November 4, 2013 Interview – Willpowerless
Following your dreams is never the easiest road to take in life. It takes time, dedication, drive, and most of all passion. The four piece hard rock band from Philadelphia, PA; Willpowerless seem to have all these attributes of a success act. The band has been featured on the Warped Tour in Camden, NJ in 2010 and 2012, toured the states with various big name bands, and are making a name for themselves. Currently an independent act, two founding members and brothers Ryan (vocals) and Jordan (bass) Panfil know this is long road to travel. Recently we sat down with brothers for a in depth look at the beginnings of the band, developing their sound, and making a great rock n roll story along the way.
CrypticRock.com – Willpowerless has been doing extensive touring along the east and west coast sharing the stage with acts like Taproot, In This Moment, Born of Osiris, Tremonti, and Everlast. How do you find the wide range of audiences responds to the band?
Jordan Panfil – Actually surprising well. That is a good point, a lot of them are from different genres. We are not necessarily stuck to one particular style of music.
Ryan Panfil – All the different members have a wide variety of favorite musicians. Our drummer actually came from a hip hop background and started getting into rock. Some of us are into more jam like music and heavier music. I think the sound that comes out is more appealing to a wide variety of people than just one genre.
Jordan Panfil – It helps too because we have an edge. We can hang with hard bands but at the same time we are not incredibly heavy or brutal to the point where people of lighter genres of hip hop can get into it.
Ryan Panfil – We have experienced really heavy crowds which is a little harder to play in front of where we are booked with all heavy metal bands.
CrypticRock.com – Most recently you guys just did a series of dates with American Head Charge. How did that go for you?
Jordan Panfil – The crowd that was going out every night were there for metal. We are not metal, we’re hard rock. We were a little nervous how the reaction would be every night and it went overwhelmingly well. We were excited to see how well it went over.
CrypticRock.com – That is good that it went over well. In 2010 you were a battle of the band winner and played Warped Tour in Camden NJ, then in 2012 you played the Warped Tour again. How did it feel for the band to have that opportunity to play on two Warped Tour dates?
Ryan Panfil – It was a really awesome feeling to be on a stage with bands of that caliber all day long. Some of our favorite bands and mega bands playing all day. It felt really good, it was cool even the 2nd year familiar faces came back to see us, and people that go to warped tour every year that were excited to see us play.
Jordan Panfil – The other real cool thing about both those warped tours is that you get all access. You get the opportunity to meet and go hang out with the other bands you really like. Not only is it cool to play in front of the crowds and be part of the event, it’s cool to get to meet and hang out with the bands you really like.
Ryan Panfil – The 1st year we were allow to attend the band BBQ at the end so it was pretty crazy.
CrypticRock.com – That is great and Warped Tour is one of those rock festivals where it is a diverse group of bands so it had to be great to get yourselves out to a wide variety of different types of fans.
Ryan Panfil –Yes Warped Tour is fun, it’s really hot, but it’s always fun.
Jordan Panfil – Yea it’s crazy, especially when you don’t have a crew helping you lug everything from the parking lot all the way over to your stage.
CrypticRock.com – Now you have two full length albums in Found Their Way Home and Taking The Clock Apart. The band’s sound seemed to have progressed with each album. Do you feel like you are still honing your sound?
Ryan Panfil – Absolutely. Even more now, I feel like the stuff we are writing now is blowing the other stuff out of the water in my opinion. Those two albums are good, they are nothing to be ashamed of ever, but we are still forming our sound. We haven’t hit the peak of our creativity yet.
Jordan Panfil – If you look at the progression between Found Their Way Home and Taking The Clock Apart which were only a year a apart; then you look at the later single we released “Stronger” you can hear a big difference in the style, sound, and progression of the vocals in music. We are about to release another single. We went into the studio at the end of the October and as far as we are all concerned we all think this is better and different than even the last single. It’s an unending molding of the band.
CrypticRock.com – That is just the natural progression of playing and writing together longer. Your newest single “Stronger” is a great track. What was the band’s approach going into the writing of this and your newer material, has the approach changed at all?
Ryan Panfil – Yea the vocals are a little different for “Stronger”. We actually tried to try and get the feeling of that song by listening to a couple of tracks from our favorite artists. I think a lot of our music hasn’t been thought of that way, it has just been how it comes out, it comes out. That song was formulated by feeling some of the groove of our favorite bands and taking away what we felt from those songs.
Jordan Panfil – Everything that we had done in the past was jamming or someone brings a riff to the table. We never ever sat down to listen to the feel of another song to try and write. When writing “Stronger” we did. The main song that we listened to was an A Day To Remember track. You would never know that was the song we listened to where we started with that song and ended. Where we started and ended it you’d have no idea.
Ryan Panfil – I think the main different between “Stronger” and our other songs was we sat down as a band to listen to a few tracks to try and get the inspiration.
Jordan Panfil – Even the single we are working on right now wasn’t written like that. It was written like we normal do. As of right now the only song that we’ve ever written that way is “Stronger”.
CrypticRock.com – That is interesting. Will you be releasing another full length record in the future?
Jordan Panfil – Right now we are focused on touring and getting some other stuff together. We will be releasing another full length for every single we put out. You can assume we have 1 or 2 songs ready to go that haven’t been released. We are doing everything independent. The next song we are going to record is called “Hot Whiskey”. There is actually a live version from our tour with American Head Charge online now. We are recording a track with Taylor Larson which just did an album with Periphery. Then we are going to put together a music video for it with Mitch Martinez which has done a lot of great work with Underoath and bunch of other bands.
We are really excited because this is the first single we are taking seriously as far as putting a good package together for it and working with names were are excited about. After that we will tour to support it. We don’t have any plans right now or financial ability to. The plan right now is, unless something crazy happens, to just release a song at a time. As we release a song we probably have a couple ready to go. If someone is ready to a do a full length with us or we finally have the money we are going to have all the songs ready.
Ryan Panfil – I think the way to look at it now is we have some material which is good material and people will like it. If you keep putting out albums, but you don’t build a story, and your name no, one is really going to hear it. At this time instead of getting out as much material as we can we want concentrate on just doing a couple of singles to keep the name fresh. We really want to keep touring and putting the financial investment to that and keep building a story. We will concentrate on making another album once our story is bigger.
CrypticRock.com – The band is definitely building a strong fan base and the more you tour the more people will know about you. As a relatively new band what do you find one of the biggest obstacles to overcome to getting the band out to people?
Ryan Panfil – Money (laughs). If we had money it would be a totally different story.
Jordan Panfil – It’s been real tough. You need money but you also need connections. We are finally starting to get to a point where we are finally starting to make good connections, but everything costs money. Until you build a story and show people what you’ve done, where your fans are, and how much support you have it’s hard to get backing; especially in the music industry is today. The hardest thing is to try and do everything without backing.
Ryan Panfil – We are actually starting to become a touring band now. At some point you start to become considered a national act where you start drawing everywhere you go on tour. Before we were actually rolling up our sleeves, getting dirty with it, going out touring, and learning how to become a professional band. It’s really hard for a band to get respect, nobody wants to hear you if you are not doing it. You have to really roll up your sleeves and just dive in there and try and push your way into people’s faces. Nobody wants to hear you if you are not doing that.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. You go to a lot of shows and most of the time most of the people don’t want to hear the opening bands and a lot of the time ignore them. It has to be really tough.
Jordan Panfil – Yea the Found Their Way Home album was when we actually made the decision that this was going to be a very serious thing for us. Up until then we were basically high school friends, we were writing music, and enjoying it. We thought if it was going to work someone was just going to find us. We went out on tour in 2009 and it wasn’t until then we knew that was not going to happen. We got smoked by our competition on that first tour by bands. We thought well they are on a label so they had help, then we’d go talk to them and find out they are indie bands and do everything themselves. We then knew alright we really need to step up our game otherwise we have no shot. We’ve been working really hard to look like we are backed by a label. Now it’s starting to pay off, when we go out on these tours people are excited to find out what label we are on. It feels good to say we are not on a label and this is an independent thing we are doing. It feels really good to us that people are that impressed by us that they think we are on a label.
CrypticRock.com – It has to feel good. You guys are doing something right, your progressing and learning. I’d like to know what some of your musical influences are?
Ryan Panfil –I think I can speak for pretty much everyone in the band, all in our teenage years growing up we were really influenced by Deftones, Incubus, Taproot, American Head Charge, Slipknot, Korn, and Limp Bizkit. We also had a lot of friends that got us into music like Nas, Jay-Z, Jack Johnson, Atmopshere, and Octagon. You look at my iPod, I have everything from John Mayer to Slayer on there. When you come to a Willpowerless show in Philly where we draw the most; you will see hip hop fans, hard rockers, and hot chicks. It’s a big variety of people coming to see us.
Jordan Panfil – A lot of bands, if you go to see them you can judge by their crowd what they sound like. If you were to try and judge by looking at our crowd before we came on you wouldn’t be able to put your finger on it.
CrypticRock.com – That is good because listening to music and making music you don’t want to box yourself in. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Jordan Panfil – Yea we like horror movies. Nothing like screaming like a little girl and peeing your pants (laughs).
Ryan Panfil – In the last couple of years I haven’t been watching too many of them. One movie that really stuck out to me especially when it came out was The Ring (2002). I remember that scene when they open up a door and there is a dead rotting girl and her mouth opens. That makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I thought that was one of the creepiest movies.
Jordan Panfil – I liked the new Evil Dead (2013).
Ryan Panfil – I prefer horror movies that are about ghosts then to movies like Saw (2004).
Jordan Panfil – You know what I think the scariest part of the Rob Zombie movies is it gives crazy psychopaths ideas.