Interview: Donnie Willow

On their debut mini-album ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ Glasgow trio Donnie Willow display a fierce cocktail of angular alternative rock. Formed in 2009, a hat-trick of EPs saw the three-piece (Arthur Piddington, Sam Peppiette and Peter Bunting) develop a brand of intriguing yet melodic and technical style that takes in elements of math and post-hardcore. Songs like ‘Jagged Teeth’ and ‘I Eat Flies’ pinpoint their sound; rigged guitars, loose screams, and smooth harmonies with an underlying fuzz. Having collaborated with producer Bruce Rintoul (Twin Atlantic, Fatherson) on ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ Donnie Willow clearly have a pallet of impactful songs in their arsenal.

We recently grabbed a few words with vocalist/guitarist Arthur Piddington where we discussed the bands history leading up to ‘Inhale. Exhale.’, working with Bruce Rintoul, the Scottish rock scene and that inevitable Biffy Clyro comparison.

AH: You released your debut mini-album ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ just a few days ago. What is the overall mood in the band now it’s out in the open?

Arthur: A huge amount of relief! We have had the record finished for almost a whole year and we have been playing some of these tracks for just as long, if not longer. So it’s really uplifting to have so many people say that they love being able to listen to the songs whenever they want.

AH:So ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ is your debut mini-album and follows three EPs. For those who are just discovering Donnie Willow, can you bring us up to speed on the history of the band?
Arthur: Sure! So us three guys formed this band whilst we were at school together. Because we were so young and didn’t really know what we were doing, we decided to focus on what we knew we could do – write a lot. So we recorded a bunch of tracks whenever we had enough pocket money saved up and then repeated the process. In hindsight, we see anything before the Self-Titled EP (2013) as a learning and building-up-experience period. This release sees Donnie Willow as they are supposed to be seen and heard.

AH:From hearing ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ there is a mix of styles, textures and dynamics. How would you sum up the band’s sound to new comers?

Arthur: This has always been a tricky one since we try to make each song unique. If you like alt, rock, math and anger with a bit of pop mixed into one funky shaped pot, then we might be your kind of brew! Our seven years of writing together has allowed us to have a good mix of styles whilst keeping it sounding like one band. I recommend new comers to check out ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ and let us know how they’d describe us.

AH: How has the band developed over the course of the three EPs and now the mini-album? Do you consider each release a stepping stone?

Arthur: Definitely. I think being in a band requires you to constantly be learning about how it all works. From song writing to producing to managing, each release has taught us valuable lessons. That’s why we wanted to go through the motions whilst we were younger; to be able to know what to do when the time came to go guns blazing. I feel DW now sound rawer and more professional in comparison to our previous releases.

AH: ‘Inhale. Exhale.’ sees you working with Bruce Rintoul who has hand in develop bands such as Twin Atlantic and Fatherson. What difference did his influence have on the mini-album?

Arthur: Bruce is the man. We first worked together for the Self-Titled EP, and since then, he has continuously taught us so much about the processes of recording and producing. We love his recording style and feel that he really makes each track stand on it’s own. So when we decided to record and release ‘Inhale. Exhale.’, working with Bruce was a no-brainer. He works really hard. What more could you ask for!

AH: As cliché as it is, we have to ask about the Scottish rock scene. Why do you think you guys North of the border keep producing brilliant bands?

Arthur: To respond with a cliché, I’d say that since its raining most of the time, there’s nothing better to do! But in all honesty, I believe it is due to the music scene. Glasgow has such a passionate scene and I believe there are a lot of brilliant bands simply because everybody encourages and supports each other!

AH: We’re familiar with the established names Scotland has produced but who should we be on the look out for in the coming months?
Arthur: There are tons of great unsigned Scottish acts who deserve a lot of attention. Our friends in Toy Mountains, Bronston and Vasa are three bands you should definitely keep an eye on. And Donnie Willow!

AH: One Scottish band that I have seen you be compared with is Biffy Clyro. What do you make of the comparison? Is it too obvious and expected?

Arthur: You can’t escape it! Although it is a fair comparison, I also feel it is a bit lazy. We like how the comparisons are to pre-‘Puzzle’ albums, but I would be interested in reading a review that compares us with bands such as Tubelord, Reuben or Glassjaw!

AH: So with now out, what’s next for Donnie Willow? Touring? A possible full-length?
Arthur: Yes. Lots and lots of tours. We have a few exciting things planned as well as a ton of new tracks that we are dying to let people hear! And of course, we are 100% going to have a full-length album come out. Even if it means clawing change out of the couch again!

‘Inhale. Exhale.’ by Donnie Willow is out now.

Donnie Willow links: Website|Facebook|Bandcamp

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)

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