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10 Quick Ones with CHAD HENDRICKSON from WILLAMENA – May 2017

According to a recent press release: “Kalamazoo, MI, based Alternative Indie Rock Band Willamena has released the lead single off of their upcoming Strong Enough to Last, “When You Close Your Eyes.” Originally premiered on Paste Magazine, “When You Close Your Eyes” has already garnered extensive radio plays and praise across Mainstream Rock, Alternative, and College radio throughout the United States, Canada, and even Australia.” We get Chad Hendrickson from the band to answer our 10 Quick Ones about the upcoming release and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Willamena’s latest EP is called Strong Enough to Last and it is the 6th official independent release for the band (a lot of our early stuff is out of print).  This is the best and most compelling thing we have done yet and we are all proud as hell of the final product.  Our team around us is the strongest yet and the tunes themselves feel really good to us.  Real emotion put into real song craft I think.  At least I hope so! I think there are unifying concepts throughout this record that may not be evident on the first or second listen as listeners concentrate on each individual song.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Honestly after I graduated from high school I missed music.  I played brass instruments (trombone mostly) and I missed music.  So, I took some high-school graduation money and I bought an electric guitar and I LOVED it.  I took the guitar with me to college my freshman year and I learned a LOT from friends and such.  But tragedy struck and I got into a serious car accident early the next summer.  I was in rough shape.  I was in a car that hit a car that turned left in front of us while we were driving like 55 MPH.  I could have died.  While recovering from a severe concussion, broken jaws, broken nose and so on I could do nothing.   I couldn’t read, watch TV or anything.  Hell… I couldn’t even EAT!!!  But I could play guitar.  So I played the hell out of my guitar.  14-18 hours a day all summer.  And I got good enough to get into an original band when I went back to school and I was HOOKED after my first show.  I knew that if given an opportunity I could do this.  Now my path has taken much LONGER than I thought but I stuck with it.

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

While I’m the guitar player in the band I am also the principal songwriter.  Vocalist Lucas Ross and I agree on a lot of musical things and I will share a collective love for BOTH of us. We LOVE Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, The Band, John Hiatt, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan (I KNOW that is six!).  I get those are old bands but that is where we drew our initial influence overall.  That is the material that moved us to do OUR thing.  We also have a TON of modern bands that we listen to but our wheelhouse is listed above.  It would be wrong to not mention U2 and REM as well.  And while we listen to a LOT of modern stuff we don’t really use that as an influence on us.  We don’t try to do what they do.  We try to find our own voices and the bands I listed help us find ourselves in a positive way.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?

T Bone Burnett for my money.  His work overall is amazing but I really love his work on The Counting Crows first record.  The sound of that record is amazing and that was that band’s first record.  GREAT stuff.  He is about as well rounded as it gets I think.

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?

We are a rock and roll band.  Bass, drums and guitars with keys to make us sound modern and full.  We consider ourselves Midwestern rock and roll.  Tom Petty meets Neil Young meets John Hiatt I think.

6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Honestly not much!  The pay is terrible, your ego is constantly kicked in, you always have to collaborate…BUT…you get a real opportunity to express yourself and that is incredibly powerful.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We ALL cook.  Luke is a real foodie and he is an amazing cook.  Drummer Ted Mitchell knows his way around a kitchen too and bassist Mickey Calhoun can grill fish like no one else I know!  We all get drinks and we drink a lot as we enjoy hanging out together.  Sometimes we forget to practice!  I am always the music guy though at the end of the day.

8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Managing political campaigns (which I did for a while) or teaching (which I also did…I was a certified secondary teacher in MI and NE).

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?

Yep.  I wish we would have let other people mix our songs earlier.  We were way too involved in our early mixes.  Too interested in doing everything ourselves and I think our sound suffered because of that.  I also wish we would have worked harder at pre-production and on getting an outside ear on our material before we recorded it as that may have helped our process too.  As it stands we pretty much were hands on with everything and we have learned that we simply are not good at that many different things!  We learned to focus on the songs and our parts and turn the rest over to people who know better than us now.

10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would choose U2’s The Joshua Tree.  From how they recorded this album to how they decided to arrange this one to studio choices all the way down.  This record has always hit me as a record that sounds good in the country around a campfire and in an urban setting too.  Timeless sounding always.  Everything about this record is great yet it feels flawed and human in a great way too.  This is what GREAT records sound like.  There is a reason they are doing a 30 year tour for this record.  Because it helped time to stand still for a while.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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