We caught up with rising singer-songwriter Will Varley ahead of his upcoming UK tour to chat about what will be his biggest headline shows so far, his new album and what he remembers about playing in York many years ago…
Hey Will! You’re kicking 2018 off with your biggest UK headline tour to date. Excited?
Absolutely. I’ve been touring the UK for about a decade and most of that time I was playing to nobody, so the idea that people are buying tickets is still amazing to me.
Do you have any surprises in store for the tour? We can only assume you’ll be celebrating these bigger shows with plenty of pyro and theatrics…
If I told you then they wouldn’t be surprises anymore. So no. No surprises. At all. None.
The tour concludes with a show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, which holds 2000 people, which is quite a way to end a tour! Other than the fact that there will be a lot more people there, how do you think that show will differ from the rest?
After doing this for a few years, I’ve got into the habit of singling out particular moments to take stock and look back, and possibly forwards a little. That night will definitely be one of those moments. Many years ago I used to play at an open mic night at a bar called The Ginglick on Shepherds Bush Green and I used to walk past The Empire on the way there. It’s still sort of unfathomable to me that I am headlining there in a couple of months…
You’ve also got a new record coming out to coincide with the gigs. What can we expect from that?
I recorded the new album with a band so that’s already a slightly different direction to records I’ve made in the past. I have a tendency to fill my records with a huge sense of despair. I really wanted this album to have hope in it. The world is a scary place at the moment and I was trying to find some sense of reassurance while I was writing the new songs.
You look to have a pretty hectic schedule for the first half of 2018. What else will we be seeing from you throughout the year?
Truthfully I don’t know. Hopefully festival season will be busy and I’d like to do some more tours in the later half of 2018. As it is though, there’s a lot to be getting on with between now and the Spring so I’m concentrating on that…
We’re based in York where you’ve played a couple of smaller shows quite a few years ago. Do you have any specific memories of playing here?
Most of my memories from York involve Mark Wynn. He’s one of the best songwriters I ever crossed paths with. The nights sort of blur together from those early days, that’s part of the fun of it I suppose.
There is so much undiscovered talent in the UK, and given the amount of time you’ve spent on the road playing in relatively small venues, you must have seen a fair bit of it. Who should we be checking out?
Both the supports on the UK tour are exceptional- Ida May and Sean McGowan. So that’s a start. I’d also google Mimi O’Halloran, Cocos Lovers, The Hellfire Orchestra and Jade Bird. All great. It’s not hard to find new music, most people have a pub at the end of the road, most of those pubs have bands on at least once a week. That’s how you find music- as they say “stick around you’ll see diamonds…”
Hollywood calls, they’re making “Will Varley: The Movie” and you’re in charge of casting. Who plays you?
My cat Livingston.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Come to my gig at Shepherds Bush Empire on May 9th. Other than that, I don’t know. World feels scary at the moment, but I have a feeling it’s not that scary. Sun seems to keep rising, ocean still vast… etc. etc.