The Way Down Wanderers talk inspiration behind "Illusions"

The Way Down Wanderers showcase their true talent as musicians in their latest record, "Illusions"-- story-telling. The Americana-folk band takes their arrangements to the next level, weaving stories of the past, present and future between the tracks.

Photo by Keith Cotton.

Each song has a different element than the other, creating multiple dimensions on the record. From the harmonies in "Frozen Through" to the nostalgia the lyrics of "Old Ford" emotes, the band has stepped out of any boundaries the industry has created.

Each sound, lyric, beat, riff and progression was constructed with a purpose. The Way Down Wanderers have created a new synonym to what bluegrass music can be.

The band curated a playlist of songs that influenced "Illusions" and talked a little about why they chose the songs they did.

1.“Cecelia” - Simon & Garfunkel - We started by playing this song for acoustic encores at the end of shows. We would always try for the audience to recreate the clapping that goes on throughout the song. This definitely inspired the stomp and clap tracks on "Moonglow Carolina”.

2."Chaos and Clothes” - Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit-  As songwriters, Isbell is more than an inspiration. His story telling is something we aspire to have the likeness of in tracks "Old Ford" and "Crooked Pines".

3."Devil Like Me" - Rainbow Kitten Surprise - Something about RKS just makes you want to move no matter what. The vocal phrasing and the band grooving touches on pop with a sense of depth that is admirable. A definite inspiration for the track "All My Words".

4."The Trapeze Swinger" - Iron & Wine-  The melancholy progression of this song compels many memories and sparks contemplation. The looped percussion is another aspect we used in title track, “Illusions"

5."Ode to LRC" - Band of Horses - This tune is just a really solid rock song. It punches, yet it really draws you into it’s smooth, untroubled moments. Band of Horses are a huge part of why a song like "She’s Alright" sounds the way it does. 

6."Morning Song" - The Avett Brothers - The signature sound of these brothers harmonizing is undeniable. We try to take advantage of the opportunity to switch lead vocals and harmony roles between both lead singers, Austin and Collin, in songs like "Frozen Through" and "Principles of Salt".

7."Amazing Eyes” - Good Old War - We ran into Good Old War at a festival in Wyoming. Their three part harmonies had us blown away and instantly hooked.

8."Both Sides Now" - Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides Now" is one of the most beautifully written songs. The poetry combined with the heights of Joni’s melody line is so powerful. There is so much to be inspired by in this song. The string parts and harmonies on “Heartland" give us the feels in a similar way. 

9."Drum" - Hiss Golden Messenger - It’s folky. It makes you want to dance, sing, and come together. We love it. 

10."Slight Figure of Speech” - The Avett Brothers - This song takes in aspects of folk and rock in a way that we can really appreciate. The quickly spoken bridge is very reminiscent of early Way Down Wanderers, as well as parts of our song ”Lonesome".

11."The Return" - Trevor Hall - This tune phones in the groovy reggae syncopation you hear in "All My Words" and "Patient Pretender"The texture it brings is something new for us, but we really love the release it creates. 

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