Album review: WILL LAWTON & WEASEL HOWLETT – Fossils Of The Mind


Supermarine Music [Release date 26.01.18]

Pianist Will Lawton and drummer Weasel Howlett have been working on this album since 2015 and it gets a release thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. On top of this they signed a deal with Supermarine Music which will allow their album even greater exposure, as in this modern music world of streams, downloads and playlists you can never have enough exposure.

A word first about the music, as aside from some bass and the odd bit of guitar, it is the piano and the stripped back drum kit of both Lawton and Howlett that really capture the listener’s attention. Be it the gentle swish on the cymbals on ‘Atlantic O’ or the blissful piano intro to ‘Panacea’, the music has a lot to offer as both musicians seek out new sounds and ideas from their respective instruments.

‘Atlantic O’ is an instant hit on the ears, with Will Lawton’s soothing vocals perfectly matching the musical ebbs and flows. He does have a hint of Peter Gabriel at times as can be heard on ‘Release’, another song that gels quickly after a couple of plays.

The instrumental ‘Hermit Crab’ allows Weasel Howlett  to try all manner of percussive ideas to create a short, but enjoyable piece. ‘Sleep’ adds a little organ into the mix, creating an almost hymnal quality to the music.

Like last year’s hugely enjoyable album by Blue Rose Code, Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett’s album is meant for headphones and total absorption, wonderful listening from start to finish. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

We asked Will a few questions about the album, working with Weasel Howlett, the Kickstarter camapign and more…

How did you and Weasel first meet and what drew you together musically?

I first met Weasel when he sessioned on the drums for my previous band The Home Fires.  A year or so later in 2015, I was working on some solo music and felt I need some energy punching into my music to bring my piano-based songs alive.  I called Weasel and we started jamming.  We both loved the free form and loose vibe that we created and have been rehearsing, performing and recording ever since.

The majority of the album musically is piano and stripped back drums/percussion. Did this limit any musical ideas you may have had or does it actually make you get more out of the music for each song?

We both love heavy metal and rock so not having a electric guitar does limit us in one respect.  However, we still get pretty heavy in our own way.  It is actually pretty liberating having only one other musician to consider.  The more musicians involved, the less the individual space.   When I write songs on the piano I hear vibrant energetic rhythms in the music.  Weasel seamlessly translates what I hear in my head into the music and this brings an exciting dynamic to my songwriting. 

For someone new to your music, in particular ‘Fossils Of The Mind’, how would you describe it?

Fossils of the Mind is a journey.  The music walks through many genres including acoustic folk, rock, indie and drum and bass.  Each song draws on personal experience and I try to write with honesty and soul and hope that this comes across in the music.  The songs have not been written simply for the listeners pleasure.   They exist because each song has something to say and the depth within the music means that it may take some time for a listener to fully appreciate and understand the album.  When we die, our bodies become bones and eventually disappear.  Songs are a way of preserving our thoughts and experiences; they are fossils of the mind.

You funded the album via Kickstarter. Did you think it would be as successful as it was and did this lead to you getting a record deal with Supermarine music?

No we didn’t think that Kickstarter would be as successful as it was.  I was very nervous about launching a Kickstarter campaign because if you don’t hit your target you get nothing and that could have been very demotivating.  Many of our friends and fans were badgering us about releasing an album on vinyl but I was unsure whether there really was a genuine appetite for records.  The fact we smashed through our target gave us a massive boost and the extra funds we raised covered the mastering and CD duplication in addition to the vinyl manufacture.  I think it helped attract Supermarine to us.  The fact that we were successfully getting on with things on our own meant that we were taking our music seriously and people believed in us and wanted to help.  We created a positive network around us and that is attractive to a record company.

How easy/hard is it for you and Weasel to get gigs? Is the live scene in a healthy state currently in the UK?

It is not easy at all.  I feel that venues and promoters do not know how to categorise us.  We thrive in indoor, seated venues that have a grand piano.  These venues are few and far between.  I am permanently contacting venues, festivals and promoters asking for gigs but rarely even get a response, let alone a paid gig.  It is pretty soul destroying, particularly when I know how powerful  and unique our live performance is.

I live in hope that we will break through and get to the point where these fantastic venues and established festivals want us to come and play sell-out shows but it is a huge slog to get there.  I think we need some more exposure with a tune or two to bring us to the attention of more people and to lift our profile.  Patience and persistence followed by more patience and persistence….

I don’t think the live scene is that healthy in the UK.  We are a pretty lazy nation on the whole, glued to our screens and flicking through music on our smart phones.  It is hard for venues to pay musicians what they deserve because the audience numbers are too small at the grass roots level.  This is just the way it is.  It’s hard.

What have been the live highlights for you to date and why?

Our ‘Fossils of the Mind’ album release gig was pretty amazing.  We sold out The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire.  The sound was awesome and I played the beautiful in-house grand piano.  Our set featured guest musicians that performed on the album.  It was a very special performance.  People travelled from all round the country to come and watch us play.  It felt very intimate and complete, marking the end of the first stage of our journey together.

Message for your fans…

Thank you so much for the support you have given us so far.  Please keep an eye out for live opportunities for us and share our music.  Most of our music can now be heard for free (well almost free) through Spoitfy and Apple Music etc but if you really want to help then buying physical music on CD or vinyl through our website means we actually generate an income to help us continue doing what we do.

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Power Plays w/c 5 March 2018

BAD LLAMA Crooked Empire (indie)
EDENTHORN Mind Like A Mindfield (indie)
KATALINA KICKS Waterfall (indie)
THE ROCKET DOLLS None Of This Is Right (indie)
BONFIRE Crazy Over You (SPV)
THE AMORETTES Everything I Learned I Learned From Rock N Roll (SPV)
MY INDIGO Crash And Burn (MVKA)

Featured Albums w/c 5 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Atomic Generation (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 BURN Ice Age (Melodic Rock Records)
14:00-16:00 BETH NIELSEN CHAPMAN Hearts Of Glass (Proper Music)

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