Breaking into the music business is tough. It's even tougher when you're balancing class schedules and essays along with writing, producing, engineering and promoting an album by yourself.
Yet over the past year and a half, that's what senior in business management Garrett Sale and his band William Wild have been doing.
"I don't balance it all that well," Sale laughed. "I've always kept a really good GPA, but this semester, it's kind of been the first year where I knew I was gonna go into music, so it was harder to focus on school."
The band, composed of Sale on vocals and guitar, John Knight on electric guitar and Aaron Hill on drums, just released its self-titled first album on iTunes on Tuesday. William Wild will host an official release show tonight at The Square Room at 8 p.m. with opener The Band Concord.
Sale began playing guitar in elementary school and formed a band in high school before spending the first two years of college away from making music. Slowly, he began writing more songs and making demos in his bedroom – the process soon turned into the creation of William Wild.
During the past year and a half, Sale has been busy opening for up-and-comers in the Knoxville music scene, including fellow UT student band Cereus Bright, as well as Nashville-based Judah & The Lion, at venues like The Square Room and Remedy Coffee.
Tonight's show will be Sale's first headlining performance at The Square Room, a fact he said he is excited about.
"We haven't fleshed out all the songs with everybody only but a few times," Sale said. "So this'll be the first time that a huge amount of people get to hear these songs performed the way they were recorded."
Tuesday's release is representative of what the band's Facebook page calls "psychedelic folk." According to Sale, the music has heavy 60s and 70s folk influences, as well as rock elements reminiscent of bands like Local Natives and The Black Keys.
Though Sale said he has focused on music more than school this year, his collateral in entrepreneurship has helped in practical ways when working on the album.
"Starting a band and selling a product," Sale said, "is really similar to starting a business."
Many college-aged folk bands often decide that post-graduation is the time to move to a larger city, most often Nashville. Sale said that not only is this not in the plans for William Wild, but that he hopes to build out a studio in his house this summer to help keep the group Knoxville-based.
"Lately we've kind of realized that Knoxville can get behind a band in a different way than Nashville can," Sale said. "Nashville is kinda desensitized to that. So I think we're probably gonna stay in Knoxville."
Sale cited his folky sound as a result of growing up in Knoxville, a city he hopes will continue to support artistic and cultural pursuits.
"I think Knoxville has the potential to be a really cool music place," Sale said. "We need people who like music to support local musicians and local arts.
"Because it's there and it's thriving, but it's not as big as it could be."
William Wild hopes to tour as much as possible this year and play as many shows as they can, starting with tonight's release concert.
Doors open at The Square Room at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13 at the door.