Tell us a little about how Willie Heath Neal and Kira Annalise met –
KA:We were in a big ensemble group together. This was forever ago. I loved him the second time I met him but it took him a few years to realize how awesome I am. We still played separately for ages after the ensemble split and then we went on a TX run together and just never stopped. We’ve been doing The Waymores thing for about 5 years now. WHN: Yeah, the ensemble was this opry style thing and we just eventually outgrew it but she and I have been pretty constant since. Eventually the inevitable happened and we became The Waymores.
What’s the inspiration behind your music?
WHN: I have always had to write in reflection, I can’t ever write in the moment. I’ve written about heartaches and drinkin’ and just things that I could relate to. I’ve written a couple of songs about people I knew but most of my stuff is autobiographical.
KA: I’ve had lots of people say I need to write a song about this or that, a train, a murder, whatever… I just write about what I know. I can add flare here and there but when I try to write about something I haven’t experienced, you can totally tell. I write about heartaches, burning bridges and being a bitch. I’m well versed in those. Right now, we’re trying to write one about the time we ran out of gas in a really scary town in TX in the middle of the night. It was totally Willie’s fault. (We made it to a gas station in the nick of time but I still need someone to blame).
What role does your music lend to the Southeast music scene?
WHN: I think we, and a handful of others in the area, are fighting to bring back a scene that was once here but for some reason dissipated. We have a handful of peers that we respect greatly because they work just as hard as we do. We, and a few others, are bringing that relentless work ethic to the scene and representing the Southeast in that way.
KA: I think we both try to tell all of our peers how important and great touring is. Work ethic is where it’s at. We never stop booking and moving and playing. Any of our friends who are working know that they have a helping hand in us, if they need it. It can be hard at first but that’s just part of the job. A big part. So, I’d like to think that we’re bringing some camaraderie to the scene.
What is each of your’s current favorite song to play? Why?
KA: Mine is Weeds, the title track to our album that comes out in Feb 2019. Its about such a tough time in our lives together, with people that really just weren’t the greatest, but we came out bigger and better like we always do. To put that to paper while we wrote it was a really great experience and each time we play it live, we have people come tell us how much they love it and that’s just fun to hear. It’s a great song. I’m very proud of it.
WHN: My favorite song changes with each show. I’ll look back on the performance and think “we really did this one great tonight…” but I still love playing In Spite of Ourselves. It’s the song that really got things started for us as The Waymores and I get a little nostalgic every time we play it.
What has been so far your most memorable moment performing?
WHN: Marty’s PM in Birmingham AL. We were playing with our friends Zach and Cheyloe and we set up on the ground and it was just a wall of people. The place was at capacity. They were all singing along so hard and so loudly that we could barely hear ourselves. Then there was this one woman who sang every song and didn’t get a single word right. She was right in front and it awesome.
KA: Odessa TX at The Hemingway. It started out kind of awkward, but by set two we had everyone laughing and singing and at the end of the night we had this huge line at the merch table. Everyone was so nice and fun and just wanted to be friends. I love when we win them over like that. We can’t wait to go back.
Where do you believe the creativity comes from?
WHN: I don’t believe you write songs, I’ve always believed you receive them. I believe that artists are just antenna’s. The life I’ve lived and things I’ve been through conditioned my antennae to receive the songs that I write…
KA: Well I’m not quite sure how to top that prolific shit so I’ll just say that being willing to be self analytical and really in your own head helps. and of course drinkin’ and hard livin’.
Who have been your influences over the years?
WHN: Of course, the legends, Hank, Cash, Elvis and Waylon but as far as writing, I’ve always been drawn to John Prine and Steve Earle and I’ve always tried to emulate them in my writing. I’ve always loved how Steve Earle told a story and how John Prine said the deepest things with the most tongue-and-cheek lines.
KA: I didn’t grow up in this genre. Willie really introduced me to all of it. I heard him play a Junior Brown song in a dive bar in Marietta GA all those years ago and was blown away. I wanted to know everything about him and the genre. He’s my biggest influence. But of course, there’s also Junior Brown, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam, Merle Haggard and the true end all be all, Waylon GD Jennings.
Where is the duo heading next?
KA: We’re out West again in November. To Arizona and back then next year really kinda gets crazy. We go up North a little, out West again, to Europe, we’re just getting started.
WHN : We’ll see y’all on the road somewhere.