Whispers of the Willow: An Interview with The Q-Tips Bandits

Willow” by The Q-Tip Bandits may be their debut single, but the songwriter behind it, Leo Son, has been working on it for quite some time.

The original version, still available on SoundCloud, is the somber, slow jam that Son first intended it to be.  According to him, it was very much a song about finding solace in the little things within the chaos that he felt was around him at the time. The more it was played, the more that message of finding solace within chaos seemed to encompass the band’s mission. 

The more “Willow” was played, however, the more it began to change musically. It has grown beyond its somber exterior and has turned into a fairly upbeat track thanks to band members Claire Davis and Andrew Paolini.

“From where [“Willow”] comes from and musically where it was to where it is now, it's definitely gone on its own journey just like I think we have throughout this time,” Davis said.

It’s a happy transition for Son, who started out as a singer/songwriter with a backing band and quickly realized the relationships with those band members was beyond a couple of performing musicians.

“For me, music is not about a single person,” he said. “It's about how the whole band interacts with each other and the more that we messed around with configuration and finding the sound, the more it just felt like my songs weren't complete or they didn't come to life until I played them with the whole band.”

Son and Davis met during a recording session and are both currently students at Berklee College of Music. They both shared the feeling of being overwhelmed and surrounded by crowds of talented musicians, and bonded over the simplicity of music versus the complexity they were learning each day.

The two of them, along with Paolini and additional band members Maclin Tucker and Stephan Tenney, recently finished a semester aboard in Valencia, Spain and were able to spend a good portion of their time playing live. They booked shows in Spain, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

“I really think there's something to say for the kind of relationships you have with people you see every single day for five months straight and at the end of the five months you're still not sick of them,” Davis said. “It was a really solid bonding and growing experience for all of us not just as musicians but as people and our relationships together.”

The Q-Tip Bandits are just beginning their journey together, with a goal of cleaning people’s ears out and getting stuck in their heads while doing it. Their debut single, “Willow”, has already gone on its journey with the band, and it will be mesmerizing to see where their journey will take them next.