Interview with Will Kimbrough – Part 1 of 4

Will KimbroughOn December 4th, 2009, I had the pleasure of interviewing the very gifted singer-songwriter Will Kimbrough. I say gifted because – besides being able to sing and write songs – Will can also play many instruments masterfully, as well as engineer and produce music in the recording studio. He’s an internationally touring performer, a band leader, and a Grammy nominee. He is the definition of a musical “Renaissance Man.”
His upcoming full-length studio album Wings that will be released on February 23, 2010 is his fifth solo offering. It’s central theme is something we can all relate to at one point or another – the conflict between family and career, love and work, parents and children.

Part One

OKOM: Thanks for taking time out for this interview; I really appreciate it.

WK: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for doing it.

OKOM: I’ve been listening to your new CD Wings. It has a very warm, heartening, optimistic feel to it. I’ve only been listening to it for about a week. So, I’m sorry, I’ve probably only played it all the way through 35 or 40 times.

WK: [laughs] OK.

OKOM: Are these tunes that you’ve had sitting up on the shelf in your head for a while or are they new?

WK: Well, really, there’s a variety there. I write all the time and songs kind of come in different layers; and I recognize them as groups of songs and going together. I may not always be right on it but that’s just how I perceive it. I had that Americanitis which was from a huge batch of songs, and I put this giant 17-song record. I had the EP after that, and then we did the Daddy record [Daddy – For a Second Time]. There were still songs that were sort of floating around. Also there were some that were being written at those times. You know, when you get a record finished, you may have in the meantime – while you’ve been finishing the recording; mixing and mastering it; getting the artwork together, and all that stuff – you may write a whole new record during that time.

OKOM: Really?

WK: Yeah, like one song on there is from, probably like, ten years ago that just popped back into my head. I don’t even know if there was a recorded version of it.

OKOM: Really? Which one was that?

WK: It’s called “It Ain’t Cool” which I wrote with Todd Snider.

OKOM: Oh, OK. So, that’s the one that you co-wrote with Todd. I had heard that he had co-written one of them with you but the advance copy didn’t give writing credits.

WK: Yeah, that song goes way back. Neither of us had talked about it or thought about it. It just popped into my head one day and I decided to record it. I started playing with it, I decided that I really liked it, and I wanted it to have that kind of feel.

OKOM: I was wondering if maybe that was a personal message to somebody.

WK: [laughs] No, really we just made up a song that had a little moral and kept it real simple.

OKOM: Cool. So that’s the oldest song.

WK: Yeah, and some of the songs are really new. But they seem to be a group that works together. They keep their heads up when it’s their time, if that’s not too corny or mystical sounding.

OKOM: Right, they wouldn’t have fit in with Americanitis but they definitely have the same feel as EP.

WK: Yeah, I mean like “Three Angels” was one that was written during the time that I was putting EP together. One thing that we decided was to make it an EP, not an LP. It was something that could have grown into a bigger record but I just didn’t have the means to promote an album, and so I ended up making an EP. So, there are all kinds of reasons. But, it’s good to have too many songs.

OKOM: No kidding, you’ve got plenty to pull from too.

WK: Exactly.

OKOM: I was wondering if there were any particular influences in the way you did the arrangements on these songs because they don’t all have the same feel to them. Like, you’ve got that old R&B vibe going with “Open To Love.” Were there any other influences?

WK: One of the things that I was sort of trying to do when I started making this record was – What would J. J. Cale do? And again, not all the record sounds like that but a couple of songs have that feel to them but mainly “It Ain’t Cool.” It has a little bit more of that sort of whispery, bluesy, but kind of droning quality. I made a whole batch of songs like that, like I was going to make a record that sort of tipped the hat to J. J. Cale. But then I decide not to do that. I had just been under his spell for a while and I decided I didn’t want to make a whole record like that.

OKOM: Was that because of Roll On, that latest one that he put out?

WK: No, I wanted all of them. I went through a phase where I think I loaded all his records that I have – which were quite a few, almost all of them – into an iPod.

OKOM: That’s a lot.

WK: Yeah, I spent a couple of weeks when I was traveling listening to J. J. Cale. So I think that there’s definitely the influence of that, except that [laughs] we don’t get excited and yell at you in any of these songs.


3 Responses to “Interview with Will Kimbrough – Part 1 of 4”

  1. 1 karebare
    December 8, 2009 at 7:29 am

    WWJJCD? LOL! Enjoyed pt 1 and look forward to pts 2, 3, and 4.

  2. December 9, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Great Job Blake… I will for sure link this interview on my site.

  3. 3 Kathleen Keeslar
    December 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this interview Blake, look forward to the future interviews with Will. Can’t thank you enough for introducing me to Kimbrough’s music, along with Todd Snider- we both have the never ending passion for the good stuff! Keep it coming.

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