1) What is the origin of your band and how did you come up with the name "Dueling Hearts"?
After much deliberation, we decided to name ourselves "Dueling Hearts". At first we wanted a name that described Wil's banjo playing such as "Kickin' Grass", "High Strung", H.O.T.(Heart of Texas) Grass and such, but some of these names were already taken. Wil had even thought of the name, "Hot Mocha Express". Although that name was cute, I wanted people to think of us more seriously. I began to think of the type of songs that Wil wrote for the CD. They all had something to do with the heart. Love of God, love for one another or songs of heartache. So we began to think of "heart" names. I really liked the name,"Heart Strings", but once again that name was taken as well. We were at my sister's house in Georgia when Wil thought of the name "Dueling Hearts". I loved it immediately. It fit us perfectly!!
2) You live in Texas. How large is the bluegrass music community in that state?
Well, here in the Waco, central Texas area, bluegrass music is quite slim. People lean more towards country music. When you begin to venture south towards Austin or north towards Irving, you will begin to find bluegrass groups such as the Central Texas Bluegrass Assoc. or the Southwest Bluegrass Assoc. Pockets of bluegrassers begin to sprout here and there in a larger radius around Waco.
3) Do you have plans to perform at bluegrass festivals in other parts of the nation?
Hopefully YES! Most likely this summer. We will probably try to get booked at festivals in the Central and Southeast US due to our annual family reunion in Georgia. We have 2 teenage children ages 14 and 17 who are currently still in high school and I work a full-time job as a physical therapist assistant, so it's difficult to travel all year long. We can only book for a 2 week tour in the summer.
4) You are heavily into song writing, Wil. Did Darla have input into the song writing for the album as well, and will you consider using songs written by others on your future albums?
Yes, Darla gives me her opinion and gives suggestions for any minor word change. She had input for "I Fell In with You". I had originally written that song to sing to her, but as she listened, she decided that she would rather sing it to me. She said it was too cute and she was going to sing it. As a guy I wanted to sing the phrase, "Why the dog hangs out his tongue" and she changed it to "Why the dog wags his tail". She also changed "green eyes" to "blue eyes" because, of course, my eyes are blue.
Darla also came up with the chord progression and the layout of the song, "Butterflies and Angels". I had only written that as a poem many years ago. She decided while we were submitting songs for a possible CD recording she would turn my poem into a song. We had such great response from so many people that we decided to add it to the CD.
5) Wil, do you set aside specific time to work on writing songs or is it more spontaneous?
No, I don't set aside time for writing songs, it's all spontaneous. Usually a phrase will pop into my head while I'm driving. I use to drive a truck in the early morning hours and would stop my McDonald's for my morning mocha. Phrases began to pop up in my head and I just had to write them down before I forgot. I would have to turn on the dome light and write a few words and quickly turn it off. Darla would fuss at me for doing that until I finally got me a small digital recorder. My chicken scratch was getting a little hard to read. Although now Darla has to listen to many phrases and in different keys and in different ways. She asked me one time about one song, "How many mochas did you drink for this song?". The song I'm referring to will be on our next CD.
6) There are only eight songs on your debut album which is a somewhat smaller number than is generally recorded on albums. Do you have a timetable for when you will begin recording your next album and will there be a larger number of songs?
We don't actually have a timetable, but we will be recording things differently this next time around. Our current CD, "If The Lord Be Willing", had only 8 songs because at the time we recorded our rhythm tracks we really didn't have a band. We were going to have to rely on the studio musicians supplied by our label and we were trying to keep our cost down. This has definitely been a learning experience. We plan to begin recording one song at a time here locally instead of going to Oklahoma as we did before. We'll probably have 12-14 songs on our next CD.
7) I noticed that for the breaks that generally the first one was the banjo and the second one was the mandolin. Was there a particular reason for this order?
As we had mentioned earlier, we didn't really have a band at the time of the recording. Our mandolin player and friend, John Peyton Shafer, joined us at the last minute as a hired studio musician. So to keep things as simple as possible it was just agreed upon that Wil would do all of the first leads and JP would play the second unless Wil played the intro.
8) You have light percussion on several of the songs. Considering the controversy over the use of percussion in some bluegrass music circles did you have any hesitancy about doing this?
The studio musicians with our label had added percussion to all of our songs when they laid the rhythm tracks. We had to go back and delete a lot of it. We didn't know in which direction our songs would fall, country or bluegrass. We decided to keep a little percussion on a few of the songs in order to keep our country fans, yet hopefully not offend our bluegrass fans and hopefully please both genres.
9) Are there any particular bluegrass artists that have influenced your music?
The artists which have most influenced Wil have been The Dillards, Earl Scruggs, and an old friend who has since passed, Eddie Shelton. My vocal influences have been Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Sara Evans, and Emmylou Harris
10) Are either of your teenage children musically inclined and interested in following you into performing bluegrass music?
Both of our children each play the clarinet and are in the high school marching band. We took our now 17 year old son to fiddle lessons when he was 3, hoping he would learn and we could form a family band. He had no interest at all. I decided that when he was ready, he would decide what instrument he wanted to play. Unfortunately he did not decide on a bluegrass instrument and neither did our 14 year old daughter. You would think they would be living and breathing bluegrass, they have been listening to us even within the womb. I've been on stage at 8 months pregnant which made my guitar look more like a dobro.
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