It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from L.A. rockers, The Willowz. But that doesn’t mean lead signer Richie James Follin, drummer Loren Humphrey and bassist Jessica Reynoza haven’t been busy. After stints in various other bands including Guards, Cults and Birds, the trio has returned with an all new album. A dreamy rock ‘n’ roll record with cutting riffs and Follin’s soulful voice, Fifth is a reminder of why we fell in love with The Willowz in the first place. And our favorite track from the album, “All The Same,” will never get out of your head.
Listen to the premiere and read our interview with Follin, below.
Tell me about “All The Same.” What inspired it?
I had just been playing that guitar riff forever. Then one day, I sat down and tried to turn it into a song. It sounds like it’s inspired by Big Star, but I think it’s actually from my time in Cults playing “Go Outside” every night—it’s like a rock and roll version of the riff and the chord changes are similar.
How does it compare to the rest of the album?
Half of the record is more aggressive and punk sounding—this is one of the more throw-back poppy songs. The album is really split between those two sounds.
What’s it been like getting back to work on a new Willowz record? What are you able to do with this band that you aren’t able to do with the others?
Be my one true self—just kidding. But I do get to rock the hardest with this band! Also, just kidding. Though, I think when you are five albums in with a band, you don’t have to concern yourself as much about defining what the band is—you can just focus on writing good songs that make you happy. The process of making another Willowz record felt natural—it’s everything that comes along with it that feels a little strange.
How has the band evolved over the years, from Are Coming to now?
Most people know what they are doing when they go to make a record—we didn’t. We were just kids and you can hear us figuring it out across all of our albums. […] Hopefully, it’s more clear now. We just wanted to be a punk band at first. Then, we wanted to be heavier, and then we wanted to be a power rock-pop band. Now, we are a mesh of all those things. And we’ve always tried to blend our influences. The band evolving over records, just made us better at that.
What was the hardest part of making the record, especially after such a long break?
Finding the time! Especially being on different coasts. But making the record after so much time actually made it easier. We needed a lot more help getting things done 8 years ago. Now, we know what needs to be done and we just do it.
Were you listening to any specific artists or records when you were writing Fifth?
It was kind of pieced together over 8 years, so probably a ton of artists. But I normally don’t listen to any other music when I’m making a record because listening to music inspires me to write music, and I’d just never finish the album.
Why’d you decide to make it now?
The Music Gods came to me in a vision and told me I must release The Willowz fifth album if Trump was elected. And the record was just sitting there 3/4 done. […] It’s not like the band ever broke up—we just started working on other stuff. Everyone is still friends and we all loved the songs. Plus, it’s so much easier now to release a record and actually get it out to people.
What do you want people to take away from Fifth?
A pleasurable listening experience. Hopefully, it can make their lives just a little bit better, if only for a moment.