On March 4th, Will Varley will be bringing his latest tour to The Joiners, Southampton. Varley’s latest album, Postcards from Ursa Minor includes both political insight and comedy.
From busking on the streets of London to supporting Frank Turner, and being the co-founder of Smugglers record label, this is an upcoming star. One I was lucky enough to chat to leading up to his tour.
So Will, you are currently on tour for your third album Postcards from Ursa Minor, which was released a few months ago, how has the response to the album been so far?
Yeah it’s been good, people seem to have enjoyed it. In terms of production this probably the best of the three and people are really enjoying it. I released it with Xtra Mile recordings so it was the first time I had put an album out with a record label which has been an interesting process.
Quite a few of the songs have a political content. Do you do this as self expression of your own opinions or as a way to promote an idea or at least to make your audience question politics?
Its definitely not about an ulterior motive, I just like to write songs about however I’m feeling at the time, whatever’s in my head I write a song about it. The political stuff is usually because I am worrying about something. I write songs for quite selfish reasons, I don’t kind of set out with an idea or plan that this is going to do this and change the world. Having said that, if I write a song and it sparks an idea in someone’s head and gets cogs moving then that’s a great thing.
Because of the political content do you think it is important to include comedy in your shows?
I guess yeah. The thing is I started from the open mic scene for years and years doing lots of shows to quite rowdy crowds sometimes, and what I found is if your trying to get an idea across (say for example, ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ which has a very serious concept behind that about immigration and a young man who lost his life), when you have that song you need something to go with it, you need some light to go with the dark so the comedy to me kind of adds this, a breather, a moment to rest after something intense.
I read that you started out busking in London with a fake ID and have now gone onto success of sell out shows and touring with Frank Turner. Do you have any advice for other artists starting out?
Just do it yourself. I wasted a lot of time waiting around for someone to come along and kind of hold my hand and show me how to do everything, you know a guy with a cigar and top hat going ‘I’m going to make you a star’. The point is you can wait around for things like that all your life, but the real experience and best way to do it for lots of reasons is to beg, borrow, steal any way to make some records and get out there and then by doing that you start to meet really interesting people and one thing will lead to another.
You have also published your own novel Sketch of a Last Day which was a Kindle best seller for Political Fiction. Do you have any more plans to continue writing?
Yes. I’d love to, yes absolutely. I’m writing on tour at the moment so yeah definitely do more books. They take a little longer than albums though!
Getting back to the tour (which has already sold out in Southampton), what’s life like on tour?
Life on tour is great, I mean it’s strange. Its quite repetitive, you have to get used to this sense of groundhog day and you have to learn to pace yourself. You can’t just go out on the first night and get completely trashed and lose your voice because then you can’t play the rest of the tour. And you have to get used to things in a way out of your control, because you have to be at certain places at certain times. You have to spend most of the day travelling and you can’t just say ‘today actually I’m going to go to the zoo’ because you’ll miss everything and it would be terrible. But it’s definitely good fun.
For your other albums you did a walking tour. Following the release of As The Crow Flies you walked 500 miles along England’s south coast, what made you want to do that?
So I was on a bus going to York and looking out the window looking at all the houses and trees and what not, and just thought theses days with all the modern transport that we miss everything, we pass everything by, we miss out on all the stories and characters as we are passing. So I thought it would be really interesting to travel somewhere and actually walk and just kind of meet everyone in between, so that was kind of the original concept and in doing so realised that this is the way artists and songwriters would have travelled for many years before the invention of cars and what not. You start to find more for your stories and songs. There’s only so many songs you can write about being inside a tour bus and backstage.
Your tour is coming to Southampton on the 4th of March, can you describe your performance in three words, what can people expect?
Disheveled, tipsy, folk.
Purchase Postcards From Ursa Minor here: