After extensive touring of the UK, singer-songwriter Will Varley looks back onto 2015, and forward to 2016…
To say that Will Varley has had a busy year is somewhat of an understatement. He spent the summer supporting The Proclaimers, released his third album ‘Postcards from Ursa Minor’, and was invited on tour with Frank Turner, who described him as “One of the best singer-songwriters in the UK”’.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time the whole singer-song writing thing so it’s been amazing to see some solid progress and playing to so many people. “ – Will Varley
Relaxing in his hometown of Kent, however, Varley says he’s found time out of busy schedule to relax a little. ‘I still spend a huge amount of time watching day-time TV” he says “So I’m not that busy”. Modest reflection of his spare time aside, he reveals a new-found hunger as 2016 greets an exciting new year with a sell-out tour due to hit Europe.
Reflecting on his experiences he takes the time to thank fellow Londoner Frank Turner: “He’s an amazing human being. He’s inspirational. It’s been a real learning experience seeing how things work on a bigger scale. Things like tour busses that I’d never seen before. So it’s been great, more of it I’d like”
Considering an intense 2015 Varley has had, his career has taken a somewhat of a skyrocketed jump. 2014 saw the London folk singer-songwriter walk 500 miles along the south coast, playing at a total of 24 shows along the way. Describing the origins of ‘the Rambling tour’, Will reminisces looking out of a coach window and realising a large portion of land he often left unvisited. “I wanted to travel somewhere and actually see everything in between, meet some of the people, drink at some of the pubs that we just whizzed past. I just wanted go back to the real buzz of the job I do. “
Fast forward a year, and Varley finds himself standing in the wings of a 6,000 strong attendance of London’s Alexandra Palace, bringing Frank Turner’s final night of his sold out tour to an end. “It’s pretty daunting standing in the wings just before I go on, it was a bit much.” With a slight chuckle remembering the show, he confesses having to remind himself it “it’s just another gig, I’m playing to 12 people.”
Frank Turner (and the Sleeping Souls), Skinny Lister and Will Varley will venture across the United States as well as Europe throughout the front end of 2016. Looking back fondly of his time across the south of England, Will expresses an intention to perform a sequel to the Rambling Tour, but across America. However, he admits that he would have to forget the physical demands of the touring. Revealing further intentions, the 27-year old says he would like to follow in the footsteps of Turner and Skinny Lister in being accompanied by a band.
“I am very aware that it is just me up there, but it’s the way I’ve always done it. I’d like to do a band at some point, just for the hell of it. It’s definitely a challenge but it’s good to shake things up, and not get too comfortable. Living on the edge of chaos. I think it’s important“.
On the 30th October 2015, Tristan Ivemy and Frank Arkwright produced and mastered, at Abbey Road, Will Varley’s third album. Described as a “gem of a record” by the Independent, ‘Postcards From Ursa Minor’ is a master-class that pushes the boundaries of the ‘one man and his guitar’ format. From rowdy drinking songs and chaotic arrangements, the album explores a range of subjects with a sprinkling of Varley’s trademark wry humour.
A conventional method of writing albums is to attempt to portray an essence or a message to the listener. However, Will expresses that there is in fact no essence or message, as he never actually intended to write an album. “I just write songs and when I’ve got enough I make an album. There’s no singular theme or anything”. Regardless of this, he confesses an accidental message of ‘time and the way it passes” plus “space and our relationship with the world’.
Performing at Manchester’s Academy, Frank Turner united the crowd against the recent terror attacks in Paris (for a full review of the performance click here, after this piece obviously!). Will Varley’s tracks have been known to discover political topics, often through the use of his trademark comedic style. When asked if terrorism is a subject that he may look towards, Varley says he may contemplate the idea, but it’s not his intention at this moment in time.
“The thing is with me I never sit there and go, right today I’m going to write a political song. If I’m worried about something or something’s stuck in my mind then I’ll write a song about it. But I can’t really control it. So maybe I’ll write something about this ISIS thing, I dunno. Who knows? Maybe…”
Bringing our conversation to an end, I asked Will for three words to describe a standard trademark performance of his. To which he replies with a cheeky chuckle:
“Awkward. Tipsy. Disorganised.”