Following the release of their brand new EP Fight Or Flight, Chicago-based rock outfit Westwood stop by to chat all things song-writing, live performance, the industry, the dream, and the strong work ethic. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi guys – thanks for the chat, great to connect with you! For those who don’t know, who’s in the band, and did you choose Westwood purely for the street name, or did it have some other aspect of interest about it?
It’s great to connect with you too! Our little three-piece is made up of Ross Nelson (Vocals/Guitar), Scott Kay (Bass/Vocals) and Patrick Ryan (Drums).
At first, Ross absolutely hated the name Westwood! But as the years went by and the band kept going, Ross slowly accepted the fact that this name was choosing us more than we were choosing it. It gives us a nostalgic feeling because to us, Westwood was the place where it all began.
What can you tell us about the Fight or Flight EP – what inspired this concept, and what ties the tracks together?
This EP has its general concept to the audience and a personal meaning to us. In general, all these songs on this EP make us want to fight or go running. These high-energy songs needed a high-energy title to showcase their full potential, and we thought Fight or Flight was that name.
The personal story behind the EP title comes from how long it took for us to finish it. We dropped making the original EP in 2015-2016 when the band couldn’t find a permanent third member. When Scott came around in 2018, we looked back at these songs and joked about running away from these songs or fighting to finish what we started, and we chose to finish what we started!
Is there a specific story behind All I Have?
This song is a pop-punk sounding anthem that’s about being yourself, mistakes and all! All we have are the decisions we make that make us who we are, and those mistakes we have made in the past is what’s going to make us better people in the future. It’s about being proud of yourself, and owning up to your own personal opinions, without fear of what other people think!
What about Run Away – a seemingly topical, heavily instrumental then mildly political track; what inspired this, and how do you generally decide what to write about?
This song has gone through an incredible amount of re-writing over the last 6 years! When Ross first started writing this song, the first verse resembled running away from your home, almost like you’re stuck alone in your room wanting to run away from the sadness you’re feeling right now. The 2nd verse was written much later, when Ross was becoming more of an adult in life. He realized that the reason he was running was to actually find a home of his own. This home isn’t always an actual place, but it’s the feeling of belongingness from being with the people you trust the most, which is your family in his eyes.
“He realized that the reason he was running was to actually find a home of his own.”
You had a project back in 2014 by the looks of things, then something of a hiatus – can you tell us more about your journey together?
We started this band as a song-writing project, just Ross and Pat at the time. After our very first high-school band broke up, the two made a promise to keep on writing and never stop trying to get better, as well as promise to have as much fun as possible while doing it!
We had our first launch in 2014 with Tyler Jones as our bassist at the time, we launched our first single, Black River and it felt unreal seeing the attention it was getting! But we were young and completely unprepared for the music industry, and over time we just stopped having the motivation to keep working hard at it and the band fell apart.
We had a revolving door of musicians coming in and out when Tyler moved on, but the perfect piece of the puzzle wouldn’t be found until we met Scott in 2018. After the first practice with him, we knew there was something about our chemistry together, and the three of us decided to give Westwood the work it deserves to become something great!
“…we were young and completely unprepared for the music industry, and over time we just stopped having the motivation to keep working hard at it and the band fell apart.”
What’s the punk rock scene like around Chicago lately, prior to Covid of course?
It’s crazy how much we miss playing is an overcrowded basement! Before Covid, we were sadly on a hiatus, but all three of us can agree that nothing is more real and powerful than a great house concert! We hope we can get those days back soon.
Has your plan of action changed much given the past twelve months of lock-down, and has there been any positive impact?
We can all agree that this pandemic is not friendly to the music industry… Despite everything that’s happened, it’s not going to be a reason for us to give up or stop trying! For now, we’re focused on spreading our music wherever we can online. Just because we can’t physically be there doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected to our audience!
Is there a new project on the way, and if so – what can you tell us about this?
We are planning to record a new original song and music video for it later this year, as well as begin recording another EP in early 2022. We’re still in the writing process, but you’re going to want to follow us to hear these new songs! 😉
Who would be your dream band or act to share a stage with?
The three of us have very different music tastes, but if there is one band we can all agree on sharing the stage with, it would be Rise Against, hands down!
Do you plan on applying to play festivals as and when, or building your own name first of all with gigs around your local scene?
Until people feel comfortable with going out to public events again, our current plan is to use our music to build our audience base, online and in person. We just partnered up with UAC Management, who have been a huge help with helping us with planning!
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given as a band?
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” We’re not sure where we heard this from, but whenever we feel down or we’re having a tough time with our music, we remember this quote and it instantly gives us the motivation we need to push ourselves a little farther every time we write.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
Is there anything you would change about the mainstream music industry if you could?
We hope our songs will change it once we make it up there! 😊 Until then, we cannot say we’d change anything about the music industry right now. It’s been through enough changes already!
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
Our music can be emotional and angry, but we are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet! Being kind is a trait that the three of us think is important, no one wants to meet another snobby Rockstar!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for interviewing us, we had a lot of fun and good thoughts from the questions you provided! 😊
“Being kind is a trait that the three of us think is important, no one wants to meet another snobby Rockstar!”
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