The duo known as The Love Willows are trying to make a splash in pop music with their delightfully sugary, catchy tunes. Check out my interview with them and see if they don't put a smile on your face.
PPJ: First, tell us your name and what you do in the band.
Hope Partlow: Hope Partlow, vocals.
Ryan Wilson: Ryan Wilson – guitar, vocals.
PPJ: What got you interested in music? When did you decide you wanted to write your own music?
Hope: My dad is the reason for my interest in music. He was always hanging around the house with a guitar in hand. I sang my first song, “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, on stage at the ripe age of five. I made $25 in tips and that's when I made up my mind to be a singer. I wrote a few songs growing up, but it never really came together until I met Ryan.
Ryan: For me it was my older brother. He played guitar in a band when he was in high school and I thought it was cool, so Santa brought me a guitar for Christmas that year. I got my brother to show me a few things, but for the most part I taught myself. I started writing music in high school, when I joined my first band.
Tell us about how you guys met and started The Love Willows.
Hope: I met Ryan in 2005, when he tried out to be my touring guitar player for my solo record. We instantly hit it off and became great friends. Then when I turned 18, I moved from my hometown of Drummonds, TN to his hometown of Griffin, GA and we began to write songs that would later developed into the unique sound of The Love Willows.
PPJ: Where did you come up with the name for your band?
Ryan: “Willows” comes from our last names – Wilson & Partlow. If you cut them in half and glue them together with “love,” you've got The Love Willows.
PPJ: What went into writing and recording Hey! Hey!
Hope: All of the songs on our record were written by Ryan and I over the span of year. Once we had a significant amount of material, we decided to make a record. We didn't have the funds to record at a major studio, so we decided to save up and do it ourselves. I worked at a hair salon and Ryan did carpentry work with his dad, as well as playing cover gigs on the weekends. We made the entire record for less than $1500, including the computer.
Ryan: We tracked the drums at a friends home studio and brought the files back to our house on an external drive. The rest of the record was done on our Pro Tools/Mbox rig. I had a couple of other friends play on some of the tracks, but all of the other instrumentation, arrangements, editing, and production was done ourselves.
PPJ: Is The Love Willow's music very different from what Hope was doing as a solo act?
Hope: Very much so. I didn't write any of the songs on my solo record. I feel way more connected with this new record, mainly because it's true moments and emotions that I vividly remember and, with the help of Ryan, I got to capture those feelings in nifty little songs.
PPJ: What's it like to be dating each other while on tour? Does that ever get tough?
Hope: I know this sounds really corny, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Ryan is my best friend and, although he does get on my nerves sometimes, we both know how to separate our business relationship from our personal relationship.
PPJ: How did you get signed to Decca Records?
Ryan: Our manager found us on MySpace and he really liked our songs. Within a month he had a showcase lined up for us in New York to play for the head of A&R at Decca. They liked what they heard and signed us on the spot.
PPJ: What is your favorite song on the record? Your least favorite? Why?
Hope: My favorite song is “Strut My Stuff,” because it's just so girly. I like playing it live because of the reaction. I'm truly not lying when I say that I don't have a least favorite. I guess its like children. There's always that ugly one that you still love, because it's a part of you.
Ryan: Favorite song is “Falling Faster.” That pre and chorus are dynamite! My least favorite to listen to is probably “Try,” just because it's the only song over 3:30 - but as a song itself, I think it's some of our best songwriting.
PPJ: Do you ever get tired of dressing up all the time for shows?
Ryan: Every show is a performance and whether it's a for 30 people or 300, they all deserve the same experience. It may be difficult sometimes to get dressed, in between loading gear and setting up, but no one really wants to see you in what you had on earlier that day. I've actually always enjoyed dressing up. As a kid, I'd switch from Batman to Superman, to policeman to Spiderman, all in one day.
PPJ: When is your next tour?
Hope: We just came off of the road with a band called Push Play. Really cool guys and a really fun tour. There's some awesome stuff in the works for '09!
PPJ: Have you written anything new since releasing Hey! Hey!
Ryan: Yes. Hope and I are constantly writing. We've actually written a few really cool songs that I feel confident about putting on the next record.
PPJ: What do you want people to take away with them when they hear your music?
Hope: We strive for upbeat, happy songs, and so far the reaction that we've gotten is just that. People have told us that they've had horrible days and once they hear us, for some odd reason, they're in a good mood.
PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.
Ryan: I listen to a lot of old stuff that you've probably heard before, but something new that has been coming through my speakers as of late is a band called Cash Cash. Something old that you may not be too familiar with is Owsley and Jellyfish – check it!
Hope: I've always been a fan of whatever Sheryl Crow has thrown at me. The one artist that I've loved from day one of my musical career is Patsy Cline. Also, Natasha Bedingfield has impressed me with her writing and singing ability.