Well, the gang has another show in the ol' Twin Cities of Minnesota. They'll be saddling up and making the trip to Saint Paul's Turf Club to open for Portland band, AGES AND AGES. Ages and Ages are on tour supporting their new record, "Divisionary". Please check the SHOWS page for more info. and tickets. Below you will find a sneak peak into the weird internet muckiness that is We Are The Willows subconscious. Some how it has something to do with this upcoming show but no one can seem to remember how.
A CHAT WITH CHRIS FORD
In advance of our show together on April 5th in Ames, IA at the Maintenance Shop, Chris Ford from Christopher The Conquered took the time to answer some questions that been burning holes in my mind pockets. Please read and follow us along a conversation about bodily functions, recording his new record, and the record label he co-founded, Maximum Ames Records. -Peter
P- Once when I was in an awful rock band, I was singing and running around on stage and I farted a whole bunch while I was running around singing. Have you ever had any experiences like that?
C- Well, the first time I played at the Triple Rock Social Club in the Twin Cities, I ate their vegan po' boy before the show and didn't hold back. My stomach was very very full during that set, and of course I was doing stupid stuff like standing on my head and all that. Needless to say that I felt terrible, and some things probably came out of my body during that set. The food was delicious but that is the most I've ever wanted to get off a stage. I seem to be cursed at the Triple Rock now, as the second show I played there had its own challenges...I'll get em next time!
P- Do you have any fashion senses that are clearly not cool, but you love em’ any way? Mine is tucking in my t-shirts.
C- You're a rock star, so you make the uncool cool, right? The term is "beyond cool", buddy. Not sure where I fit in.
P-What is the best live show you have ever been to?
C-Tie between Paul McCartney at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnatti, Ohio in August 2011, The Mountain Goats at the Maintenance Shop in Ames, Iowa (where we're playing this Saturday!) in September 2006, and Randy Newman at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, Iowa in May 2008
P- Many non-musicians may not understand this, but most musicians will. Do you know what you need to hear in the monitors when you’re playing live? Like, do you have a real good idea? Such that you can go to any club, with almost any sound system and be like, “yeah, give me vocals and keys in the wedge, roll off the hi-mids, no bass but a little kick drum”?
C- Um haha yeah I suppose. Lots and lots of vocals, gotta hear that sax player and lots of keys. That'll do usually. EQ I don't typically think about unless it sounds bad/weird.
P- If you could learn to play one instrument what would it be?
C- Can I take all the winds? Specifically clarinet, flute, and tenor sax. I guess I'd probably go for flute first though.
P- Do you hear a difference between digital and analog recordings?
C- No not really
P- Do you have an opinion about pitch correction on recordings?
C- Everything is a tool, I haven't used it in my own music, but if it serves the song and makes it more enjoyable for the rest of us to listen to, then by all means.
P-Whats your favorite city to tour to?
C- The city in which I've most consistently had great experiences in outside of Iowa is Lincoln, Nebraska. I have had maybe some of my most memorable show experiences in NYC though and I've been there more than Lincoln, so I'll put that in as a tie (it also has the benefit of being New York City)
P- What’s the goofiest show you’ve ever played? Once I played a drug abuse awareness festival in Big Stone Gap, VA. I played to an audience of about 10 people. There was a police attack dog demonstration after my set.
C- Oh boy...hard to even know which one is the goofiest. Some truly strange times in performing music. I honestly can't think of a specific example, but probably one of these times where I played solo at a place where I really shouldn't be playing, and either have people directly wishing I would stop or there is just literally no one in the room...just close your eyes and sing, that's how you get through that.
P-You’re recording a new record! What’s your favorite/ least favorite part of recording?
C- Favorite part is just the challenge of and satisfaction from trying to get good sounds. Least favorite is everybody arguing about what a good sound is.
P- Do you get nervous when you record?
C- Not really. I was nervous on the first couple of takes with the new record because it was Ardent in Memphis, which is a legendary studio and kind of a bigger deal than anything I'd done before. I was fine after about 20 minutes of tracking.
P-Can you tell me 3 fun facts about your new record?
C- 1) Reba Russell, an amazing vocalist who sings background vocals on the U2/BB King collab track "When Love Comes to Town", sings on the record.
2) It was recorded in Studio A at Ardent, where Big Star recorded most of their work.
3) Memphis artist Lamar Sorrento came by the studio because our bassist wanted to commission a painting of us from him (which happened) but we also got him to track some guitar. We ended up not using that since we didn't have to work it out with him, but his playing directly inspired the guitar we ended up tracking.
P- Do you do vocal warm-ups? Do you feel like a total dork when you do them? Do you do vocal cool-downs?
C- I do both. I don't feel like a dork. I usually do them away from other people though, just because it probably weirds folks out or just annoys them.
P- OK. There is definitely an amazing spiritual performance force living in many Iowan musicians that I’ve known/ met; Patrick from Poison Control Center/ Gloom Ballon, Little Rukus, Phil Rabalais, Mumford’s, Taylor Ross, H.D. Harmsen and YOU!!! Ya’ll are so alive and connected to your craft. When you play I get the sense that you are doing something that is synonymous with living. So...what’s going on there?
C- Hm...it's hard to say exactly where it started but we've definitely all inspired and challenged each other to make our performances an experience that isn't a waste of people's time. It's definitely got something to do with being from the Midwest. I can personally say that the Poison Control Center was the first band I saw that truly exhibited passion and most importantly spontaneity in their shows...I'd say that's what we all have in common, a willingness to be impulsive on stage. Flaws are fine, because the memorable experience is in the moment...something magical happens when a bunch of people come together and literally no one in the room knows what is going to happen next or what is supposed to happen next. Most of us spend so much of our time knowing exactly what we're supposed to do, how we're supposed to do it, and when it needs to be done, that the kind of show the artists you mention put on is very fulfilling for them. Like being kids again.
P- Do you have a day job? What do you do?
C- I work for the Des Moines Music Coalition, a community nonprofit in Des Moines Iowa that puts on music events and provides resources to local musicians. 80/35 music festival is what the organization is most known for.
P- Do you have any musical pipe dreams? One of mine is to write and arrange songs for a skateboard video. Ha!
C- Your pipe dream isn't so far out of reach. You could say it's more like a "half-pipe" dream. As for me, I want to create a musical. It's in the works, but still a big goal and a long ways off from reality.
P- Do you believe in true love?
C- No, but I believe that people can make each other happy.
P- If you could move one place, where would you move to?
C- I just took a really wonderful trip to Ireland, all by myself, and saw a lot of that country. I've never lived anywhere else, though I've travelled a good deal. I'd like to live somewhere like Ireland, even just for a few months.
P- As a co-founder of Maximum Ames records, what is your role in growing the label and its artists? Now that I think of it, what does growing a band or label mean to you?
C- The label is primarily there to serve everyone who works for the label in their artistic efforts, but in order to make it a valuable resource to ourselves, we have to promote other artists as well. They usually end up joining the fold. Growing a label means getting the music of the artists into the ears of as many people as possible. We want to do this to the extent that it doesn't take away from our own efforts as artists.
P- What do you hope MA can accomplish for its artists? Its community?
C- I hope the label can do more for the artists than they can for themselves, which I think happens now, as the "brand" association is a valuable thing. For the community, I'd like people to come away with a pride for Iowa music culture and the idea that individual creative expression is a vital part of a sustainable community, even if that creative expression never gets heard by more than 10 or 20 people.
P-Do your artists register under ASCAP or BMI or some other licensing agency? Have you ever received a check from one of those entities? I have a check from ASCAP for $0.01.
C- Some do - Max Ames doesn't get involved in recording rights, just distro and marketing.
P- Do you have any amazing ideas for how to make a living doing music without splitting your soul into little music horcruxes like Lord Voldemort?
C- I say if you are getting to make music as much as you want, then you are making a living doing music, even if you also work at Arby's.
P- Have you ever seen Dominic Rabalais do the splits while chugging an entire beer?
C- I've definitely chugged an entire beer while watching Dom do the splits, if that's what you mean.
We Are The Willows and Christopher the Conquered play at the Maintenance Shop on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, IA. on Saturday, April 5th, 2014. For more information and tickets go to the SHOWS page.
Do you believe in Magic?
With April racing at us like a midwestern man racing towards a beard, the gang has prepared themselves for the rainy month with a bunch of fun shows. And beards. They will be playing throughout Minnesota and Iowa and will probably egg someone's house. Check out the dates below and look for more details on the SHOWS page.
Friday, April 4th 2014- Northfield, MN- Little Pond Presents
Friday, April 5th 2014- Ames, IA- The Maintenance Shop
Wednesday, April 9th 2014- Saint Paul, MN- Turf Club
Saturday, April 26th 2014- Winona, MN- Midwest Music Festival
Greetings to you and yourn!
We're excited to announce that we'll be supporting our pals EMOT for their Album Release on Thursday, March 6th at The Cedar Cultural Center. For more info. check the SHOWS page or the poster below. Go HERE for tickets. Also, check out the music video for EMOT's wonderful single, "Garbage Tones".
We believe its about time we admit something. We love the 90's. Ninja Turtles, snap bracelets, and as you will soon find out, The Cardigans. Check out this video of the gang covering the tune, "Love Fool" with other Minneapolis bands, Joey Ryan and the Inks and Fort Wilson Riot. Also, consider seeing both aforementioned bands play with We Are The Willows at The Turf Club on Saturday, February 1st in Saint Paul, MN. Go Here for tickets. More information can be found on the SHOWS page.
We have something great to share with you. Its totally and completely awesome. Our beloved violinist Leah Ottman writes songs under the name LOTT and below is a video of her tune, "With The Reply". LOTT will be opening for We Are The Willows in Eau Claire, WI on Saturday, January 25th. Check our SHOWS page for details.
We are super pleased to tell ya about a stellar show we have real soon. On Saturday, January 11th we will be playing with the wonderful J.E. Sunde at the Pleasant Corner School House in Stockholm, WI. For more information go to the SHOWS page. For tickets go here.
Greetings friends and fellow earthlings,
As we prepare our minds, bodies and spirits for the new year and what will probably be a night of heavy drinking and poor decision making, the folks in We Are The Willows would like to make you aware of a delightful night of Minneapolis tunes on Saturday, February 1st. Please join us as 89.3 The Current and City Pages present We Are The Willows, Joey Ryan and the Inks and Fort Wilson Riot at The Turf Club. For tickets go HERE. For more info. Please refer to the Poster below designed by the wonderful Eddie Perrote or visit our SHOWS page.
The gang has a bunch of shows coming up this month, including dates in MPLS, Eau Claire, and Peter's solo residency at the 331 club in NE Minneapolis. Please visit the SHOWS page to check out the details.
Hey Friends and Frienemies! We've got something real cool to share with ya. Our very own Travis Collins has put out the first bit of tunes under his moniker, A.M. STRYKER. Check out this video below of his sweet sweet tune, "A Breath Let Go". Meow!
Greetings earthlings! The dudes and dudettes have been busier than ever. They're still working on the new record, setting up shows for this fall and...trying to channel Beyonce in almost everything they do. Speaking of that, check out this video they made with an awesome Minneapolis band called, Joey Ryan and the Inks. We hope that Beyonce would be proud.
Things have been super busy at the WE ARE THE WILLOWS summer camp. The gang has been tracking their new full length and so far things are going swimmingly. They cannot wait for you to hear it! They aren't playing a ton this summer, but check the SHOWS page and you'll find one show at the end of June and a July show to be posted soon.
Hey Ladies and Gentlemen! This week the gang is throwing a Wes Anderson Costume party for the second show of their residency at NE Minneapolis' 331 club. Come dressed as your favorite character from a Wes Anderson movie! (someone please come dressed as the man in the blue sweater). The person with the best costume will win Peter's drink tickets. Movies will be projected on a screen above the bands. 10 PM. No Cover. w/ Wisconsin Built.
Well folks, the gang is all back from the road. 10 days through the midwest felt pretty good and now its time to make plans for the future. First off; We Are The Willows will be in residency at the 331 Club in North East Minneapolis all of November. Check the SHOWS page for costume party details. Seriously. Below is a little tour video of the band. The tune is a demo of a new tune called, "Dear Ms. Branstner". Enjoy!
Have ya heard the news? We Are The Willows will be on the road in the Mid West this fall. This time, it'll be the whole gang! WATW will be touring as a six piece! They'll be packing up the family van and cruising to a town near you! That is if you live in MN, WI, or IL. Yep, check out the dates!
Oh boy, oh boy! Peter, Stephen and Leah will be scootin' down to ol' Madison town this comin' Friday for a root tootin' time at the Project Lodge! They literally cannot wait. How will they survive until then?!?!?!?!
Howdy nerds and turds! The We Are The Willows camp is bustling like a bunch of kittens horsing around in a laundry basket. Peter and the gang have been working out new tunes and playing sporadic shows in the Twin Cities. Check out the SHOWS page for information on upcoming shows; like the one listed on the poster below!
This may be the strangest thing on Peter's computer right now.
Howdy cowpokes! Here's a quick update on all things ever. Peter is working more diligently than ever to finish up writing the new record. The songs are coming along marvelously! He and the gang can't wait to show em' to you!
Given the amount of time Peter has on his hands, and the amount of writing he has to do, Peter will not be releasing weekly At Home videos. Hopefully very soon the stars will align and there will be more time in a day. Please email Peter with suggestions of covers he should do in the future!
Also, there have been a bunch of new shows added including the Art-A-Whirl festival at the 331 Club, and The Daredevil Christopher Wright's CD RELEASE show. Check out the shows page!
And one more thing. Last month Peter went through Chicago and recorded a version the song, "Somewhere, Virginia" off of PLACES for Chicago based video group, Rooftop Sessions. Check out the session here.
Greetings friends and frienemies! We Are The Willows camp has been pretty busy these days. Peter has been workin' on new songs and with some help from the band they are coming along just fine. The whole troupe are doin' a few full band dates in the Midwest, followed by a short Midwest road trip that Peter will do all by his lonesome at the end of March. Check those out on the SHOWS page.
Howdy partners. Peter and the gang have a bunch of shows over the next couple months. Check them out on the SHOWS page. Also, Peter is recordin' a bunch. Hopefully there will be something to show for it real soon.
Hey ya'll, the day has come! Its Halloween! I mean, its download the songs from At Home With We Are The Willows Volume One for free day!. Go to the At Home Series page to download the six songs. Enjoy!
Well, Peter's been home for about a month now. He's sat on his rump long enough. Time to get back to work! Peter will be pretty busy this fall and winter working on his next couple of records, producing Alison Rae's new EP and full length, and putting out new At Home videos.
Before the new At Home videos get posted, Peter will be offering a complimentary download of the songs from the first volume. Keep checking back for more updates on that!
Peter will be playing every Tuesday in November at one of the best bars in Minneapolis; The 331 Club! He's pumped! He's booking lots of pals from out of town to play with him. Make sure you come out! Check the Shows Page for more details.
Wanna hear something cool? Peter and his friend Daniel, who plays in Minnesota Pop sensation, Owl City, recorded some tunes together. Check it out! Luna Coates EP, Being was released yesterday. Click on the picture to go to itunes!
Oh boy, Peter has been all over! He's seen the plains of Nebraska, floated down Idaho rivers, got lost in the Seattle library, camped on a bluff overlooking the pacific, tried surfing in Huntington beach, almost died of heat exhaustion in Arizona, and disappointed country music fans in Fort Worth, TX. He has two more weeks on the road. Make sure you are keeping up on his travels over on the City Pages music blog, Gimme Noise. Also, he and the band have a killer show at First Avenue on September 10th. Make sure you come to that if you live in the ol' MPLS!
Wowza! Big news for Peter and the gang; not only have we posted the final dates of Peter's 10 week solo tour, but we've announced that We Are The Willows band will be opening for Minneapolis group, Halloween Alaska on Saturday, September 10th. The show will be in the First Avenue Main Room.
Get tickets here. More info. is on the shows page.
Peter has been on the road for a couple weeks now and boy things are going splendidly! He's added some more dates including stops in Boise, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Check out the dates on the SHOWS page! Peter plans on being on the road until September so keep checking back for more dates!
Hey Folks! Peter has been on the road for just over one week now. Things are goin' pretty well. Wanna keep up on his travels? Go to the City Pages' music blog Gimme Noise and read Peter's tour Diary.
The new 'At Home' video is up! It's a cover of The Zombies' song, "The Way I Feel Inside." Starring in the video is Peter's niece Izzy! Prepare for your heart to be warmed. Check it out!
Holy smokes! The time has come, Places is officially released. Please check it out and purchase it.
The Song "Minneapolis" is The Song Of The Day on Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3 The Current. Yay!
Holy smokes its June already! Only 3 more days til the ol' EP release show and only 19 more days til Peter leaves for tour. wowza. This week's At Home Video is a Laarks cover that is also on the Places EP. Take a gander.
Did you hear a new We Are The Willows jam on 89.3 The Current yesterday? Well, if not, there's a new one up called "Minneapolis" on the Listen page. Check it out and don't forget about thePlaces release show on Saturday, June 4th at the Loring theater!
This week's At Home video is up! This week its extra special because not only is it one of Peter's favorite songs, but it is also on the new EP, Places. This week Peter covers Minneapolis band, History Books. Enjoy!
The first two weeks of the Summer Tour have been posted. Peter will be spending 10 weeks on the road this summer. He'll be making his way to Seattle, down the west coast to Texas, then back to the good ol' midwest. Check out the dates on the Shows page!
Yahoo! Places is finished! You can hear one of the jams called, "Somewhere, Virginia" here.
There's a new At Home video up on the site. This week features Peter's rendition of Edith Piaf's, "La Vie En Rose". Take a look!
Happy Belated May Day! It was a chilly 35 degrees here in Minneapolis yesterday. Jeepers Creepers! The second installment of the At Home Series has been posted. Take a look! This week Peter covers a Death Cab For Cutie jam.
Big News! The release show for Places has been announced! Saturday, July 4th at the Loring Theater in Minneapolis. Go to the Shows page for more info, or here for tickets.
A string of Iowa dates have been added to the Shows page. Check em' out!
Peter is entering the final stages of tracking for Places and has also been keeping busy with his new video series, At Home. The first video is up on the site now! Check it out. There will be a new video every week.
There are new shows posted. One in Winona, MN and two in Minneapolis. More shows will be posted soon.
Peter is back from his winter tour and preparing for his Summer West Coast tour which will begin June 20th and end sometime in early September. He is also working on a four song recording entitled, Places, set to be released in June.