Willy Mason was discovered on a local radio station in his hometown! Asked by a family friend to appear on his show, luck would have it that a friend of Conner Oberst (Bright Eyes) would hear and assist in forming the friendship of Oberst and Mason. Oberst and Mason went on to play gigs across America. Mason has since toured with Rosanne Cash, My Morning Jacket, Evan Dando, Beth Orton and Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins. Mason is currently touring solo as well as making stops to play with Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros! Sunday will be an amazing night of folkness as Willy Mason is set to open for Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeros at The Taft!
Carry On (just released on August 20th) finds Mason at the peak of his powers and being heralded by fans and critics alike as producing his best work to date. Touring and collaborating in 2012 with a new wave of folk influenced artists like Mumford & Sons and Ben Howard, Mason's inimitable gravel deep vocal delivery and unique rhythmic sound has resonated with a new audience as well as more than satisfying his loyal fan base who have followed Masons ascent from the progressive sound of his 2004 release Where the Humans Eat, which included the now classic song "Oxygen".
Carry On was produced by Dan Carey (MIA, Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand) and is Willy Mason's debut full-length album for Communion Records, the influential UK based record label co-founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons). The label has been home to notable artists Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, Gotye, Daughter and more.
I chatted with Willy in the midst of his busy tour!
You have toured with so many fantastic musicians. Who's your biggest musical influence? Has this changed over time?
Right now my biggest musical influence is Henry Ford because his company made my neighbor's car and this last winter that thing started playing the craziest rhythms I've heard since the car he had before that. I've deciphered two of them so far and am working on some songs based around them. Before that is was the big evergreen by the side of the house and the leaves of the two birch trees next to it. When the wind gets going they really dance; the evergreen groans and croaks like a grandma toad teaching dance class and the birch leaves swish and rustle like obedient tadpole students.
How do you balance your personal life with your professional life? Or has it become intermingled as it often does?
Touring only really works if you can make a life out of it. You get paid for two or three hours of work a night but it's not like you can go home the rest of the day. I live in my tour van even when I'm home so on tour I get to sleep in my own bed every night. When I'm touring abroad and staying in hotels I unpack and hang my clothes most every night and make my bed in the morning. Sometimes I'll bring a picture to hang on the wall. Music is important too, usually there will be one album or playlist that I listen to every morning when I shave and again whenever I'm felling a little adrift. Right now it's the Ralph Stanley record Almost Home.
Are you looking forward to the Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers? How does a show like that compare to the show we will see at The Taft on Sunday? I have a feeling a bunch of our readers are attending both!
I am looking forward to those shows. I'm always excited to play the small towns that I don't get to on the usual circuit. I like them because they're like old cars - when you lift the hood you can see each component and what it's role is. I'm still trying to understand how society works and why groups of people do the things they do and simple examples of organization are usually enlightening in some way. As far as the show itself I guess it depends on the weather and what I mean by that is I have no idea what to expect from these festivals or 'stopovers' but I look forward to finding out. The band is all warmed up and ready to play.