Exclusive Interview: Willem Dafrend talk writing and recording “Nails”!

How does a record of eight cuts of Hardcore in the vein of bands who were pioneering the genre in 2005 get pieced together? What kind of gear do you need to create that kind of sound? What’s it like working without an outside ear in the room when recording a record? We spoke to Saint Louis, Missouri residents Willem Dafrend for the second time this week, this time about writing and recording their debut album “Nails” as they to inflict it on an unsuspecting World in the live arena…

How did your previous experiences writing and recording help to smooth the path of the new record? “Everyone in Willem has spent plenty of time in the studio over the years, so the process isn’t new to any of us. The one thing that is new for us is that Pat engineered and mixed the entire thing. He did the same for the two singles that we released in 2020. Pat has always been a student in the studio, he has multiple projects on the fire at any one time, and he is tireless when it comes to creating music. We are so grateful to have him as part of this group. His experience and willingness to spend uncountable hours in front of his computer with this music has made the entire process easier for everyone. Except him of course, but he hasn’t yelled at us yet so I think he is okay with it”

How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article? “We come at most songs with a riff first, whether that comes from Pat or Bob. When we are writing we let a riff evolve into a song organically with all four of us in the room. If an idea is going to actually turn into a song, it will typically form to 90% completeness in one practice. We all take home a phone recording of that 90% and spend some time with it over time and additional practices to add the polish. I would say that it is never 100% done until we have recorded it though. The studio tends to cultivate great ideas, and we try to capture those when they happen”

Nails” was recorded at The Black Lodge in Fenton and engineered, mixed and mastered by your guitarist Patrick Baum; was it more of a challenge recording with someone from within the band as opposed to having an outside ear? “I won’t speak for everyone here, because there could be differing thoughts, but I for one really enjoyed recording in Pat’s studio. Pat is an amazing vocalist, and I have been a fan of his for the entire 20 years of our friendship. This is the first time I have been the vocalist on any project, and it was comforting to have him in the chair to coach me through every insecurity that I bring to the table”

If you had the opportunity to work with a guest in the studio next time around, who would you like to work with and why? “Is anyone on the table? Mike Patton. Wouldn’t that be fucking cool!”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound?
Craig: SM58 (bullet proof) and hopefully a cable that happens to work on the day…
Pat: Gibson Les Paul / Fender Jaguar Baritone / Peavy 5150 Signature / Mesa Cab / Revv G4
Bob: Fender Precision / Mesa Strategy 88 / Mesa Cab
Joe: Pearl Signature Series / Zildjian A Custom

What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer?  “The perks of an endorsement from the band’s perspective are somewhat obvious. Better access to the gear that we love, and the exposure that comes an endorsement being the most obvious. I think it also adds to the confidence of a band when a gear manufacturer that everyone knows and respects expresses their confidence in the band with that endorsement. One would hope that the manufacturer benefits from the arrangement in a similar fashion”

Nails” by Willem Dafrend is out now everywhere you’d want it to be

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