In the Name of Love, Buy the Record

by Nicholas Heller, March 10, 2010

Will Stenberg, on the telephone.

"Speed me into a wedding so I can stop being a threat to the women of the world.”

According to Will Stenberg, lead man of the local rock band The Kerosene Kondors, your incentive to buy his third solo album, Will Stenberg: Home Recordings, Volume 1, 2002-2009, is to raise money for his upcoming wedding. But I’m here to tell you: buy it because it’s good.

Stenberg is a storyteller. It’s in his blood. He creates poetic ballads rooted in folk music, backed by raw yet catchy guitar riffs. Consider the opening track, Fish in the River, a song, according to Stenberg, about music, sex, coincidence and living in a small town. With its rhyme scheme and rhythm, it may just cause you to sing along and lament to lyrics like, “Turn-about’s fair play/at least on a Tuesday/and everyday’s Tuesday ‘round here. I’m making a mockery/of your astrology/and you still let me sip from your beer.”

The album compiles seven years of recordings that sound as if Stenberg is in your living room himself, strumming his guitar, reading from his diary, and telling tales of love, hard lives and insomnia. Home Recordings also features other noted coastal musicians, including Gwyneth Moreland, Angela Rose (of The Blushin’ Roulettes) and Lana Rebel, with recording locations peppered about the map from Fort Bragg to Little River, from Portland to Chicago, which gives each song a distinctly different feel. For instance, Interstellar Space, a song about insomnia, was written by Stenberg in Chicago, where he felt isolated and depressed, which can definitely be sensed while listening.

I asked the musician about his songwriting—wondering who these characters are, if he’s experienced these situations and circumstances, and where they come from.

“It feels like it came from somewhere. Some of the songs I could tell you about or where they came from. Others, your guess is as good as mine.” As far as method is concerned, “It’s mostly unconscious.” Stenberg tends to write in bursts of inspiration, sometimes going weeks or even months without producing a song.

I asked him about the track Alice, Ingrid, Meghan, and Betty.  “That’s a long story,” he laughs. “Often I find when I write about women, I’m writing about a conglomeration of different characteristics of women I’ve known—some kind of idealized type. There isn’t an Alice or Ingrid, per-say, but I’ve known Alice’s and Ingrid’s. They might not be on roofs with telescopes, or whatever I say—majoring in psychic ballet. There is one woman in that song that is entirely real, but I can’t tell you who.”

The album is an extension of a website that Stenberg has been working on that should be up March 10th called willstenberg.com. Songs can be purchased for eighty cents apiece.

“It’s basically an umbrella under which to put all of my creative projects. So we can have Kerosene Kondors, Willis Lifeblood, my poetry, my short stories—everything in one place. This is kind of like a best of. Stuff that I think might be the most appealing to people.”

“It’s for a cause," Stenberg says. "In the name of love, buy the record.”

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