William Fitzsimmons - Video and Interview

WDDI: I guess you live in Jacksonville Illinois right now? 
William Fitzsimmons: Thats right 
WDDI: Is there a music scene there?Are you involved in it? What brought you there?
William Fitzsimmons: The music scene in Jacksonville would probably be the high school marching band and uh, and maybe the glee club from some local colleges. Its just, its kind of a small farming town, and I guess I moved there because it was um.. it’s a tabula rasa. Ya know? It was a nice blank slate from the places that I’ve been, you know, and people’s live`s that I’ve messed up and messed with. So it was a fresh start

WDDI: What is the worst job you ever had?
William Fitzsimmons: That’s a good question. The worst job I ever had. I mean I’ve had a lot of... I’ve kind of worked a lot of different weird jobs. I was a garbage man for a while. I was a produce boy in a grocery store for a while. I think the worst and best job that I had, it kind of occupies the same space, it depends on what day it was, was when i worked um the psychiatric unit in the hospital. And, ya know, some days were literally amazing they were wonderful. You see people’s lives change right in front of you. You would see people that were stricken with really, really awful psychiatric illness get better. On the worst day you were getting attacked by someone who was psychotic, delusional, or coming down from heroine, crack cocaine. So everyday was different but I’m thankful for that too. I definitely gave me an understanding of the entire breath of people there are I suppose. It allowed me to learn how to have empathy for people when they are at their worst and that’s a very important thing for a therapist and I think for a writer too.

WDDI: You picked up a lot of instruments growing up, and you’ve been doing counseling. Your career both musically and non-musically could have gone any way but it went in the direction that we were talking about earlier. The guy with the guitar on the stage. What shaped that?
William Fitzsimmons: I guess the biggest influence that put me in the place that I am now, and certainly there’s many, I think it was some sort of vague combination of my upbringing with my parents and music being such a big part of the household and my desire to get into counseling and therapy. They both were very important. Today I sort of look at therapy as being the biggest thing because I still feel like I’m doing that work. I mean I’m definitely a musician, I mean that’s what the check says, but I feel that day to day I’m doing the work of a therapist. That’s what the songs are about. Its about helping people, ya know, deal with stuff that they’re going through.
WDDI: Why a songwriter?
William Fitzsimmons: Well, I’d like to get moving away from that, like moving away from the solo thing, wich sort of begs the question of direction. No but I mean it started out as that and it still some at least for the writing process is still basically that. Because that still gives me the freedom to say whatever it is I need to say. There is no constraints of input from other people, even people who might be really good but I still feel like if I’m meant to address individuals in difficulties people have is to put myself in the mindset of the counselor and write from that perspective and you really can do that collaboratively ya know, it just doesn’t work as well. I’ve done things with other people of course but they tend to be more on the musical side.
WDDI: I never understood how people could co-write stuff.
William Fitzsimmons: Co-writing is a beautiful thing.
WDDI: Have you done any co-writing.
William Fitzsimmons: I have, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes it’s a beautiful experience and you’re both on the same page and it creates this gestalt of creativity that never would have happened if either one of you were in isolation. At it’s worst, both people are kind of compromising what they want to say in order to fit into this narrow slot, a finished song. That;s the dangerous part of it but at its best its really beautiful. I feel like I’ve moved into that more but for now it’s been personal experience and those things that I’ve figured out so, you can’t really co-write about personal experience.
WDDI: You really got a big start through Myspace and the Internet. Do you have any views of how the Internet has maybe changed the game of the song? The importance of the song because now things are so disposable. The idea is to get you’re mp3 posted on pitchfork. Do you think that is affecting the way people are writing?
William Fitzsimmons: Any time you introduce a new medium into any field with music or technology, anything like that, it’s divisive and it always branches off into something that's beneficial and good and positive and something that;s subversive and terrible. I think that some people out of absolute necessity and survival have had to augment the way that they might have to present their art but I don’t know if the Internet is really responsible for that. There was a time when people weren’t so concerned with making a song three minutes and thirty seconds and getting to the chorus before forty five seconds.
WDDI: Like with the invention of the LP.
William Fitzsimmons: Right. There’s always people that decide that they are going to compromise in order to fit into, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way, they compromise in order to fit into whatever, a certain box for lack of a better word. There’s also a lot of people who say forget it, I’m not interested. Mark Kozelek is one of my favorite artists, Sun Kil Moon, Dead House Painters, I’ve been listening to his new record that just came out Admiral Fell Promises, and I’ve read some of their reviews, which I don’t really like to do before I buy a record. Some of the hard core fans would say positive about it and the people that you would suspect were more on the fence about it didn’t really enjoy it because it’s very stripped down, and I think it’s beautiful because I just think he doesn’t care if he’s getting up here or if he’s just getting (down) here because he’s doing what he’s suppose to be doing and people that are meant to be reached by that stuff are absolutely reached by it.
WDDI: People respond to honesty.
William Fitzsimmons: Yeah! People respond to honesty, that’s exactly the truth. So I’m inspired by people like that who decide they don’t care if their single ends up on the radio, they don’t even care if  they have a single on the record. Its cliche to say these things because it’s supposed to be very indie and authentic but it’s just true, you tend to... if you’re a fan of music and the history of music then you have to effect people.
WDDI: Just to add on to like the confessional aspect, a lot of you’re songs convey the vanity of life, there’s a lot of hopelessness and struggle. Where do you look for meaning in the whole world that is futile? Where is you’re foundation?
William Fitzsimmons: I suppose I’m grounded in, have foundation in the things I think most people do, family relationships and friends. You know it’s funny, people so often comment on the darkness of the music that I make. I’ve never thought of myself particularly as a dark person. When people meet me personally, they come to shows, they sort of see that I guess. I definitely prefer levity over somberness and I don’t know quite why that is. I guess that’s just how I was raised. I’ve never had difficulty reconciling those things. I think usually I can justify those things by realizing, I think that there is an order to how things happen. There are certainly those things that are very confusing, tragic things, horrible things, and I don’t have explanations for those but I just tend to think things happen for a reason most of the time. We might not know what it is but I guess I’m sort of comforted by that. And most of the darkness that’s happened in my life, well the truth is that I brought it on myself. So I don’t really have anyone to blame but me. To choose to remain in that depressive state would be I think kind of irresponsible. I believe in the idea of redemption and movies dont to me have to end happily but I guess I like when they do most of the time. I guess that’s just the perspective that I live from and I write from. And it’s the experience I’ve had, even though I’ve gone through some horrible things. Now, I look around and I’m doing okay and I don’t mean career wise, I mean as a person psychologically and emotionally. I was honest and confessional about the mistakes I made and the pain I caused to others and those that were brought upon me. I think when you do that you can find forgiveness, forgive yourself and forgive other people. There is just no point of a man in darkness forever.