WRITER OF THE WEEK: Will Dailey

Will Dailey's the kind of singer/songwriter who grows on you, the kind of singer/songwriter who will go far.

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Will Dailey’s the kind of singer/songwriter who grows on you, the kind of singer/songwriter who will go far. After earning his keep and honing his talent in Boston, Dailey’s traveling the country, getting song placements on television shows and releasing a series of recordings on CBS. In 2009, he’ll release a total of four EPs and an LP, Torrent Vol. 1 & 2.

We’ve read that you don’t write on a set schedule, so how did the writing work out for your release schedule? Did you feel the pressure to write something for the releases or were most of the songs written months or years in advance of heading into the studio?

Well, I don’t write on a set schedule when it comes to time of day, month or year. I consider myself to be always writing. I usually have methods of documentation by my side at all times (notebook, scrap paper, hand, phone, digital recorder, home recording system). As long as I am willing to keep the window open and the antenna up, things can fly in at any time. Some of the songs come in two minutes (“Love is on the way”), some in two months (“Peace of Mind”) and some in two years (“Laugh it Off”).

There was never any pressure to write for the release. The release was designed to fit the creativity and not the other way around. Most of the songs I finished in advance but “Love is on the way”, “So Many Wrong Ways” and “The Right One” were finished just before recording. I actually finished the lyrics to “The Right One” while in the studio, something I rarely do.

Do you want to continue this kind of output? Multiple releases every year?
I don’t think I will put any kind of limit on myself right now. I feel lucky to be out of the “album cycle” for the time being. It wasn’t conducive to my writing style, creative process or the times. I don’t write 12 songs every two years and if I am repressing a new song because I just put out an album then I get depressed. Now, with Torrent, I know where it is going and when I will get out. That, to me, is happiness.

When you’re writing, how does your editing process work? How much of that is done before you enter the studio?
I usually try to have too much before pre-production both musically and lyrically. I find it is easier to cut the fat than it is to add the meat. Pre-production covers 95% of the song editing process. Occasionally, we will be at the end of tracking and find we laid down too many choruses on a tune and edit one out, but that only happened once on this album.

I try to remain open while going into this process and to not hold on too tight. Others’ ideas can be the best thing to happen to the creative process. They will either add shine to your song or force you to stand up for your vision.

When you’re out on the road, which you are a great deal, how do you keep record of your ideas? Do you ever record demos on the road? If so, what gear do you use?
All the time. Sometimes it is just something the band is playing at sound check. Other times I am going to my mini-digital recorder or even more now to the simple recording applications on my cell phone.
But we always have an MBOX on the road with us and we’re running ProTools. I’ve brought my KSM-32 on the road once but I don’t like bringing nice mics out on the road, so we mostly use a 58 or my Shure 87, which is more than fine.

Do you have a favorite songwriter? Someone recent or who you listened to when you were a kid?
I have an infinite list of influential writers that I could go on and on about, but Neil Young stands out in a big way not only for the amazing songs but for the way he goes about pleasing the creative beast within; always putting that first. I use that as my model. The Gods of Rock and Roll always make their presence known in my music and focus. With TORRENT Vol. 1 & 2, and most of my recordings, I have been thinking a lot about the power of Elton John and Billy Joel. Their greatest albums had the confidence and talent to be able to bust out a gorgeous ballad, followed by a rock song, followed by a mini opera. In today’s over-labeled culture, artists are forced to be one trick ponies and that is not something I am interested in. Most recently I have been excited about the bands Midlake and Apostle of Hustle and the songs they write. They both have new albums coming out.

Do you remember the first song you wrote? What was is about?
I do… Kind of… I was 13 and wrote a song about my godmother getting terminal cancer and having less than two years to live. I don’t recall the song exactly but it had to do with letting go with grace both for living and the departed. I forgot the song only because she went on to live another eight years. When she did pass away, it definitely seeped into the story arc of the song “Rise.”


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Lyric of the Week | Will Dailey > June 1, 2009