The Will Overman Band is set to take over the stage at The Southern on Friday, March 27. The Cville Niche recently caught up with the four band members to chat about their music, their variety of influences, and a few of their Charlottesville favorites.
Tell us a little about yourselves. Where are you from?
Will Overman (lead vocals and guitar): Before I moved to Charlottesville about a year and a half ago, I called the golden shores of Virginia Beach my home.
Brittney Wagner (vocals): I’m from Crozet, Virginia.
Christopher Helms (drums and percussion): I grew up in Amherst County at Sweet Briar College, but spent many weekends and summers on our family farm in Roseland, Virginia. I currently reside in Amherst County, and when I’m not drumming, I’m either busy in my metal fabrication and welding shop or tuning up Big Red (the W.O.B. tour bus).
Daniel McCarthy (lead guitar, banjo, keys): I was raised in a military family, so I’m from many places. I’ve been in the Charlottesville area since 1994.
What are some of your favorite local spots: to catch live music? to grab a drink? to eat?
Daniel: I love seeing music at The Jefferson and The Southern. Those venues tend to lend themselves to more intimate performances while still being able to attract national acts.
Will: My go-to watering hole is The Livery Stable. I really dig the darker, intimate setting—it’s not too noisy so I can have a conversation, but there’s enough clanking and clacking to makes me feel like I’m in an Irish pub. But if I’m feeling really ambitious or if the leaves are popping, I’ll head out to Blue Mountain in Afton.
Daniel: I don’t have any particular favorite place to grab a drink but if I do overindulge, you can most likely find me at Bodo’s Bagels the next morning/very late afternoon.
Will: Deciding on a favorite place to eat in Charlottesville is like having to pick the best song on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors; they’re all amazing. But, I do find myself frequenting The Local quite a bit. And of course, Bodo’s is the bee’s knees. I never change my order: two everything bagels, one with olive cream cheese spread and one with egg, melted cheese, and sausage. Viola.
What local musician(s) you are most excited about?
Will: Lester Seal recently opened for us down in Roanoke and prior to the show I hadn’t had the pleasure of hearing him. All I’ve got to say is, dude’s got a sexy voice. Another killer voice is that of Erin Lunsford of Erin and the Wildfire. I really enjoy listening to those guys. But shoot, there’s so much talent in this town, I’m excited about it all.
Brittney: Grandaddy’s Gravy, Erin and the Wildfire. Lester Seal has great new originals.
Daniel: I recently heard Lester Seal for the first time when he opened up for us a few weeks ago. He’s an awesome songwriter, has an incredible voice, and great stage presence so I’m excited to see where his music takes him.
[Editor’s Note: Catch a Lester Seal set ASAP.]
Aside from Will Overman Band, what local music projects are you/have you been involved in?
Brittney: I’m involved with Family Jam at Rapture with Lester Seal and friends. I also sing some funk with 5th and Dice, a little side project that we’re hoping to gig eventually! I’m always writing my own music and performing open mics, too.
Daniel: I’m fortunate to be involved in a few musical projects around town. Aside from W.O.B, I play guitar and write for a funk band called 5th and Dice, and play banjo, sing harmony, and write for an eccentric Americana/bluegrass group called Julius Hangman.
Will: Will Overman Band is my baby, hence the name, but I delve into solo stuff as well. [I like to] experiment with different approaches of sharing my work.
When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?
Christopher: I started playing at age 8. Drums and congas!
Brittney: I started singing before I started talking and have always had a passion for it. I learned guitar when I was 19 by watching tutorials on YouTube. That’s when I started writing my own songs and pursuing ways to share my music and voice.
Will: I can’t remember when I started singing, which is a good thing; that means it’s always been there. I was blessed to have music-loving parents who passed that love on to me. Music has always affected me like nothing else, so I wanted to emulate that feeling and share it with as many people as I could. Music is about connecting. So I first picked up the cello, then moved on to the mandolin, and now I primarily sing and play guitar.
Daniel: I’ve been playing guitar for about 19 years now and started mainly because my older brother started playing. I would love to have an inspirational event that sparked my motivation to play, but it’s really because I was/am an obnoxious younger brother. I studied music in college and can play guitar, bass, ukulele, piano, drums, accordion, mandolin, ukulele, melodica, and am attempting to learn violin as long as my neighbors don’t evict me.
Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?
Daniel: I grew up listening to a lot of grunge music, like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc. In college, I studied classical and jazz guitar, but these days I’ve been listening to a lot of Americana and bluegrass music.
Will: I’m not gonna lie, I was a huge Backstreet Boys fan when I was little. But then I heard The Beatles. I listed to “Hey Jude” on repeat for hours and after that, everything changed. I starting searching for more and more, trying to sequester this hunger I had for “good” music, and it led me to the band I grew up on: The Avett Brothers. My teenage anthem was “Laundry Room.” As for right now, I’m listening to everything. There’s SO much good music out there and I’m loving it. I went for a drive today and ended up listening to everything from Percy Sledge to Yeasayer to Emmylou [Harris]. I’m all over the place.
Brittney: Stevie Nicks; Christina Aguilera, of course; Janis Joplin; Jimi Hendrix; the Dixie Chicks—all huge influences from my youth that made me fall in love with music and taught me to use my voice as an instrument. Over the years, [I’ve also been influenced by] Susan Tedeschi, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Rachel Price of Lake Street Dive, Corinne Bailey Rae, Etta James, Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt and Amy Winehouse, to name a few.
When did you write your first song? What was it about?
Brittney: Back in 2011 I wrote a song called “Let It Go.” Frozen ripped me off! Just kidding—you can listen to it on reverbnation, under the name Mike Berry.
Will: I wrote my first song around sophomore or junior year of high school, and it was terrible. I tried writing some corny heartbreak song, a subject that at 15 or so I knew nothing about. So naturally it was utter crap.
What influences your writing?
Will: My life. The songwriters I respect the most are the ones that I know are genuine. Songwriters are storytellers, and many storytellers become faceless because they forget to tell the most relevant story of all: their own. My favorite songwriters, the John Prines, Guy Clarks, and Bob Dylans of the world are able to tell story after story, and somehow keep them close to the heart. And the closer to the heart, the more I feel it. As a performer, the more I can make an audience feel, the better.
Brittney: My emotions, my dreams, my anxieties, my experiences.
What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions?
Brittney: Playing music with other people, performing it for people who enjoy it, travel, kindness of others, community.
Christopher: Music drives me on a daily basis!
Will: I want to feel wide open. So many artists speak of music’s ability to make them feel alive and I completely agree and aim for all areas of my life to give me the same rush. One can’t create good music if their life is blasé. I’m an avid hiker and I love the outdoors. After graduating high school, I took time off and thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. Ever since, my appetite for adventure and exploration has yet to cease. I try and apply that same ambition and desire to music. Creating music and taking it from town to town, it’s really one of the best adventures I could ever wish for.
Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?
Will: A little bit of both, but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. If I wasn’t nervous I’d be concerned something was wrong. I guess the best term is amped. I combine all of the feelings, jump up and down a bunch, and get amped.
Brittney: Depends on the gig but even when nervous, I’m always pumped!
Daniel: Before a show it’s usually a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I got great advice early on from some guys at music school. They said that at every gig you should give it your all no matter how many people you may think are listening. Remembering that advice helps me relax and get in the right mindset.
Christopher: More pumped up than nervous. The better the response [from the audience], the better the energy!
What does a day in the life of a modern-day songwriter look like from your perspective?
Brittney: Lots of daydreaming, lots of observation.
Will: I don’t think any two songwriters go about their craft the same way, but Brittney said it well: It’s a lot of daydreaming and observation. Everyone and everything has a story; putting that story into stanzas, verses, and choruses, that’s the hard part.
What do you want people to take from hearing your music and experiencing your live show?
Will: I want people to hear W.O.B., be that live or through their headphones, and hear honesty. I write with no inhibitions. I want people to hear us play and think, “Me too. I get what they’re saying.” As far as our live show, I hope people have the best time ever. I want people to walk away from our shows completely exhausted, spent from grooving, jumping, crying, and everything in between.
Brittney: I want my music to portray honesty and to be relatable. I want my fans to experience something real and memorable. I want my audience to feel refreshed and cleansed after singing along to my tunes.
What does the not-so-distant future hold for the band?
Brittney: We’re at The Southern with the Northerners and Lester seal on March 27, then at Cary Street Cafe in Richmond April 9. We’re touring this summer in Virginia’s surrounding states, playing Purple Fiddle—an awesome venue—in West Virginia on May 28.
Will: The grind, we’re always on the grind, and we love it. We’ve got a great summer tour lining up and we can’t wait to see how far our trusty old tour mobile, Big Red, will take us. Next fall we’re planning on releasing at least a single followed by something much bigger next year. More details to come on that!
What are you most excited about for your upcoming show at the Southern?
Daniel: I’ve seen so many great acts there and to know that I’ll be on the same stage as them is an absolute honor.
Brittney: Hearing Lester Seal and The Northerners perform. The Northerners always get me dancing.
Will: Shew, so much. I’m excited about every bit of it. I’m excited about hearing Lester Seal and The Northerners tear it up like they always do. I’m excited to share our music with Charlottesville at one of the best venues in town. And I’m just happy to be there, it’s gonna be a great night.