Interview: Will Wood On His Newest Album, "In Case I Make It,"
The multitalented musician and artist Will Wood has spoken to us over here at Bleeding Cool quite a bit. We have learned a lot about the reclusive avant-pop and indie musician over the years, from gleaning many different insights (two articles worth of them!) about his second-most recent album, The Normal Album, to getting a pseudo-behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of his documentary, What Did I Do?. Now, we have gotten the chance to interview Will for a third opportunity, this time regarding his newest upcoming album, In Case I Make It, a more subdued and mellow take on the stories and issues Will Wood typically tackles in his songwriting. Here's what we've learned!
BC: In your opinion, what does the tonal shift in your work (from the tone of The Normal Album and previous works to the tone of In Case I Make It,) mean for the person/idea that Will Wood is and represents?
Wood: I had already sort of put away the character work by the time I did The Normal Album. The persona that people talk about me abandoning is really something from very early in my career; the whole "having a nervous breakdown on stage and claiming I have a daughter who doesn't exist" thing was really quite some time ago. I was definitely still performing with a certain element of self-caricature and was more interested in being showy and intensely theatrical than I currently am with The Normal Album though. Like I won't promise I'll never put on a blindfold with googly eyes on it and dance around in a purple suit with a bunch of skeletons again. To be honest, I won't promise I'll never give gag answers in interviews again either. I still like to entertain, and I still like to have fun and get theatrical. But the constant commitment to making myself or my personality a part of my performance all the time is mostly behind me.
Let's pivot and talk about your individual singles. "You Liked This (OK, Computer!)" equates to an artificial voice speaking social media jargon to a poignant piano refrain. According to past interviews and other pieces about you, it's clear that you don't exactly like social media and will yourself "refrain" from using it overtly to advertise your music and overall brand. Does "You Liked This" mean to reflect your point of view specifically, or is there something even deeper to it?
I don't know if I would qualify it as depth, but I wouldn't want people to take it purely as an ideological statement and in no way an expression of my feelings. There are some parts of it that are very much a social satire, but it came to me from a place of real pain. I'm not some hermit who lives in a cabin in the woods shaking his fist at these kids and their pesky iPhones. I was still caught up in constantly being on social platforms, and had been for years, when I wrote "YLT". I was feeling this sense of impending doom, and this feeling that I was being fucked with, and I needed to feel like I was sticking it to the man or whatever and like I wasn't alone. So I decided I needed to make fun of it a bit and depict it the way it felt to me, as this manipulative, gish-galloping, transparently capitalistic machine that wanted to use psychological conditioning to make me the worst possible version of myself and then blame me for it.
"Tomcat Disposables" and "Euthanasia" both refer very closely to the untimely passing of two rodents: a mouse living in the cracks between the walls of a house, and your own beloved pet rat, Bert. Despite the subject matter being empirically different, the two songs are very similar in what they cover. Is there a particular reason you want to add both songs to In Case I Make It,?
Honestly, these songs just felt really important to me. I didn't write this album holistically, it's very much just a big collection of songs I've written over the past few years. But they do contribute to a bigger overarching theme of being decidedly not larger-than-life with this record. They're just songs about something that happened that broke me a little. I also feel like "Tomcat Disposables" is a bit of a metaphor for how I feel about the trajectory of my career; my relationship with my work is a big part of the album. The idea of thinking you've found the motherlode of cheese and it turning out to be poison – shooting for a moon made of cheese and not "making it" back or something—I don't know, seems like the right opening track for setting the tone.
Your latest single, "White Noise", is a song that you've gone on the record about, saying that it is about "finding [meaning] in an inherently meaningless existence[…] it's all just white noise, and the beauty of the world is in the silence beneath it." This is a deep sentiment and one that some have stated was paraphrased from playwright and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. In your past songs, you've shown that you are extremely well-read. Do you have a favorite literary work as of late?
I'm sorry to disappoint, but I haven't read a book all the way through in years. I've been trying to read a book called Willard a.k.a. The Ratman's Notebooks, which is about a man who trains a horde of rats to do crime on his behalf and his favorite rat, Socrates, but I keep getting stopped up. I'm not well educated or well-read at all, never read Sartre or any of that stuff. I just kind of remember things I think are neat sometimes.
What music video from among your singles from "Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll" onward did you enjoy working on the most, and why?
It's hard to pick. The animated videos were such a thrill to watch come together bit by bit, and to see them go from a few ideas or an outline to a full-fledged animated story.
What has been the most fun song from the new album to perform on tour, and have you noticed any difference in the audience when performing that song versus your other songs in a given concert? Why do you think that is?
I've really enjoyed "Cicada Days," "Against the Kitchen Floor," and "That's Enough. Let's Get You Home." There are parts of those songs where audiences tend to respond very strongly. Vocal moments in particular where audiences sometimes cheer mid-song when I hit them. That's really gratifying; to feel that those moments I wanted to highlight are being really felt.
After the In Case I Make It, tour concludes, do you have any future projects percolating and, if so, what are they?
No, I'm planning on taking an indefinite hiatus after the tour.
We wish Will the best of times during his indefinite hiatus! In the meantime, we have plans to attend a leg of his In Case I Make It, tour that's relatively local and will be covering it soon thereafter. Furthermore, Will's album In Case I Make It, releases on major media services on July 29th. What do you think about Will Wood and his work on various albums? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!