Interview with Will Kimbrough – Part 2 of 4

Will KimbroughDuring my interview with Will Kimbrough, one thing that really impressed me about him was this: Here is a man that is so extremely talented, and at the same time, so very unassuming.
Considering Will Kimbrough’s major involvement with and contributions to Jimmy Buffett’s latest album  – Buffet Hotel (released Dec. 8th, 2009) – I thought that it was only appropriate that I share with you the portion of the interview where Will talks about everything from his first encounter with Jimmy; and brings us all the way up to his current involvement with Buffett’s recordings.

Part Two

OKOM: I had read somewhere that Jimmy Buffett had taken you under his wing – you being a fellow son of Mobile, Alabama – and I thought it was interesting, even funny, that here you are co-writing a song called “Wings” with him. When was your very first contact with Buffett, and what were the circumstances around that?

WK: Well, I was playing with Todd Snider back in the 90s, and the first two Todd Snider records were on the Margaritaville records. So, there was a connection right there. We were touring the first album, and we were playing in New Orleans at Tipatina’s. Buffett was there. We were backstage – and backstage at Tipatina’s was not a big fancy affair at the time, and it probably isn’t now, it’s just basically kind of a rundown little room – and we were all crowded in back there with a bunch of people kind of having an after-show party – for some reason – in this dingy backroom. I ended up sort of pushed up against the wall by this crowd of people. I looked over to my right and there was Jimmy Buffett. I went over and introduced myself. I said, “Hey, I’m Will, and I’m in Todd’s band. I’m from Mobile as well.” He kind of looked at me and smiled. So, we met. Then we didn’t see a lot of each other, but years later, I’d say seven or eight years later, my wife and I had become friends with his niece. She called me up and said, “I had dinner with Jimmy last night. He was asking about you. Why don’t you send him some music?” So I sent him everything that I had at the time. A couple of months later I got a call from somebody in his office. They said that he may record a song called “Piece of Work” and he might record a song called “Champion of the World.” They asked if that would be OK. Well, I said, “Great! That’d be wonderful!” Then I got a call a couple of months after that asking if I would come to Key West and record on the record, and I said “Sure!”

OKOM: That would have been “License to Chill” then.

WK: Yeah, I guess that was in January 2003. We recorded “Piece of Work” and I played on some other stuff. I met Sonny Landreth, Bill Payne, and met all the Coral Reefer people. I had a really good time. The record did great. So then, after that, Jimmy called me to come write and we wrote some songs for the next record, which was called “Take The Weather With You” – named after that Neil Finn song by Crowded House – and I co-wrote three songs on that record and I played on it. Since then I’ve become sort of a substitute guitar player for when Pete Mayer can’t do a show, and occasionally when he is there, I’ll be a guest. So, I’ve done a few gigs. I went down in January of this year, 2009, to write with Jimmy again. This time it was just the two of us. I had already sent him some songs and he had decided that he liked a song called “Nobody from Nowhere” and he wanted to work on the lyrics to a song called “Wings.” He had a song that he was writing with Mac McAnally that he wanted my help on called “A Lot to Drink About.”

OKOM: And those are all on his new CD. So, the “Wings” collaboration was his idea?

WK: Well, yeah, I had written a song called “Wings” and the version on my album is a little bit different from the one on his, a little bit different lyrics. So, I went down to meet with Jimmy and he said, “I think I’m going to record “Nobody from Nowhere.” I said, “Wonderful, that’s great.” Then he also wanted to work on “A Lot to Drink About.” Basically, when we were working on that, I got it from him – he played it for me. Then we did a demo of it. Then I sent him some verses that I had worked on while I was down there and from somewhere else. I think I went from there to New York, and then to Europe. I was just emailing him verses. He then took some of the lines from those. So, that’s a co-write with Jimmy, Mac McAnally, and myself. But we never did – all three of us – get together. We just sort of sent each other lines and verses, and Jimmy edited it together like he wanted it.

OKOM: Interesting.

WK: Yeah, and then, while I was down there – I knew that Jimmy likes to go surfing every morning whenever he’s by the water, which is pretty often – I had this song that I was working on called “Surfing in a Hurricane.” I said to him, “Let me play you this song that I’ve got.” This was one of those songs I wrote while I was trying to inhabit J. J. Cale’s mind. So, it was this real J. J. Cale kind of song. It was a kind of fast but kind of mellow acoustic.

OKOM: You know, he mentioned that song the other morning on The Today Show (Nov. 23rd).

WK: Oh, cool. So, anyway, I said, “What about this song?” And he liked it. Then I said, “Well, what if we did it like surf music?” So, we started playing around with it like Dick Dale, or like The Ventures. He really liked that so we re-wrote the whole song. He’s played that live quite a few times on this last tour. So, that’s four songs that I co-wrote on this new record of his. Actually, with “Surfing in a Hurricane,” we had recorded a demo of it and that became the basis for Jimmy’s recording that’s on his album. All my surf guitar parts were recorded at his place on – a guitar that was just sitting around – his Telecaster.

OKOM: Oh, that’s great!

WK: [laughs] So, that’s fun because – it’s similar to when I was talking about what I did on my record – you sort of fool yourself into thinking that nobody is listening. You can really be relaxed and do your thing and not worry about it or over-think it. So, I’m excited about Jimmy’s record coming out because I play a pretty big role; I wrote songs for it and played on it.

OKOM: Are you going to be doing any promotion with Jimmy for his new record?

WK: Yeah, what we’re going to be doing is a CMT Crossroads taping next week with Jimmy and a version of the Coral Reefer Band.

OKOM: That’s going to be with the Zac Brown Band, isn’t it? When is that supposed to air?

WK: Yeah. I’m not exactly sure when it’s supposed to air. I’ll have to find out when I’m at the thing. Right now I’m just in the logistical phase of them calling me and telling me to, you know, bring an amp.

OKOM: [laughs] Just show up, right?

WK: Yup.

OKOM: Hey Will, I want to get back to your record Wings. I didn’t want to just talk about Buffett. I didn’t want you to think that.

WK: Oh hey, that’s cool. Yeah.


4 Responses to “Interview with Will Kimbrough – Part 2 of 4”

  1. 1 ol puddin'head
    December 10, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Dang it Blake! Now I’m gonna have to start buyin’ Buffett stuff again!

  2. December 10, 2009 at 8:32 am

    You couldn’t be more spot-on with your opening comment. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Will a couple of times. For someone so talented, connected, and busy, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy. I’ve been listening to him for years – going back to Will & The Bushmen days.

  3. December 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Catching up on the last three parts of the Interview today. Great job Blake. You’re truly catching what a great human being Will is here on your Blog.

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