Inspired by '70s and early-'80s punk as well as '60s garage rock, blues-rock, and soul, the Anaheim, California garage punk trio the Willowz draw from influences roughly twice as old as they were when they formed in 2002, when singer/guitarist Richie James Follin, bassist/vocalist Jessica Reynoza, and drummer Alex Nowicki were all in their late teens.
Follin taught Reynoza, who is also a painter, how to play bass; while in New York City that summer, he also recorded some songs with producer Paul Kostabi. Follin and Reynoza met Nowicki at a party soon after. The trio recorded a 7" for the German imprint Wanker, another 7" for Posh Boy, and a self-titled album, which was released in 2004 by Dionysus. The Willowz also gigged prolifically, playing with bands such as the Epoxies, Dance Disaster Movement, the Mutes, the Dirtbombs, and the Weirdos. The rest of 2004 saw the Willowz maintaining their busy schedule by contributing a track to the soundtrack of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Gondry also directed the video for "Meet Your Demise." The Willowz also did a split 7" with the Distraction and toured the U.K. that summer.
In 2005, the band made its Sympathy for the Record Industry debut with Are Coming, which featured re-recorded versions of many of the tracks on The Willowz, and released the much more ambitious Talk in Circles later that year. The DVD Seeinsquares arrived in 2006. Early in 2007, the Willowz returned with Chautauqua, which was recorded with new drummer Loren Humphrey and issued by a new label, Dim Mak. The band recorded another album for Dim Mak in 2009, Everyone, before deciding to take a break for a while. Follin played with his sister Madeline's band Cults; he and Humphrey also formed the band Guards in 2010, releasing a series of singles and then an album, In Guards We Trust, in 2013. He next joined up with Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi in the band CRX, who released their debut album, New Skin, in late 2016. Meanwhile, Humphrey joined Last Shadow Puppets as their tour drummer and Reynoza helped start a psych rock band named BIRDS. Since they weren't busy enough already, the trio decided the time was right to bring back the Willowz, and they finished up work on their fifth album. Produced by Follin and mixed by Humphrey, the album recaptured their garage punk roots and added a little bit of polish. Fifth was issued by Thrill Me Records in September of 2017. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi