Willapa is a Pacific Northwest band consisting of singer, songwriter, guitarist Chad DeRoux, the lively drummer/ percussionist Russell Bogle Dingus, and David Kessel bass, keyboards, and harmonica. The Willapa Rock "n" Roll sound is inspired by the meeting of the oceans, rivers, and forests of the area. Willapa is currently working on a new album for a 2018 spring release on Cave Hollywood Records. We invite you to sign up on our mailing list for future info on our music, merchandise, and future happenings and events.
Scheduled for late September 2018 will be the debut album Willapa on Cave Hollywood Records, from Willapa, a Bellingham-Washington based trio produced by David Kessel and arranged by Willapa.
Multi-instrumentalist Kessel (bass,keyboards and harmonica) is joined by guitarist/singer/songwriter Chad DeRoux and
Russell Bogle Dingus on drums and percussion. All the songs were written by DeRoux for the endeavor with the exception of a Kessel-DeRoux-Dingus co-written composition “Way Out (And Beyond).”
Willapa was recorded at Champion St. Sound Studios in Bellingham, Washington by recording engineer and studio owner Paul Turpin.
“Paul Turpin knows his stuff,” explains David Kessel. “He’s been in sound a long time. One of the top sound guys in the PNW. The studio is really good. It felt comfortable. He’s hip to different kinds of sounds.”
In sequencing the Willapa album, Kessel had a definite game plan regarding the order of the tracks. “The order was important. Each song is its own story. It all flows together as far as the stories being told. When we got to the end of the set that we put together I thought we needed a groovy tune. I have a surf radio show and dig surf music. It’s really neat to have a different kind of expression. Something you can just groove to. I enjoy playing bass. I get to swing the musical direction into an early Stones’ groove and bring the band together. I help glue the action.”
Willapa album mastering was done at Aftermaster Audio in Hollywood, California by mastering engineer Peter Doell.
“One of the best,” exclaims David. “He used to be the head of Universal Music before they folded and moved the mastering over to Capitol. He did a Bangles album that came out on a record label I co-owned. Most people don’t know what mastering is. Because today on computers you hit a button that says master. That’s not mastering. That’s just sort of frequency management at best. Mastering is where you really define the specifics of the record scientifically.”
“Three years ago I decided the band should do an album,” Kessel volunteers. “It’s actually a band. I’m the record label and producer. I also play bass, keyboards and harmonica. The band name is Willapa. It’s a territory in Washington. We’re a trio, and the two other guys in the group are from that area. Willapa also has a territorial reference of reality and I wanted to do this. A clean, new music project at this time of my life.
“We have a guitarist/singer/songwriter who writes some really cool stuff. And the drummer is terrific. They’ve been friends for 20 years and I just fit in. They had been in a previous group I was looking to produce. That broke up and they came to me. ‘Let’s rock.’”
Kessel was adamant in forming a trio, a group format which emerged organically and musically.
“I was looking at putting a band together for them and one by one we decided we didn’t want anybody and I said, ‘I’m tired of everybody coming in.’ “I’ll do it.”
“My buddy, the late Ian Copeland, who I was partners with in the Backstage Café in Beverly Hills said ‘if you can work it out, get a trio.’ He was the booking agent for The Police. It’s so much cleaner. You eliminate a person, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and all their friends and families who go to the sessions or the gigs, and you can all fit in a hotel room on the road.”
“My brother and I saw the debut of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967 at the Bag of Nails in England. A trio and galvanizing event for me. I later saw Cream. My dad Barney Kessel is the king of the trios. The first guy to ever do guitar, bass and drums as a trio in the world. He was in the Oscar Peterson Trio.
“On the Willapa album I purposely didn’t play guitar,” David adds. “I didn’t hear that as part of the sound. We’re a band. If I wanted to play guitar we would end up sounding like ABBA with me playing all the 12-string guitar overdubs, or Muddy Waters on electric guitar. I wanted a rock sound, a rock band. We also don’t have an acoustic guitar on the record. On purpose.
“We had probably 30 songs that I whittled down to 11. My guys have a respect of music and respect of what I brought to the table. They listened. Good attitudes.”
About his playing partners, David offers some observations on his bandmates.
“Chad DeRoux on vocals and guitar has a really good set up. A songwriter with good tunes and lyrics. His guitar style is George Harrison. And it’s parts. Not wild stuff. I’ve recorded with John Lennon. No show boating. I really like the intellectual thinking of
playing parts on the guitar. Makes the song cohesive. George was a parts player that worked well within the tune.
“Russell Bogle Dingus, drummer and percussionist, is one of the best I’ve ever heard,” reinforces Kessel. “He can do session work and focus. His time is flawless. He plays a Jazz style kit. Doesn’t have mounted toms. It’s more of a Gene Krupa trip,” stresses David.
“Not that it’s super important or mandatory to mention,” concludes the multi-instrumentalist Kessel, but Willapa reflects actual real stories that have a path with the band and what the singer/songwriter went through that we collectively guide musically and sonically,” Kessel declares. “Willapa is an Indian name. And all three of us have some Native American blood in us. So that felt really kind of good.”
“I really love Washington. Bellingham is a fun little town. Really quaint and very hip. It’s on the Puget Sound. It’s rural. I’m from L.A. It’s totally different. I don’t have to have aspirin in the car dealing with the 405 freeway on top of it being so crowded and smoggy. The air quality is great. A lot of trees and it’s green. Not the concrete jungle of L.A. It’s two hours from Seattle which has turned into a concrete jungle. This is out in the country. I’ve already done the big city bag,” underscores David. “Washington as a state has so many cool places to go. Good for your vibe. Not as uptight. More relaxing. And I felt better about making music. And the music is inspired by Washington.”
1. You Need Love
2. Three Twenty Four
3. Breaking Chains
4. Standing Still
5. Trigger Finger
6. Land Of Plenty
8. Lucky Child
9. Joe Johns Road
11. Way Out (And Beyond)
All songs written by Chad DeRoux- except Way Out (And Beyond) by Kessel DeRoux-Dingus
Record Label - Cave Hollywood Records
All songs published by Cave Hollywood Music (ASCAP)
Produced by David Kessel
Arranged by Willapa
David Kessel may be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org