Will Shaw has been been going strong for a decade now. From humble begennings at the beginning of Youtube's rise with covers done in his car and collaborations across the world to co-headlining festivals with Heir Apparent. Shaw has really made a great name for himself. For my 330th interview, I got the honor to be able to talk to Shaw about everything from his beginnings to some new music in the works. Hope you dig it!
That Drummer Guy- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those who may not be familiar, how did you first gain exposure?
Will Shaw- In 2007 I started posting videos on youtube of me singing songs in my car, Dream Theater, Maiden, Queensryche, that kinda stuff. Youtube musicians were much less of a "thing" back then, let alone guys singing that kind of stuff. It picked up a lot of exposure for equal parts "Hey this guy is kinda good" and "Hey this idiot is singing in his car let's troll him", at least from my perspective at the time, hah.
TDG- So what was it like for you to get that kind of exposure in the early days of YouTube?
WS- It was really overwhelming I think. I enjoyed the attention regardless of what kind it was. Being someone with a naturally high voice at the time kind of put me in what I felt like was a "Club", there were a couple of other guys out at the time and we all talked off and online, YouTube was much more community driven back then before smartphones and Facebook and everything was just clicking play on an external source/site. It was a very exciting "Thing" to come about, YouTube that is.
TDG- With this attention, you were able to start doing some YouTube collaborations. What have been some of your favorite collaborations so far?
WS_ Well of course the first big collaboration that got word around the street was my collaboration with Thiago Campos and the other members of "VRA!", we covered Dream Theater's "Metropolis Part 1" and to this day I think has something like close to 2,000,000 views, pretty unbelievable numbers for a cover. As far as my favorite collaboration, being able to do "Let it Go" from Disney's Frozen was a really fulfilling collaboration. I remember asking Andy (Cloudrunner) at the time if he would be interested in doing a more "Metal" version of the song, I've always been into that kinda stuff, musicals, Disney music, theater, etc. Andy dug the idea and the song ended up turning out great (In my opinion, of course)
TDG- In speaking of collaborations, you recently got to add your name to like of musicians to be a part of the Ayreon Universe with The Source. How did you first get involved with Ayreon and what were your role(s) a part of The Source?
WS- Ahh, a great story indeed!
In the earlier YouTube years Arjen messaged me on YouTube remarking on one of my covers I had up at the time, it was either "Dawn of a Million Souls" or "Eye of Ra", or both, my memory is shit and YouTube deleted all of the old community messaging elements so it's not sitting around somewhere. We maintained an online friendship over the years and of course, being a singer and all I was constantly knocking on his door. Fast forward to "The Theater Equation" in 2015, I had an opportunity to meet Arjen personally after his Sunday show at a meet and greet that was open to all fans. Leading up to meeting him, at some point in the day, the crazy idea of singing for him came into my mind. Once this happened I absolutely couldn't allow myself not to seize this moment, after all if there was ever a chance to convince Arjen to let me on a project this would surely be it. As soon as we met after acknowledging the fact that we finally had an opportunity to meet he blurted out "SING SOMETHING" So, of course, I sang the ending passage from "Dawn of a Million Souls" in front of Arjen Luccassen and maybe 100 or so strangers. I have very faint recollection of the whole experience due to the sheer mental anxiety I was experiencing but I guess history would show that it was very well received 6 months or so after that Arjen asked me if I would be interested in doing guide vocals for "The Source", he really wanted to push his powerhouse singers to their limits (In my case it would be Tommy Karevick and Russell Allen), after doing the guide vocals me and the other guide vocalists (A team of 4, Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, Lisette van den Berg and myself) received the news that Arjen had decided to write in a part for all of us, the chorus' heard in "Aquatic Race" and "Journey to Forever" a capella in the beginning and throughout.
AND, to make the story even more memorable, a fan of mine attending the Theater Equation was at that very meet and greet and snapped a photo mid performance! Capturing the moment perfectly!
*Picture shown at the bottom of the page*
TDG- What was it like for you hearing yourself among some of the best singers in Rock and Metal on the same album?
WS- You know, it never really sinks in. It's something that is still impossible for me to even realize. Being a part of an album with personnel I have been listening to my entire adult life, and even forming friendships with some of these people. It's one of those definitive "What my life was like before and what my life is like now" kind of moments where you crossed an invisible line at some point. And still feel like I'm going to wake up in my car 10 years ago or something, haha.
TDG- Outside of collaborations, you are also a member of Heir Apparent. For those not familiar, who is Heir Apparent and how did you join the band?
WS- Heir Apparent is a Seattle based metal band that had a couple records released in the 80's. "Graceful Inheritance" in 1986 and "One Small Voice" in 1989. Big cult following over in Europe. In early 2015 Terry Gorle, guitarist and one of the founding members had actually reached out to someone I worked with on a previous album for the job, Mike Gorham, after saying he couldn't do it he actually referred Terry to me. He checked out some of my stuff on YouTube and sent me a message. The deal was they had some 30th anniversary gigs coming up for the "Graceful Inheritance" record. I accepted the offer and spent the next 7 months preparing for "Play it Loud" (Italy), "Up the Hammers" (Greece) and "Keep it True" (Germany), we co-headlined with Fates Warning for their Awakening the Guardian live reunion with John Arch, they ended up releasing that show as a live album. It's been a wild ride them being from Seattle and me being from Philly. Nothing like 2500 miles separating you from a rehearsal ;)
TDG- What was it like to play those legendary fests?
WS- You know... As stated above... Nothing really can prepare you... I'll never forget the first time I burst onto the stage at Play It Loud to the lights and the fans and the fists... Singing songs I have rehearsed by myself before 100's of times suddenly hundreds of fans screaming the words back at you. Even looking back on the videos my brain can't make the connection that that was actually me. A totally surreal experience.
TDG- So what’s next to you for your musical endeavors?
WS- Well, there are a few exciting things on the horizon. First and foremost Heir Apparent is writing a new record, the first one in over 25 years... We are spending the time to make sure it is done right, we are really excited about it. The next thing, and this might just be the first place you'll hear about this officially is a brand new band "Pharaoh's Eve" that is an East Coast metal band featuring Mike Lepond on bass (Symphony X), Rod Rivera on guitars (Rivera/Bomma), Dan Prestup on drums (Midnight Eternal), Tony Stahl on keyboards (Livestay) and myself on vocals. We have an album written and will be entering the studio in July to get started tracking for the release.... All I can say is if you like the Dio era of metal mixed with some heavy and thrashy and even Flamenco (?!) styles, keep an ear out... As for me? I am available for session vocals and under very very specific circumstances for live performances... Of which I have one coming up June 18th in Teaneck NJ opening for Fates Warning with the NJ based heavy metal band "Legion", we hit the stage at 7pm and will be playing a 30 minute set of some pretty heavy stuff with super high vocals and all that jazz. Come out and support the scene so these guys can eat dinner and feed their families and all that.
TDG- Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk to me about your musical career so far. It's a great journey to hear about and I'm definitely looking forward to everything you have coming up, especially Pharaoh's Eve! Before we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
WS- I'll be at Ayreon Universe in September as a non performer. So if anyone sees me there, don't be shy. ;) Otherwise, I think that sounds like it just about covers everything! Thanks for having me.
Check out Will Shaw at:
YouTube - http://youtube.com/unflexablegrace
FaceBook - http://facebook.com/unflexablegrace
Soundcloud - http://soundcloud.com/willshawofficial
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/willshawmusic
Booking - firstname.lastname@example.org
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.