I had the chance recently to chat with Will Huse, vocalist and guitarist of the Los Angeles folk-pop quartet The Late Great Charlie Borski. The band just released their debut album, Watch Out For Spiders, via Mannequin Vanity Records this past Friday, July 2nd. Will and I discussed where the band's name originated, their recently released debut album, all the way to briefly talking about their current tour of the Southern United States, and so much more!
Who is The Late Great Charlie Borski, for anyone who doesn't know? Will: We're a "theatrical folk-pop" band currently based out of Los Angeles, California. We've always had quite a few members rotating in and out, but we're anchored by our core four members, Will Huse, Blaire Lynn Strong, Nick Stanioski, and Lucas Coleman. While on the subject, where did the band's name originate? W: The Charlie is a reference to many great Charlies of history. The Borski is in reference to Rite-Aid's cheap brand of vodka. The "Late Great" is in reference to my sobriety and is a celebration of that drunken bastard version of me being dead and gone.
How would you describe your band's sound for anyone who hasn't heard your music before?
W: Well, we like to call our genre "theatrical folk-pop," if that helps at all. There's a strong folk/Americana feel to a lot of what we do. Sometimes it's a little country, sometimes it's a little punk, and sometimes it's a little show tune-y. It features vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, piano, synth, banjo, and some trumpet here and there. Mostly, I'd describe it as a group of friends from all across the States coming together to laugh, cry, and tell stories through music.
What makes your music “theatrical”? W: A solid chunk of us come from a musical theatre background, and it really shows when we perform. Most of what we do has a dramatic flair to it. It's also theatrical in the sense that the music is really about telling stories similar to a play or a musical.
What is the meaning of Watch Out For Spiders -the title of your debut studio album- that correlates to the thirteen tracks? W: At surface level, it's really more of an insight into the last year of our lives. The property that the album was recorded on was covered in spiders, and it's a warning we were always calling out to each other. I think every one of us endured at least one spider bite in our time recording the album, some of which got pretty gross. On a deeper level, spiders are something that can symbolically be good or bad. That's what this album is. It's a journey through life's ups and downs. Songs tackling love and hardcore partying, as well as heartbreak and battles with sobriety. There is one spider reference to watch out for during the album.
Listening to the album promo, the album really covers a vast amount of folk subgenres, who are your influences? W: The four of us each have such varied areas of music that we love and pull from. That being said, we often find singular songs that we enjoy as a group. "Barrett's Privateers" by Stan Rogers being at the forefront of that topic. Some of our influences are Big Thief, Modest Mouse, Nathaniel Rateliff, Dave Van Ronk, Bon Iver, Stephen Sondheim, The Mountain Goats, just to name a few.
I love the dynamic of having a male and female singer juggling the lead vocals, it really leads to so many possibilities on this album and on any future tunes, was it always something the band wanted as an aspect to your sound?
W: It was something we figured out pretty quickly. Blaire has been with us since the beginning, and as we were figuring out who we were as a band, we realized that having two voices would not only benefit our sound but also our storytelling. Blaire has one of those voices that people want and need to hear. She's capable of such nuance, and her voice has such versatility. We're really lucky she's willing to share that gift with us and hasn't ditched us yet. Love ya, B!
Do you have a favourite song, or songs, from the new album that has stuck with you since writing/recording Watch Out For Spiders? W: "Celestial Love Breakdown" and "Murphy's Waltz" are both truly special to us. They're both songs we have been playing live for a while, and both have grown and ebbed and flowed sonically. Adapting all of these songs from live versions for the record has been eye-opening to us as creatives. Specifically, these two we feel came together in magical ways. We're very proud of both of them as standalone productions as well as integral parts of the album as a whole. Was it a challenge in any way recording the album in a studio in the brunt of a global pandemic? W: Honestly, I think it's what got us through it all. A few months before everything had shut down, we started building a home studio in what we started calling "Blaire's Basement." Which was really an unfinished unit in the downstairs of the house that Blaire was living in, in Los Feliz, that we more or less broke into. As the world seemed to fall apart around us, we came together in that space and started recording music. It certainly had its challenging moments, but overall it was an extremely beautiful and rewarding experience.
You must be eager to hit the road on your Southern US tour coming up next month? W: I don't think we could possibly be more excited. We're definitely a band that lives for that onstage magic, and the lack of it these last fifteen months has been maddening. Finally, given that we're based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, have you ever performed in Canada before? If not, have any plans to? W: Unfortunately, we haven't had the pleasure. Travel between countries still seems a bit up in the air these days, but we would love to make it up there someday! Thanks for the time! Hope to see you in Winnipeg at a show sometime in the future! Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? W: If you have the time, we'd love it if you'd give the album a listen from front to back. It's designed to flow together, and you'll get the most out of your listening experience that way. Also, be on the lookout for our upcoming music video, err short film for our song "Champagne." It'll be out in the next month or so, and it's a really ripping good time!