If Will Joseph Cook were a cartoon character, he’d be Mr. Poopybutthole from Rick and Morty. Hear him out though, there’s actually a humbling reason behind his obscure choice.
“What a character,” Will says, leaning back in his chair, euphoric in the good show that he recommends everyone should watch. It’s a show that features the character with the infamous, unfortunate name – that’s Mr. Poopybutthole again, just for the record – and sends the message that “if you can get past the name, he’s actually a really nice guy.”
It hits a little close to home. With a name that doubles up as a question (will he cook?), Will sighs that the joke is one that you simply can’t unsee, and is definitely a well-worn one. As it circulates the Twittersphere, and some dude gets his fifteen minutes of fame, Will is adamant that no, he won’t take a saucepan on stage (“that’d be giving in”). But yes, an Instagram live cookery feature has been considered.
“I was thinking of maybe getting people to like vote, or tweet in ingredients, and then I’d randomly pick them out of a bag and have to make something. I’m thinking some people would be like ‘gummy bears’ and some people would be like ‘duck liver’ – like ugh. But then I’d have to eat it.”
With two EPs under his belt; the warm, nostalgic, You Jump I Run, and the technicolour Proof Enough, Will is giddy in announcing his debut album, Sweet Dreamer – out on 14th April. From the zesty title track to the artwork, it’s set to be a ripe, juicy orange of a record. Complete with a cheeky wink, apparently, the aim is to hear a song, and immediately think: BANGER.
“I feel like the album is no-nonsense in that respect,” he explains. “I deliberately cut tracks out that I didn’t think were up to it. I want it to be one of those albums that’s definitely uplifting but then it’s something that you could listen to when you’re really sad as well and it would give context to what you were feeling.
“I wanted it to be an emotional listen, whether that’s just like you feel ecstatic throughout it or it just resonates with you in some respect.”
A re-release of an old favourite, Beach (I Wanna Make You Mine) teases what to expect. Easily adored, the off-kilter number is kissed by sunrays, while rich, radiant vocals wrap around skittering percussion that leads to a delicious hook.
New single, Biggest Fan, is a jangly scribbled love note of declaration. “It was written because my girlfriend and I did a good four months apart, like on different sides of the world,” says Will. The lush hook (“let me tell you who I am / I’m your biggest fan”) feverishly reinforces that phone signal and time difference isn’t going to stop anything. “It’s about like only being able to Skype and how our relationship worked through that”.
The track slots into the full record that acts as a warm embrace in introduction to Will Joseph Cook. Pretty much every track is biographical, a running sequence of different stories and moments that fit together.
“I feel like people want to do lots of pre-meditated things, and not many people tend to be putting themselves on the line anymore.” Will is a person who is eager to do just that both in life and in his music. He admits to being a bit of a romantic, a more spontaneous person, and could probably go on Mastermind with a specialist subject of oxbow lakes. Yes, really.
“I just wanted to make this album a collection of the best possible songs that I could have written for it.” To do so, each was approached and crafted separately, for a Will Joseph Cook song embodies a different side to a shared personality.
“I’ve never written a tune, well I probably have written a tune, but I’ve never released a tune that needed context or only made sense or was only enjoyable if you knew about others.” he tells, explaining how that way, he never gets bored. “You need it to be able to stand on its own two feet.”
The tracks – past and future – are all interconnected in that they share the same heart and soul, but are caught exposed in different and very significant periods to show the many fragments of life – both sweet and sour – that come together in the end.
“I think especially as a solo artist where you’re the singer, the structures of the songs are quite classic but sonically they then explore different things.”
This opportunity mean that songs burst with their own. Describing himself as a visual writer, strong images flood Will’s brain first, and those prompt him to finish the lyrics; seeing colours, shapes and landscapes. For Take Me Dancing, a romantic wonder, the scene was set like “Great Gatsby but in the Caribbean”. Elaborating, he says “That was my thing, really suave but also really tropical and nice.”
“What’s the point in an album if the singles are great and then the rest of them just sound like bad versions of the singles? Or lesser versions?” he asks, referencing Darwin Deez – a beloved favourite of his. Darwin’s first album was listened to on the best day of Will’s life, and it’s been blasted on sunny days since, making him feel great. But then, it’s also been the soundtrack to a break-up. It’s this human connection that the “direct and concentrated” Sweet Dreamer aims to build.
For some, it already has. Will smiles with glee in telling that he’s following the story of two guys in Leeds who bonded in the workplace over his songs and the very idea that his music can provide the soundtrack to a moment. (“that’s what you do it for, isn’t it?”)
With a distinct voice that comforts, oddball pop beats that celebrate, an aura that’s fizzes with giddiness, a humour that is thrown around like an affectionate arm over a shoulder, and a band there to cause mischief and mayhem as a support system, Will Joseph Cook is set to be your new favourite artist, with songs to fall in love with and to.
Volume #17 is here. Get it now.
Words by Tanyel Gumushan