Originally published in Rave-Up #14 (1988)
Interview by Devorah Ostrov
Photo: Nels Israelson (from the LP Will and the Kill)
In case you don't know, 17-year-old Will Sexton is Charlie's little brother. There, that's out of the way. He's also gorgeous, smart, funny, charming, self-assured, and a helluva talented musician in his own right!
While lazing around his home in Austin, Texas, Will picked up the phone to chat about his debut album, Will and the Kill — produced by music legend Joe Ely and released on MCA Records. But first, I had some business to take care of for a certain ex-Go-Go.
Q: First of all, who is your favorite person with the initials K.V.?
WILL (after a very long pause): Kerry Von Erich?
Q: No! Not even close. You were supposed to say, "Kathy Valentine." I told her I was going to be talking to you today.
WILL: Yeah? We wrote a song together!
Q: "Restless to Reckless."
WILL: Yeah! If you tell her I said Kerry Von Erich, I'll kill you.
Q: So, who's Kerry Von Erich?
WILL: He's a famous wrestler from Dallas. He's a real sweet guy, too.
|Will and the Kill |
(MCA Records 1988)
Q: Did you know Kathy before you made this record?
WILL: Yeah, well, she's from Austin.
Q: Did you also know Joe Ely? Is he an old family friend?
WILL: Well, pretty much. It's not as tight a unity in Austin as it was eight or nine years ago. Well, even before that. But as far as I can remember, all the bands were like a family, and we were all doing the same kind of music. It was either rockabilly or rock and roll or blues. There were none of these, you know, art or heavy metal bands around Austin. It was really a blues town.
Q: It must have been fun to work with Joe Ely since you've known him for so long.
WILL: Yeah! There was just a wild voodoo in the air when we did this record. Charlie and Ely... Jimmy Vaughn came in and played on a song. It was really fun. We definitely had a good time! I think that's the way records should be made. Too many people make records without having fun, and they get into this big generic thing.
Q: It seems like you're also trying to bring back the family atmosphere that Austin used to be known for. Like working with your friends...
WILL: Uh-huh. The record has a personal feeling to it when you listen to it. It's real personal to me. I made the record to make me happy. I didn't make it for anyone else but myself. There were times when it got frustrating. But for the most part we just had a blast!
Q: You've changed your whole band since the record came out. Were they studio musicians who didn't want to tour?
|Will and the Kill open for |
Lords of the New Church at the
Cave Club in Austin, Texas - July 1987
WILL: Well, I was looking for something and I wasn't getting it. So, I got a new band that makes me feel like I want to feel on stage.
Q: So, you just fired the old group?
WILL (laughing): Well... you know, there's a bunch of politics behind it. But all that matters is that I got a new band that sounds tighter than ever, and I'm happy. Things are working out the way I want them to.
Q: I've heard that you and Charlie used to be in a band together. Is that true?
WILL: Well, kind of, when we were kids.
Q: What were you called?
WILL: Los Dos Dudes... The Two Dudes.
Q: How cool! Did you write your own songs back then?
WILL: Nah... we just did old blues standards.
Q: You guys were playing old blues standards when you were kids? Were you playing them well?
WILL (laughing): Well... certain blues standards aren't too hard. But back then, we were just getting it together. We started playing with the Vaughan brothers, the Thunderbirds, and Double Trouble.
Q: Are your influences mostly blues? Do you listen to any current rock bands?
WILL: I really like the old guys, going back to "Hound Dog" Taylor, Magic Sam, and a lot of blues guitar players. But I especially love "Hound Dog" Taylor; he had this disgusting tone that was beautiful! I like ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones. And I love Slash from Guns N' Roses; he's a great guitar player!
Q: Your taste in music is so different from what most people your age listen to. Maybe it's because you're from Texas, but most teenagers just know what they see on MTV.
|Will and the Kill|
(MCA publicity photo)
WILL: Well, y'know... Most of the stuff that's being made and marketed in the world is, uhmm... starting to upset me a little bit. I mean, people need to get down to basic drums and rockin' rhythm guitars — the stuff Keith Richards will be doing for as long as he lives. This techno stuff is a waste of time. It has no personality.
Q: Do a lot of people compare your music to what Charlie's doing?
WILL: I get a lot of people saying, "Oh, you're so much truer to the whatever..." The music I'm playing right now isn't too different from what Charlie was doing three years ago. A lot of my stuff... I learned a lot from watching Charlie's previous bands. He had some great bands, and his band now is great! Charlie's just one of those kinda guys who always sounds good no matter what style he plays in, y'know.
Q: Did you learn any lessons watching Charlie's rise to stardom?
WILL: Well, I think you have to plan it correctly and think about where you want to end up in the years to come, rather than just being Mr. Big this year and a wash-out tomorrow. As long as I can pay my rent, I'm fine. I don't need to have no giant mansion.
|Will Sexton - at the Stone in SF|
Photo: Devorah Ostrov
Q: So, you're doing this because you genuinely love the music.
WILL: Yeah! That's why I was shocked that people really appreciated the record when it came out. I really didn't expect that.
Q: Well, it's a great album!
WILL: I didn't think it would be this big. I just kinda did it, y'know. When me and Joe were writing songs for the record, we didn't think, "Oh, we can do this and make it a hit song."
Q: I wonder about some of your lyrics. There's some risqué innuendos...
WILL: Are there? Uh-oh. You should hear the versions that I had before they [MCA Records] made me edit the lyrics!
Q: Did you have to do a lot of editing?
WILL: Haha! Sometimes!
Q: Can you give me an example?
WILL: It's a song to be saved until I make enough money where I can say whatever I want. I'm gonna be making a lot more records, and they're just gonna get filthier and filthier. When I play live, I do some X-rated versions of the songs. "Rocks in My Pillow" has got some really low-down lyrics, but I can't say them to a girl. When I'm on stage, and you're not looking...
Q: I imagine a lot of girls come to your shows!
WILL: We're not a teenybopper band or anything, so we get all kinds. I think that my band can appeal to anyone from 15 to 40-year-olds. Which is real important because you gotta have... As long as you've got soul and you've got feeling, and you put it into your music, people of all ages will like it. If you do that heavy metal and techno nonsense with no soul, then that ain't gonna go anywhere.
|Charlie & Will Sexton |
Photo: Todd V. Wolfson
Q: Do you have any advice for other kids who want to play guitar?
WILL: My advice is to buy some Hendrix records and stuff like that before you start listening to Ying Yang Mom's Mang. I mean, listen to where it all came from because you can't learn... Like, I think Eddie Van Halen is incredible, but I think it would be a sin for someone to learn to play guitar from Eddie Van Halen because he learned from the greats. He really studied and really knows his roots.
Q: Well, I don't want to take up too much of your time...
WILL: It's a good day to do interviews. I'm in a great mood today! For three years, I did interviews with people that didn't even know what I sounded like or nothing. So, I was getting annoyed.