Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An interview with Will Walker of Will's Pub

Will's Pub has been an institution in the Orlando music scene for a long time now, so it was only fitting that I interviewed Will. He has seen a lot of bands and a lot of people come and go, so I bribed him with sake bombs, and he agreed to let me interview him. Will's Birthday Bash is Saturday at Will's Pub. Go check it out. Thanks a lot Will!

When did you first get involved in music? How?

I was always a music fan in one way or another. Whether it was my parents listening to Motown or my own stuff growing into a teen. I tried to take some guitar lessons as a kid, and well lets just say I sucked.

What made you decide to open your own venue?
Will's wasn't a venue in the beginning. We just had some pool tables and a jukebox. . . Orlando was a different place at the time. There was a decent music scene but no where for people to play. Skinnys, Go Lounge, The Sapphire. . . that was basically it. A lot of my customers were in local bands. And well they asked, so we did it.

What was the first band to play at Will's Pub? When was that?

Jim Orourke was the first. He's still playing around town.

It sounds like you've basically learned this on the fly, over the years. What lessons have you learned (maybe even the hard way) in this time that you would pass on to someone who wanted to open a venue of their own?

Well the venue part is pretty common sense. We learn things all the time. It's usually the human element that catches you by surprise. Like some asshole stage diving to no where.

I'm sure you've learned a lot since then about running a bar that is also a venue, learned a lot about booking and promoting shows. Any words of advice you have for bands that are trying to play shows at your venue?

Be persistent but not annoying. Don't call or come to the club thinking you're going to speak with someone. Get together a couple of songs online. GO TO OTHER PEOPLE'S SHOWS. Nothing like getting an email from a band in the "407" saying "I've never been to your club but we should play there." Networking pays!

What's the story behind the old Will's being torn down, and how you decided on the current location?

Awe yeah. This is where a lot of speculation has happened. I was sub-letting from the motel next to the old local local. When the property went up for sale I was supposed to have first right of refusal to buy my parcel. Well in layman's terms, money talks and I was simply left out of the circle until it was more than I could afford. The rest is history.

What's your favorite Orlando band right now?

Really? Whatever band is playing at Will's tonight?.?.?

Any bands you miss that you wish were still around today? Any you're glad to see are no longer around?

Really? Again? I miss some of the ones I started working with. Kow, Cluj, The Hate Bombs, so many more. . . I kind of grew as a person with some bands.

Naming names about who I'm glad isn't around anymore is just a little more than I'd do while sober.

Any other ways you have been involved in the music scene over the years.

I had Will's South for about a year (fucking awesome). I built the stage they are using at Taste and booked that place for about a year. I'd like to think I've had a little to do with Orlando's music scene since I started. I've helped fund a couple of CD's and hopefully there are a few babies out there Will's Pub made happen!

You mentioned Will's South. Do you plan on opening a second location again in the future? What kind of plans do you have for the current location?

Yes, we do. It's going to be a little while but a second location is in the plans.
As far as the "new" location, it will never be done. We do want to open the back patio up. Improve the pa. Possibly work on the ventilation.

I know Tierney Tough works with you a lot, and she does a great job planning shows, and you guys were heavily involved in Orange You Glad Fest (which was great.) Do you think you guys will do more things like that in the future?

Orange You Glad is her project. I helped her with it as much as I could. I hope she wants to do it again. I definitely think a lot of people want to be involved again. I also think we learned quite a bit from the first one.

How would you compare the Orlando music scene today, to what it was say, 5, 10, 15 years ago? I've asked other people similar questions, it is always interesting to see the responses I get.

The "scene" is way bigger in terms of how much is going on. BUT it is less cohesive than ever. There are little microcosms that exist in the outskirts that aren't even known about around the rest of the city.

What do you think you would like to see more of in our local music scene? Why?

Once again people in other bands really should go see other local bands. That is how you make a scene. Then they come see you. Their friends and fans become yours and it grows from there.

Also some show sharing is really healthy. Trade some gigs with Tampa bands or Gainesville bands. It's a small drive and it enriches the whole area.

And local bands PLEASE learn how to promote your shows. If some of you were as inventive in promoting as you are in making up excuses we would all be fucking successful.

You joked about there probably being some babies out there that are a direct result of Will's Pub, ha. How many would you estimate? How many are yours?

Well, Will's is romantic. It's the lighting or something. As to how many babies we have helped conceive I couldnt tell you.

How many were mine? Yeah right.. back in the day...

Last question: which band in town would you say are the heaviest drinkers?

The old guard are still the champs. Bands like The Ludes or Shak Nasti kill it. The new guys just aren't that passionate. They'll learn.

Thanks Kyle, This was fun!