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Interview: Will & The People

Amidst the (occasionally) sunny seaside resort that is the wonderful city of Brighton, alt-indie quartet Will and The People have announced the very exciting release of their new single ‘Animal’ just days away on August 27th! Now if you are like me and are craving something a little on the edgier side after the high of riding the summer music wave, this new track packs a heavier punch, detailing the brutal truths of being under the magnifying glass in today’s world. To dive a little deeper into this single, we caught up with Will and The People themselves to answer the most burning questions about this tremendous track!

‘Animal’ had a lot of musical talent working behind the scenes, having been recorded by Thom Russo, produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, and mastered by Mandy Parnell. What was it like to work with such an extraordinary team?

It was amazing to see a song which started in our kitchen, go through the hands of such amazingly talented people. We have worked with Thom before so knew what he could bring to the table, his producing abilities are so bloody musical so his first step of deconstructing the track was paramount to its progression. We had never worked with Dan Grech before but obviously admired much of his stuff, so to hear his mix come back that first time was nuts, really took it to the next level. And then finally, Mandy Parnell...not much can be said of our love for this woman other than she has been working with us since the start of the band and anything she gets her hands on really does turn to gold. The word is banded around a lot nowadays but she really is a true genius. It’s a pleasure to have such amazing people involved in our project, it’s something we never take for granted.

You have claimed that this new track is the “arch nemesis of ‘cancel culture’”, what inspired you to base ‘Animal’ on this specific topic?

I just think that cancel culture is dangerous. People get cancelled and everyone freaks out and points fingers... and then come back, and we allow them, because they are human. The idea of cancelling someone because they said something is utterly ridiculous... This song comes from the perspective that we all say and do shit we don’t mean, and sometimes regret it, we all feel like breaking the system sometimes, some of us choose to do it openly, protesting in small numbers and speaking their minds, and others adhere more to the masses and follow suit when it’s easier. Like when riots happen or they literally don’t have a choice .

When talking about the inspirations behind the band, you have quite admirably claimed that it is all about being a part of a team. How do you think your synergy with one another has helped made this a hard-hitting track?

The song was written on a guitar round our kitchen table. One of the first times we had really done that, with members coming in and out of the room throwing words into the mix. It was refreshing and a turning point for us in that sense, letting the reigns go in the song writing process, and allowing the song to write itself, instead of one particular member. Not trying to say one person’s singular point as opposed to just writing from a group perspective.

From heavy guitars, evocative synth lines and belligerent drum compositions, it is very apparent that you don’t adhere to a conventional formula. How do you think this ideology helped in making ‘Animals’?

When writing ANIMAL we really tried to focus less on a set structure for a song and let it breath and come about in the most natural way possible. Writing it on the way we did with a couple of guitars gave the track a certain freedom and energy which differed from other tracks with a certain set structure and method. The looseness of the guitars were inspired by bands we love like the pixies and blur and the heavy synths were our take on bringing that old grungy sound into the 21st century. Making music like this is exciting to us, and being confined by one type or style is boring, hence us trying to mix different sonic worlds.

Looking at how the title gives us insight to the themes of primitive desire, what would you like your listeners to take away from the song’s handling of cancel culture?

Don’t overthink anything, make mistakes and if you are a good person to others then never feel chastised for speaking your mind. Staying true to your word is the most powerful thing we have as humans, living in fear of disagreeing with anyone is a rocky road and one we don’t want to be part of. We’re all animals at the end of the day, so take the good and the bad and try to live accordingly.

With such a track, so rich in social commentary, did you encounter many obstacles in the writing process behind ‘Animal’?

Not really, like we’ve already said, it was not that overthought, we just had fun putting words to the music. It’s really that simple.

I don’t think I have ever heard of a song tackling the relevant themes of cancel culture, were there any artists or singles that inspired this brutally vehement track?

Fearless artists. Bowie, Marley, pixies nirvana blur, Kanye. Anyone who speaks their mind and doesn’t adhere to what others think they’re supposed to do.

Following the undoubtedly soon-to-be-successful single, it seems you have no intent of slowing down: in the middle of a UK tour, supporting Rag N Bone in his forthcoming tour as well as an upcoming album brewing for November! As hard as it may be to put into words, what was the most exciting endeavour in your journey so far?

Coming out of a pandemic stronger than we were before, having learnt so much, I think the fact we’re still here to tell a story to an audience who are here to listen, that’s exciting... Also playing a gig with the Cambodian equivalent to Michael Jackson was pretty sick haha.

Will and The People are coming to the end of their Summer UK tour, concluding with an appearance at The Loft Live Sessions in Exeter come September 25th, but don’t worry, they have a lot more in store for us this year as we eagerly await the release of their November album, coinciding with another huge tour! To give us a taste as to how the band have developed their sound over lockdown, ‘Animal’ will be releasing on August 27th so keep a peeled eye on their socials. Till then…

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Article By Rebecca Todd

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