Ghost In The Willow // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
When Gil Rodriguez isn't making music with AZ based punk rock group The Combat Medic, he's crafting music for his solo project, Ghost In The Willow. Missing Persons, Ghost In The Willow's recent EP, was released on October 13, 2017 and contains seven well rounded tracks that put a new spin on a comfortable, classic style while maintaining a refreshing, matured sound.
All seven tracks on Missing Persons fall into the indie-folk-punk-rock genre (broad, I know) but each has it's own personality so to speak. For example, the chorus of the opening track, "Favourite Company" has that sing-along quality that makes a song memorable ('Those other girls are cool and cunning / But they always break my heart honey / And falling over head / The stars that wish us to bed / Remain my favourite company"), and the tracks that follow exceed expectations with catchy rhythms, mature lyrics, and a nostalgic embrace.
"Around The Bend" has a bit of a twangy element to it while still maintaining a folk-rock vibe, while "Swing At Your Hips" has a faster, more danceable beat. Complete with the lyrics "Shall we put on some records and yell / The Gaslight Anthem taught us so well", this track stands out for it's ability to get stuck on repeat in your head. (Hey-- I'm definitely not complaining!!)
"Hello Duck" is a toned down, heart-on-your-sleeve track, with a soft and subtle acoustic guitar showcase Gil's rich vocals-- "But I was lost in my head/ its a wonder I ain't dead / You kept me out of my mind / But wait, don't go/ If I may be so bold." Each song's lyrical content offers depth and fresh ideas, rather than cliches and repetition.
Video by Bridge City Sessions
Q: What caused you to start a solo project in addition to being in a band?
A: I decided to start this solo project because I started to write more and more songs that didn't necessarily fit my punk band (The Combat Medic) at the time. It wasn't a conscious decision to do something different, it just came very naturally and I wanted songs to flow out of me without much thought about "oh can I work this into my punk band?" I didn't want to force the songs to be something they weren't. Eventually I'll get back to The Combat Medic but right now my focus is Ghost In The Willow.
I designed GITW as a solo project that I can perform live by myself or with a full band. The songs translate really well to either setting. Currently I perform and tour as a solo acoustic act but eventually I want it to be more of a full band thing with musicians I can cherry pick based on their availability. But for now its great to just be a one man show and hit the road without asking band mates if they can take time off work.
Q: Where did the name Ghost In The Willow originate from?
A: The name Ghost In The Willow came from a lyric I misunderstood in a song by The Horrible Crowes. It just sort of stuck and seemed like a good name for the project at the time. I thought about calling it something else after I put out the first EP in 2015 but its too late now I suppose!
Q: When writing songs, do you specifically set out to write for one project (solo or full band) or do the songs find their way as they grow and develop?
A: The songs definitely find their way as they grow and develop. I start writing in one of two ways. Either I just sit around with my acoustic and strum until something comes out like a chord progression or a lyric that serves as a jumping off point for a melody. The other way I write, in rarer situations, is me and my drummer Sean Harris in a practice room. He'll be sitting at his kit and I'll say "give me a beat like this or like that" and I'll start banging out chords to his rhythm until I find something I like. That's how "Mixing The Wolf" came about, literally two days before we went in to record the new EP. It was a riff I couldn't get out of my head so I knew we had to do something with it.
Q: Your music definitely has a classic vibe to it-- what artists would you say are your biggest inspiration when writing?
A: I have a lot of influences and heroes. I draw bits of inspiration from all of them. Lately however, I've really been paying attention to the way Paul Westerberg writes and how his songs make me feel. I don't know if any of it shows in my own songs, but I definitely had his tunes in my head when writing this latest EP. He has an amazing versatility in his catalog that I admire.
Another influence that people don't catch in my songs is The Ramones. Its the beauty of simplicity in their songs that resonate with me. Its three chords, a couple verses, a chorus and a bridge. That's it. Maybe a guitar solo if I feel like it. But I generally like to keep the songs themselves simple so I can play them with a full band or by myself.
Q: What newer artists have you been listening to lately?
A: As for newer artists, Ive been listening to Dave Hause a lot, I'm friends with the guys in Spanish Love Songs and their new EP is fantastic ( I got to sing back up vocals on a few of their new songs) and I cant wait to hear what they put out next. Elijah Newman out of Tennessee is a tremenous songwriter, Divided Heaven has some great gems, Bradley Palermo has some killer acoustic songs, I'm really excited for the new Brian Fallon solo record too! There is an awesome new band out the UK called LoveBites that I am currently obsessed with also. Their bassist was in Sharks and I'm in love with them! Northcote is another newish band I've fallen in love with. Fucking brilliant that guy.
Q: What's your favorite track to perform live, and why?
A: My favourite track to perform live would have to be either "Swings At Your Hips" or "Favourite Company" when I'm performing solo. They're toetappers and they were the easiest to write so I don't have to think about what I'm doing! However when I do full band Ghost In The Willow shows, I love playing "Mixing The Wolf" because I get to let loose a little bit. I really love singing that chorus too. It's probably one if my favourite sets of words I get to sing.
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