Withered Hand

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Withered Hand
Withered Hand.jpg
Withered Hand performing at the Lexington in London on 25 September 2011
Background information
Birth nameDan Willson
Born1974 (age 44–45)
London[1]
OriginEdinburgh
GenresIndie rock, folk rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active2005-present
LabelsAbsolutely Kosher Records, Slumberland Records, Fortuna Pop!
Associated actsMeursault, Enfant Bastard, Scott Hutchison, King Creosote
Websitewitheredhand.com

Dan Willson (born 1974), also known by his stage name Withered Hand, is an Edinburgh-based indie rock musician. His first studio album, Good News, was released in 2009 in Scotland, and re-released in 2011 on Absolutely Kosher Records in the United States.[2] His second album, entitled New Gods, was released in March 2014 through Fortuna Pop Records in the UK and Slumberland Records in the USA. He performed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas in 2014, as part of that year's Scottish Showcase.[1]

Early life[edit]

Willson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness in Scotland[3] as well as in Bishop's Stortford in England. As a kid, he was not permitted to attend school assemblies, birthday parties or Christmas celebrations.[4] Willson was worried throughout his childhood that his voice was too high so he didn't begin singing until his late twenties, and he originally wanted to be a visual artist. He has been based in Edinburgh since 1996.[5][6]

Musical career[edit]

Willson began his solo musical career at age 30, after one of his close friends died and his wife bought him a guitar for his 30th birthday.[5] As Withered Hand, the first song he wrote was Cornflake. Willson studied at Art College in London, and moved to Edinburgh with his then-girlfriend, to whom he is now married, in 1996. Shortly thereafter, Willson tried his hand at being a visual artist, but eventually abandoned his work in the field. He attributes this in part to his "lack of success in expressing myself visually."[7] He was guitarist in Edinburgh band Barrichello, which he joined in 1999. This band broke up amicably in 2002.[8] His second band was known as Squits, and later became a short-lived art rock group named Peanut. He was also a member of the short lived anti-folk group The Love Gestures alongside Cammy Watt of Enfant Bastard and Neil Pennycook of Meursault.[9]

Willson has said that his upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness "gave [his] fledgling artistic temperament a lot to think about", and that since he was taught that the world would end very soon, he began to "read everything as a sign".[10] The first song he ever wrote as Withered Hand was "Cornflake."[10] He has cited Teenage Fanclub and Eugenius as two of the bands he listened to most often growing up, and as the reason why he was so glad that Eugenius' frontman Eugene Kelly appeared on New Gods. Willson, in fact, named his son after Kelly.[1]

Withered Hand was an active member of the Fence Collective and its offshoot the Alter Ego Trading Company, making appearances at their Fife based events The World Tour of Crail and Bunfight at the OK Karail.[11] He has toured with the likes of James Yorkston, Frightened Rabbit (as well as Scott Hutchison), Rozi Plain, King Creosote and Samantha Crain.

Reception[edit]

Marc Riley has named Withered Hand as one of his favourite artists, and has had him perform sessions on his show, BBC Radio 6 Music.[12] Robert Christgau has also written favorable reviews of both his albums, naming Good News the 14th best album of 2011 [13] and New Gods the 3rd best album of 2014.[14]

Band[edit]

Willson's current band consists of, in addition to him, Malcolm Benzie of Edinburgh band eagleowl (guitar & mandolin), Fraser Hughes (bass) and Alun Thomas of The Leg (drums). They are also occasionally joined by Pam Berry of 90s US band Black Tambourine & various former members of the Second Hand Marching Band. Previous members include Hannah Shepherd (cello) & Neil Pennycook of Meursault (banjo).[15]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

  • Religious Songs (2008)
  • You're Not Alone (2009)
  • Heart Heart (2012)
  • Inbetweens (2012)

Singles[edit]

  • "King of Hollywood" (2013, split single with "Next to Nothing Blues" by Charles Latham)
  • "Horseshoe" (2014, gold vinyl limited to 500)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Dingwall, John (17 March 2014). "SXSW Festival: Withered Hand reach out to new audience in Texas". Daily Record. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Records". witheredhand.com. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  3. ^ Harrell, Phil (18 May 2011). "Withered Hand: A Ruler Across The Knuckles". NPR. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  4. ^ Shepherd, Fiona (15 March 2012). "Interview: Dan Willson on his indie alter ego Withered Hand". The Scotsman.
  5. ^ a b "Profile". Absolutely Kosher Records. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012.
  6. ^ "The world according to Withered Hand". Civilian Glasgow. 3 March 2014.
  7. ^ Morrison, Alan (2 March 2014). "Wither ing heights". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Withered Hand Biography". SL Records. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  9. ^ McLaughlin, Milo (9 May 2008). "I Hear a New World (May, 2008)". The Skinny. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. ^ a b Meighan, Nicola (2 August 2012). "Art In A Different Place: Withered Hand Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  11. ^ "A royal renaissance sparking creativity for King Creosote". The Herald. 27 December 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Withered Hand". BBC. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (2012). "The Dean's List: Christgau's Best of 2011". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (2014). "Christgau's Pazz & Jop Ballot 2014". Village Voice. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Withered Hand". Discogs. Retrieved 22 October 2013.

External links[edit]