Classic Blues Rock trio Wille & The Bandits are due to release their new album Paths on Friday 1st February and will be taking it on the road for a sprawling UK-wide tour. We talk to Wille Edwards about the new record, the band’s international appeal and what it means to be the pioneers of ‘Acid World Rock’.
ANTIHERO: How do you feel your upcoming new record compares to your previous material?
Wille Edwards: This is the album we have always wanted to make since the start of the band. We have always been hugely eclectic, on this album we have remained eclectic, but incorporated it into an underlying theme and sound across the album. We have very much mixed modern elements of recording with a more retro sound which has worked very well, and I think has created something very special.
ANTIHERO: What was the reason for the gap between the release of your 2013 album ‘Grow’ and your subsequent records?
Wille Edwards: We have released two albums since Grow – Steal in 2017 and Living Free in 2018, but there was a bit of a gap as we signed a record deal and it took a long time to record the Steal album. We have since returned to being independent. We felt that it might be possible to develop our success as a band using the component parts of what a label would offer, without being under the control of someone else.
ANTIHERO: Your upcoming tour includes dates across the UK, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, with most of the shows being held in the UK and Germany. Which is your favourite country to play in and where would you say you have the biggest fanbases?
Wille Edwards: The USA will also be added to that list as the record is getting great acclaim over there! I would say that we probably have the biggest fanbase in Germany and this is mainly in the North. I would put this down to being invited to play their National TV show Rockpalast, which is similar to the UK’s Jools Holland. Our performance went down really well.
ANTIHERO: Who will be supporting you on your UK shows?
Wille Edwards: We will be supported by a fantastic band called The Rainbreakers.
ANTIHERO: If you could support any artist or band, who would it be and why? And who has been your favourite artist/band to play support to so far?
Wille Edwards: Touring with Status Quo and Deep Purple were incredible experiences and ones that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was so strange as we went from playing tiny Cornish pubs to arenas, so it was a bit surreal at first and very nerve-wracking, but we learned so much from both of these acts. When touring with Status Quo they really took us under their wing, they loved our ethos. Francis and Rick – God rest his soul – used to laugh as we would park and sleep next to their massive, shiny tour bus in our old and battered LDV postal van, all sleeping on top of each other around the gear on every night of the tour. They used to tell us that we reminded them of the days when they used to do the same and kept encouraging us to just keep at it, they kept inviting us back to play with them and we became good friends. Deep Purple were also very good to us. All the band watched most of our sets each night from the side of the stage and Don Airey offered to play Hammond on our last record which was amazing. With Deep Purple, we actually got an encore on the support slot, which the guys said had never happened before. We had standing ovations most nights, which I think gave us the confidence that our music could fill arenas and move out of Cornish pubs and onto bigger stages. If I could choose to support any band past or present it would have to be Led Zeppelin, but for bands currently touring it would probably be Rival Sons.
ANTIHERO: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Wille Edwards: Playing at Glastonbury was always a dream for me and it was very special when we played there in 2014. To be voted one of the top 10 must-see acts at the festival and to hear that being said on BBC Radio 1 was even more unexpected and again something we’re all very proud of.
ANTIHERO: You’ve become known for your live performances – how do you manage to you stand out from other Blues Rock acts?
Wille Edwards: I think our intention has always been to be as creative as possible and new instruments give you the chance to apply new textures to your music and soundscapes, which we have always been drawn to. We have never been one of these bands that have set out to sound like someone else or target a certain market. We do what interests us as musicians and I think our audiences pick up on that. It seems to me that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, bands were allowed to be experimental and that is where some of the best music comes from when you are playing out of your comfort zone. Sometimes I feel that mainstream music is encouraged to conform to a pigeon hole, but with the internet it is also possible to have access to so much music from different periods and places, and it is easier to purchase unusual instruments, so we live in a world now where music should be at its most mature and knowledgeable.
ANTIHERO: What is ‘Acid World Rock’?
Wille Edwards: We are always asked to put our music in a box and being eclectic, this is hard, so we spent some time discussing a good term for our music on one of our many long drives whilst on tour and this is what we came up with. ‘Acid’ represents our psychedelic side, the ‘World’ our world music edge and ‘Rock’ because we are a Rock band, which are best loud and in your face!
ANTIHERO: What do you think of the UK’s Rock music scene right now and who would you say are our most promising up and coming Blues Rock acts?
Wille Edwards: I think it’s growing and there are younger bands looking at Blues Rock now with a different approach. I think this is a great thing that needs to be embraced. It’s all about interpretation – the Stones and Zeppelin were trying to play Blues and created something unique – so for the scene to grow and get the next generation involved we need to be open-minded and embrace change for the next chapter of this great journey. I love Kris Barras, he is a great talent, The Rainbreakers and also Blackballed are an awesome act.
ANTIHERO: What’s ‘the dream’?
Wille Edwards: To keep playing music for a living and travelling the world, meeting great people and experiencing new places and cultures. We just hope that people love our music as much as we love making it.
Wille & The Bandits are:
UK Tour dates:
25th Jan – Giants of Rock, Butlin’s, Minehead
30th Jan – Exeter, Phoenix
31st Jan – The Factory, Barnstaple
1st Feb – 1865, Southampton
8th Feb – The Cobblestones, Bridgwater
9th Feb – The Old Bakery, Truro
15th Feb – Guildhall, Gloucester
6th Mar – Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea
7th Mar – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
8th Mar – The Junction, Plymouth
9th Mar – Thekla, East Mud Dock
13th Mar – The Bodega, Nottingham
14th Mar – O2 Academy 2, Liverpool
15th Mar – O2 Academy, Sheffield
16th Mar – The Continental, Preston
17th Mar – Victoria Hall, Settle
19th Mar – Fibbers, York
20th Mar – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow
21st Mar – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
22nd Mar – O2 Academy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
24th Mar – The Junction, Cambridge
27th Mar – The Waterfront, Norwich
28th Mar – O2 Academy, Birmingham
29th Mar – O2 Academy 2, Oxford
30th Mar – O2 Academy Islington, London
You can watch Wille & The Bandits’ new single Find My Way, here: