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INTERVIEW: BJ Wilbanks

Can you talk to us more about your single “I Can’t Help It”?

Well, it’s describing that situation of infatuation or falling for someone rather. Yet, this is about when it happens waaaay too soon and you’re trying your best not to screw it up by telling them how you really feel. Mainly because it’s way too early for you to fall in love. You are head over heels and a total dork for this person; you’re trying your best to keep your cool as long as you can, but you can’t help but blurt out what you really feel eventually. It’s quite the pickle to be in.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

This exact event I guess. I feel that we have all been in this position at one point or another. To be helplessly in love and not know what to do or if the other person feels the same. What an incredibly, wonderful drag 🙂

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! We are hoping to start filming a video for this song by this May. We already have the script and screenplay written for it. It’s going to be new meets old cinematography; a very similar vibe to the song style. It’s going to show the dating scene from today’s perspective via split screen. It will have each person’s view or perspective shown simultaneously on screen, with texting, interactions, and how it really goes down these days. Yet, every time they come together, the “same old mode” of romance is brought into frame and the split screens become one. It will be delivered more from a woman’s perspective. It’s going to be groovy.

The single comes off your new self-titled album – what’s the story behind the title?

The title of my new album?Or the single? Just in case, I’ll answer both.

The new album title is simply my name. I felt like the first full album should be self-titled because it’s the first compilation of my work and it’s usually a collage of who you are or have become up to that point. It’s also a statement of what’s to come I feel. I’m already ready to record the next album. We are hoping this one paves the way for that.

The song title “I Can’t Help It” is rather self-explanatory. It’s such a common phrase we use, but it’s also one of the most truthful ones. I’ve never heard a truer phrase. It’s one of those things that when you say it, you really mean it. It’s very rare for someone to say this and NOT mean it. You just can’t help it. Haha. Also, that’s the way it feels when you are love-stricken. I’ll akin it to another phrase in a song I’ve heard which was a great line that describes this exact feeling. It’s from a Jason Isbell song…He says, “Love leaves you no choice in the matter.” And that’s the damn truth. If you are in love, man, you are done. You have no choice. You are bought and sold and on the boat. You really can’t help but follow it. He also says another phrase in that song that cracks me up, “You can’t tell a man a thing, when he’s picking out diamond rings.” Sooooo true. Being in love will make you do all sorts of things you’ve never done before.

How was the recording and writing process?

Absolutely wonderful. We had a great band. Every musician we had made these songs sound so much better. It flowed very naturally in the studio and we kept most of our first takes actually. I wanted to really get this thing sounding like it did in my head. As with most questions regarding the album, it really all depends upon the individual song. Most of these tunes were wham bam easy to record. Some others took deep contemplation and production. My end goal is always to make the song sound as true as I can. Or simply put, to let the song sound how it wants to. I never really feel possessive of it. The songs are kind of like your babies. You just want to give the all the love you have and let them grow up to be the best they can be. So whatever makes them flow or sound better, I’m for it.

The writing process is all over the board though. We don’t have enough paper, space, or time for me to go into detail about that, ha. But I will say, a few of these I was actually finishing up the lyrics in the studio believe or not. Most of them were written over a period of years in different times of my life.

What role does Georgia plays on this album?

Well, it’s my home state, so I guess it has a lot of impact, but I’m not really sure how you quantify or measure it. I really do feel that the place we recorded the album, (The Vault Recording Lounge in Marietta, GA), and the people that were a part of it truly are what made it come to life. I can’t say enough about my love for these fine folks. And if I was sitting in front of you, I would feel compelled to tell you all their names, so I’ll do just that: Kevin Sellors-Engineer/Producer, Fuji Fujimoto-Bass, Zach Wheeler-Drums, John Marsh-Keys, Alfreda Gerald & Myra Walker-Background Vocals, Calvin Kelley-Percussion, Carly Gibson-Guitar, Bgvx, there are many more important names to list, but I’ll cut it off there.

What aspect of the 60s blues did you get to explore on this album?

Not sure if I really explored the 60s blues via the album, or if that’s the exact decade or genre I represented/went for. I just do what I hear in my head and feel in my soul. A lot of times that is an older sound, but sometimes it’s something I never expected. I love that about creating music. I think this album has a little of everything I love about music: funk, country, soul, singer/songwriter, rock. I love it all.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Everywhere. I truly believe it’s always around us. Plus, I never feel like a song belongs to me. It doesn’t belong to any one person, it belongs to everyone. I believe “the muse” or that feeling/inspiration is a part of a collective consciousness that’s really trying to call us all together to wake the fuck up. Live out of love and not out of self-interest. That’s my inspiration. I try my best to not overthink a feeling or song that is trying to come out. That can end up ruining it.

Any plans to hit the road?

That’s all we have been doing lately. Just got back from playing Daytona Bike Week in Florida. Yet, I don’t have any plans to go on tour across country if that’s what you mean. I mean, I’d love to go play my music for anywhere and everyone that wants to hear it. Hopefully after the album releases April 28th, we’ll get that kind of a response and demand. We are really looking forward to sharing this music with everyone.

What else is happening next in BJ Wilbanks’ world?

Well, we have tons of shows lined up April-July here in Georgia. So a lot of work is going into that, but, I also have a few more projects in the mix. I’m actually just finishing up a single I wrote with my good friend Donna Hopkins, an amazing singer and songwriter who is like a musical guru to me. She really is something else. Go check out her music, it’s phenomenal. The single we are recording is called “Don’t Fight the Feelin.” It’s a straight motown/rock groove and I dig it very much. We will be posting a video via my youtube channel soon of a live performance of it.

I also got lucky recently. A local media company here in Georgia has opted to film and fund a music video for one of my songs off the new album. The company is called Atlanta Media Pros and they are simply amazingly, wonderful souls. I am super grateful for them. The video is for my song called “My Whole Life”, the last track on the album.

Later this year, (god willing), we will be releasing another album for my other band Gibson Wilbanks. We are about two sessions away from being done with this project. I am really excited about this. If I had my choice I’d spend most of my time creating. I love writing and recording. That’s my happy place for sure.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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