We are the Willows to play at the Maintenance Shop April 5


Photo credit: Peter Miller

We are the Willows press photo

Celeste Welshhons

Orchestral-indie-rock band We Are The Willows will play at the Maintenance Shop on April 5, accompanied by Christopher the Conquered.

Four of the members met while attending college in Minnesota. Bassist Travis Collins and cellist Hilary James were discovered through playing with other bands.

Lead vocalist Peter Miller started out playing the drums in high school but eventually decided that he would become a singer instead.

“When I went to college, I decided I wanted to sing in a band, so when I met other musicians I told them I was a singer even though I wasn’t really sure I was one,” Miller said. “The band I ended up in towards the end of college was kind of a starting point for me becoming invested in doing music. A lot of the members that were in that band are in We Are The Willows now.”

Collins was very interested in hockey as a kid, but a serious injury soon put a pause on that activity.

“I grew up in a really small Minnesota town, and I was really crazy about hockey. I bought a guitar because I thought it would impress the girls or something — nobody liked hockey players,” said Collins. “Actually, I broke my leg playing hockey when I was 12 years old, and I was in a bed for six months. I literally played guitar for six months straight and did nothing else.”

Although he started out playing the guitar, Collins also decided to change his instrument of choice.

“[I] eventually started playing upright bass in orchestra at school because playing guitar got me into other kinds of music and other instruments,” said Collins. “Upright bass combined with learning guitar for six months straight kind of got me into playing bass, and it just all went from there.”

Guitarist and banjo player Jeremiah Satterthwaite also originally played a different instrument than he does now.

“I started playing piano in fourth grade, and my brother was in bands. That was a big part of getting into the music scene, just going to see him play shows ever since I was probably 12 or 13,” said Satterthwaite. “Once I went to college, I started playing in a band with Peter, and we’ve been playing music ever since then.”

We Are The Willows is not on an official tour right now; it is playing a select few regional shows until its latest album is released.

For the show at the Maintenance Shop, fans should expect music from both of the band’s previous releases as well as songs from the upcoming album.

“We’ll be playing a pretty healthy dose of songs from the first record, which is called ‘A Collection of Sounds and Something like the Plague.’ We’ll also be playing some songs from our most recent release called ‘Places,’” said Miller. “I would say that a majority of the songs that we will be playing at the Maintenance Shop will be off of our upcoming record, which is called ‘Picture Portrait.’”

The concept for the upcoming release is all about a series of letters sent between Miller’s grandmother and grandfather while he was fighting in World War II.

“I started reading these letters about three years ago. My grandma gave me all of these letters that my grandpa had written to her, and shortly after I started reading them, I just felt compelled to write songs about them or based on them,” said Miller. “For me, writing music has been a real integral part of being able to understand the world and understand myself. There’s something just cathartic about writing tunes for me. It breaks things up and just makes things make sense.”

The band’s upcoming album does not have a scheduled release date yet, but it should be out at some point in 2014.

“At the moment, ‘Picture Portrait’ is in the process of being mixed, so we’re kind of in the process of doing all of the post production stuff for the record, and that means we have no idea when it will really come out,” said Collins.

With We Are The Willows being an indie band, one of its biggest goals is being able to do solely music for a living.

“I think the hope really for all of us is that we can release this record and be able to tour. In some ways, that seems outlandish in my head, and in some ways it doesn’t,” said Miller. “The goal is really to be able to continue doing what we’re doing and at some point make a living doing that.”