Ah, comparisons. The ultimate blessing and curse for the rising songwriter. On the one hand, it’s definitely flattering. On the other, it’s pigeonholed on Tuesday and typecast on Wednesday. And so it is with Will Gattis, the young man who inadvertently started whomping on a keyboard and wailing about girls so masterfully that, at parties, he was constantly being compared to a predecessor.

Girl: “OMG, you’re that guy who sounds just like Ben Folds!”

Will (looks at drink, swirls the ice): “Wow, thank you, no, that means a lot, wow.”

And so Maine native Gattis toured the country, wrote more and grew a thickened skin. In his travels he vowed to break this mold on the next record, and he’s prepared to show off some of that new-found mojo Friday at the Big Easy.

So you’re officially road-weary. What was the best city to play? What did you learn on the tour?

My favorite place on the tour was definitely Nashville. Some of the songwriters I heard there are incredibly talented, so it’s a good place to get inspired. What I learned was to do much more preparation than I did this time around. Not coincidentally, I also figured out how to sleep in my car comfortably.

Are you a tyrant in the band or is it more a democracy? Who decides what makes it onto the record?

I ultimately have the final say, but if my bassist Dom Grosso or my drummer Tim Webber have an idea, I’ll often go with it. I’d call it more of a republic.

How are you actively expunging Ben Folds comparisons?

With my past few songs, I’ve tried to focus on making sure that they don’t sound like they were written or performed by Ben. I’ve also been experimenting with singing differently when I perform. It’s not that I don’t like his music; it’s just that he and I not only both play piano but have the same vocal timbre, and I’ve been hearing the comparison for years. The world only needs one Ben Folds.

You’ve described some of your latest writing as “weird.” How do the songs depart from a traditional Will Gattis tune?

For one, I’ve been doing a lot of riff-based stuff, which is very different for me. My last two songs were actually written riff-first, and they’re the first songs for that to be the case. Plus, some of my newer songs are about pretty weird stuff, like the devil talking to Jesus or a plastic salesman fighting the sun.

Onstage, how do you balance showcasing your keyboard chops with milking the moment with a couple of notes?

It’s all about milking the moment. My main goal when I’m performing is to get people to listen and to get the people listening drawn in more, and minimalistic playing is a great way to do that. Plus, I rarely write showoff-y stuff anyway.

What’s the biggest challenge with coming up in Maine?

Other than the winters, I’d have to go with separation from major industry labels and agencies. Then again, we’re a lot closer to some of those big cities than most of the places I visited on my tour, so we could be much more isolated than we are.

Have you met (Friday’s headliner) Kris Rodgers before? How and when?

Kris and I were actually briefly in a cover band together. We never actually played any shows, but we had a few rehearsals. I was the keyboard player and background singer, and he was the singer. He’s got some serious pipes, not to mention instrumental chops. I can’t wait to see him with his band.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.