Tour unleashes a second Sexton

Will SextonBy Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 1, 1987

(NEW YORK)   If 17 is as lucky a number for singer-guitarist Will Sexton as it was for his older brother, Charlie, success is guaranteed. 

Singer-guitarist Charlie Sexton was 17 when his first single, “Beat’s So Lonely,” peaked at No. 17 on the national singles charts. Will will be 17 when his band, the Kill, releases its debut album early next year on MCA Records.

Will and the Kill are touring with the Royal Court of China, Hurrah! and the Northern Pikes as part of the “Four Play Tour.” They will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets are free.

“We love touring so much because being out with the people is what it’s all about,” Sexton said in a slight Texas drawl. “It’s been great working on the record because it’s the first for the Kill, but being with the folks is so exciting and fun.”

Sexton said the two-year-old band’s album will be a little harder sounding than Charlie’s debut, “Pictures for Pleasure.” Critics accused Charlie Sexton of betraying his musical heritage and playing pop instead of the gritty guitar he played as Joe Ely’s 13-year-old prodigy, but Will said his brother did nothing wrong.

“He got a lot of flak for no good reason,” Sexton said. “I don’t see why you have to always play like you did when you were growing up. He’s great, and I admire him a lot. He’s a really good guitar player, singer, songwriter, and he looks great, too. We’re different in sound from him but we have the same roots. I don’t think it’s selling out if your sound matures. It’s only natural.”

Sexton doesn’t lead the life of your average young man. When he was 9, he played bass with Texas blues artist W. C. Clark. He said when other kids played with their bicycles, he played in clubs. Though his sultry looks are popular with girls today, he said he didn’t get along well with his classmates.

When he started playing with his brother, Sexton played bass. He switched to lead guitar when he was about 11 because he said it seemed to be a more creative instrument.

“I thought I could get a little more diversity with the guitar than the bass,” he said. “I still play the bass but not as much as regular guitar. It’s easier to write music to the guitar.”

Sexton said a lot of people have commented on his precocious career but he doesn’t think it’s that unusual.

“I think I was very lucky because I knew what I wanted to do at a very young age,” he said. “My mother was very encouraging about everything we chose to do. So when Charlie and I were 10 and 8, we’d be dragging our guitars to clubs with our mom. Some people thought that was kind of funny but we were dead serious about our music. Hard work pays off. So when people say, `You’re awfully young to have a record deal,’ I think, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been playing more than half my life.'”

He said even though they’ve been compared to each other because of their physical and vocal similarities and their early successes, there’s no jealousy between the brothers.

“When Charlie came out, everyone compared him to Bowie’s vocals and this or that,” he said. “If I have to be compared to somebody, it may as well be my brother. I take it as a compliment.”

Sexton said because he had always played in bands with guys older than him, he feels at home around people in their 20s and 30s. His band mates, guitarist Billy White, bassist Alex Napier and drummer Jeff Boaz, are his best friends, he said.

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