In His Own Backstory Words WKND SPIN: WILY BO WALKER on ‘The Roads We Ride’ album
Wily Bo Walker & Ed Brayshaw – ‘The Roads We Ride’ is available @ iTunes.
The idea, or concept of the album if you like, stems from a long time ago really
The songwriters I have grown up with, and admire the most, as you know from the ‘Five Albums’ article you did, all told stories or hinted at stories that left spaces for the listener’s imagination. Mini-cinematic themes – well that is how I heard/viewed/understood them to be anyway.
So, some of our songs (Ed’s and mine) over the years reflect that passion, I guess, as individual pieces. Both Ed and I love the timelessness of all the classic albums from over the decades so we aim our sights on that ‘timelessness’ with every track we work on together.
Personally, my songwriting developed (and still is, and forever will be, a work in progress of course) listening to the great songwriters, lyricists and storytellers from over all decades and styles.
My songs are always personal but I like to hide the autobiographical detail onion-skinned behind a story and I use characters as a foil to tell my tales.
That’s how I interpreted the great songwriting masters’ modus operandi anyway.
My working relationship with Ed (E D Brayshaw) over the (many) years has developed to the point that we just tend to understand each other musically. We’ve always worked intuitively on stage and, similarly, whatever we bring to rehearsal or studio, the other just seems to know how the song is meant to roll.
Ed is a great arranger and brilliant all-round musician (I don’t think there is an instrument that he cannot play) and he has a wonderful ear. I tend to have more of a storytelling role and oversee the production side of things. It allows Ed the freedom to create music more spontaneously.
We both have a love of film and also of the bands who can transport you through the power of their music to that ‘other’ place. And I’m always working to release something that resonates just slightly differently from normal album releases.
I love film noir, I loved the beat-writers and I love independent cinema and specifically ‘road-trip’ cinema has always intrigued me.
‘Two-Lane Blacktop’, ‘Easy Rider’, ‘Badlands’, ‘Paris Texas’ etc etc, the list goes on through Jim Jarmusch’s work etc and all combined stories that I could identify with – that travelogue, that music fuelled journey into……!!!!
‘…the roads we ride where our dreams collide/ are all we can ever call our own’ is the phrase that the whole show/film storyboard is built around for this album. And hopefully, we are pushing the envelope a tad. Not many artists are out there doing concept ‘double albums’ anymore; far less a ‘blues-infused rock opera’ / cinematic theatrical film storyboard! Ha!
The characters’ stories build across the tales on the album to what I see as a natural conclusion, and whilst ’The Roads We Ride’ is ideally meant to be listened to as a whole, it is constructed in a way that each song can be listened to in isolation from the rest; a solitary piece.
Hopefully, the stories aren’t spelled out in such a way as to deny the listener their own interpretation and imagination as to what happens on those roads, on their journeys.
I have the idea of this project as being presented as a movie and, who knows, maybe I will do a pledge or Kickstarter at some point to try and raise the funds to film it. (Any indie film directors out there want to get involved in that?) With the album I have included a booklet which features the 12 point storyboard for the movie and, of course, the soundtrack is there.
Finally, I like the continuity of themes in my work. There is a duality in this album, as there was across my previous ‘Moon Over Indigo’ and again will be in my next album ‘Ain’t No Man a Good Man’
The three album covers for the trilogy have been illustrated by the wonderful Zhana D’Arte. We have created the artwork for vinyl, which again is very old school, as we feel that would be the ultimate way to present it.
Zhana has been great to work with and helps focus me, the stories, the album run etc – great to bounce ideas around with someone who can physically illustrate them (and so beautifully). Coincidentally, Zhana lived in Germany for a good long while but is now living in Serbia. She listens to the songs until she understands the story and then illustrates elements of all the tracks in her cover art. She has become a very important and integral part of these productions.
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