Bobby Wills is a CCMA Male Artist of the Year nominee who won the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association CCMA Rising Star title. In addition, Wills has successively taken home the Alberta Country Music Association ACMA Male Artist of the Year award two years in a row (2012/2013). Now after finding success in Canada, Wills is preparing to bring his music to the states with the July 17th release of his debut EP, Crazy Enough (Willing Nashville). Wills kindly took the time to speak about the album, taking risks and more.
“Crazy Enough,” your new single, is a real up-tempo country song which you co-wrote with Mike Pyle and Walt Aldridge. What is the story behind the song?
We were in a songwriting session and talking about kids and the not very well thought out things they do. I have teenage boy who we have watched over the last few years do a bunch of foolish things like jump off the garage with an umbrella. We also got to talking about the moments in our own lives where we may have done something like that. When I was a kid in Manchester Massachusetts there was an amazing spot at Singing Beach where I would jump off a cliff, which probably wasn’t the smartest decision (laughing). Both of my co-writers had similar experiences jumping into the river in Muscle Shoals. During the conversation, someone said the line “well you just have to be crazy enough” and everyone’s head turned and we decided to chase it.
So you were a risk taker when you were younger, is that still the case?
Yeah, I think it is. I think being in the music industry proves it (laughing). I take risks within reason. I’m a family man so I have to be careful, but I think risk is part of reward. Life is an adventure and I want to make sure it stays that way.
Going back to the song, you chuckle a lot in it. Was that planned or ad-libbed?
Those are 100% real; that song still makes me chuckle. It’s such a warm song for me; it’s fun to play and sing and I love watching the reaction from the crowd to some of the lines. Being that it’s about my boy and watching him grow up, it’s also very meaningful to me. Those chuckles that you hear on there just came out and we kept them.
Listening to your music, it seems that lyrics are very important to you.
I’m very fortunate to work with some of best writers on the planet. The one thing that we agree on, and the reason the three of us write together, is that we want the songs to have the opportunity to mean something to someone. I feel like my favorite songs are always the ones I can insert my own life into or the ones that help me through a bad day or make me laugh. That’s what a good song is, so we always try to pursue something from a writing point of view that does that.
Our writing together started out as a comedy of errors. The first day I wrote with Mike, who produced the record, I had another cancellation, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with myself. We went down to Muscle Shoals and the rest is history. When you find people you have that creative synergy with you tend to go back to that well. It’s fun and they’re just great guys.
Sounds like a terrific partnership.
In addition to writing songs with meaningful lyrics, it seems your songs are personal as well?
I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m the kind of person that if you hear one of my songs there’s a very, very good chance that there’s a history to it. I am very honest in my songwriting and I think when you are honest and tell a good story, it is more accessible to people because they can feel that. I sure hope that’s the case anyway.
As a listener, I think that is definitely the case and fans appreciate personal storytelling in songs.
So, in addition to “Crazy Enough and “Never Didn’t Love You” there are three additional songs on the EP. Are they very different in theme and sound?
I really wanted to give a good introduction to me and my music, so I wanted to make sure we had a well-rounded project; something that would show the fun side as well as the more serious side. “With You” was written around the loss of my dad, but could mean different things for different people, which is what I love about it. “Still Something There” is about that someone in your life that you might still think of say, when a certain red car drives by and memories flare up, not necessarily regret but memories that are still there. And “So Much For Taking It Slow” is a flat out love song.
So having all of those different songs with different themes, why title the album Crazy Enough?
Because of this whole venture. Some people think it’s a little crazy and maybe it is (laughing). There are other ways that I could have spent my life and career, but this is the only way I can imagine doing it. That’s why the title just fit and, as I mentioned, it is such an important song for me; one that was written from a place of fun, laughter, reflection on my life and watching my son grow up. It just made sense.
I am sure that you have been getting asked this question quite a bit, but with all of the success in Canada, why is now the right time to make the move to the US?
There are a couple reasons. First, this was always the plan. I’m very fortunate to have the support in Canada to build our career and it has been great, but the plan was to always to move to Nashville, which is part of taking the next step, part of the progression. Secondly, the opportunity is here now. Believe me when I tell you, I would have been here ten years ago if the opportunity presented itself. There has been some buzz generating around the single already [it officially goes for adds 7/16] and we are very fortunate and excited to have the opportunity now and be here today.
Do you have plans for a radio tour or other tour dates once you settle in the states? [Wills is in the process of relocating to Nashville]
Yes and yes. We are busy through the end of August doing press and publicity. We’ll be working on new music, which were always working on, so I hope in 2016 you’ll see something where we are on a bus and rolling all over the place. The idea is to get as many opportunities as we can to get out and play. The one thing that makes all of this is playing live and connecting with the fans. There’s just nothing that can ever replace that. I’m looking forward to it.
In addition to the music, you are a committed philanthropist. Is there a specific organization that you support?
There are a couple. I am an ambassador to the Canadian Adoption Counsel, being an adopted kid that’s something that is really close to my heart. I am also involved with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. They preach education as the secret to avoiding future problems. I think that is something that is just so smart, so that is something that is just so close to us as well.
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