Meet The Newest Members of Today's Next-Big-Thing
Aubrey Blount (left), Sophia Williams (right). December 2019.
After meeting the initial members a couple weeks prior, the time to meet the newest members of Walk on Willow had finally arrived. As I walked into Simon’s garage on that afternoon in early October I had the feeling there was no going back. Immediately I was sucked into a whirlwind of voices and jokes coming from every direction. It was absolute chaos– in the best way possible. Just in the time it took me to set up, burps were being rated (“That wasn’t massive!”) and JP, the band’s close friend, was scolding them (Now, let’s put the Pringles can away!”) and I was already fully entertained. I knew my time with the band would be just as memorable as the time before, and the new faces brought a lot to the table.
We kicked it off simple, names and a simple description of themselves. Sophia, an 18-year-old able to flow soul through her guitar strings, and Aubrey, a 20-year old drum-whiz, were just as quirkily-quick-witted as the first two members of the band. As soon as they were prompted to introduce themselves Sophia told Aubrey, “Well, ladies first,” which had him responding, “My name’s Aubrey Blount, and I’m a lady apparently”, then Jacob piped in from the back: “Yeah you are!”– Like I said– chaos. After a few minutes of the voices piping in from every direction once again Sophia informed me, “My name is Sophia, bro– and…um… I just ate a whole tube of Pringles”.
Sophia Williams. December 8th 2019. Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, MD.
It took a while to get things really moving, but finally it was time for music to come into play. Aubrey expressed that it’s hard for him to pinpoint when exactly music became a passion of his, “I feel like it’s always sort of been there, just in my head… somewhere”. Meanwhile, Sophia chimed in saying it was hard for her to relate to the feeling Aubrey had. She told me that while she was growing up there weren’t many musicians in her family to relate to. As it turns out, Sophia got into music by chance, when she was in elementary school her father won a PTA raffle earning three free lessons at a music school. Neither of the two musicians remembered much beside that, saying that music had just become a part of their life since then. Their stories gave me the inkling that fate had a part to play within both their lives.
Soon, they were helping me to understand what exactly music meant to them. Aubrey, continuing to appear wise so far throughout our meeting expressed it as being like a second mind to him. It was hard for him to explain, but he made sure I knew that that was just how important it was. Sophia described it as similar to the feeling of coming home to the smell of home-cooked food and warm memories. To Sophia, music is something which is crucial to helping “conjure memories”. Having heard the band play, I knew exactly what they meant. The same way Sophia’s guitar playing seemed to express a deep soul by touching our memory, Aubrey drumming made me feel like it was an extension of both his body and mind. These natural talents brought an incredible impact to the already very strong Walk on Willow team.
Simon Murphy (left), Sophia williams (Right), Aubrey BLount (Back). DEcmber 5th 2019. The Recreation Center in Fredericksburg, Va.
The serious atmosphere was broken momentarily as Sophia and Aubrey began to snack once again, and Jacob called out from behind me, “Are you eating cheetos?”. This brought along with it a flood of voices forming into a tsunami-like wave of distraction and confusion. After a few minutes we were able to get back on track and started to talk about how music inspires them, what kind, and so on. Aubrey makes it simple: “Timeless music. That just stands alone. You don’t have to be a fan of any certain type of music to, um, connect with it– Deeply”. Meanwhile, Sophia started out serious at first stating it as being the same nostalgia feeling she had expressed early, however, she isn’t able to keep serious for long before stating, “it’s just, humans are f***g weird, bro, they got all those chemicals up in your brain and it just does something to [you].” She states that the “rush” she gets when playing and listening to music is what truly inspires her. She names Britney Howard from Alabama Shakes as one of her top role models, as well as Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys. Through these interviews I’ve been able to see what brings the originality into W.O.W.’s music. Each band member has an entirely different and very wide-ranging musical influence, when they play they experiment heavily throughout nearly all genres, and that seems to be what truly makes them tick.
Aubrey Blount. November 29th 2019. Leesburg, Va.
Knowing that their sound is so unique I wondered, of course, what do they want their audience to think? They both chime in with echoing laughter, “not this!”, Aubrey quickly clarifies, “I hope they don’t think we’re just a weird band, I don’t know”. Sophia takes the chance to plug the band, listing off all the platforms on which the band can be found: “including Instagram, Snapchat–no, I don’t think we have a Snapchat– Tinder,” This one has the rest of the band in shambles but she continues on top of the almost overwhelming laughter, “Facebook, Spotify, Apple Music, and soundcloud… and um… live. Buy tickets to shows…” As she finishes the laughter has calmed down, and Simon, hidden in the background next to Jacob deadpans: “That was the perfect answer”.
After the time spent with this band I’ve caught on. These guys make you think, and they make you laugh. It’s a constant back and forth where they have you contemplating the complexities of thought only seconds later to be laughing so hard that the previous conversation feels lightyears away. It made me wonder of course, how it is they go things done. So I brought up the music writing process. Sophia and Aubrey state that they hadn’t yet written with the original two members, Simon and Jacob, as a group yet. However, the band members all agreed that they had plenty of awesome jam-sessions that would quickly be able to transform into more unforgettable songs.
As our conversation was starting to wind down I asked them, just as I had Simon and Jacob, what they would do if they weren’t able to continue with music. Similar to Jacob’s unexpected answer that he would become a plumber, Aubrey states he would be an Astronaut. Meanwhile, Sophia says she would most likely stick with something creative, such as an artist or a chef, as self-expression is incredibly important to her. She says she loves to “Make sh*t” and “Watch people enjoy the sh*t that [she makes]”.
Sophia Williams. November 5th 2019. The Recreation Center in fredericksburg, Va.
All these things adding to another I seriously began to wonder how they got from point A, to point B. With all the members being so unique in every aspect, how is it that they have come to exist in one common place and with as much chemistry as they have? They instantly begin laughing as I ask how they were approached to join the band. Honestly, I’m left bewildered at first. Aubrey explains that he got a sudden unexpected text from Jacob (Jacob explained: “I said, ‘hey, man, come over’”.) and that the rest was pretty much history. Sophia turned out to be pulled in through Instagram, saying that she posted herself playing and “for some reason” Jacob liked them. She stated, “I don’t even understand why, cause lowkey they’re sometimes kind of cringey,” Soon afterwards Jacob had invited her to jam. Sophia admitted that she originally hesitated to agree, but looking back wishes she had taken the opportunity sooner. The connection was instant. As it turns out, after this jam session, Sophia was the one to suggest Aubrey as an addition, due to the fact that they had previously played together in a band called “The Let Go” and believed he too had a lot to bring to the table. She was definitely right.
One of the last things I asked these seemingly perfect additions to the already awe-inspiring dream-team duo was what they believe they could add most to the W.O.W. team. Just what exactly made them so perfect? I was ready to know. However, the two seemed to be left speechless. Aubrey stated that he hoped he can “Have good style”, and that he ” [Has] no ulterior motives here”. He stutters off a finish of: “I just want to be… right on”. This prompted Sophia’s simple response of “That’s fair” (then, as she realized it was now her turn, an “ah f**k” was also prompted). Sophia had a lot to say on the matter, stating the ways in which her and Jacob were able to bounce off each other as guitarists with similar styles yet different skills sets. She hopes that with her addition to the team they can find a fuller sound, and that she’s able to compliment Jacob’s playing to the best of her ability.
SImon Murphy (left), Sophia WIlliams (middle), Israel “Jacob” Vega (right), Aubrey Blount (back). December 8th 2019. Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, Md.
I also wanted Aubrey and Sophia to tell me how they felt about getting on board for the next album. Were they excited? Nervous? Both? Did they have hopes for it? What were they? I was itching to get a glimpse into the bands obviously bright future. Aubrey says he’s hyped to record and ready to “get in the ‘stu'”. Jacob chimed in from the back assuring him, “It’s always fun here”. Meanwhile on the other side of things, Sophia is most excited to see where the bands sounds might head with the fresh thought processes of the new members
We finished the interview off on a great note with some final words towards the original band members as well as the future fans. Sophia started it all off on a high note, immediately stating matter-of-factly: “I. Love. You.”. Aubrey added in, “I love you with all my heart”. (“Oh, sh*t! that sounded so genuine!” said Sophia, “Thank you, Aubrey, for that wonderful answer!” Jacob also chimed in with a faux-announcer voice.”) Sophia found her last chance to plug the bands multi-platform releases and social media, and went with it. “Like, Comment, and subscribe”, Jacob joked. The interview finished as Simon called out, “Alright, that’s a wrap!”, and the band mimicking him like the ever-lovable group of seagulls from Finding Nemo.
After meeting all the band members in detail, their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams, even their doubts, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for them. I said it before, and I’ll say it again and again… These guys make you think. They seem to have wisdom within their wits, always keeping it light-hearted yet always knowing how to dig their way into your soul. The jokes never stop, yet they really know how to hit the grind and get things done. They have have what it takes to hit the current music industry head on, grab the bull by the horns, and succeed. With Walk on Willow a new era will be starting.
and it starts…