Will Crewdson – interview
Tantalizing London based, masterful guitarist/writer/producer Will Crewdson is musically involved to the max. He has toured with the band, ‘Rachel Stamp, worked with US singer, Johnette Napolitano, played guitar for Bow Wow Wow, MALCOLM McLaren, Tom Jones and Bryan Ferry, and the list continues.
Will Crewdson has played support for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and Peter Murphy with long term collaborator LIVAN. He also helped organize a tribute to the late Adam and the Ants guitarist, Matthew Ashman, where he played guitar with Bow Wow Wow, Paul Cook, from the Sex Pistols, and Billy Morrison on vocals.
Will Crewdson is a member of The Selecter and the electro -pop duo She Made Me Do It with Shaheena Dax from Rachel Stamp. He has also released four solo albums identifying as Scant Regard, playing instrumental electronic guitar driven music, influenced by punk, techno, dub, rock n roll and spaghetti western soundtracks.
Sporting a mysteriously compelling sexified look, Will is currently touring as lead guitarist for Adam Ant’s Anthems Tour, which headlined at the Royal Albert Hall. He also completed the iconic Dirk tour, and more recently Adam Ants completely sold out UK and North American, Kings of the Wild Frontier Tour.
I spoke with Will in depth regarding all of his vast array of musical magic. Considered one of the best guitarists of current times Will continues his projects and talks about his inspirations, and experiences. His powerful, explosively energetic sonic ability is consistently, bewitchingly magical.
Louder Than War: You are involved with a slew of projects, The Selecter, Rachel Stamp, Scant Regard, She Made Me Do It, and of course Adam Ant. How do you juggle all of these involvements?
“It kind of slots its place most of the time. Obviously with my own stuff, I can decide whether I’m going to do it or not so I work it around the other stuff, like the Adam stuff or The Selecter. It just kind of works itself out. You have to sort of prioritize some things, but most of the time luckily so far, I’ve managed to keep my stuff going, and done the other stuff as well.”
Louder Than War: You’re very busy.
“Yeah, especially this year. It’s pretty much till the end of the year now. It’s good though, I like to be busy. I like playing live, it’s my favorite part of music, really.”
Louder Than War: Why is that? What do you like about playing live so much?
“Well I love traveling, and I love the instant kind of action you get. I enjoy recording as well, but it’s a bit more laborious, it takes longer to get feedback really. I just really enjoy it.”
Louder Than War: It’s got to take its toll, all that touring?
“The touring, yeah it can, but as long as you keep going, at the end when you stop, that’s when you get tired, when you have a couple of days off. But if you normally keep the momentum going, and you try and look after yourself, it’s fine.”
Louder Than War: Many people consider you one of the best guitarists of our time, especially in the US, how do you feel about that?
“Really? I’m very flattered – thats what I do. When somebody thinks you’re the best at what you do, that’s quite amazing to hear. I have toured the US a few times, but I guess this was the highest profile, this last tour. I suppose a few more people noticed the band . It’s very flattering to hear. I do an individual style of guitar playing. It’s quite hard to say whether anyone is the best at something because everyone has their own individual style. Some people don’t like an individual style, and other people do. I guess that’s great to hear.”
Louder Than War: I want to talk about “She Made Me Do It” because I love that music. Do you tour with it?
“Yeah, we’d love to, but it is just getting the right time, the right circumstances, really for doing that. We do have time to do it but it would have to be worth it. We’ve played in a few different places. We’ve played in Spain, so yeah we’re up for touring, it’s just whether it fits in with our schedule, and whether it’s worth it really. We’d love to support a band. That’s probably the way we’d get our music heard, probably a bit quicker than headlining. We have one gig supporting my other band, Rachel Stamp, so there’s double duties that night. So that’s a good one, and there will be a lot of people there.”
Louder Than War: Rachel Stamp is kind of popular.
“We’d been going initially for about 10 years, in the 90s and 2000’s. Since then we’ve had a few different reunion gigs over the years since in the last 10 years I guess. And yeah, we’ve got one coming up. It seems to be more people interested in this than they were even 10 years ago so, we can see how it goes, but we are really busy with other stuff. We’ve been offered other gigs, but we’ll see what happens.”
Louder Than War: You’re all over the place in a good way, do you feel that you’ve made it in the music industry, that you’re here to stay, that everyone knows you…are you there yet?
“I’m not sure because there have been so many varying kind of degrees of success over the years. We did really well at our own speed. We got our own following in two venues in London and we weren’t even signed yet. I’m really proud of that. That felt like a pinnacle of success, but yet then something else happens and you end up playing Brixton with Adam. It’s just varying degrees and I try not to really focus on that because it could go either way. One week I’ll be playing my own solo stuff and the next week I might be playing Brixton. I think as long as you feel that you’ve put in a good performance, and put across what you do, I think you have to feel successful within yourself. It’s sounds a bit corny. I think more people are aware of me now with the nature of promotion, with the internet and all.”
Louder Than War: Do you have an opinion as far as how music has changed even in the last 10 years ago?
“I tend to listen to bands from quite a long time ago still. I think you kind of focus on the first band you’re aware of. So even like 10 years ago if I like a band from that period, they still seem quite new to me. I don’t know if I’ve gotten more out of touch, or if things are getting more diluted in general, but it’s harder to find quality music. It’s quite apparent to me that there is something lacking. There needs to be some kind of focus. I still find that I like recent things, but over the last 10 years it’s kind of everything’s excelerated, isn’t it, with technology? I wouldn’t say it got worse, but its harder. It’s definitely harder to find stuff that inspires you.”
Louder Than War: Can you tell me the exact experience that actually changed the trajectory of your life?
“Probably when I did join Rachel Stamp. It did change my life. I left my job, I just went on tour. Things have kind of led on from that. I wouldn’t have met Adam if I hadn’t done that. He was actually into the band. That’s a big part part my life now, what I do with him. I did quite high profile session things after Rachel Stamp.”
Louder Than War: You have supported a lot of really great bands with Rachel Stamp, did you have a favorite performance, one that stands out in your mind? You can include any band you’ve ever played in.
“As I said before, we did a really big gig in London in the year 2000, at the Astoria, which is actually not there anymore. It was a big club. That felt like a real achievement, and I remember it was a really good gig. Everything went right. When you play your home town you build it up in your head. I do remember that being a good one. The first time I played the Brixton Academy, it was with Iggy Pop. That was pretty amazing as well.”
Louder Than War: I could just imagine!
“I would say the first time you do something like that you realize that everyone is there to see you, to hear you. That leaves a lasting impression.”
Louder Than War: Will, you write and produce, and do it all don’t you?
“I try to, yeah.”
Louder Than War: How long have you been playing guitar?
“Well I started when I was 9 years old. That’s a long time. I had piano lessons when I was about 7, and then I decided that I’d rather play the guitar. I had classical training and I did end up going to “The Royal Academy of Music”. As a teenager I did a course there for a few years, but I was never really into classical music. I just thought in the back of my head it was a good basis for any other music I wanted to do. I always wanted to be in a band. Seeing that, I stopped doing the classical stuff, I did join a band.”
Louder Than War: If I were to speak to you on only one of your projects, which would you have chosen to talk about?
“I guess it would be my solo stuff, my Scant Regard stuff. I speak for myself, and I do it all myself. It would be the most honest thing I could do because there’s no one else involved. There’s been different people over the years that have been doing it, but it’s always been mine. My sole project. I guess I’d have to say that really.”
Louder Than War: How is your personality relented in your work? Everyone thinks that you are kind of shy, but your music isn’t shy.
“I guess there’s something to be said for using your artistic expression as a front…it’s not that I’m putting on an act, it’s all about extending your personality to something that you would never normally say if you were speaking socially. Also if you’re in a certain mood and something upsets your life, something personal maybe, it definitely puts your emotions into a gig or a recording session, or something like that. Maybe that’s the reason that I enjoy playing live so much, because it is something like a front, so maybe there is some kind shyness. I’m definitely not as shy as I use to be. When we started Rachel Stamp I use to not even go out and speak to people after the gig. These days I do feel a bit more sociable. But I think that people still see me like this.”
Louder Than War: You’re kind of mysterious.
“You have to have a bit of mystery, I guess.”
Louder Than War: Tell me about someone you envy.
“Nothing springs to mind. I kind if envy bands that went to school together, kind of grew up together, stayed together well for years. You see bands like Depeche Mode, or U2 that’s been together for decades. I think I’ve always envied that because I don’t think I was ever in a position, certainly not when I was in school, to form a band. I always thought that, that would be the ultimate thing. Obviously that’s not going to be possible at this stage of my career.”
Louder Than War: Musically, would you rather be liked or respected?
“I guess respected, it just sounds a bit more serious.”
Louder Than War: What would you like to promote for yourself?
“Well the latest release from She Made Me Do It, The Frantic Legion, that’s in the shops now. It’s a good mixture, I’m very happy with it. I do love electronic music, but I love playing the guitar as well, it’s a nice cross-over the programmed side and the rock side.”
Louder Than War: It definitely has a unique sound all its own. Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
“Well as long as I’m playing live and traveling, I’ll be happy. As long as there’s a bus or hotel room to go along with it, I’ll be happy. I’m going to keep leaning forward I guess. I can’t really think of anyone I’d rather work with than the people I’m working with at this point. It’s not like I have a hankering to join Sting’s band just because it’s a big thing. I’m just kind of happy working with the people I’m working with and I hope they are happy with me.”
Louder Than War: What music influenced you while you were growing up?
“Adam and the Ants was the first band I ever saw. I can’t even think about that pretty much. It’s quite insane that I’m doing stuff with him now. So there was that and then later on there was Depeche Mode, and then more electronic stuff like Cabaret Voltaire. Then in the 90’s it was a bit more industrial. When we formed Rachel Stamp there was a big glam influence. That went back to the T-Rex, Bowie type sound. As I said I do listen to a lot of electronic music now, this band called Factory Floor, I love. I think that they are one of the best electronic bands around. The Glam Skanks are amazing of course. They are so rocking it. I do listen to a lot of electronic music, but then I see a band like that, and this is what it’s about, it’s rock’n roll.”
Louder Than War: I asked Adam this question, he had a wonderful answer, and I’m going to ask you, if you could have your ultimate stage fantasy, what would you want to happen?
“I think I’d like to somehow gradually morph into some kind of animated character and then maybe go back to being human again. If that was possible. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be possible these days.”
Louder Than War: Any last words?
“Just follow the stars. Follow your dreams, that’s what I always say.”
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.