If you attend a show at Montreal’s Boom Room, chances are you’ll hear The Willing play onstage. The band was formed two years ago and went through the usual cycle of a starting rock band: play in a friend’s basement, change your lineup (playing in bars can be difficult when a member of your band is still a minor), write songs, play shows and record your first EP.
It has been often said that we live in a time where technology has made the recording process accessible to all musicians, and The Willing is an excellent example of this. Out of their 12 song live set, they picked the best five and recorded the basic tracks for their brand new EP, “Splendid Gifts”, on a MacBook using GarageBand and the knowledge of Paul Col (bass) and Justin Wiley (drums) who happen to work in the audio industry when they’re not rocking out with the band. They found studio time wherever they could to complete the tracks, and the result is an EP that sounds polished and mature, and shows the band’s interest in experimenting with effects. But singer Will Riley points out that this is not just a studio bound endeavor: the band tries to reproduce these effects live too.
The band’s music is the product of an interesting mix of influences. Riley claims his musical heritage from a varied landscape that includes pop music (especially Top 40 females like Ke$ha and Katy Perry), 90’s bands like Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as 60’s pop. The band also mixes in elements of 60’s pop like Chubby Checker and Sam Cooke, which makes for a pretty motley result.
The five tracks show the band’s tongue in cheek approach, especially on tracks like “Slapped Em’ in Da Face” or “Lauren’s a @#$%&!”, the latter which earned Riley a call from the titular Lauren’s mom, where he had to explain that there was no real bad blood between them, they were just having fun. (Lauren herself is apparently pretty pleased to have a song named after her). The songs show off the band’s varied influences, from “Lauren’s” super funky groove that must have been inspired by some late night not-suitable-for-all-ages movie viewing, to the 80’s alternative melodies of “Trains” to the Hives-like punkish rock of “Slapped Em’ in the Face”. But that’s not to say the EP lacks coherence; The Willing have defined their sound pretty well.
It will be interesting to watch this band grow. Being an indie band trying to make your mark is not easy, but The Willing have what it takes to have their shot. Give them a listen and judge for yourself.