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Worhol Interview

Worhol Interview
March 2015 (via Skype)



The father-daughter band, Worhol, first came to Sonic Cathedral’s attention through our roving Jim Wilkinson, who caught one of their local Texas shows. He was swept up by their music and stage presence, so when their The Awakening debut hit the streets, we didn’t waste any time in chatting with Ashley Worhol (vocals) and Larry Worhol (guitars) to find out more. Dive in for a behind the scenes look at The Awakening, Worhol’s upcoming video, bouncing back when the inevitable tour disaster strikes, and much more!

Sonic Cathedral:  Welcome to Sonic Cathedral, Ashley and Larry! Let’s get right to it, with a little background information about Worhol.

Ashley:  Hello, and thank you so much for having us! My father and I are a team, which is very unusual these days. Most people would think that people in the same family want to get rid of each other, and instead, we have grown stronger with each other. We have done the band now for about a year or two. We’ve had a few members changing, and now we have our full line-up, and we’re really excited. That’s pretty much us -- a father/daughter team! <laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  How you went about things was a little unusual. The first introduction to Worhol was your “The Darkness” video from late 2012, when it was just the two of you. What did you have in mind with this approach?

Ashley:  Well, honestly, I guess we kind of did things a little bit backwards. When we filmed the video, we actually did not have a drummer at the time. A little behind-the-scenes on that: one of the guys on the camera crew was a drummer. When we first laid down that track, we had a drum machine and a studio musician, but we needed to become visible to our audience. One thing that I have noticed is that people relate more when they see something on the screen. Whether it is a picture or a film, they like having that visual aspect to where they see the person face-to-face. So, when we filmed “The Darkness”, we knew that was going to be the start of everything; we knew that we were going to have to start branching out and playing shows, after filming the video. But that was the start of the band. We wanted to be very visible at first.




Sonic Cathedral:  Much to my jealousy, our friends in the UK have had an opportunity to see you live before many of us in the US have. How did you line up a UK run of dates before Worhol’s debut album even hit the shelves?

Ashley:  Obviously, over in Europe, the female metal scene is OUTSTANDING. The music that we are doing is very familiar over there, and our music had actually started playing on some indie radio stations overseas. Some of those contacts directed me to a management company overseas. One day, I was curious -- I’ve always wanted to tour Europe with a band -- and finally I just sat down and said: “I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to find whom to contact.” We went with First Step Management. Ray Williams is an amazing tour guy. I mean, he set up the dates for us, and set up all the accommodations. We knew that, once we could afford the trip, we were able to go overseas. It was such an amazing experience, and we can’t wait to go back!

Sonic Cathedral:  For each of you, what were the highlights and lowlights from Worhol’s UK tour?

Ashley:  I’ll let Dad talk first on this one.

Larry:  I think the highlight was just being overseas. For me, it was my first time actually overseas … just the countryside and the different way of living. The people there were really friendly. We had a really good response from them! The only downfall of that trip was right off, the first night at sound-check. At the Chill Bar, we opened up the piano, and it wasn’t working. It was broken, while it was being transferred from Delta Airlines. But that was pretty much the only downfall. Ray came up with one of his pianos, which we used. Our first gig was on a Sunday, and there was nobody open to see if we could get it fixed. As a matter of fact, the piano is still over there. We came back to the States, and bought another one. That was probably the only downfall.

We played with a lot of really good bands. They opened up for us, and they were very responsive to us and our needs, as far as equipment. Actually, the bass player and I took our guitars, and Ashley took the piano, and the drummer took his drum sticks. But all the other equipment was provided; we did not have to take that overseas by freight.

Ashley:  <laughs> Dad kind of stole my lowlight on my piano. So, when we opened it, I saw that one of my main keys was broken. Now, I play that key in every single song.

Sonic Cathedral:  Of course.

Ashley:  So, quickly, I’m trying to think: “Can I play everything an octave higher? Can I play everything an octave lower?” If it’s too high, it might be piercing the people’s ears, so I was already trying to figure that out. When we tried to turn it on, we found out that the piano was completed DEAD. Other than that, luckily, we did have someone who came to our rescue that evening. The other low end on that was the weather. I am not a fan of winter, cold weather, and we stayed in Travelodges. About the second night there, we all fell asleep not knowing the window was open, and I woke up with a sore throat, coughing, and runny nose. Dad had to make me a medicinal hot tea with honey. Pretty much, for the rest of the tour, I was sucking on lozenges, and drinking my tea.

But, as far as the high end, I am somebody who loves to travel. I have been overseas before, back in college for Study Abroad. But it’s a different culture; it’s a different experience. I think touring with a band in a different country is a high end. It brought us to a level that I’m very proud of. Like we alone have already made such a huge accomplishment in that, and I feel very blessed. Another high end would be that we got to open for the Hawklords. They are amazing, talented musicians who have been very well known for many, many years. To be able to open for an act like that in the UK was an accomplishment within itself, as well. So, there were more high ends than low ends. But I guess a tour is not really a tour, unless something goes wrong; right? <laughs>




Sonic Cathedral:  That is very, very true. Were you able to borrow the same type of keyboard that you are accustomed to playing? If someone changes my computer keyboard, it seems like I can’t type correctly for the next week.

Ashley:  Yeah, well, Delta actually did not want to reimburse or give us a new piano. So, like Dad said, our keyboard is actually overseas because I was going to have to pay an extra fee just to bring it back, and we wanted to find out what Delta was going to do first. Luckily, for one of my Christmas presents … I thought I had received everything on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day, Dad walks out with this huge, wrapped box in this pretty well-known shape. And I’m like “really?!?” I opened it, and it was the same piano that I had. I was so grateful! We are still trying to fight Delta on that one.

Larry:  The one thing that Ashley didn’t mention is, that night, there was a radio DJ who had played our music before he came to hear us. He went home, and snatched his daughter’s keyboard for the night. We were going to see if we could rent it the rest of the tour, but that was not possible. So Ray (our tour manager) thought he had a piano in the closet. He wasn’t sure whether he sold it or not, and so he went home, found it, and brought it. We used that the rest of the tour. It was a smaller model, and didn’t have weighted keys like her Yamaha has, but it served the purpose well. We finished the tour using that piano.

Sonic Cathedral:  Go Ray!

Larry:  Yeah!

Sonic Cathedral:  One of the things I noticed is that Worhol has a very specific idea regarding the band’s aesthetic for live shows, stage presence, and album artwork. Do any of you have a background in the theater?

Larry:  When I was young … I started music when I was 13 years old … I used to build props. Like any musician, you do so many jobs, and I built props. I was always interested in the theater, and to be honest with you, one of the shows I’ve always remembered was Alice Cooper because he hung himself on stage when I was younger. I thought that was great! I guess Ashley too, with her schooling and being exposed to theater, we really wanted to bring not only the music, but the visual, with theatrical sets.

Just like, when we went to New York last week, we saw Phantom of the Opera. The sets are so intriguing that they really fill that gap in the background for the visual part of what is going on in the music. We kind of wanted to do that with our music, and that’s part of the thing about when you see the way we dress. We bring a little bit of the theater into it too.

Ashley:  I did some theater productions when I was in high school, and I was always in choir. Like Dad mentioned, I am a huge appearance person on stage. Every show that people come to see, we dress the part, we sound the part, and we look the part. I wanted to stand out in a way. Not many people are doing what we are trying to do. My ultimate goal in this is to be able to almost have a theater of our own … kind of how we went to go see Phantom of the Opera … and have a performance every night, to where it is almost as if we present a rock opera. You know, we would compose ourselves, and we would be able to build the props to it.

That way, people are not only coming to see a rock concert, but they are seeing a full production. That is why a lot of the shows we put on ourselves, we say it is a “Worhol Production” because it’s not your typical rock show. One of the last ones, when we did our album release show at Warehouse Live in February, we had videos running on the back walls with castles and things. We want to incorporate dancers, more compositions in between, interludes, and art work. It is kind of this ultimate vision that we have. But for what I want, I’d need a HUGE stage. <laughs> So that may take quite some time, but my ultimate dream is to have our own theater within itself, where we just tour around and have this show.

Larry:  One thing I’d like add is that we were very fortunate because, like you saw with the first video, it was just Ashley and I. We started out in a studio working together. She started with writing her songs, and then I wrote mine. We started putting it all together, and as we’ve come along, we gone through bass players and drummers. One thing that we’re very fortunate is that our bass player, Craig Malinowski, does graphic art, and he has a creative mind too. We can bring to him the ideas of what we want and how we want it, and he gets on the computer, and puts it together for us.

He has been such an asset to our group -- not only as a bass player, but with all the art work. What you saw on the CD cover and insert was all him. I feel sorry for the guy because Ashley will say, “Okay, this looks good.” Then, they’ll call me, and I’ll go: “Nah, I don’t like this.” The poor guy has worked there three, four, five hours for two days on end, and now he has to start over again. So, I give him a lot of credit for that.




Sonic Cathedral:  Craig started out doing graphic art for Worhol. What was it about him that made you go: “Hey dude, how about I teach you the bass?”

Larry:  Well, I’ll tell you, in my day, musicians were a dime a dozen. I don’t know what is out there right now, but drummers are the hardest thing to find. I don’t know why. We have gone through more drummers, and also bassists. The musicians just aren’t there like they used to be, and if they are there, they play cover music. They work a regular job, and they want to make money playing. It is not from the heart anymore; it’s like: “Well, if I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna get paid for it.” There are more musicians out there for cover bands, than original bands. That is the hardest thing -- finding musicians who want to do original music and are willing to make sacrifices. We have paid for all of the financial needs of this band.

So Craig was doing such a great job that I said: “Let’s just get him aboard.” So we decided to go ahead and teach him. And BAM, he started picking it up and working hard at it. When we did our recording with John LeCompt, John was such a great guy as far as helping Craig too … showing him some of the lines and stuff like that. Craig really fit in with our needs at the time, and for the future too.

Sonic Cathedral:  Three tracks that I’d love to hear more about are “Voices from Above”, “In This Town” and “We, The Abused”.

Ashley:  So all of the music within itself, my Dad and I compose everything together. All of the lyrics so far, I’ve written myself. You know, the way that we write … whether Dad picks out something on the guitar and brings it to me (or vice versa), or I’ll write something on the keyboards and bring it to him … it really is a teamwork situation. It is funny because “Voices from Above”, I actually wrote that song when I was dog-sitting for one of our best friends when they were gone. I had my keyboard in their living room and I had the lyrics, singing it. Me personally, I actually thought that song was going to be kind of an acoustic number -- some vocals, maybe strings, and piano.

I remember playing it for Dad, and saying: “Yeah, I think this would be a really pretty acoustic song.” He was like: “No, it wouldn’t be!” Then, he brought out his guitar, and started jamming to it. <laughs> So, I heard where he was going and his vision of it. To hear what it is now, to ever think that I thought it would be acoustic, I feel like that was a “blonde moment” on my part. <all laugh> But it’s very interesting. Things that sometimes I hear are not exactly what my father hears, but in the end, it always turns out being the best it can be. “Voices from Above” actually is about angels calling down. The lyrics for the chorus are: “I have fallen.” In everyday life, people have struggles, and you have to keep going. You have to have faith; you have to basically do hard work and be patient. In the end, as long as you follow the path you were chosen to do, I’m a true believer that hard work does pay off. So, that song is very dear to my heart.

“In This Town”, Dad actually wrote based upon the guitar; he brought that riff to me. Very similar to “The Darkness”, it’s kind of a song about hearing voices and being a medium.

Larry:  I have to say, “The Darkness” … when I first wrote it, I wrote it as machines taking over the world. So, I brought all the music and everything to Ashley, and then she turned it around with the lyrics to what it is today …

Ashley:   … which is about ghosts! <Larry laughs> My interpretation of that song was completely different than what he imagined. So yes, “In This Town” is about hearing voices. Doing this music video, we’re going to have a lot of fun on set. We are actually have a ton of extras playing ghosts in it, and I’m even going to have a little girl that will kind of be a guardian angel, guiding me and helping me. We are hoping to do it in Navasota, Texas, in this very antique-ish old town that is PERFECT for the title of the song. It will be about a three different location shoot, so we’re really excited about that.

For “We, The Abused”, we actually recorded that song with Stephen Bogle who was in the band, The Hunger. When we brought that to him … it’s interesting and kind of the same thing … what I had first envisioned when I heard the song, compared to the overall mastered version, I literally cried when I heard it, because everything I’d ever wanted was within that song. That seems to be a song that everyone can either relate to or that is one of their favorites.




Sonic Cathedral:  Larry, I was interested to read that you still compose the strings totally old school, with pen and paper.

Larry:  I am still old school; I have a flip-phone! <laughs> I like to do it that way. I studied classical music all my life, and I studied composition and everything. When I write strings, I like to write it down because, when I write it with pen, I can almost hear it as I see it. I have more control over it. I know that may be a little bit hard to understand, but it means more to me to write it like that. I hate to say it, but I feel more like a composer -- more like Beethoven or Mozart -- because that’s how they did it.

I used to love to look at Beethoven’s old scores, how he wrote his orchestration pieces and stuff like that. In most of my strings, I tend to write with a background in a classical style. I have to be real careful though a lot of times, because I can overload the overall picture of the music with strings. I have to be very cautious that I don’t take away from Ashley’s vocals and that. One of the upcoming songs on the next CD we come out with, “The Fallen Angel”, (which I actually wrote) is going to be highly orchestrated. I think that is really going to show a lot more of the classical composition style that I so love to do.

Sonic Cathedral:  Ashley, when inspiration comes to you, where or how does it usually strike?

Ashley:  You know, it normally is when I’m at the piano. I sit down, and just play whatever comes to mind. Most of the time, I start playing something on the piano, and then I put lyrics to it, or I’ll kind of hum a melody. I kind of have this thing that whatever comes to mind, that’s what those lyrics are going to be. It is very odd that I will write something down, that I go back and rewrite, which is very different. A lot of artists take their time, and rewrite and rewrite, and change the lyrics. But I’m kind of the opposite. I figure that, whatever came to my mind first, is what is meant to be, and I keep it in that manner. When I sit down, I at least have a piece of paper and pen ready, in case I am going to write lyrics (instead of just an instrumental). It is interesting that they always come to me very, very quickly.

Sonic Cathedral:  Other than music, what are you most passionate about?

Ashley:  Other than music? <laughs> I think music is our life! Well, besides music, I’m actually a tennis player, and that kind of shocks people. That is one of my “day jobs”. But, all my life, it’s been music, theater, music … I really don’t know anything else.

Larry:  What else is my passion?

Ashley:  Cleaning! <laughs>

Larry:  You are not going to believe this, but it’s collecting monkeys. I have monkeys all over my studio, believe it or not. I have brass monkeys, little monkeys and big monkeys, all sorts of monkeys!

Sonic Cathedral:  Unexpected trivia from the fine folks at Worhol! <laughs>

Larry:  There is a story behind that, though.

Ashley:  Okay, I’ll give you something that NO OTHER person has ever heard in an interview. So, what I am passionate about is bread and sweet tea. Where we go to eat depends on how good their sweet tea is and how their bread is. <laughs>




Sonic Cathedral:  That is a good Southern answer. What kinds of exciting things are coming down the pike for Worhol in 2015?

Ashley:  We have a lot of things happening, actually. Right now, we are dealing with a publicist out of Wales. That’s pretty exciting! So, we’ll be seen in some well-known magazines this year. We also have several tours in the making, along with our music video. We’ve had a few offers of possible contracts, but we’re taking our time. Like I said, the financial backing of this has been very stressful, doing it all on our own. But we are very strong on what we want our sound to be ... to be able to have that creative freedom … and we really do have the perfect team. I would really love to join forces with someone, who can see our vision and would want to pursue our vision with us. A lot of times, I say that we’re looking to build our team to have a perfect team -- a Worhol Production team. I strongly think that this year, we will find that.

Larry:  In my mind, I know we are going forward with the group, and a lot has happened so fast for us. The one thing that I kind of agree with Ashley is that, right now, we’re handling all our own booking, promotion, social media, and financing, so that takes time away from being a musician. We look at it as -- not only being a musician -- but as a business. In watching our business, we’re very careful that everybody is professional, we show up on time, we don’t drink or do drugs, and that we dress our part and perform to the best of our ability on stage. We love our audiences, and respond to our audiences.

But it would be nice to have a manager to handle our bookings and be our road manager, because we’re doing it all. It really does take away the time. Ashley spends so much time (and I give her credit for it) on the social media, where we could be writing or working on something else. When we went to the UK, it took me three weeks just to find out whether we needed entertainment visas or business visas. It took forever! Finally, I found that we could do a sponsorship through a gentleman, and he really helped us out with our sponsorship to go there. Otherwise, it would have been really hard for us to go there. We are working on a Canadian tour, so it’s going to be another thing there too, because I’m pretty sure that they are going to require that we have visas too. So, it’s going to be all these weeks spent with the legal part of it. It would be nice if we had a team that did that for us.

Sonic Cathedral:  Ashley and Larry, what final words do you have for your Worhol fans?

Ashley:  We are very appreciative. It is very hard in this industry to make it on your own. Many times, fans are our lifeline! For them to hear our music, and if they enjoy it, they will share it with others. That is all we can ask for. When you are a musician, you are putting your passion and your soul into music. To be able to share that with the world -- and not just your family and friends -- you have a lot of gratitude towards that.

I also want to thank them for taking the time and reading this interview, because we are very personable people. Anyone can reach us at any time, and we will always answer questions. We love to get to know our fans. I actually just had someone who ordered our CD from Germany, and sent a picture holding it. My heart melted, knowing that our music is now in Germany. That is something incredible, and we are going to post the picture of him holding the CD. We want our fans to feel like they are growing along with us. The thing I want fans to know is that they are known; they are thanked; and we are very grateful to have them be a part of us.

Larry:  The thing that I would like to add. When I was younger, whenever I listened to music, I tried to relate to some song that affected me at that time in my life. That is one thing that I hope maybe some of our music will make a difference in some person’s life. Maybe something they hear within a song will inspire them or give them hope that in whatever they do. That if they put their heart and soul into it, good things will come, rather than giving up. That is the one thing I really hope for, when fans listen to our music. There have been many songs in my life, when I was down and out, that really brought me back.




Sonic Cathedral:  Thank you both so much for talking with Sonic Cathedral tonight!

Ashley:  Thank you so much Robin!

Larry:  Thank you.

Photo credit (promotional picture): Kellie Smart, Smart Shots, LLC
Photo credit (live pictures): Jim Wilkinson, Wilkinson Image & Design

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