"The EP had to be titled Strong Enough to Last if only because some producer took eight-plus months to never deliver the first one. He held our masters hostage to try and leverage more rights for himself. Bad move. We don't roll over for scammers, and we never give up. So we saved our nickels and went out and recorded the whole thing all over again -- better. Eventually he'll hear it on the radio, and maybe drive right into the ditch? We wouldn't want anybody hurt of course; but we'd pay money to acquire one of his set-off airbags." - Willamena
"The EP title also reflects our history. We've been called 'indie underdogs' and 'indie heroes' and any number of 'Rocky' references over the years, and while I don't know about 'heroes,' some of that's factual. Basically every label A&R rep turned us down; most of them repeatedly. But we keep slugging along, and they keep getting fired. Now we're earning more radio airplay than no small number of big-money acts can buy. From the single: 'close your eyes and dream,' right? And like we put in all our liner notes: 'long live indie!'" - Chad Hendrickson
Willamena has also released a fun and lighthearted, DIY video for their radio and Billboard charting, hit single "When You Close Your Eyes."
"The lyric video for the single's as 'indie' as it gets. Total budget: $0. So, sorry, VH-1. We're not getting on. We spent the money on Grammy winners for mixing & mastering instead. Maybe it looks exactly like a $0 clip, but DJs in exotic places like Greece and Australia (and South Carolina) love how it sounds." - Willamena
Willamena is a rarity — a nationally-charting genuine indie band. Strong Enough to Last (mixed by Grammy-winner Cameron Webb) is the band’s sixth studio effort. Advance single “When You Close Your Eyes (Radio Mix)” was on the radio even before the EP went to replication, and it debuted on the Billboard Spotify Viral 50 soon after. So all the arrows continue to point “up” for the award-winning #1 Kalamazoo rock act (dubbed “the hardest-working band in Michigan” – music.AllAccess.com 10/20/15) whose music has aired from Japan to Montana to Greece.
Their fifth release, The Light Ahead hit the streets and the airwaves in January, 2015. Before the release date of “The Light Ahead” lead-off single, “The Other Side of Loneliness,” debuted at #5 on the Billboard AAA indicator most-added chart (1/17/15), started at #3 in AAA downloads and streams on radio-servicer PlayMPE.com (1/2/15), and jumped straight onto the FMQB AAA top-200 singles chart at #110 (1/20/15) – all without professional promotion or a publicist. “The Other Side…” peaked at #87 on the FMQB singles chart, stopped only by a lack of “promo” spending. The EP itself climbed directly to #1 on Amazon.com’s “Hot New Releases” Adult Alternative list (1/17/15) and cracked the top-100 on the FMQB AAA non-comm album chart. The follow-up single, “If This Is Love,” charted nationally as well, and third single “Way Back When” spun on over 200 radio stations world-wide. As RadioInfo.com observed, “… it’s definitely a marketable sound that makes for some hit triple-A playlists… and hot AC/AC stations that wait patiently for their turn …. We are keeping our ears on them. So should you.” (RadioInfo.com “pick of the week” 1/14/15).
But “The Light Ahead” was no flash in the pan. Willamena has been impressing programmers, critics and fans for years. The band’s 2013 CD Lost in the Shadows and its tracks charted nationally in six radio formats: Top 40, Hot AC, Triple A, Active Rock, Americana, and College. At least 180 terrestrial stations in six countries aired something from “Lost…” not counting syndicated-show affiliates that pushed the total well over 300.
Simply put, after “… Current” came out, tough times got tougher. Willamena’s home base between the coasts and lack of industry connections (or cash) had always hampered the band; what turned out to be “the big crash” didn’t help. Neither did Napster, or NAFTA, or club closings, or slashed label rosters, or the cratered economy which scattered so many Michiganders, and the band, around the country seeking work. In mid-2009 the band went on a reluctant hiatus.
Undiscovered, that is, until the rise of internet radio, and LPFM, and the Triple A radio format, and accessible technology that brought Willamena’s music out of obscurity. Beginning in 2011, world-class recording pros including Gravity Studios’ Doug McBride (Fall Out Boy, Rachael Yamagata, Veruca Salt), Grammy winner John Seymour (U2, Santana, Dave Matthews Band) and Grammy winner Cameron Webb (Kelly Clarkson, Social Distortion, Motorhead) began to take an interest in the band, contributing their talents on various tracks (and on decidedly non-major-label budgets). Throughout 2012, ‘13, and ‘14 radio stations all over the U.S. and internationally-syndicated programs latched on to Willamena’s hook-filled songs, and the stage was set for 2015’s “The Light Ahead.”
Music fans around the world have been figuring out what the major labels have missed so far: Willamena has the goods. Strong Enough to Last is another collection of original, radio-ready Midwestern rock n’ roll, and it’s set to line the band up toe-to-toe with major-label acts on radio playlists around the globe.