Q & A: Introducing Greg Williams & The Dirty Magnolias & Their Debut Release, “Falling Apart At The Seams”

Springing onto the Canadian music scene is the newly formed band, Greg Williams & The Dirty Magnolias. With a sound that draws upon a blend of roots, rock, Americana and country– they are sure to leave a lasting impression on listeners & music connoisseurs alike. 

Recently, I spoke with multi-instrumentalist and head of the band, Greg Williams, about the origins of the new band, their introductory single, “Falling Apart At The Seams” and more.

Kyla Pearson: Previously you were known for your music under “The Greg Williams Band”. This year, you shifted musical gears and piloted a new project-- “Greg Williams & The Dirty Magnolias”. What inspired this change after 7 years? How did you come up with the name?

Greg Williams: I think the biggest contributing factor to the birth of The Dirty Magnolias was the pandemic. Our industry was the first one to be axed by lockdowns and restrictions and the last to come back. It was in that downtime that I started truly considering where I’d been, where I was, and where I aimed to be when live performance returned. My work shifted as my writing became more reflective of my artistic identity, there was a real freedom in that for me. 

I’d been in touch with Clayton Bellamy (Road Hammers, The Congregation) and he really aligned with the direction I was moving in. He ended up producing the record and I was so thrilled with the process and opportunity to work with him. The more we talked, planned, and schemed the more we knew this music was going to take me in a new and different direction musically. 

Conversations about a rebrand materialized as we moved toward this more electrified Americana sound. The goal is to give the new project its own spotlight while creating some fresh artistic freedom for me from my past work. A way to subvert any imposed expectations about what I should be doing.  

The name emerged after a lot of brainstorming about how we could best have it reflect the sound while being memorable and interesting. We floated a lot of ideas around but kept coming back to magnolias. The juxtaposing imagery of a dirty flower just felt right, so The Dirty Magnolias were born.

Kyla Pearson: What have you learned from your time in “The Greg Williams Band” that you are taking into this new project? What is one thing you want to do/approach differently under the new band name?

Greg Williams: I cut my teeth with that band, everything I know about the business and performing I learned during the years I was performing as The Greg Williams Band. I learned how to build stronger setlists, play more engaging shows, and read the crowds. As a result, we were afforded amazing opportunities to play all over the province and on some of the biggest stages in the country. 

On the flip side, while we were learning the process we were taken advantage of more times than we could count. It’s all ultimately been part of a learning experience that I think has served us really well. Those experiences, both positive and negative, are what we’ve brought into the approach with The Dirty Magnolias

It’s been a totally different experience to start a new project without all of those growing pains. With this new sound, we’re being a bit more selective with where we play and our sound. We had a lot of success as a cover band and so many exciting experiences, but are finding ourselves increasingly less inspired by playing those shows. By booking with a more defined intention, we’re generally finding that there are fewer stipulations from venues about the contents of our setlists. That gives us more freedom for this project to reflect our artistry.

Featured: Official cover art for Greg & The Dirty Magnolias' introductory single, "Falling Apart At The Seams". Photo courtesy of Greg Williams.

Kyla Pearson: Greg Williams & The Dirty Magnolias recently released their debut single, “Falling Apart At The Seams”. Written by you, Clayton Bellamy & Murray Pulver, it’s an energetic & grunge roots song with strong jazz, rock & Americana influences. In terms of sound/artistry, how would you say this single sets the stage for what’s to come?

Greg Williams: I’ve always said that when it comes to influence and creation, nothing should be off-limits. I truly believe we captured that in this song, and the rest of the songs on the upcoming EP. I think my fiddle solo alone on Fallin Apart says it all —  I wanted to do a 1970s Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz-Fusion style violin solo, full of phaser and delay effects, mashed up with some Charlie Daniels fiddle playing vibes, and I think that’s exactly what we did. I think it makes the music feel way more interesting because it makes it more authentically me

Our sound as a band comes through on this song and this record. The tunes have the same feel as our live shows and that’s such a vital piece of who we are. They’re not carbon copies, but the same energy is there and that was the aim from the start. As for what’s to come, well you’ll just have to wait and see. There’s a common thread through The Dirty Magnolias’ music, but it’s those different influences and decisions that I hope will make us jump out from the status quo.

Kyla Pearson: Can you tell us a bit more about the songwriting & recording process?

Greg Williams: The pandemic changed the songwriting process for a lot of us. We quickly had to acclimate to Zoom sessions and as I think we all learned during that period, scheduling virtually was weirdly tricky sometimes. When we wrote Falling Apart I was at my folks’ place in Dorchester, ON, Murray was in Winnipeg, MB and Clayton in Edmonton, AB. It’s still miraculous to me that we were able to come together from different homes, provinces and time zones to create something simultaneously and I’m so grateful it worked out so well.  When you get into a writing session like this, the first question is always, “who’s got ideas?” I said that one song I’d love to write would be a show opener. Something to smack people in the face and let them know we’re here! Murray had the riff, Clayton had the hook, and we crushed out Fallon Apart in a little over an hour. 

Bringing it to life was just as exciting. We recorded at Stereobus Recording in Winnipeg, MB, an absolutely beautiful studio owned and operated by Paul Yee who helped us capture this tune. There’s mojo in that room and Paul’s always a guy that’s there to help serve the song. He’s a bit of a mad scientist too. At one point we had about 6 different guitar amps all turned up to 10 to make sure we captured the right amount of rock n’ roll. As an artist it’s so valuable to the process to have those kinds of people in the room with you, Clayton is one of those guys too – just making sure it all goes down right.

Featured: Multi-instrumentalist & head of the band, Greg Williams. Photo courtesy of Greg Williams.

Kyla Pearson: According to you, what is the ideal setting for fans to listen to the song?

Greg Williams: The most ideal setting for you to listen to this song is at one of our shows, it was written as an opening number, an introduction to who we are. If you can’t see it live, all we ask is that you play it loud. I don’t think any certain location is more suitable than another. It’s a pretty versatile tune and a great addition to a pump-up playlist, or as a breath of fresh air after a long day at work when you’re just driving. I think whether your mood is good or you’ve had a rough go the lyrics can speak to you. That’s the beautiful thing about music – if it’s done right there’s a little something in there for everyone.

Kyla Pearson: Moving forward in 2023, what do you hope to achieve with the band by the end of the year?

Greg Williams: We have another few releases coming up this year that we’re really looking forward to. We’re stoked for people to hear the tunes and we hope to continue increasing our reach to global audiences. Falling Apart has already reached a number of stations across Europe, Australia, and North America – we’re looking forward to future songs hopefully continuing with that growth.  We have a bunch of shows on the docket that we can’t wait to announce! The focus for the coming year is to bring authenticity to every stage we hit. We’re grateful for the ongoing support we’ve received that allows us to make the best music we can for anyone who will listen.

Kyla Pearson: Lastly, do you have any upcoming shows where fans can hear you play “Falling Apart At The Seams” live?

Greg Williams: We have a busy summer coming up, with more shows coming up all the time. We’re happiest when we’re onstage and blessed the continue to have the opportunities to play at some incredible venues for some of the most enthusiastic audiences. The next chance to catch us live is April 8th at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. We’ll be there with our good friends Souvenir, a phenomenal Alt-Country band. You can keep up with all other upcoming Dirty Magnolias dates on our social platforms and website.

Listen to " Falling Apart At The Seams" Now:

Keep up With Greg Williams & The Dirty Magnolias:

Works Cited

Williams, Greg. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Feb. 26 2023.

 

Unknown. “Featured: Official cover art for Greg & The Dirty Magnolias’ introductory single, ” Falling Apart At The Seams”. Photo courtesy of Greg Williams.” Accessed Mar 15 2023.

 

Unknown. “Featured: Multi-instrumentalist & head of the band, Greg Williams. Photo courtesy of Greg Williams.” Accessed Mar 12 2023.

 

Unknown. “Featured: Multi-instrumentalist & head of the band, Greg Williams. Photo courtesy of Greg Williams.” Accessed Mar 12 2023.

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