Willard Grant Conspiracy – There’s a kind of hush
It was perfect. I awoke on Saturday morning and peeked through my curtains to find the skies gray and the city of Boston lightly being snowed upon. Some time later I stepped outside, on my way to interview Willard Grant Conspiracy, and I stopped and looked around for a minute. And listened. It was pretty quiet. Not silent, just … quiet. When it snows here, the city slows down ever so slightly, as if everyone had just stopped for a minute and looked around and listened at the exact same time I did. Willard Grant Conspiracy is just like one of these days. Slightly mysterious, quiet. Serene. Beautiful.
These guys are not a country band, first and foremost. “Just because it’s acoustic guitar centered doesn’t mean it’s country,” says singer and co-songwriter Robert (this is a first-name-only band). “I don’t detect a hint of country. I think it’s more in the Nick Drake vein, actually.” Whatever vein it’s in really doesn’t matter. All one really needs to know is that it’s genuine, gorgeous music.
Willard Grant Conspiracy was born about a year and a half ago, a result of a few people sitting around for the purpose of making music. That’s it. Most of the members of the band all play in other, louder bands in Boston. The initial pressing of their first CD, 3 A.M. Sunday @ Fortune Otto’s (Dahlia Records), has, for the most part, been exhausted. The CD found its way overseas via Glitterhouse, where it put up decent numbers, and the band even did a four-city mini-tour in The Netherlands. “We did three rock clubs, and one festival of Dutch poets and composers. We were the only non-Dutch act at the festival, so they called it an ‘international’ festival,” Robert says, smiling. The band was somewhat surprised at their reception overseas. “When we played, the people got really quiet,” Robert says. “Even on the skanky floors of the three rock clubs, people were sitting down.”
The issue of crowd noise then comes up. Guitarist Sean hits the nail on the head: “What can you do? You’re not in church. You can’t say, ‘Can you be quiet?’ No one will like you. I’ve never seen it work.” Later on that night, watching the band perform, I notice barely a peep is heard. Captivating.
For the record, the band is made up of three core members, and as Robert puts it, “whoever else shows up.” Sean adds, “It’s like a central tree trunk, and there’s lots of other stuff sticking to it. Robert sings and writes, I play guitar and other stuff, and Paul plays guitar and other stuff.”
That very night, watching them performing live, I realize what a treat it is for Boston to have a band like this. In a town where loud-rock is prevalent and buzzing guitars rattle the ear-drums of concert-goers, WGC is a breath of fresh air.
By the time I walked out, the snow had stopped. The darkness had taken over, and again, there was quiet. I began humming a Willard Grant Conspiracy song to myself. It was perfect.