A Columbia super group, so to speak, is now on the show circuit, and we've got a full EP premiere and Q&A with the band.
Former Baumer members Kenny McWilliams (also of The Rejectioneers) and Chad Rochester, along with former Needtobreathe drummer Joe Stillwell, have a new project named Real Work.
The first single, "Numb Mind," and supporting music video were released in April with supporting tour dates in early May. Today, Charleston Scene has Real Work's debut EP premiere. Stream the entire disc below.
Q: How was the band formed? There's the Baumer connection but why did you decide to start a separate project?
Kenny: It was very much Chad and I together that got the ball rolling. We both had separately decided to start a new project and were both in the super early stages of writing some songs/ideas. We kinda accidentally found out that each other was writing and decided to give it a shot together. I often feel like, alone, either of us would've quit and this band probably wouldn't exist. But having someone to bounce ideas off sustains momentum in a way that is hard to accomplish on your own.
Chad: We both had ideas for starting a new project around the same time, and fortunately realized we could work together. Being friends already and having worked together for so long in Baumer, it was really natural from the start. I also think we had both been thinking about having an outlet for so long that we hit the ground running. I agree with Kenny. Had he not been involved, I’m sure this whole project would just be on a computer in my living room. That’s what is so great about working with someone else; when I was burnt out or busy, Kenny wasn’t, and vice versa.
Q: So how did Joe (Needtobreathe) come into the mix?
Chad: After we had demoed all the songs, we sent them to our friend Joe, which in some ways was intimidating given his background founding and touring in Needtobreathe for 10 years, and he was really one of the first people to hear these songs. Fortunately, he was really excited about them and agreed to join. That was another moment that really helped this project move forward.
Q: You had a song on the Scene SC sampler and some initial shows. What has it been like so far diving back into things?
Kenny: So far, it has been a ton of fun and really very fulfilling. Chad and I started writing these songs like two years ago and really worked pretty slowly on the project. We were both busy and would just work on the music when we had time. So, the past few months have been crazy and exciting to really jump in and get a ton of stuff done and begin turning this into a real band and project that we're ready to release.
We've all known David Stringer for a long time and think the world of him and Scene SC. So we were really excited to be able to release a single on the current compilation. He's done such an amazing job encouraging SC music and putting those compilations together.
Chad: I actually went to high school with David, but he has built such a institution by consistently encouraging and supporting music for over 10 years in SC that it was really an honor that he would support Real Work so early on by having us on the sampler.
As Kenny said, the first year or so of the band was slow for various reasons; at that point we didn’t know if it would even become something. But once we started practicing with Joe, Christian, and Brewer last fall, we got excited.
Q: So, Kenny, what is it like fronting a band for the first time, as someone who’s been so involved in the music scene but not a band frontman?
Kenny: Well, it’s been very fun, fulfilling and equally terrifying. But seriously, I am enjoying it. Having such an incredible band playing with me really helps give me confidence. It's been a ton of work, since I rarely have sung before. I still have a long way to go before I'm totally happy with my voice, but it's good to be challenged and forced to work hard on something out of my comfort zone.
Q: What is the ultimate goal of Real Work?
Kenny: I guess the ultimate goals are to write better and better songs, to have fun, to have a creative outlet and to get to make music with and around friends. Hopefully, we'll continue to get to play killer shows with bands that we love. Everyone in the band has families and jobs and stuff so we're not looking to jump right into any longer tours or anything. But it's been fun and will continue to be fun to see where this all goes.
Chad: Ultimate goal is a tough one. Realistically, we want to create better art than we have before, be it songwriting, production or design. ...We are trying to create the best music we can. Real Work has a very specific sound that is the product of decades of influences and dreams instilled in me and Kenny, but I can sense it shifting ever so slightly thanks to the other members that are involved now bringing their version of Real Work to the table. It’s dynamic and exciting as we start to work on new songs.
Q: Playing live, you threw some Bon Iver amid transitions during a show at New Brookland (I saw a video!). Who are some other band influences you’ll include in a set?
Kenny: Well, we also covered a Death Cab song for our first shows and will probably keep that one around for a couple more shows. Playing that small part of "Perth" (Bon Iver) was so fun, and we'll continue to try and add little hints of songs into the set at different times.
Q: What are you most excited about after finally releasing/sharing this project?
Chad: While I deeply love the studio and being creative there, I think playing live is the ultimate goal of creating music; music is a reciprocal act. So, playing shows that people want to come to with these amazing musicians who also happen to be some of my best friends is really a dream come true.