Most often than not I find myself procrastinating by watching all sorts of YouTube videos, but commonly the videos are guitar covers or bass covers or even band covers of songs that I really like. One day I was looking at all sorts of Jack White (famous for The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, and The Raconteurs) covers and came across three young dudes in a black and white video covering one of White’s newer songs, Just One Drink (Lazaretto/2014). I watched the cover, and then I watched it again and then I watched a third time and realized I was very fascinated by the singer’s voice in this trio. Turns out these dudes don’t just make cover videos, they write music and go by the band name Will and the Wont’s.
Will Risbourg, the lead singer, has a voice that isn’t very common nowadays, it is similar to a lot of rock and folk from prior to 1985. The band has been compared to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen by many music enthusiasts as well as fans that tweet at the band (@Willandthewonts) and also post on their Facebook page. In an interview with ProgressiveMan, Risbourg stated that he has had around six different band line ups since he moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles. The current line consists of Risbourg (vocals and guitar), Andrew Bilotti (drums), Gui Bodi (bass) and Matt Salmons (keyboard/harmonica/lapsteel) and it has been the main guys that have stuck around the longest, according to Risbourg.
The Wont’s haven’t had any official releases of music that can be purchased however do have three live recordings of a performance at Swing House Studios (Los Angeles, CA) for sale on the bands Band Camp website (http://willandthewonts.bandcamp.com/) as well as a studio recording of the song “In the Presence of Wolves.” The live recordings are pretty good and demonstrate the great sound the band has formulated by emulating sounds they appreciate and inspire them. The song “Empty As I Can Be”, part of the Swing House Studios recordings, captures Risbourg’s folkish romantic lyrical abilities. The song also bestows the band’s sound which is unique featuring an out crying harmonica and pummeling acoustic guitar that builds the song to a climax that then hits the denouement of the tale Risbourg is singing like a winter breeze to an unveiled face. “So many feelings I can breathe, so many lies I want to believe” devotedly sings Risbourg as the song breaks down after the climax.
I am not the biggest fanatic of folk music but I do appreciate it and it is noticeable as to why Will and the Wont’s are called folk once you get to listen to them a little. There are definitive rock roots found in the Wont’s music, as well. It is not the type of band that one would expect a melodious 5 minute solo in a song but rather a nice instrumental intermission in a song or a bluesy lick that can be repeated yet still not exploited.
In another track from the live performance, “Oh Angelina”, the band shows their other side that isn’t all about acoustics and harmonicas. The track starts with a pulverizing drum beat that one can’t help but to sway hair back and forth and want to dance. Risbourg trickles about a little blues diddly to introduce his lightly distorted Rickenbacker guitar and then the bass and keyboard joins in. There are backing vocals that enhance the lead vocals as well as the diction of guitar notes as each one is articulated clearly, reminding me of a couple Beatles’ songs.
Will and the Wont’s may not be the most known band out there and I’m not saying they will be playing Madison Square Garden in a day, however the band is full of talent and is helping preserve old sounds that many people wish were more persistent in modern day culture.
Will and the Wont’s is definitely a name to look out for- keep and open ear as well.