Thursday, August 8, 2013

Some Quality Time With Will Lee! The Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions Interview

James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, if he was in fact the busiest man in show business then Will Lee may be running a close second!
Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions is one of the finest releases of the year across any genre. I was incredibly fortunate to catch up with Will Lee and he was most gracious in answering a few questions for us!

 I think I may have been the first critic to write about the new record. Good albums are obvious, great albums transcend genres and any other arbitrary tag that critics want to slap on it. The new record sounds like small semi-autobiographical snapshots in time that somehow all fit so well together. Did you have a game plan going in? How did the album come to be and with the guests running from Billy Gibbons to Pat Metheny, how in the world did that happen?

WILL: "If the songs fit together at all, I guess it's only because of the source of the music - me. I didn't have a concept going in, just to do things I liked, so no coherent game plan, just one song at a time (hmmmm sounds like he 12 Step program coming into play….). With invited guests, each person was brought in specifically for what they would bring to the song. The fact that the right players said yes was pure luck!!"

It has been a good stretch of time since the last record. You have a great many irons consistently in the fire including playing on the latest Keiko Matsui release. Going from your own projects to sessions to television - how do you keep it all flowing and do you have to do any special mental gymnastics to make it happen? Is it too soon to ask if more solo records will be coming?

WILL: "I have had to keep the idea of doing an album on hold all of these years because of the craziness of the schedule, as you mentioned. The thing that's made it impossible is that when you start a song or an original track, you have to make that song your whole life for the duration, which takes long stretches of time to make that able to reach finality! I am already planning the next solo project(s) so it won't be as long, as there's still gathered momentum from doing this album. What's the saying about a body in motion tends to stay in motion?"

You've recently been on the cover of Bass Player, critics are raving over the new release. I ask this question of a lot of people; what makes a good critic or do critics even show up on  your radar? There are a small but concentrated band of musicians that maintain you need a quarter century of recording and playing gigs to be qualified to write about music but that is the equivalent of saying only an Oscar winner can review a film.

WILL: "Critics can be scary if an artist places too much importance on their judgment calls.  I disagree that a critic has to be a musician, but it's good if a critic has a well-rounded awareness of what's going on. Let's face it, we're all critics, but most of us don't have the right to speak for anyone else and I'm sure a good critic knows this, but also knows there are a lot of people out there who let the media do the thinking for them!"

The music business much like the economy is still stagnant. Has the industry kept up well with the plethora of platforms available to promote an artist or do you see that going back into the hands of the artist more and more. The days of the major label deal are gone, good or bad?

WILL: "You're right, the business is stagnant, but the music itself will never be! It's both good and bad that labels are going away, as the artist should be allowed to just be an artist rather than have to be a salesperson, distributor, photographer, engineer & everything else. That's where the labels really had value!"

The music on the new record is such a wonderful eclectic mix yet it never ventures so far off the beaten path as to become pretentious so I have to know, who are your biggest musical influence?

WILL: "Thank you for saying so. Without a doubt, The Beatles gave me my first wake up call as an artist, but my parents, both jazzers, gave me the ears to listen with!"

 Thanks Brent!

A big thank you to Will Lee for his time, his publicist Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations and to everyone for checking out the review which is currently the number one review in the long history of this site!