"Up until a week ago, I'd go out and flier high schools at two o'clock in the morning, hit telephone poles [everywhere]. That's the way you do it," he says. "I once fliered the Mesa Police Department with Cop Shoot Cop fliers. They never caught me."

Anderson, a self-described workaholic, eventually had to run AMJ on his own. As time went on, Means split off to start The Format. Jarmuz also got involved with managing the band, spending more time on his duties with The Format and less time promoting shows. By 2003, both he and Anderson had become overwhelmed by the rigmarole of the concert industry and increased competition from other agencies and started co-promoting shows with Nobody in Particular Presents, which was run by concert guru Tom LaPenna.

Ultimately, Jarmuz moved to New York and Anderson merged AMJ with LaPenna's operation and became Lucky Man Concerts. Anderson served as talent buyer, using his vast connections and friendship with countless rock and punk acts to book venues like the Marquee Theatre from 2004 until 2010.

Will Anderson in the bathroom at the Hollywood Alley in Mesa.
Benjamin Leatherman
Will Anderson in the bathroom at the Hollywood Alley in Mesa.

Maria Vassett — a longtime punk scenester, onetime promoter, current concert photographer (who also freelances for New Times), and former girlfriend of Anderson's — says that his connections with a "who's who of the rock and punk world," not to mention his affable personality, was one of her former beau's strong suit.

"I think if you asked anyone in a band he's booked — despite all the changes in the music business and everything that's changed with booking — they'd say that he not only was punk rock about things, he was loyal to bands about everything: the booking, the money, everything," Vassett says. "And the bands would stay true to him. No matter how he [had to get] the money, he always paid his bands. And that's why people really respected him and came back and played for him — because he was a good promoter."

That includes scrappy Virginia-based act Avail, which is Anderson's favorite band, to say the least (as demonstrated by his well-worn cap emblazoned with the band's logo, as well as the two tattoos he sports on his body). A number of times during the past decade, Anderson not only would fly the band to Phoenix for epic sets on his dime but would put them up in his house.

Danny Marianino, whose band Northside Kings was booked numerous times by Anderson, says such treatment wasn't exclusive to a high-profile band like Avail.

"He understood what it's like for a band to be on tour, coming into town, spending a shitload on gas to get to Arizona; fed the bands, put them up at his own house after the show. That's the shit that some promoters used to do but don't anymore. Will was just one of those guys. This town suffered a great loss with Will Anderson gone."

In 2010, Anderson left Lucky Man. He declines to speak about specifics but stated: "I learned a lot working at Luckyman. I learned how to do an arena show. I learned how to do a lot of stuff. It just wasn't making me happy, so I left," he says. "I just [wanted] do my own thing and I'll see how it works out."

Anderson returned to booking shows at the Nile, which was reopened last year by indie promoters of Mantooth Group, which was started in 2009 by several ex-Luckyman staffers.

Michelle Donovan, owner of Mantooth, says she was impressed by his knowledge of the concert and music industry, which he shared with her during their time together at Luckyman. She wasn't the only one who sat under Anderson's knowledge tree, as he had a habit of schooling others in the finer points of booking and promotions.

"He's maintained friendships with the local scene for more than 15 years now, and anybody you ask about Will Anderson, nobody really has a bad thing to say. And it's rare to say that about anyone in this scene," Donovan says. "And the people who got to work with him and were influenced by him should consider themselves fortunate."

Naturally, she and other Mantooth staffers recruited him to help book the Nile.

"It was like going home again. It meant a lot to me," Anderson says. "I wasn't making as much money as I had been, but I was having fun again."

So why did he leave Phoenix? Anderson says he decided in the past few weeks after a "couple bad shows." He wouldn't elaborate, however. "I don't wanna talk shit about bands or anybody else," he says.

"I just love punk rock. To be honest with you, it was getting to a point . . . I didn't want to get to the point as a promoter [where] I have a lot of friends [who] are gambling big and writing checks that ain't gonna clear. Gambling on shows, they lose a bunch of money, write a bunch of checks, the check don't clear. I ain't gonna be like that," he says.

So two weeks ago, Anderson hastily packed what's left of his record collection (sold off in recent months to pay for vet bills for his basset hound, Angel) and headed for South Carolina, where his mother resides. He'll spend more time with his daughter, possibly attend culinary school, put on occasional shows, and might just wind up in Richmond, Virginia — home of Avail (natch).

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12 comments
Kameron Shannon
Kameron Shannon

Aw my man, sorry to hear you are leaving. One of the few promoters on this Earth that I actually trust! Good luck in all you do brother!!

Rileymurph41
Rileymurph41

BBye brother. Thanks for all the love u gave Raina fire. A loss to the scene here for sure.

Patrick Brennan
Patrick Brennan

This is a loss to the Phoenix area. We'll miss you, Will.

jeremx
jeremx

Best of luck, Will! 10 to 1 says you're wearing a Gaslight Anthem shirt right now. I know this because I am.

Martin Cizmar
Martin Cizmar

Good luck to Will, he'd be a hell of a restauranteur.

Peter Finestone
Peter Finestone

Will was by far the most honest, intelligent and sweetest promoter i have had ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with.Safe travels my friend.

Peter F

joe.distort
joe.distort

my first punk shows were all done by Will, and he still had the passion for it that while many of us got jaded and burnt out. i still remember reading an FYP tour journal talking about Will 'Smiley Guy' and i was like 14 thinking 'holy shit, heres a guy who gives me gatorade and throws platters of sandwiches off the stage at me, in Maximum RocknRoll!'. it was the first time i saw phoenix punk as part of something bigger. Will oddly played a role in my growing up and eventually doing a very tiny amount of shows myself. its great to see this article, i would hate for something this important to go unnoticed! bye will!

Chet Pope
Chet Pope

This town will not be the same without Will. I've known that guy since I was 14 years old and he single handedly turned me on to punk rock. He will be missed!!!

 
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