Singled Out: Willamena's When You Close Your Eyes

06-21-2017
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Willamena

Kalamazoo, MI's Willamena just released their new EP "Strong Enough To Last" and to celebrate we asked Chad Hendrickson (guitarist and principal songwriter to tell us about the song "When You Close Your Eyes". Here is the story:

To me this tune is a pop rock tune taking a somewhat 80's sound with a theme of meditation and I'm still not quite sure how we were able to do this! Luck I think, experience maybe and the drive to want to do this I guess. But I dig it and I hope people like it too.

This tune was written in two phases in Florida where I lived for a couple years. I think I wrote this on a real piece crap guitar that I just loved at the time. Some kind of Harmony I think. It was buzzy, didn't stay in tune well at all and was hard to play. Perfect for forcing me to keep it simple! First I landed on three chords that felt very basic but I liked the possible melodic motion there. I work with an Olympus WS-700M hand help recording device as it is small and easy to use and I can grab ideas quickly on this device. I captured the progression and the basic verse lyrics.

As I was running late for an engagement I had to stop writing the lyrics and I jumped in the shower where the pre-chorus and chorus jumped into my head! So I carefully ran out of the shower (with shampoo in my hair!) and finished the song…including the bridge too. The whole basic tune was written in roughly two hours or less after I landed on the basic feel of the song.

I was writing for Lucas Ross's voice trying to find the elements that made our biggest single such a success (a tune called "The Other Side of Loneliness") and I landed on "When You Close Your Eyes." I wanted the vocals to be dynamic, showing range and emotion (something Luke Ross is GREAT at!) and I wanted the lyrics to have meaning (which to me they are somewhat of a meditation-type feeling to me). All the best tunes are normally written quickly and they kinda write themselves if you can just get out of the way to let the tune come out. Having written songs for quite a while now I feel like we are getting to a place where we can mold a tune better without forcing something and that was the case here.

From there I headed to MI and Luke and I started putting the final version and harmonies together. We grilled steak and ate asparagus (if someone accused us of also drinking a lot of beer when we did this they would be right!) and came up with the final lyrics, the feel and the overall direction of the tune. The guitar parts came from playing with my Les Paul (Lester) through my 15-watt Fender Woody Pro Junior with my Boss delay pedal (1/4 note delay). We recorded the guitars mostly in Kalamazoo and I cleaned up a few things in Franklin, TN where I live now. The key treatments came from our good friend and old band mate Dylan Nau at his studio in Minnesota and the vibe of working with Dylan again was great. Last, producer/engineer Cameron Webb helped us to find the final vibe/version from what we sent him and he knocked it out of the park. I am VERY glad we are able to send digital tracks around as our team is scattered and we take advantage of technology when we can.

To me this tune melds the best that is Willamena. Kind of a rootsy pop rock tune that melds 80s rock with a slight folk feel too that feels modern to me. The lyrics are wheelhouse Willamena as we always strive to have lyrics that have weight to them. I feel like this is a compelling tune that is poppy in all the right ways but still rocks and is a guitar-driven tune. Thanks for your time everyone!

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the EP right here!

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