Interview with: Wild Ponies

Photo credit: Neilson Hubbard

Telisha and Doug Williams, who share their musical stories with the world as Americana duo Wild Ponies, will release their new album, Radiant, on May 13th.

Raised on old-time music, bluegrass, and southern gospel, each comes by their talent honestly; Doug’s mother is a folk singer, and his grandfather taught him banjo at age five, while Telisha’s uncles, Southern gospel recording artists the 1970s, taught her to sing when she was a child.  The pair grew up in tiny Martinsville, Virginia, met in high school, and started playing music together in a rock n’ roll cover band.  “We ended up going to different colleges,” says Telisha. “Doug got into jazz and got really cerebral about it.” “I got annoying, that’s really what it was,” says Doug with a laugh.

As with so many others, the pair was lured by the musical magic of Nashville; “We were looking for a community, we lived in an RV for a year; when we weren’t on the road playing shows, we’d park the RV at friends’ places and hang out here,” recalls Doug.  “We decided it was time to officially move, so the last time the RV broke down, we started looking for a place here.”

Radiant is an eleven-song folk-rock stunner, with the pair’s storytelling prowess on full display,—two fine examples of which are “Tower And The Wheel” and “Lullaby“, and just so happen to be this writer’s favorites on the album.  “Lullaby” is the murder ballad, I like the way you think!” says Telisha. “In that song we managed to kill off four people, and make it sound like a lullaby.”  “We actually have a lot of murder ballads, there’s a least on on every record” laughs Doug.  “There are elements of truth to them, but for the record, we have never killed anyone!  We’re really fun at parties!”

In “Tower And The Wheel”, the duo gives life and a personality to a beloved landmark from Doug’s family homestead in Galax, Virginia.  “There’s a massive old Catawba tree there that’s at least 100 years old; when we were growing up, we tied our horses to it, we would hang out underneath it, our names are carved into it, we were married there.  We wrote the song about that tree, about how it’s hung on and all the things it’s seen,” Doug explains.  “I really identify with that tree,” Telisha adds. “She’s been through so much, she’s a little worn, her branches are way crooked and pretty gnarly, but she’s still standing.  The day we wrote that song, a storm was coming across the farm, and I knew that even a storm wouldn’t break her.”

They finished the tune with a little help from the esoteric—struggling to finish the second part of the tune, the duo laid out eight tarot cards and interpreted them in a way that would fit the song.  “It tells the cycle and the story of things, The Tower and The Wheel were two of the cards—they signify inevitability and the fact that everything that’s built is going to fall, but that things will be rebuilt again, and you just have to roll with it,” explains Doug.

Wild Ponies are touring now to support the release of Radiant; check out their schedule for dates, and learn more about how to sign up for the 3rd Annual Wild Ponies Kentucky Bourbon Trail Ride, their fan-centered adventure.

Listen to Radiant

Pre-order Radiant

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