Today’s Feature, August 7-8: Willie Herath

January 18, 2008 at 5:20 pm (Today's Feature)

If you’re a fan of the mission to promote and support artists making an impact (and I hope you are), then prepare to become the latest fan of Willie Herath (if you aren’t already anyway). In an entertainment industry where it’s so easy to rely on others for success, Willie Herath, the creator of a style of music he calls “Nod Your Head Beach Rock,” is one of an exceptional breed. He doesn’t sing someone else’s songs, or play to rhythms developed by another artist. In fact, for his album “Cohgie Never Landed,” he did it all – “From the songwriting to the graphic design to the outsourced manufacturing-like a true indie musician-I did it myself.”

Willie’s commitment to developing his own style of sound is difficult to find in a music business where money and deadlines tend to tarnish the work of so many performers, but Herath understands that a song doesn’t just “appear.” It takes time, passion and patience to write truly fine music. And fortunately for Willie Herath fans, Willie takes part in plenty of activities in between songs and albums that unquestionably contributes to his energetic, flip-flopped, salt-water and sand style of music. From free diving for lobsters, to survival camping in the rain forests of Costa Rica, Willie Herath lives the lifestyle that his upbeat melodies embody. Do you feel like jumping, yelling and slapping your momma to some good music? Check out his XXQ’s to find out more.

XXQs: Willie Herath (PEV): How and when did you first start playing music?

WH: Well, as a kid, my folks signed me up for piano lessons. I guess it was something that

my mother never had a chance to do for herself so, my brother and I were enrolled.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. Where and when was it? What was going

through your head?

WH: Ha ha! Piano recitals and open mics were my first real live shows, but people are supposed

to suck at those, right? My first real performance was at a local high school during a dance.

We were the worst. I was in a band named “FOU”. Our songs were ok I guess, but none of knew

anything about sound or sound equipment. I just remember the crowd standing there looking

confused, but hopeful.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to

be a career for you?

WH: Oh yeah! I remember it well. It was the only time in my life that I was living abroad.

I was in Royan, France doing an exchange program for a year through Rotary. I had been

songwriting for close to two years at that point, but the one particular week I cranked out

about a song a day! That was the first time I contemplated recording an album. A few months

went by and I went to a little get together. Someone had played a song and passed their guitar

around the room. It stopped at me, so I played. That night a couple people asked me if they

could get my music on CD. It was very cool!

PEV: When you write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

WH: Oh, I wish it was that easy. By the sound of it, some people just sit down and plan to

write a song. That would be great, but it’s not me. I have to be inspired! All of my songs

are written from a point of creativity that I can’t muster up. I have to just be patient and

wait for lightning to strike. It could be just a matter of days or a matter of months.

PEV: What can people expect from “Cohgie Never Landed”? How is it different from any other

album out today?

WH: It’s got an organic feel that most music doesn’t have today. Oh, it’s happy music.

Well, I mean for the most part. I’m proud of the album. It turned out to be somewhat of an

experience. If you pull out the insert and read the lyrics, you can see photos from my life.

Also, that’s my real handwriting through out the whole graphic design. For me, it’s great to

have completed something like “Cohgie Never Landed” because it shows off a lot of hard work.

From the songwriting to the graphic design to the outsourced manufacturing, like a true indie

musician-I did it myself.

PEV: No stranger to recording studios, what was it like the first time you stepped into a


WH: It’s cool for people who aren’t even in music! Recording studios are similar to (I could

imagine) a spaceship–an enclosed pod that’s sheltered from the outside world…lots of buttons.

Ha ha. The first time I was in one to work on my stuff was in Nashville. Bad idea.

Illinois is much closer to Nashville than LA, that’s why I went. The problem was that I

didn’t have a band, so I hired local studio musicians. Yup! You guessed it. My music

sounded a little bit country and not a little bit rock n’ roll at all.

PEV: Even though you are still rather young, tell us about the earlier days of Willie

Herath, before a lot of the main attention and large crowds.

WH: I’m still the same. Well, I’d like to think I’m a better musician and songwriter now, but

that is definitely up for debate.

PEV: Is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

WH: Rage Against the Machine. I think they could benefit from a little “Nod Your Head Beach Rock.”

And I think that my “Nod Your Head Beach Rock” could use a little “Rage.”

PEV: Who were some of the artists that you listened to growing up? Have they helped shape your


WH: Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Yes, yes they have.

PEV: You have acted in over thirty commercials. When did you first get involved in acting and

is this something you want or plan to continue?

WH: Yeah commercials are GREAT! They are perfect for struggling musicians to do. Every week

I audition for new ones. I started acted right after I moved to L.A. A friend introduced me

to an agent and I started getting auditions. From there it’s just a matter of time. Yeah,

I plan on acting for awhile. There’s no reason for me to stop. It’s a good thing to have

going, because there is a lot of down time between albums waiting for those songs to come.


PEV: Is there another band on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we

should all be on the look out for?

WH: The Philippians.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Willie Herath show?

WH: To have fun! I get the crowd involved, so don’t come if you’re grumpy. It’s weird how people

who don’t participate stick out like a sore thumb.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live?

WH: Interaction. If the lights are too harsh and I can’t see the crowd, the show kind of


PEV: How has life on the road been for you? What are the best and worst parts of life on the


WH: Getting away is always nice, but being gone gets old. Catch 22. Rob (from my band) and I

always try to do something memorable whenever we travel. We played for an NBC news show in

Phoenix a few weeks back. While we were there I saw a flyer for Indoor SkyDiving, so

we did it! UNBELIEVABLE! I posted some video on my “News” page if you want to check it out.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Willie Herath?

WH: I free dive for lobsters, oh yeah and I’m into survival camping. Every year, me and my closest

buddies go to Catalina Island and dive for lobster. It’s a great trip! When it comes to

survival camping, I just did a trip to the Osa Penninsula in the Costa Rican Rainforest.

Just had a knife, a water filter, and a tent. No food, no water. That was a trip of a


PEV: When you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing?

WH: The rings. There are a couple sets of Olympic style rings on the beach in Santa Monica.

It’s fun to swing around like a chimpanzee.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

WH: Some treat me the same, some don’t. I tend to forget that people care. Jobs are all the

same, some are just in the public eye.

PEV: In all your travels, which city, in the US or internationally do you feel has best

appreciation for music? Which has been your favorite to play and why?

WH: I’ve played a bunch of places more than once and each time it’s a different experience.

I’d have to say that the place is not so much an important part as the people. Colleges are

always fun to play. The crowd usually is there to have fun and be involved.

PEV: So, what is next for Willie Herath?

WH: Working on another album right now. Rob is going to produce this one by himself. I’m very

excited about the process, but even more so about the new songs! I’d like to give everyone a

free song. Just swing by and sign up on my email list. That will

automatically give you a free mp3. Also, if you’re interested in checking out some stuff I’ve

acted in, click on the “Seen On TV” button on my site. Thank you!

For more information on Willie Herath, check out


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