All questions answered by William Lloyd Walker
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up in a musical family. My mom did musical theater and piano instruction and my dad is a huge audiophile. Listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and going to my mom’s shows I think is what really did it for me. Then I got my first guitar and just started learning songs and joined a band the first opportunity I got. If I wasn’t in a band I don’t know what I’d be doing. If music hadn’t taken hold I probably would have gone the law school route, I used to want to be a lawyer when I was younger. (William Lloyd Walker)
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love camping, off-roading, video games and sleeping haha. Camping is always a respite for me, helps me clear my head and off-roading kind of goes hand in hand with that. 4x4 is a puzzle, all about finding the right angle to get over an obstacle and it’s challenging in that regard, it’s also tons of fun! Video games have always been a way to shut my brain off and just immerse myself into different worlds. I love a good story, and a lot of times I like to honor the stories that touched me most by turning them into songs. (William Lloyd Walker)
How long has your band been around?
The band has been around for almost 10 years. We formed in the winter of 2012 and started touring a couple of years after that. We’ve had a few lineup changes and have seen some members leave for personal reasons but the desire to keep pushing forward is what’s kept the project alive. That and Aaron, when things kinda fell apart in 2018 he really pushed not just the project but myself to keep ongoing. (William Lloyd Walker)
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re primarily based in Sacramento and the SF Bay Area, but Rachl is out in Ohio. I don’t know that our region really has had an impact, outside of the thrash influence. Most of our influences are bands out of Europe and less in our immediate area. (William Lloyd Walker)
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
I feel like the story of how we came up with Graveshadow is less mysterious than it should be, haha. Originally we were going to go with RavenBlood but a band had already taken it. We were at rehearsal one night kind of going around the room and just throwing names out there and Graveshadow was the one that stuck. (William Lloyd Walker)
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
The two that immediately come to mind are opening for Children of Bodom in Sacramento and opening for Tarja Turunen in Juarez, Mexico.
Bodom was probably the first time we played in front of a crowd that large, and honestly before I think we had fully gotten comfortable on stage, but it was amazing. The energy and the number of people that came up to the merch booth after were incredibly encouraging. It was also I think the first time I felt like we really had something going for us.
The Tarja show was a perfect case study in Murphy’s Law. There were issues with soundcheck, set times, and just everything you can think of. We ended up not being able to do a proper soundcheck or get our orchestrations set up, and our set time got reduced to 15 minutes. We had to pick songs that did not have an orchestral break, which for us was only about 3 or 4. So we went out there, did a stripped-down version of our set, and it was amazing! After the set, it felt like the entire auditorium came up to the merch booth. So many new friends were made that night, and when we did El Paso, TX later in the week there were people that came over the border to see us again! (William Lloyd Walker)
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
There are a few. Ace of Spades in Sacramento is hands down our favorite local venue. Reggie’s in Chicago is another fun one to play. Studio Seven in Seattle was a favorite too. The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco is a dream of mine to play. I’ve seen so many of my favorite bands play there that it would be great to play on the same stage.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh, that’s a tough one, there are so many! I think a bill of Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Amon Amarth with Graveshadow opening would just be the ultimate dream come true. Or you know, Wacken or Bloodstock!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
For someone just getting into it, don’t get discouraged if your music doesn’t land the first time you put it out. It’s a process and not every project takes off immediately. Keep at it, keep growing, keep pushing yourself and above all else have fun with it. Music is supposed to be about passion and fun.
For my younger self, just sit down and practice man! Also, I think I would echo the same things I would say to someone new to my younger self. Keep pushing. There are going to be hard times, there are going to be moments where you feel burnt out, and discouraged and you’re going to want to quit. Don’t feed into it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep playing. You’ll be utterly miserable if you don’t keep going.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Invest more money in our early music videos haha. I think aside from that it would be to insist on doing things our way for the first record. The process was great but we compromised in some areas that if we had dug our heels in I think would have translated to be a better-finished product. (William Lloyd Walker)
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It’s hard to pick just one. ‘Blood and Fire’ got us a lot of attention really early on and was our set closer for almost the entirety of our live shows. ‘Warchief’ is a personal favorite of mine. I love the riffs and the overall flow of the song. The lyrics are about one of my favorite fictional characters, Thrall from the Warcraft universe. His story was really inspiring to me as a kid, just always pushing forward and trying to do what’s best for others. Then there’s ‘Namesake’ which we haven’t played in a while. I wrote that song about my struggles in the wake of my grandfather’s death, using the line of succession of a king as the metaphor. I’m named after him and I’ve always had some struggle with feeling like I’m living up to the name, he really was the best man I’ve ever known. (William Lloyd Walker)
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
For our older material, it’s Eden Ablaze, Warchief, Winter’s Come to Call, Lycan Lust and Blink. For our new material, it’s Shadow Battles, Soldier of 34, The Betrayer and Vengeance of Envy.
Lycan Lust, Blood and Fire and Warchief are probably our most requested songs live. (William Lloyd Walker)
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Collaborative is the word I would use to describe our creative process. It works a little differently for each song. Sometimes it’s me writing a few riffs together that flow where, but I’m unsure of where to take it from there. That’s when I’ll hand it over to Aaron and he’ll experiment with it, usually doing things I would have never thought to do. Aaron is a different breed, he’s a guy who writes the entirety of a song before presenting it. Usually in those situations, it's more a conversation about the arrangement at that point and small pointers about how transitions could be made to flow better. Since Rachl came on, she’s been handling all vocal melodies and lyrics. She sends us demos and we provide feedback on where we think things could be tightened up. (William Lloyd Walker)
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
We’re storytellers, first and foremost. We’re also a big group of nerds. We like honoring the stories that have touched us, that have been important to us in our lives. Stories about victory in the face of certain doom, and overcoming insurmountable odds are always my favorites. I often escape into a good book, show, or video game when I’m going through a hard time, and finding a connection with those characters has often been a way for me to process my own emotions. Translating those into lyrics, and in a way that is accessible to as many people as possible is something I truly enjoy about this project. (William Lloyd Walker)
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Communication, is just like anything else in life. This is a collaborative project, it always has been. For it to be successful people need to be willing to take constructive criticism and understand it’s not a personal attack or an attack on their creativity. It’s always about what’s best for the song. Understanding that sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone and be willing to pivot is important. We’ve had it out, but it never gets to a point of yelling or screaming. Honest, respectful discourse is how we’ve handled things and it’s worked out for the most part. (William Lloyd Walker)
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Tour!! We’ve been quiet for a long time, almost four years. Before that, we were trying to tour as much as possible and that’s where we want to get back to. We’re putting together a run of dates in the summer we should be announcing soon and are aggressively looking for opportunities later this year and into 2023. Graveshadow is a live band, always has been and we can’t wait to start bringing that energy back as soon as possible. Our third full-length album, ‘The Uncertain Hour’ comes out July 15th and we’re incredibly proud of the way it came out, get your pre-orders in! If you haven’t yet, check out the music video for our first single “Soldier of 34’ streaming now on YouTube. Lastly, thank you to everyone for the continued support, it really means the world and we can’t wait to see everyone on the road again! (William Lloyd Walker)