Avant-pop singer/songwriter, Will Wood is challenging mainstream music and popular culture with his wildly diverse new album, The Normal Album, out July 10th via Say-10 Records. Successfully funded on Indiegogo within a day of its launch, The Normal Album finds Will Wood reinventing himself once more, hopping from genre to genre with ease and using differing sounds and styles to further the album’s statement of individuality and self-expression.
Will has released a handful of singles from the album, most recently, “Laplace’s Angel (Hurt People? Hurt People!)“, which can be heard now below, and will be sharing another new track before the album drops next month. With more new music on the way and virtual release show coming via Crowdcast on July 11th at 7pm EST, we caught up with Will Wood to talk about the album, his growth during the writing process and much more. Read the full interview below
The Prelude Press: You’re getting ready to release your third album, The Normal Album next month! What are you most excited for listeners to hear on the album? What about it are you most proud of?
Will Wood: I’m excited to be sharing my thoughts, especially the ones that I’m afraid to be sharing. They feel like they’re the most important for me to get out. I’m hoping that their presence on this record will expose people to perspectives they hadn’t considered and maybe that will inspire or move them in some way. I want to encourage listeners to sort of take courage against the myopic and the kind of arbitrarily dogmatic mores of mainstream thought.
I’m not dying to go on and on about what I’m proud of about it, because my head just goes into salesman mode and I want to start hocking the record like the flex tape guy. I have lots of selling points I could sling but I don’t want my blarney to get in the way of the thing I’m trying to sell. It’s a good album, promise. I think people will hate and love it at the right ratio where you could call it avant-garde.
It being your third release, was there anything that you wanted to do or explore within The Normal Album that you haven’t had the chance to do in the past?
For sure. A lot of things I did on this record I just wasn’t intellectually or mechanically capable of on past efforts. It’s been a long time – my frontal lobe finished forming and some pretty fundamental elements of my baseline state of consciousness have changed through concerted effort, and I reached the milestone of 20 years at a piano. I’ve developed an ear and a hand for things I didn’t have the skillset for before, I had funding, and I’ve been working with the most talented people this side of the Mason-Dixon.
So the whole project was a vastly different process than the one I undertook five years ago recording my last album, everything is new. The mindsets, the lyrical perspectives, the composition methods, etc. There was nothing that couldn’t be new, so much has changed I had to re-discover a method of recording.
The Normal Album serves as a statement on normality and conformity. Obviously there’s a lot to be said about mainstream music and popular culture, so how does these themes apply to the music scene specifically? Was there anything you really wanted to address within these songs?
Allowing others to dictate the parameters of your self-expression under duress of social consequence is miserable whether it’s in the workplace or underground, and just because the status quo you subscribe to goes against a larger or more imposing status quo doesn’t mean you’re not falling in line.
You’ve released a couple of songs from the album so for, both of which are very different from one another. Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent single, “Laplace’s Angel (Hurt People? Hurt People!)”?
I’ve always seen genre as a sort of tool. It provides context for the song that helps deliver some abstract elements of an idea more effectively, so you’ll find that each song on the record plays off different musical tropes and utilizes different hallmarks of varying genres, so the songs all sound pretty different. Laplace’s Angel plays off a lot of approximations of different styles from varying cultures to use the abstract imagery (if that makes sense) they tend to evoke, partially due to their detachment from modern American pop culture in time, space, and familiarity. Different styles conjure different feelings, and speak different aesthetic languages, and by using them I’m able to communicate on a more visceral level that people don’t even notice as being part of the message. It’s sort of like when you hear an acoustic guitar strum a hard chord and let it ring out. You might, maybe subconsciously, think of deserts, rattlesnakes, and cowboys on horseback. If I’m trying to make a certain statement, say I’m trying to create a sense of desolation in the song, or trying to give you the feeling you might have when you hear that trope in an old western movie as context to the song itself, then I’ll use that chord. You can’t say the same thing with a doo-wop song as you can with a rhumba, even if the lyrics are the same.
How do you feel you’ve grown as a songwriter with the writing and recording of the album?
One of the principles I tried to utilize was to try and start lower and allow room to rise. That’s in terms of volume, intensity, complexity, and any other element of recording or performance that I can control the dynamics of. As a result of it, this record contains almost none of the growling and screaming my last records featured – because if you yell everything you say, then that stops being “raising your voice” and sort of just becomes how you talk. But that’s more about the performance in recording than the writing of the song itself.
I guess the thing that has changed the most is I’ve started to focus more on subjects other than myself. On this record, a lot of the songs are social commentary, philosophical-type ideas, and self-examination through focusing on the relationship between me and the world I’m trying to inhabit, as opposed to myself in a vacuum. I’ve learned to write with more intention, to think of it as an intellectual process as much as it is an emotional one. It’s given me greater control over what I can communicate, and combining that with stronger composition skills, I think this record will show significant change and growth since my last one.
What was the most rewarding part of working on The Normal Album?
It was such a more lucid and concentrated process than my previous work. I was drunk for my first record, then freshly sober and out of my mind unmedicated for my second one, so this was my first time really approaching the process with a level head. I got to really experience the rewards of watching a vision become reality, and engage with the process on a detailed level. I was able to take the reigns, and do so with a bigger budget than ever before, an incredibly talented band, and focused intentions. I think it will show – while some of the songs came from places my mind no longer goes, I think the recordings and performances will reveal a lot of my intentions, and they’ll feel a lot more controlled and calculated.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting touring and the music industry as a whole, I know it can be a little hard to say definitively if you have any other big plans for the rest of the year, but what are you looking forward to once the music world finally starts to return to normal?
Definitely touring. Solo and with the band. As soon as possible.
Can fans look forward to hearing any more new music before the album drops next month?
Yep, got one more single coming up. It’s my favorite track on the record and my favorite video. It’s called “…well, better than the alternative.” Partially because the adage is relevant to my intentions with the song, and partially because it’s a better name than the other one I was considering.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ll be doing a special livestream concert from the studio I recorded the Normal Album on July 11th. It should be a really cool time. I’ll play the full album on a gorgeous grand piano, play some crowd favorites, and do a Q&A with quality video and audio in a really cool place. Super excited for that. You can register for the event here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/the-normal-album-release
Oh, and if you’re at all interested in anything I do, I highly recommend joining my Patreon, it’s the focal point of most of what I do and where most of my work is featured exclusively: https://www.patreon.com/therealwillwood
Thanks for having me, hope we get a chance to chat again when the record’s out.