Lawrence funk band Will Nots relocate to Bay Area to pursue music
This is the second article in a series looking back at past winners of KJHK Farmer’s Ball, retelling the artists’ memories of winning and their musical endeavors since. This year’s Farmer’s Ball will take place April 20 and 27 at the Bottleneck.
Tyler Francis and Braden Young formed the self-proclaimed “boogie ‘n soul” band, the Will Nots, in 2005 — but it wasn't until 2010 that the band really gained a footing in Lawrence. It was that year when the band (with additional members Adrian Reese, Hugh Naughtin, and Vincent Williams on board) embraced funk influences, served as the backing band for KC hip-hop artist Approach, and won KJHK’s annual battle of the bands, Farmer’s Ball.
“We all grew up in the area and definitely knew about [Farmer’s Ball],” Francis says. “It’s dope to be named with some of the other performers that share the title, like The Capsules, Reach, Stik Figa, and Suzannah Johannes.”
The Will Nots has continued with Francis, Young, and Williams, who all relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area this year. The band is working on a series of digital EP releases, Fingerprints.
Though on the West Coast, the members’ solo projects still contain many Midwestern influences. Francis is continuing to make music under his producer guise, Starjammr, collaborating with local artists such as Ebony Tusks. Young performs with Bay Area-based bands and the Lawrence-originated folk band Hello Biplane. Williams writes and produces songs for the Will Nots and plays drums for Mt. Zion Church.
Much like a Farmer’s Ball win inspired Topeka rapper Stik Figa, taking the top spot at the battle of the bands encouraged Francis to keep pursuing music. “[I thought] I can keep following my heart on this one; no reason to keep it for the rehearsal room anymore,” he says.
“Growing up in Lawrence, I really only ever had two goals: become a walk-on for the Jayhawks or win the Farmer’s Ball. So it’s cool to have at least accomplished one of those things.”