Keller Williams Gets Us Excited For All Things KWahtro, Including Fall Tour And Future Album

first_imgKeller Williams is mastering his latest studio project, KWahtro, and taking to the road with the stellar band he assembled for a special run of fall dates. Fans of Williams’s many dimensions will be delighted at this new, acoustic take on classic jazz themes, along with plenty of improvisation. With longtime collaborator Gibb Droll flanking him on guitar, with drummer Rodney Holmes and bassist Danton Boller joining Keller on the road and in the studio, you can bet the songs are going to be forming before your eyes and ears at these upcoming shows.But the fall fun doesn’t stop there. Keller managed to find time for a couple of his legendary solo shows, a few co-headlining dates with fellow multi-instrumentalist Zach Deputy and even some bluegrass shenanigans with his friends The Infamous Stringdusters before ringing out the year in Baltimore. A few weeks ago our own Rex Thomson sat down with Keller Williams to talk about his upcoming album and the funky sound he and his fellow players were laying down.The first half of that lengthy interview, which focused on Williams’ amazing catalog, can be read here while the second part of the discussion Williams turns to the future. and his fall tour plans.Live For Live Music: In our last chat we went through the impressive amount of releases that have gone through in the past. Do you still get butterflies in your stomach when the big moment of sharing new music arrives?Keller Williams: No. Any bits of new material are so few and far between for me anymore that I end up playing them live immediately because I am so excited to have something to share. Having something new isn’t just fun for the fans, it excites me too. And actually getting to go into the studio and perfect these songs? I am ELATED to have new material to play.I learned long long ago that you can’t please everyone all the time. That taught me to make music that excites me, and my recordings are very self indulgent in the sense that I am documenting, in the highest quality possible, the music that most engages me. To use only the very best of takes, to try to have something that comes from it to show what is best to me, it always makes me excited.The process of making it, that recording and perfecting it, that makes it worth while whether the album sells or not. Usually not…L4LM: Awwww.KW: I know right? Awwwww. Ha!L4LM: Let’s talk about KWahtro. You’ve got your old buddy Gibb Droll with you. By my reckoning he is your most worked with collaborator, recording-wise at least. What is it about him that makes him so much of a pleasure to work with?KW: First off, he is a listener. He understands my thinking and my scales. My guitar playing is somewhat limited in a sense, in terms of scales and chords and places I can generally go. He knows what I know, and knows or can guess where I am going.Say I fall into a rhythm and I start to twist it up and try and take it somewhere different. He understand where I might be heading, even if sometimes I don’t. And then we can both fall back into where the song was going perfectly. It’s kinda a telepathy thing between he and I.I’m always glad to get some time with him because he is so busy. Since I saw him a few days ago, he has been out with Bruce Hornsby. Sometimes he’ll go from tour bus to tour bus and jump on the Brandi Carlisle bus. He’s one of the best and he’s all over the place.L4LM: The rhythm section for this project seems binary to me. Rodney Holmes seems to be doing the pocket work, while Danton Boller seems to be acting as a free agent and joining you and Droll in the forefront, musically. Is that an accurate summation of the situation to you?KW: I’ve never really thought of it in the context of being binary, but that is such a good word. Rodney is, first of all, a genius. He blows me away every time I play with him. You’d think you’d get used to it, but then he just plays some lick and you’re like “GOD DAMN!” I still freak out when he does that. I haven’t gotten used to it yet, and I kinda hope I never do.Every time I play with him it takes me a few minutes to get oriented to the level of his genius. But he is very numbers oriented, metronome -ish, though he can change time signatures at any time. He is definitely a bit more of a structure guy. If we say we’re gonna improvise from here to here in a song, then it is definitely ready to go down. And when you go on those journeys you know he is there, keeping the piece together. He is gonna keep the time.And that is one of the interesting dynamics of this band. Danton Boller, the bass player, is just another beautiful soul I am lucky enough to know and make music with. I’m incredibly grateful to be acquainted with him, and to be a part of his life. The four of us, together, when something kinda goes off Rodney gets it and comes along with us. Gibb and I have no problem taking the back roads to get us to the finish line.L4LM: The new music has a bit of a jazzy vibe to it. How long have you been holding back tackling this side of your sound more definitively?KW: I think there are little pockets of jazz on a bunch of my records. I can think of a few, like “Warning,” off of my record Odd is a straight “Upright Bass-Guitar-Piano” thing. It is definitely a side of music that I connect with more along the lines of acid jazz, that swinging ride symbol and maybe the “Four-On-The-Floor” beat.Using these fun, out there chords like I do and the improvisation. I feel like jazz is a strong part of my sound, even though I could be considered a poser in my approach. I don’t really study it. I haven’t taken the time to learn all the standard jazz licks or the songs.I couldn’t go to a strict jazz jam and hang with those guys. I just don’t know the material. I am just more of a fan of the genre, but that’s why elements of the style show up in my material. Same with bluegrass. I don’t really know all those old bluegrass licks either, but I love the classic sound of the material. Those elements are gonna be popping up all the time.L4LM: You’ve got a lot of concerts lined up to show off the new tunes and feature the music from the album. Will there be any reinventions of old material to go along with the KWahtro line-up?KW: Now, can’t give away all the secrets in advance, can we? Folks DO need to come see the shows!L4LM: You’re throwing in a few solo dates among your upcoming KWahtro run. Are those basically mental musical palette cleansers, are you trying to keep yourself fresh or is it the old “Pick up gas money” sorta thing?KW: KWahtro is compiled of seasoned working players. It’s not easy to assemble this band. I’m grateful to get solo offers and take them when ever folks in the desired projects are not available. It’s a luxury.L4LM: You booked yourself a rather busy fall, with a wide variety of shows on the way. The two Thanksgiving shows are being billed as bluegrass related. Will these be straight Grateful Grass shows, or is there something different in the works?KW: I’m afraid I could never play straight up bluegrass. I’m a fan way more than a player. It will be bluegrass but not your fathers bluegrass.  It will be tongue and cheek, rock and roll and pop songs mixed in with my material, all done with respect to the traditional bluegrass formula with no drums.  It’s a feeble attempt to entertain myself and those on stage with me in the hopes that it will carry over to the audience.Here’s Keller from Summer Camp earlier this year performing his beloved “Freaker by the Speaker.”L4LM: Well, I hope you manage to squeeze a drumstick or something in. Maybe some of that crimson stuff shaped like a can?KW: Oh turkey will be eaten. Football will be watched. Naps will be taken.  My shows are on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. And what a lineup.  I got lucky this year. Just like last year.L4LM: L4LM: You are gonna be sharing the stage with fellow one-man-band troubadour Zach Deputy a few times this fall. Somehow that seems like it should be illegal, in the same way we don’t like having all the heads of government in the same place at the same time.KW: Zack and I are bros. He will be the sole looper for these shows. I’m more than happy to utilize the amazing humans who will be on stage with me during these shows. It’s uncertain how many times I can assemble the KWahtro and I’m going to absorb every second of it without any looper involved.Zack has the soul of a spiritual leader and I’m looking forward to being inspired by his presence, which is always a present. And there is zero chance of a parade, but 100% chance of collaboration in real time. I’m ready.L4LM: Fair Enough. Well, once again, thanks for taking the time to give us a glimpse into your process. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!KW: Thanks! I can’t wait either!You can see Keller’s full tour schedule below.last_img

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