On All In, Lefty's passion, drive and fierce honesty come through loud and clear with songs like "Coming Apart", "You Don't Tell Me" and "You Know I Love You".
Williams says that making the EP was a new process for him because everything around it was very different from his previous releases, "My first two albums I did with John Keane and although he was listed in the credits as a producer, he didn't really do any producing; he engineered the albums. I listed him as producer honestly because I didn't know any better. So in actuality I did all the production work. I mean I was the one who said what if we stretched this or added this here. You know, how about some more cow bell! So with this new record I worked with an actual producer, Ashley Dennis."
He went on to explain, "We have a pretty interesting story about how we met. I used to host a musician's jam for professional musicians around the Atlanta area and traveling musicians who would tour through Atlanta. When I was still doing this I would literally have guys fly in from London to come and do my jam and people would come in from Chicago and Canada and New York. Ashely lives about two miles away from where I was hosting this thing every Monday and one of our mutual friends had told him one day to stop by and check it out. They said it was a real happening thing and that they knew how much he liked music and that he would really enjoy it. So he started showing up every Monday for like two years before I ever found out that he was a producer! I knew that he was a very well respected sound engineer and front of house guy. I knew he did a lot of traveling and had toured with R.E.M. and Sarah McLachlan and Billy Ray Cyrus. I had seen pictures of this guy with everybody under the sun. So at first I knew he was well known for running sound but then I found out he was doing producing work. I had purchased a home studio and started doing a bunch of demos that I had written but hadn't been able to record. So one day it occurred to me that if I had some help from someone who actually knew what they were doing that I could put this out at home; something that would be good. So I hit him up one Monday and I brought in like twenty-five demos and I said listen man, I'd like to work with you and I would really like to get your opinion on these songs and I would like to have you help me produce this record. He kind of , well I don't want to say blew me off, but he was like I'm really busy and I really don't have time right now. I said I understand but just give the songs a listen and if you like them maybe one day we'll work together. He took them home and then called me the next day and was like, alright, we're doing this!"
Williams went on to say that Dennis' excitement about the songs inspired him to go about approaching Tree Leaf Music, which is a local label in Atlanta, "They have Tree Sound Studio, which is a very famous studio. They do all of Ludacris' albums. Lenny Kravitz has been recording there for the last couple of years. Matchbox Twenty did a bunch of their albums there. So after I got such a great reaction from Ashley, I decided to approach Paul Diaz from Tree Leaf Music about recording my music. I took that same 25-song demo into Paul and after the first four songs, he said we have to put you on this label! I mean he hadn't even heard the rest and he asked me if it got better and of course I said yes so he went through all of them and he wanted to record all of them. So we signed the deal right then and there."
Williams says that having Dennis around to help produce the album was invaluable, "We found out that we think almost exactly the same way. We'd be in the studio and I'd be saying this part of the song really needs another guitar part here and Ashley would be like yeah, it needs something like this, and he would say what I was thinking. It was really cool because we developed this symbiotic relationship. We really took our time recording it. It took about six months to do five songs, which is a very long time. My last two albums were done literally in under eight days and that was from the time we walked into the studio to the time I had the master in my hands. We were very meticulous about making sure the parts were right and that all the vocal parts were correct. Throughout the course of all that and hearing Ashley tell stories about working with this or that artist, I finally asked him if he would be interested in managing me. He said well, you know what, yeah actually I think that would be pretty cool and so he's my manager now."
Williams shared that moving forward he wants to release new music every six to eight months, which is best served by the EP format. He says this is partly so he can be really picky about what he releases but also because he feels it will allow him to better connect with his fans, "With a traditional album nine times out of ten those songs were made two years before they were even started in the studio and then it takes a year to get the song out so the fans are really getting a snapshot of where I was three years ago. Doing them every six months or so gives me the opportunity to always have new material and people really get a sense of where I'm at in my life right now, which makes me feel more connected to my audience."
As for performing the new songs, Williams says that his favorite songs to perform live right now are "You Don't Tell Me" and "You Know I Love You", ""You Don't Tell Me" is a lot of fun. The story behind that one is that my wife and I were arguing with each other and we don't argue a lot. Over the years I've learned that if I'm right the best thing for me to do is just to shut up and my wife will realize that I'm right and after a couple of days will apologize. If I'm wrong then the best thing for me to to do is immediately apologize. So we were in an argument and I was right and so I was just being quiet for a few days and I was angry because she still hadn't admitted that she was wrong yet. I'll never forget it because I was ironing my clothes after I washed them. I grew up southern and even though I don't sound like a redneck, I definitely grew up redneck and so I was sitting there just kind of talking to myself and mumbling under my breath. It was like, "You don't tell me, I'll tell you!" I don't know what it was about that particular moment that struck me but as soon as it came out of my mouth, I thought to myself everybody has that moment or point in their relationship where they were ready to break it off. Not that I was at that point but it just occurred to me. I was like man, I should write a song about that. I've had more than my fair share of bad relationships so I something to draw from and I just started the song. My wife and I were still in this argument and I'm downstairs writing the song and the chorus is "you don't get to tell me what to do anymore" and so she's steaming because I'm writing a song about her. It took me a couple of weeks for me to convince her that even though she inspired the song, it wasn't really about her. So that's one of my favorite songs to play live because it's just one of those moments where I get to be self righteous. You know, kiss it! It's a lot of fun to play because it's a sing-along tune and it really resonates with women, which is great; especially southern women. Then my other favorite is "You Know I Love You", which is the song that I wrote for my wife for our anniversary. She's an inspiring woman!"
He is planning on a release tour in August that will run through October and he says that those coming out to see him can expect, "A high energy band who really enjoy audience participation and getting people rowdy. Yeah we like fights...just kidding! We're very peaceful people. It's all about having a good time and having fun. We play mostly original music but we throw in a few covers. Some classic rock stuff and some newer stuff like Blackberry Smoke."
He says that he gets frustrated when he is pigeonholed as a blues guy because he feels that live he is as far from a blues guy as he can be, "I mean there's definitely an aspect of the blues in my stuff but I always tell people when they call me a blues guy that I do the blues the same way that the Allman Brothers did rock. It's there and it's part of my roots but don't come to my shows expecting to see Robert Cray because you'll be sorely disappointed. We're loud and we're all about rock and roll. If you like rock like Government Mule and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin, then you're gonna love what we do."
He says he listens to and is inspired by all kinds of music from country to rock to blues and to jazz, "I listen to a lot of classical music. I actually spent nine years performing in a orchestra during middle school through high school. I spent two years in college playing the guitar parts in a big band so I like swing as well. I got really heavy into progressive jazz and jazz fusion stuff so I love that. When I was a kid my dad would switch from Led Zeppelin records to Herb Alpert to Yes to Genesis. He'd even be listening to Marvin Gaye so growing up nothing was off limits, well as long as it didn't have the devil in it. There was no Rolling Stones and my Iron Maiden records kept getting thrown away."
Because of his wide taste in music, Williams says that he has recorded a lot of different types of music that has never ended up on a record, "I've got a lot of jazz fusion stuff that I've never released or even recorded. I've got a bunch of straight up funk songs that I would love to release. When I was recording at Tree Sound, they've got a lot of hip hop artists that come through because Atlanta has such a huge hip hop scene. There was two songs from the 25-song demo that I brought in that were very much B-funk type songs and I had a couple of rappers say that they could rap over that and I was like let's do it because I don't really care for the words that much so let's collaborate. I like to do stuff like that."
When asked about how whether being born with one hand ever hindered his drive to play music, Williams explained that, "I started playing when I was four and I'm one of the few people I know who never had any other direction in life. For as far back as I can remember, I have never wanted to do anything else but play music and it drives my wife nuts because she has spent her whole life bouncing from idea to idea. She always tells me it must be nice to be so sure about what you want to do."
He went onto explain that although he self-taught himself in many ways, it was his father who really set him on his path, "My dad taught me originally. I started out with him showing me the chords. The biggest thing that my dad taught me was how to listen. He has a great set of ears. He knows almost nothing about music but he can pick out a melody on the guitar. I can remember when I was like seven years old and he was teaching me how to play "Stairway to Heaven" and I remember him telling me that one of his friends had shown him the main chord progression. We were sitting down and it was the section at the end after the solo section and there's like six guitar parts going on in that section at that time. My was like listen, Jimmy Page is playing this one part here. You have to listen to it real carefully. Then he said listen to this other part here and I actually heard it. It was just the coolest thing!"