British singer / songwriter Sim Williams was born in 1988 in the south coast town of Portsmouth. After picking up a guitar around the age of 11, Williams went on to playing in various punk rock bands, which led to many international tours such as the Vans Warped Tour in 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2013. I got the chance to interview Sim a few days ago. Learn more about his solo project, as well as first full length record “Broken Bones” below!
Hello Sim, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions for Distrolution. Could you please introduce yourself, as well as your solo project to our readers? Hi Valentine, my name’s Sim Williams and I’m from a town called Portsmouth in the UK. I’ve been a solo artist since I released my first EP “Devil on Your Back” back in February of 2015 and have been hammering away at it ever since. I’ve recently released my first full length album, titled “Broken Bones” in December of 2017. The time spent between releases was mainly focused on playing shows / festivals & touring out of the country. Mainly the US. I have toured the states many times with my old band “The Exposed” and it has always been a special place for me both musically and personally, which I guess is why I now live in California.
I saw that you had the opportunity to play at the Vans Warped Tour in 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2013. How was this experience? I saw my favorite bands playing there since I was a teenager, and this must have been sick! It really was! We were given the opportunity by a friend of The Exposed, she was what you could call a warped tour veteran at the time, and she gave us the opportunity to be a part of the whole tour, on the condition that we would be working in catering and getting to play whenever we got the chance. We obviously jumped at the chance.
Warped Tour was a mecca for any young punk rock band, especially for us on the other side of the pond. So, we worked for catering, making meals and making friends with some of our favorite bands. We did that for two years before being offered to play the whole tour in 2011. We also returned in 2013 for a month which was to be our final tour. It was a great way for us to get our foot in the door, and I have made a lot of great friends because of it. Everyone involved with the recording of “Broken Bones” was someone I met on that tour, in some way or another.
You returned to California just six months after finishing your solo US tour to start recording your first full length record. How was the recording and writing process for “Broken Bones”? It was certainly challenging at times, but it was always fun. I recorded with my mate Jay Stolo at “Straitjacket Studios” in Fullerton, Orange County. It was something we have spoken about for many years, so I finally booked some dates and flew out. Some of the songs I’d had written a year or so before, but only as acoustic tracks. Putting the full band arrangement to them meant sending poor sounding, phone video recordings to actual, professional musicians and hoping for the best. I had my good friends from a punk rock band called True Rivals as my band for the record. Needless to say, if it wasn’t for Nate Walker, Derik Envy & Trevor Jackson, things would have been a lot tougher. They saved my arse and I’ll be forever grateful.
This record is indeed available since December 8th. Are you happy with the feedback you received so far, from both the media and your fans? Releasing anything new, especially as totally independent artist, is always somewhat daunting experience. But the feedback has been awesome, especially from the fans! I played my first full band show with the True Rivals guys on the 8th of December at the Casbah in San Diego, opening for Agent Orange. I took the opportunity to turn it into an album launch show. It felt good to play with a full band again, so I’ll definitely be doing more of that in the near future. It really helped with letting people know who I am and what I am about, which was what I needed at such a crucial time.
If you had to pick one track taken from this album, which one would you choose and why? Casanova Blues. It’s the opening track from the album and my favorite song from the record. I think I fell in love with it because it came out like NOTHING I was expecting! It was one of the songs that I had been knocking about with live for about a year. Just a solid tempo, harmonica driven acoustic punk rock song, nothing special really.
It was only when we started putting it all together in the studio where the magic happened. Before we knew it, we had turned it into an awesome punk rock tune. But somehow, without changing any of the structure. Although I was stoked on it, Jay was convinced it needed something. In his mind, he heard slide guitar. Although I didn’t personally hear it, I rolled with it. Jay called in a favor from a guy named Buddy who sings and plays guitar for a band called The Darlings. He came into the studio within the hour, and, without ever hearing the song, laid down some of the smoothest slide guitar I have ever heard.
As a solo artist, what is one lesson you’ve learned that you think is important to pass onto other bands / solo artists? Thank you for your time! Enjoy having full free reign on your art, it’s a beautiful feeling! Thank you, Distrolution.
Sim Williams – picture: Sean Baldwin
Sim Williams – Live picture @ Vans Warped Tour: Sterling Munksgard Photography