The Will Dailey Interview

Ryan's Smashing Life presents

the Will Dailey closeup

the songwriter is up for 3 Boston Music Awards this week

Liz Linder photo

We are at the end of an incredible year of work for Boston's Will Dailey. Dailey has played before live audiences across the country and has reached thousands more through television (both through live appearances and through his songs appearing in the soundtracks of shows!) Things have been going well and now Mr. Dailey stands to take home three Boston Music Awards this week (the BMAs will be held this Wednesday night, Dec 2nd at The Liberty Hotel in Boston.) [list of nominees / vote]

There are none, perhaps, more deserving than Dailey and backing band The Rivals, who stand to take home the awards' two big prizes: Album of the Year (for the gorgeous "Torrent") and Artist of the Year.

RYAN SPAULDING of RSL - Thanks for doing this, Will. I want to extend our congratulations on your third album, Torrent - it's a beautiful record, and one I've been enjoying for many weeks now. How did you approach the material this time around? Was there a concept in your mind going in?

WILL DAILEY - Torrent was an experiment in the recording process. I started eager to record the new material that I had but I was extremely reticent to enter the grind of the album cycle. You work on the album and then you can end up promoting it for up to 2-3 years. I wanted Torrent to follow my own creative process and to be able to get into the studio more often. I also wanted keep the conversation open with fans. I didn’t want a year to pass where I’m not in the studio. So we came up with a plan to make Torrent the sum of two EP’s. I recorded “Fashion of Distraction” put it out digitally. Did some touring and then recorded “By The Blue Hills” and put it down digitally. Then we released it all as Torrent.

RSL - Was this the record you had set out to make, or did Torrent somehow become something more?

DAILEY -The album is the sum of my creative process. The great surprise in doing it this way is that I think it encompasses all of the influences in my writing. It’s got the roots, the rock and the pop. I got it all in there. That is what I am most proud of with the album.

RSL - Can you take a song from Torrent and tell us how it came to be?

DAILEY - (thinking).... I was actually at a party, fresh off the road and quite out of it. I went down stairs to get away and found a piano and sat down. I had been playing the opening chords to “Peace of Mind” on the guitar and singing the opening line for about a year and a half. I guess I was just waiting. In five minutes at the piano that night I was singing the chorus out of nowhere. When I got home I put it together with the opening chords that I had been sitting on for so long. Patience paid off for the structure and melodic vibe of that tune.

It ended up being a lament. I always remember learning about the Vietnam war in High School and thinking, “well, I am glad my country got that out of the way before I was born.” The country was sure to be on the up and up after such errors in our leadership. Of course that is not they way it works.

DAILEY - For a lot of people the last 8 years has been heart breaking more than anything. That is what “Peace of Mind” represents to me. No matter where you fall in the opinion spectrum, it is hard to deny that it has been brutal on our collective conscience to be at war for so long. Hope can only be repackaged and sold so many times. I needed to recognize and admit my own disappointment so I wouldn’t loose my mind. So ya, it is hard to find peace of mind.

RSL - What was it like putting the songs down for Torrent? What was that time period like for you and the band?

DAILEY - We are always very efficient in the studio. It cost a lot of money so do what we can to make the most out of our time. There were also all these guests on Torrent (Roger McGuinn, Kay Hanley, Tonya Donnelly, Tim Brennen, Sean Staples, Duke Levine, Elliot Easton) - so there was a ton of scheduling. Someday maybe I’ll make a record that takes its time but right now I like being efficient. I enjoy making the real time acute decisions. That isn’t to say that we don’t have a dangerous amount of fun. It is all fun. There is laughing and there is loosing your mind. I think there is more of that because of the pace. A 16-hour day can do that. A couple of the tunes I would finish up at home or, in the case of “tomorrow still comes” we tracked the guitar at Elliots house in LA.

RSL - The new album is recorded in CODE - the same recording format used by rock journeyman and producer T Bone Burnett. Why did you decide to use this format? (Is there a story there?)

DAILEY - I first met T Bone through the head of my record label (CBS Records). The first chance I got to sit down with him was like sitting with the president of music. There was a possibility at the time of have Torrent come out in the CODE format so we were talking about the importance of delivering the listener the audio with more care and quality. For years people were force fed audio and told that the CD is better than vinyl, which wasn’t true. I left that first meeting feeling repurposed. It is a true honor to have Torrent available with CODE. The listener gets the songs the way we heard them in the mastering studio. And as an artist you are perpetuating the affection you have for your own work from the first creative spark to the ear of a listener.

RSL - Were the songs from Torrent born from the recording sessions and the days leading up to them, or are these songs ones that you have been mulling for some time?

DAILEY - Aside from one old song that I brought back to life, all the songs were written over the two year period after I put out “Back Flipping Forward”. I started the Torrent recording process with about 5 finished tunes: “Peace of Mind”, “Never Be Your Baby”, “Laugh it Off”, “Down the drain” & “Allston”. The rest I finished through out the course of the year. “The Right One” I finished in the studio and I had never done that before. “Hands” and “Too Long” I tracked at home when I was done with all the others.

RSL - In what sense are your songs stories about your life? Or, are your you writing primarily about made-up situations and persons unknown?

DAILEY - I find it hard for a song not to be about the songwriter in some shape or telling thread. Some songs are immediately personal, some are friends stories, stories of places I’ve been, ideas and some songs I don’t even understand until I am done with them; then they make all the sense in the world. Every song is an indicator.

Dailey plays the Paradise in Boston on December 11th.


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