MP: Hello, William. In first place, thank you so much for giving us this interview.
WD: Right on. Thanks for inviting us into your Rotten Apple.
MP: To start the interview, a typical question. How did the members of Comes With
The Fall begin the band?
WD: We knew each other from being in different bands in Atlanta and in late
summer 1999 we all eventually came together to form Comes With The Fall.
It was fate.
MP: You are originally of Atlanta but you traveled to Los Angeles in the year 2000.
In Los Angeles, there´s a lot of bands and the competition is hard, so did you
travel to Los Angeles to find more opportunity because in Atlanta the musical
scene is poor?
WD: We had simply done everything we could do in Atlanta. The opportunities
were very limited for a band playing our kind of rock music. And we noticed
the pattern that every rock band that had started in Atlanta had to leave
there in order to achieve anything beyond local or regional success.
The Black Crowes and Sevendust are two examples that immediately
come to mind. Mastodon is another. Atlanta has always had great rock
bands for as long as I can remember. Even now there are fantastic bands
there like Dropsonic and The Tom Collins. But there doesn't seem to be the
desire among the local media (radio and press) to champion their local heroes
the way, for example, the Minneapolis music scene did in the early 80's or the
Seattle scene did in the early 90's. And so far there hasn't been a dedicated
local maverick entrepreneur like a Peter Jesperson (Twin/Tone Records in
Minneapolis) or a Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop Records in Seattle) to galvanize
the Atlanta scene. It's high time there was, though. I would actually love to
jumpstart something like that myself. We'll see what the future holds.
MP: Is it hard to find opportunities making a music that doesn´t triumph in the
charts and isn´t a commercial music?
WD: Sometimes it gets frustrating. We feel like good music of all types should
rule the charts and, unfortunately, more often than not, crap rules the charts.
But if we look at history, we see that this has always been the case.
So we soldier onward. We play this music because we love it. We don't
play only to be successful in the charts. If that happens, of course, we
will gladly accept it because it means that more people are hearing our
music. But our sound comes directly from our hearts. Whether it is
considered "commercial" or not is out of our control anyway.
So we play what we love and let the rest take care of itself.
MP: It is obvious that the band receives the support of the audience. Is there
a pressure for the band to the compose a certain type of song? Or do you
simply make the music that you want waiting for a spontaneous
communication with the audience?
WD: Yes, as I said before, we play only what we love. We have faith that
the audience, whether it's a large audience or a small one, will see the truth
in what we are saying.
MP: Are the songs of Comes With The Fall collaborative compositions of all
the members of the band (write the music together)? Or are there individual
compositions (songs by each member of the band)?
WD: There are some songs that I write alone and show the other guys. Then
there are other songs in which we collaborate on the music. But, as the singer,
I'm responsible for all of the lyrics.
MP: What is the next objective of the band (a new record, a tour)?
WD: We just finished our fourth album. The working title right now is "Beyond
The Last Light." The music is INSANE. By far the greatest work we have ever
done. We're still getting the packaging together (looking for a front cover
image, etc.), but we hope to make the album available for ordering online by
December 1, with a general release to underground radio and record stores in
MP: You are the guitarist/vocalist of the band. If you wanted to do only one of
these two things, which of them would make you feel more comfortable? Why?
WD: I am a guitar player at heart. I will never consider myself a "real singer."
Sam Cooke was a real singer. Ella Fitzgerald was a real singer. Nusrat Fateh
Ali Khan was a real singer. I just do the best I can. I only began singing out of
necessity, because the lyrics I was writing were too personal to have anyone
else sing them. But if I could, I would be like Pete Townshend. I would write
the songs and have somebody else sing them while I rock out beside the
drummer. It's a bit too late for that now, though, I suppose.
MP: Your voice sometimes brings me a memories of Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell,
Robert Plant. What vocalist or vocalists do you think have influenced your
form of singing?
WD: First of all, thank you for putting me in with such illustrious company.
You are too kind. And, yes, Buckley, Cornell, and Plant are huge influences
on me. So are Bono, Prince, Ian Astbury, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Freddie
Mercury, PJ Harvey, Billie Holliday, and Jim Morrison. That's just to name a
few, though. I steal from everybody.
MP: In the songs of the band I feel influences of 70's and 90's rock music.
What influences do you feel in the band? Who are your influence as a group?
WD: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath are probably our biggest collective
influences. All three of us constantly refer to them as role models when
we're discussing our own music. But we love all kinds of music so it all
finds its way into our sound. From Sly Stone to Sonic Youth.
MP: How is the actual music scene in the USA? Is it a difficult time for
a band like Comes With The fall?
WD: America is in a very strange place right now, both politically and
culturally. There is a lot of fear, anger and discontent. And there are lots
of exciting things going on in the underground music scene as a result of
people feeling so "on edge". This country is ripe for some sort of
explosion. I hope that Comes With The Fall can help set it off.
MP: The name of our Fanzine is Manzana Podrida (Rotten Apple). You know
it´s a song of Alice In Chains off the Jar of Flies EP. We are fans of Alice and
here is the inevitable question. How was it to work with the "totem " of the 90´s
named Jerry Cantrell personaly and musically?
WD: Cantrell is a great guy and a real pleasure to work with. You get to know
somebody extremely well when you travel with them on the road every day
for two years. All their virtues, all their demons. We grew very close with
Jerry Cantrell and to this day he's one of our best friends in the world.
We're very grateful for that. We're like family. He's our brother.
MP: With Jerry you toured in Europe but only in the UK. Do you think that
a new tour in Europe is possible? Will we see your precious Ampeg Guitar
soon playing in Europe?
WD: I certainly hope so. We're dying to get over there. We had such a great
time in England. At that time (2002), there was talk of an entire tour through
the rest of Europe in early '03 but it fell through. We were so disappointed.
I want very much to finish what we started. Possibly in '06.
MP: To end the interview, another typical question (like in the beginning).
Tell me your 5 favourite records and 5 reasons.
WD: Wow. It's nearly impossible to limit myself to only 5 favorite records.
Music has been my entire life for as long as I can remember. But I will do
Led Zeppelin - "Led Zeppelin II" -- The overall sound is so huge and
beautiful. The music is evil, joyous, and sexy all at the same time. This is
everything that I think rock music should be. These guys were definitely
tapped into some very heavy spiritual channels. When I was a little kid,
this record both scared and exhilerated me beyond words. It still does
John Coltrane - "A Love Supreme" -- This music was John Coltrane's prayer of
thanks to God for helping him kick a deadly heroin habit and setting him on
the spiritual path he would follow for the rest of his life. "A Love Supreme"
taught me a lot about how powerful instrumental music can be. Some
feelings need more than words to express them. You can hear the gratitude,
the joy for living, and the absolute commitment to telling the truth in every
note played on this album. The entire band is on fire. This is the place where
virtuosity and emotional honesty meet at the highest level. This is ecstatic
music. And, just to prove that sometimes there is justice in this world,
this also happens to be Coltrane's most popular album.
Black Flag - "Damaged" -- I absolutely worshipped this band when I was a kid
and this was definitely a turning point album in my life. It's still the most purely
pissed off thing I have ever heard. Greg Ginn's guitar playing is like a pack of
wolves eating you alive. Chuck Dukowski sounds like he's breaking his fingers
across his bass strings. And Rollins is screaming like a man being slowly
pulled apart limb from limb. The sound is really beyond music. It's a torrent
of pure emotion. It almost sounds impossible. But I was lucky enough to get
to know these guys as a youngster and I can tell you that they played with
that level of intensity every time they got together, even in the rehearsal room.
Black Flag's music and their work ethic gave me life lessons that I will never
Hendrix - "Band Of Gypsies" -- As with all of the artists in this list, I find it very
difficult to single out one album over all the others in their catalogs. I don't think
of these artists in terms of individual albums. I see them as dynamic people
whose lives and art were one in the same. I view their entire body of work as
an inextricable whole. This is particularly true when it comes to Hendrix,
who is someone I can relate to on much more than just a musical level.
Having said that, "Band Of Gypsies" is the first Hendrix album I ever heard.
I was eight years old. It blew my little mind to pieces. It made me want to
play the guitar. It's a live album so everything is happening in the moment
in front of an audience. "Machine Gun" is still the greatest piece of improvising
on the electric guitar that I could ever imagine. It's a song about war, so Hendrix
literally conjures the horrors of war through his guitar - bombs exploding,
flame throwers firing, women screaming, children crying - all with just a
Stratocaster, three Marshall stacks, and a couple of primitive floor pedals.
It's unbelievable. Years later I would see film of that same performance and,
for the life of me, I still could not figure out how he was doing it. Like Coltrane,
this is another example of what happens when a player is totally connected -
to his instrument, to his environment, and to what he's saying.
The Beatles - "Magical Mystery Tour" -- Once again, how can a person pick
just one Beatles album? They have the most flawless catalog in the history
of popular music. I love everything they did, even their earlier albums with
all the cover songs, but especially everything from "Rubber Soul" onward.
That's a pretty unbeatable run. I picked "Magical Mystery Tour" only because
it has the most songs on it that make me wonder, even just from a technical
standpoint, "How did they do that?" Songs like "I Am The Walrus,"
"Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Hello Goodbye" are marvels of recording
engineering. The songs and the sounds are absolutely insane. "Blue Jay Way"
and "Baby You're A Rich Man" are also completely twisted. It's especially
staggering when you realize they were doing all of these things using
four-track tape machines, constantly bouncing multiple tracks of music down
to one mono track so they would have enough room on the tape to pile on more
layers of sound. The distortion and the signal loss that result from this
process becomes yet another character in the recording, almost like another
instrument in itself. As a person who produces records, I am astounded by
the level of foresight and planning it must have taken to create those
tracks. Making records is a bit like playing chess. A good record producer,
like a good chess player, must be able to see at least five to ten moves
ahead and anticipate any potential problems and pitfalls with each course of
action taken. The Beatles, George Martin, and the engineers at the Abbey
Road studio would have had to think 20 to 30 moves ahead. They were also
creating completely new sounds and recording techniques just to keep up with
their ever-expanding imaginations. The bottom line is these recordings are
still mind-blowing, not just by the standards of 40 years ago, but by any
standard in any era. Even a hundred years from right now, some kid will hear
"I Am The Walrus" and be destroyed by it.
MP: Also, I want to ask you for your 5 favourite songs and 5 favourite bands.
WD: My 5 Favorite Songs. Wow. I think this might be even harder to narrow
down than my 5 favorite albums.
The Flamingos - "I Only Have Eyes For You" -- The song is a popular standard
that dates back to the 1930's. This version is by the Flamingos, a doo-wop
singing group from the 50's. It was already a beautiful tune with a wonderful
romantic lyric, but the Flamingos take it into the stratosphere. The lead singer's
phrasing, the other-wordly harmonies from rest of the guys, the ghostly reverb
that seems to permeate the entire track. It sounds like a message beamed in
from another dimension, or like the voice of God itself telling us how to love one
another. It is as close to a perfect recording as anything I have ever heard.
Sly & The Family Stone - "Everyday People" -- A lesson in perfect economy.
A crackling funky track. Simple, dignified melody. Wonderful arrangement
based entirely around one relentless and unchanging bass note. An incredibly
profound lyric that cuts right to the heart of all humanity. All in little more than
2 minutes. It doesn't get any better than this. "Everyday People" is a work of
genius that somehow manages to be both a nursery rhyme and a gospel hymn.
To illustrate how heavy this song is, back in 1969, when the record was a hit
single riding high in the charts, my mother was a 3rd and 4th grade schoolteacher
in the inner city ghettoes of Washington, DC. The city was still reeling from the
riots that occurred after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King less than a
year before. Much of the inner city where the kids my mother taught lived was
burned to the ground. Police brutality was rampant. There was a lot of anger
and hopelessness in the air. It was hard to explain to 8 and 9 year old black
children why all of this was happening. Why all of this racism and hatred?
My mother used to play this record in class every day and have the kids
sing along. It lifted the class up every time. It gave these children fun and
hope. But it also gave hope and a healthy dose of reason to millions of angry
adults on the streets outside that classroom. Can you think of one hit single
in the charts today that could do that?
The Beatles - "Hey Jude" -- The only thing more difficult than picking one
Beatles album is picking one Beatles song. Like practically everyone else
on the planet Earth, I have countless stories from my own life that are forever
linked with Beatles songs. I'm going with "Hey Jude" partly for sentimental
reasons. My mother has always loved this song. She still always sings
along whenever it comes on the radio. I love it, too. McCartney was
definitely tapped into some timeless wisdom during this period.
The melody is wonderful, of course, but the lyric is also very special.
It's profound but in an open-ended way that allows the listener to interpret
the meaning according to his or her own life. I have a feeling this song has
helped a lot of people through hard times, but in a different way than that
other great McCartney anthem, "Let It Be." Whereas "Let It Be" seems
more genetically designed to be an Anthem For The Ages, "Hey Jude"
feels more personal and therefore, for me at least, it's much more powerful.
U2 - "One" -- Another band with so many amazing songs to their name -
"With Or Without You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,"
"Beautiful Day," - it's hard to single one out over the others. I learned
how to sing by singing along with the early U2 albums like "Boy" and
"The Unforgettable Fire." Something about Bono made me feel like I could
do it. And by the time they put out "Achtung Baby," I was a longtime fan
who had grown up watching them become master songwriters. "One" is a
perfect example. "We're one, but we're not the same." Unbelievable. I wish
I had written it.
The Rolling Stones - "Jumping Jack Flash" -- I had to get at least one
rock-n-roll number in this list. First of all, great title. Also, this is one of
the first examples of a Bob Dylan-style surrealist lyric being combined
with truly swaggering hard rock. Mick Jagger says it all in the first line,
"I was born in a crossfire hurricane." What an opening. But then later
you have the resolution, "But it's alright now. In fact, it's a gas."
It's not clear if we are going to hell or coming back from hell but, either
way, "It's alright now..." Brilliant. And I don't even need to mention one
of the greatest guitar riffs ever written.
My 5 Favorite Bands.
The Beatles - No explanation necessary.
The MC5 - Equal parts James Brown sex machine showmen, Coltrane/Sun Ra
free jazz explorers, and guitar-smashing hard rock rebels in the vein of the
early Who, the MC5 were one of the most righteous bands that ever existed.
They epitomize fun, freedom, sex, rebellion against authority, fighting against
injustice - all the things that I think rock-n-roll should be about - better than
anyone. Their story is one of the great rock-n-roll science fiction tragedies
of all time. The void has never been filled.
U2 - They've been putting out records for 25 years and are more relevant now
than when they started. What other band can we say that about? How do they
do it? Through love, understanding, and mutual respect for one another despite
enormous personal differences. This is a model not just for all bands, but for all
humanity - families, corporations, governments, etc.
Jimi Hendrix - Again, no explanation necessary.
Led Zeppelin - What an amazing body of work. The studio albums alone would
put them in my top 5, but then they were also one of the most amazing live
bands ever. The first disc on their DVD (Royal Albert Hall, 1970) is all the
proof you need. It's totally "lights out."
MP: Thank you so much for your time William and we wish the best for the
immediate future of the bandĦĦ
WD: Thanks very much for your interest and support. We really appreciate it and
hope to see you there soon. Good luck with Manzana Podrida.