
You’ve mentioned separating yourself from “the artist” and the art you’ve created. What do you hope that these next weeks, months, or even years hold for you moving forward?
I’d like to get more in touch with the parts of me I’ve left behind in pursuit of my dream. I’d like to discover what other interests I have outside of the things I’ve sort of messed with by turning them from hobby to profession. Assuming I have any more. I don’t know if people have parameters like that or if we can grow indefinitely. Maybe I’ll find a way to enjoy those things again without being weighed down by “Will Wood.” I think I’d like to make some friends who’ve never heard of me and spend some time reconnecting with the friends who’ve known me since before this all happened.
Throughout your musical career, you’ve always been incredibly candid and honest when speaking about mental health, and obviously your own well-being went into this decision to step away indefinitely. What hopes do you have for your own personal journey after the release of In Case I Die and as you start this new chapter of your life?
I hope to find enough peace with myself to feel like I don’t need to create and publish art, and maybe enough peace with the world to feel like I want to again.
Do you have any message for fans who look to your music to cope, heal, or feel a little less alone?
No matter how sick, wrong, ugly, or just downright bad we are or perceive ourselves to be, we are all worthy of the love we need to show ourselves in order to get better.
I always like to ask “what’s next?” when closing out an interview, but given the circumstances, I’d rather ask what you want to do or how you hope to grow in 2023. What are you looking forward to in the future?
I think I’ll do some traveling. I want to stand on the glass in the Space Needle again. Go to Denver without suffocating onstage. See the Hoover Dam up close. Maybe play open mics in towns I’d never otherwise known existed. Finally, after all these years, see the night sky in Arizona – the one night I was there it rained. In the damn desert. Can you believe it?