Mark Wills Returns With New Album ‘Looking for America’ After Last Year’s Live-Saving Surgery
This week, the multi-platinum singing Mark Wills released his latest album, ‘Looking for America,’ which he feels is some of his best work to date. The journey to releasing the new music was a long road due to the fact that Wills underwent emergency surgery last fall after his large intestine ruptured. The surgery also entailed the removal of his appendix, which set Wills back in the game as far as readying his new music.
Now that he is back on his feet with a hot new single, ‘Looking for America,’ Wills is ready to get the new music out there to his fans who have stuck by his side through it all. Taste of Country recently caught up with Wills over lunch to discuss his latest musical project, as well as his health now, eight months following his life-saving surgery.
Tell us about the new album, ‘Looking for America’ and how it all came together for you.
This project has been a year and a half in the making because of what happened last year. I got sick and was kind of out of the game for five months. I’m very, very impressed with how it’s all come together, sonically, and how the record sounds. It all fits together. Going into a project, a lot of times you’ll go in and record 14, 15 or 16 songs, and then you take those songs and you put it together. We actually recorded the exact amount of songs and put it all together. It wasn’t like there was a bunch of overcuts. We recorded 10 songs, and here we are. I am very happy with the production, with the sound of it, with the flow of it, with the versatility of the song selection … when you go into a record, you start recording it [and] it’s very easy to get in a certain mindset or a certain direction and to make everything go in that direction, and then when you’re done with it in the end, everything sort of sounds the same or it doesn’t fit together at all. This project just sort of like Jell-O … it just conformed to whatever it was in. It just fell into place perfectly.
How would you compare the new music to your previous albums?
You’re going to hear several things on this record that you’ve never heard me do before. That’s truly the way it is. There are so many things on there that you’re going to hear and go, "Wow! That’s different!" I’m proud of that, because I think that it was time. It was time to spread my wings and fly a little bit.
The album’s first single, ‘Looking for America,’ has been touching a lot of people, and the same goes for the video. It seems to have really taken off, especially seeing how it was all done on your own.
It’s moving slow, but we’re kind of doing it on what I call a shoe-string budget, which is not having a major record company or a major label support behind it. I’m doing it on my own. I know folks who have done really well at being able to get the music out there. I’m working mainstream radio with it now, and we are in the process of starting to set up for the next single, but we’re still very much actively working this one.
How did you come across the song ‘Looking for America’?
[One of the song’s writers] Bernie Nelson called me, and he said, "Man, I’d love for you to put vocals on this." He really just wanted me to do a demo, and that’s really what this song is. The song that you’re hearing on the radio is basically a demo. He said, "Why don’t you come and sing it?" I said OK, and I stopped by the studio, fiddled around with it, found the right key and left. I went and did some shows and came back two days later, and there was the track. I walked in and sang it twice, left … about a month later I got a phone call that they wanted to put it out as a single. I was thinking, "Like a single with cheese and mustard? Like what?" He said, "No, we want to put it out to radio." We ended up shooting a video for it and all that stuff. It’s kind of nice because it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything out there. It’s been pretty cool to watch this kind of take off. We specifically started it with the grassroots campaign to keep the budget down and not spend an over absorbent amount of money, but it’s reached the point now where it feels like its getting legs underneath it. I’m pretty excited.
How are you doing health-wise after your series of surgeries that occurred last October?
I’m feeling good. I still have some issues with my stomach. They told me it would be a while until I was back to normal, but I feel great.
Well, you look great, too!
Thank you! I have put weight back on, which I didn’t want to do [laughs]! I had a really good head start on getting skinny, and it has not worked out the way I wanted it to because I’m putting weight back on [laughs]! What’s up with that?
Watch the Mark Wills 'Looking for America' Video