Singer/Songwriter Chris Wills to Release EP in August
New York City-based 22-year-old singer-songwriter Chris Wills is set to release he debut EP, This Place Ain't For Me, on August 11, 2017. Produced by Grammy-nominated engineer Koby Hass (who has produced or engineered for Matt McAndrew, Mali Music and Lupe Fiasco's Lasers, Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul Simon, and Lady Gaga), This Place Ain't For Me packs a lifetime's worth of experiences into six songs.
Three of the tracks will be released as singles in advance of the EP. "Nowhere To Go" streets on May 12th, the title track, "This Place Ain't For Me," hits June 9th, and "Since You Said Goodbye" will come out July 14th. Great songwriting is at the core of who Chris Wills is. As he explains, in the lyrics for "Since You Said Goodbye," he attempts to express the sense of longing and desperation found in, say, Roy Orbison gems like "Only the Lonely," "Crying" and "I'm Hurtin'." Sonically, the song channels the feel of some great Irish acts like The Waterboys, Hothouse Flowers, and Glen Hansard of Once fame.
Wills, a New Jersey native, struck gold when his song and accompanying short film, "Please Don't Turn Out My Light," was selected as the winner of the Refreshing Films Program run by Coca-Cola and Regal Cinemas - the clip was shown nationwide in Regal Theaters for three months (October to December) in 2016. Coke/Regal got a number of different treatments, picked three finalists, and gave each of the three teams $15,000 to make an ad. Wills' ad - created with the help of a director - was selected as the winner from among the finalists. The ad has no dialogue so his song was used to portray the dynamics between the two main characters in the clip.
Lest one assume that Wills' road to the release of his six-song statement was without proverbial potholes and detours, he'll be the first to admit that, although he chose his path to pursue music at the tender age of 13, the ride so far has been less than smooth. He was once a potential poster boy for the "troubled teen saved by rock and roll" scenario. He went to court three times when he was a minor for bad behavior. "I had a real problem with authority or people telling me what to do," Wills recalls. "I had to do a lot of community service, and my parents didn't let me leave the property for an entire summer." His time spent at home that summer was the catalyst for his future: "I got really into the guitar, and I truly believe that music set me on the right path."
Wills played guitar and sang in a litany of rock and blues bands. At the ripe old age of 19, Wills made the astonishingly bold and equally mature musician's decision to abandon the band life and set off as a solo artist when he found his bandmates weren't as focused and dedicated as he was. "I'm pretty Type A and really determined," Wills explains. "If I make a commitment to something, I'm all for it - just sign me up, till death, whatever!" He told himself, "All I wanna do is play music, so I'll just do it myself."
Wills cites as influences both relatively current artists and classic acts alike, including John Prine, Butch Walker, The Band, Ray Charles, Dan Wilson, and Gary Clark Jr. With that kind of wide spectrum of keystone artists as musical and lyrical guideposts, he notes that the common thread he sees running through each of these impactful artists "is just them being themselves. They just let themselves be who they are, and then the songwriting's always great."
Passion, persistence, patience and professionalism all seem necessary characteristics any artist needs to have in abundance to succeed in the increasingly tough task of succeeding in the music business. "I've been writing songs since I first picked up the guitar when I was 11 or 12, and I don't think that'll ever go away," says Wills. "That's what gives me the energy to get through my day. In my head, I'm committed to doing this. My main goal is to grow, learn, and develop as a human being and make great music that reflects that."
Wills plans to tour in support of the EP. Tour dates will be announced soon.