Following on from his critically acclaimed 2016 album Kingsdown Sundown and tours with artists such as Billy Bragg, Frank Turner and The Proclaimers; Will Varley returns to the scene with his fifth studio album Spirit of Minnie, out on 9th February. Support for the rambling folk singer has been gathering momentum since his previous record with his comic, political and often protesting lyrics striking a chord with many.
For an artist who has previously toured the south-east of England on foot, his latest UK tour marks a distinct shift in direction; culminating in a huge headline gig at London’s O2 Sheperds Bush Empire. We got the chance to catch-up with Will prior to his gig at Nottingham Rescue Rooms.
For those coming to one of your shows for the first time, how would you describe your sound?
My sound has definitely changed a bit in the last few months as I’ve recently started working with a backing band. So the show will be the first time I’ve gone out with a band, in the past it was just me, a guitar, and a beer.
Do you find most influence for your songwriting in other artists or in personal events/thoughts?
All of them. You never really know when something’s influencing you, it sort of seeps in doesn’t it. I like hearing stories, like the story of Ferdinand Cheval, a postman in the early 1900’s who built a palace in his back gardens out of stones he found on the floor…
You’re touring the new album Spirit of Minnie and this is the first time you’ve recorded with a full backing band. Can fans expect a change of direction in this new album?
Sort of, but ultimately it’s still just me seeing things or hearing things and writing songs. I hope that I am developing, moving some how. I don’t ever want to just be still and chasing my tail in terms of the music I make.
The preview track that seems to have got everyone excited on the new album is the opener, ‘All Those Stars’. What was the story behind that song?
You know when you hear on the news that they’ve found a new planet and it’s a bit like earth? And then they tell you it’s millions of light years away and your heart sinks… Well I wrote that song while I was touring in America and thinking maybe the stars aren’t all that far away in the great scheme of things.
Ahead of your show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, what type of venue gives you the most back as an artist?
I love Rescue Rooms and it’s always a pleasure to be back. I try to take each show on it’s own merits. Of course there’s something amazing about playing to a huge crowd on a festival main stage but there’s also nothing like playing in a small pub to a handful of people. The Rescue Rooms is somewhere between the two, the perfect balance perhaps.
Finally, if you could’ve written any song throughout history, what would it be and why?
Ah I think that’s impossible to answer. You can only ever write your own songs. They’re products of your subconscious, weird little spirits that come out of your brain. I wouldn’t want anyone else’s, it wouldn’t feel right.
You can find the details of Will’s current UK tour here.
Photo by Brett Walker