Spotlight on: The Sonder Bombs – New album Clothbound out 1/29!

This week we chatted with Willow Hawks and Jimmy Wilkens about a lot of our favorite topics at Concert Archives like first/favorite concerts, bucket lists, concert plans, and more!

Past Concerts

Backstage Pass: What was the first concert that you went to?

Willow: Oh my God. I think the first concert I was brought to was probably some local punk band show in the early two thousands with my mom. That was probably the first one I ever went to, but my first concert officially was Never Shout Never at the House of Blues in Cleveland when I was 13.

Jimmy: My first concert… I think I was 18 or 19 and it was Iron Maiden. My friends had tickets so I just went with them. I only knew two songs, but it was still pretty cool.

BP: What’s the first show that you ever played, either as the Sonder Bombs or any previous projects?

Willow: Well, the first show we ever played as Sonder Bombs was a house show. We had like two and a half songs.

Jimmy: Under prepared.

Willow: Very under prepared. And we just stood in this living room. I think it was in Kent. Yeah. We just stood in the living room and everybody sat on the floor around us and we played a couple of songs and that was our first show as Sonder Bombs.

Jimmy: And then I guess my first show technically was an old solo project that I did at a high school talent show. And it did not go well. I was not good.

Willow: Oh! If we’re talking talent shows, then my first show was in like second grade.

BP: So what’s your favorite concert that you’ve ever been to and what’s your favorite one that you’ve ever played?

Jimmy: That’s a hard one; I’ve been to a lot of good shows. I think my favorite was when I saw Gorillaz in Detroit. That was a really good show. It was Gorillaz, and Vince Staples and Danny Brown opened up. That was a great show!

Willow: In 2019, I think it was in the summer of 2019, I drove to Detroit with my friend and we went to go see Tank and the Bangas and that show was incredible! So I think that might’ve been the best live show I’ve ever seen.

Jimmy: I’m jealous you got to see that.

Willow: I’m jealous of myself now.

Jimmy: I think my favorite show that we did, for me, it’s BLED Fest. That was a really good show!

Willow: Yeah, BLED Fest is awesome!

BP: What’s the longest tour you’ve ever played?

Willow: So the longest tour we played as a band was about five weeks, and that was when we were on the road with Just Friends in the fall of 2019. Then immediately following that, I think there was like a two day gap before I had to hit the road again to do a solo tour with the poet Neil Hilborn. So I was on the road for nine weeks straight in 2019. And that was the longest I’ve ever done. Probably the longest I will ever do, because that was crazy.

BP: Wow yeah, that’s a long time!

Pandemic Life, The New Album, and Upcoming Shows

BP: So I saw you did some live streams earlier last year, how was doing those compared to playing an IRL show?

Willow: I mean, it’s not the same, obviously. I’m not super crazy about playing live streams. I like watching them, but I don’t really like playing them because I feel like I can’t interact with the people watching.

Jimmy: They’re tough. From a viewer standpoint, I like the ones that are prerecorded because then the artists can interact with people in real time. That’s always been really cool to me. But yeah, live streams, they’re fun. And it’s very low key. You can try out new material, and that’s something you can’t always do on the road ’cause you have a time limit. But yeah, that lack of people and seeing their faces and having that immediate response is challenging.

Willow: Also, I miss dancing around on stage and that sort of thing so much! And my neighbors would hate it if I started doing that for a live stream.

BP: Do you have any plans to do a live stream once the album’s out?

Willow: Yeah! We’re working on some stuff.

Jimmy: Yeah. The record comes out next week, so we’re gonna try to come up with a bunch of fun and creative ways to keep it fresh throughout the rest of the year. And live streams are definitely on that list of potential things we’re gonna do.

BP: Yeah, it must be difficult releasing an album when you can’t tour to help promote it.

Willow: It’s really difficult. Having to adapt to new kinds of social media and learn a completely new platform, like TikTok, to promote a record and replace that touring aspect is very strange.

Jimmy: Yeah, normally we would just drop it and hit the road, but now we’re like, “How do we reach more people?” The obvious answer is TikTok.

BP: A lot of artists pushed their record releases, hoping that by delaying their release date that they’d be able to tour to support the record, did that happen for you, or was a January release always the plan?

Jimmy: Yeah, that did happen for us. The original plan was October.

Willow: Yeah. What I wanted to do, is I had the idea of trying to release Clothbound the same day that we released MFR [debut album Modern Female Rockstar] in October, so that October 12th would be our release day, but it obviously didn’t work out that way. We were supposed to record way earlier than we did too, but then the pandemic hit, so it got pushed back like six weeks.

Jimmy: Yeah. And then we didn’t want to release it in December, so we pushed it to January. It was just a domino effect.

BP: Which songs from the new album are you most excited to play live? Whenever that may be.

Willow: I’m really excited to play “Swing On Sight” live and “Papillon.” I’m already just so excited for how it’s going to feel when we get to certain parts of the song live and how I’m going to fall into the song, and really start rocking out. Like I’m just so excited for that!

Jimmy: Those are good ones. I’m excited for “Vegas, BABYYY!” and “k.”

Willow: “Vegas, BABYYY!” is a good one too.

BP: Relatedly, what’s your favorite song to play live of the ones you’ve previously released?

Willow: Hmm… We start every show with “Atom.” Well, we were starting every show with “Atom,” who knows what we’ll do when shows come back. That was also the song that we would start practice with all the time. And I think that’s it’s definitely the most fun way for us to start off our sets. So I feel like that’s probably one of our favorites to play live, ’cause it immediately throws us into fun show mode.

Jimmy: I really like playing “Pot & Kettle.” That one is always really fun for me.

BP: Do you have a favorite venue to play at all?

Willow: Mahalls.

Jimmy: Yeah, Mahalls! It’s just around the corner from us. Good vibes. They’ve redecorated all the time. Good food, the bartenders are nice, and the staff is nice. Yeah. It’s just the best place in the world!

BP: Do you usually go bowling there too? I’ve only been there for shows so haven’t had the chance to check that out at all.

Willow: Yeah, there’s definitely been times where we won’t have any shows lined up or anything, but our friends will text us and be like, “Hey, like let’s go to Mahall’s and bowl.” So we do actually bowl there too. It’s a good place to hang out.

BP: So other than not being able to tour, how has the pandemic influenced you guys as artists and what have you been up to at home to fill the time since you can’t tour?

Willow: Making the record took up like a large chunk of this year for us, but when I’m not working on record stuff or music stuff, I picked up water coloring. So I’ve been painting, and I’ve been watching a lot of true crime documentaries cause I love that. And I’ve been redecorating my bedroom slowly over the quarantine too, because I decided that if I’m going to have to be in the house, I want a comfy cozy nest.

Jimmy: I got into video games a lot last year. I was always trying to get a new game. It was a really good way to turn my brain off and get immersed in an entirely different place. We also got a kitten a few months ago and he’s been, honestly, a handful. He’s a delightful handful, but yeah, he’s pretty high maintenance. He’s always screaming for attention.

Willow: Yeah, he’s such a big baby. Like he’s always crying. There’s nothing wrong with him, he’s just a baby.

Jimmy: I always reward his cry, so he thinks it’s good to cry. So he’s just always yelling.

Willow: It’s really cute when he cries, though. His little voice is so sweet.

Post-Pandemic Plans and Bucket List

BP: So do you have any plans, either specific or just general ideas for touring again, once it’s possible again?

Willow: We definitely have like a dream list of bands that we want to tour with.

Jimmy: It’s like 50 bands long.

Willow: It’s like 50 bands long, but the band that I wanted to tour with the most when touring comes back, I think right now, is Mannequin Pussy. I want to tour with them so bad! Because I just want to listen to Mannequin Pussy live every night. Like, that’s all I want!

Jimmy: We’ll be roadies even; we’ll do merch!

Willow: Yeah, for real! I’ll be your merch girl, Mannequin Pussy.

Jimmy: Yeah, the song “title” [from Modern Female Rockstar] is about not being anyone’s merch girl, but there’s an asterisk, it’s for Mannequin Pussy.

Jimmy: I want to play other places, too, like I want to go to Europe; I want to go to Australia.

Willow: Yeah. Well now that’s probably a bit more likely since we have like a UK label [Big Scary Monsters] and an Australian label [Dew Process].

Jimmy: I’m very excited to hopefully go over there as soon as it’s safe here.

BP: Just one last question: Are there any venues or festivals that are on your bucket list to play someday?

Willow: Definitely Riot Fest!

Jimmy: I don’t really know about too many venues, but I want to play, hopefully we get big enough to do it, I want to play the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Just because Nirvana played there.

Willow: I want to play that booze cruise thing that was supposed to happen in the UK. Like, you get to be on a cruise and play shows every night? That sounds awesome.

Jimmy: Yeah. A bunch of our friends were supposed to do that last spring, but then, you know, the world fell apart.

Willow: I want to play BLED Fest again too, but I know that won’t happen, so…

Jimmy: Yeah, they got out just in time. They’re like “Yeah we’re done” and then next year the world fell apart.

Willow: Yeah. Lucky timing on their part.

BP: I’m glad I got to go up there for the last one!

Willow: Yeah, me too. We’re so lucky to get to play the last one.

Jimmy: As our first and only.

A big thanks to Willow and Jimmy for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to check out The Sonder Bomb‘s new album “Clothbound” when it comes out next Friday, and give the band a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

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