A natural storyteller who crafts melodies and narratives with intelligence and ease, singer-songwriter Rob Williams is known for his compelling, character-driven songs. With the August 28 release of his fourth solo album, Weathering the Storm, Vol. 1, Williams shares his most moving and intimate work yet.
There is a common misconception that people who write songs and play music have a deep seated desire to be famous. It’s as if “making it” in music is somehow connected with celebrity. “Nameless,” the first single to be shared from the forthcoming full-length, is about doing what you love even if it contradicts convention.
Listen to “Nameless” and check out our interview below!
Can you talk to us about the inspiration behind your single, “Nameless”?
This is a song about forging your own path, even in the face of conventional wisdom. Many people live the lives that are expected of them by others without taking chances at pursuing what really makes them happy. The character in this song doesn’t care what other people think. He’s doing his thing and it makes him happy.
What was the first thing that got you interested in music?
My sister taught me to play guitar when I was high school. Funny, it would take a few decades before we would start playing music together. Today, she plays lead guitar in my band.
I guess the first thing that really got me interested in creating music was seeing REM in concert early in their career and watching Peter Buck play. The songs were great, and no offense to anyone, but the stuff he was playing didn’t look too complicated. It actually gave me the incentive to push ahead as a guitar player even though all I could really do was play chords. I realized that you didn’t have to play blistering solos on every (or any) songs to great songs. REM was the first band that I really followed. I owe a lot to those guys and their music.
Describe to our audience your music-making process.
Generally speaking, I write songs independently and don’t take them to the whole band until we’re about ready to record them. I don’t want anyone getting so married to their parts that they won’t be flexible in the studio. I like working that way. One of the great joys of creating songs is to hear them blossom in the studio into something beyond what you imagined when you first wrote it.
What advice would you give other musicians?
Don’t be afraid to let go of preconceived ideas about songs. As creators, we can sometimes become control freaks when it comes to our creations. We might think we know exactly what needs to go into songs when we’re first writing them, and then try to steer them in that direction throughout their development. Giving up some of that control allows your collaborators—musicians, producers, etc.—provide input and insight that can take your songs to a whole different place. That’s the wonderful part about making records, I think. I write them on an acoustic guitar and they turn in to something I didn’t know they could be when they are finally cut onto a record.
How did it feel when you released this new music?
This is one my favorite songs to play live. It’s got great energy, and it always makes me smile. The band played this song for a couple of years before recording it, and I think John Morand (producer) was able to capture that energy on the record.
And finally, if you could collaborate with any musician/band, who would it be? And why?
Brandi Carlile. Her songs are so authentic and honest. My dream would be to spend some time just playing and singing with Brandi and the twins some place with no one else around. Maybe we would write some songs together or maybe we would just sing for fun.