We recently caught up with festival favourites Wille and the Bandits, voted in the top ten bands to see at Glastonbury 2014 by BBC Radio 1 and currently touring their third independently released studio album.
Having toured with artists such as Deep Purple through to the John Butler trio and played festivals across Europe, the band leave an astounding impression on audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds with their energetic and soulful performances.
Hello, give our readers an introduction to the band
Essentially Wille and the Bandits are a classic blues rock three piece much in the vein of Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But in a similar way to how these bands pushed the genre in their time, we try to take the sound beyond what is expected of such a traditional line up, using more bizarre instrumentation and eclectic influences in our writing to often push our songs into more of a world music or progressive category.
You’re all multi-instrumentalists and have a really eclectic sound. How many instruments do you each play?
Wille plays acoustic guitar, Weissenborn acoustic lap steel guitar, Dobro acoustic lap guitar and electric lap steel guitar.
Matt plays six string electric bass, five string double bass, five string electric double bass, foot piano and keyboards.
Andy plays the drums, djembe, tongue drum, udu, congas, Jew’s harp and glockenspiel.
What instrument would you like to learn to play next?
Wille: I have been keen to get hold of a Mohan Veena slide guitar, it is like a standard slide guitar but with extra Indian style drone strings. Or maybe a sitar, they are really hard to play but I think I could get some crazy sounds out of one with my set up.
Matt: Trumpet, because it is totally different from the bass and it is loud!
Andy: I have a set of tabla drums which I have been playing around with for a while but I would really like to learn how to play them properly. I’m also very keen to get my hands on a Hang drum, they sound amazing.
You’re completely independent. What are the pros and cons of the DIY approach?
Obviously being completely independent has a lot of pros. We have complete control of what we do and play which we think benefits the music. When people come to see us they know we want to be there and we are playing the songs we really love. This comes across in the performance and creates a vibe which is often lost or at best poorly imitated in a lot of modern music.
We get to travel the world and pick where we want to go, meet new friends and contacts which furthers our career. I guess it is all about having control in what you do with your life and therefore being happy and free. The only real downside is that you have to do all the work yourself, but if you are not scared of a bit of admin and hustling I would advise any musician to take the DIY approach.
You play a lot of festivals. Which are your favourites and why?
Being on the road a lot means we don’t get to see much live music for ourselves. Often we will play several festivals in one weekend so we rarely get to hang around to enjoy them. Therefore when festival season comes along we always try to make time to stay at at least one festival each year. We love festivals such as Beautiful Days and Shambala because you will always find artists there that you may have never heard of before that inspires us to try new things with our music.
What’s your best festival memory?
Ah there are so many, but one that does spring to mind is Fusion festival in East Germany. At the time of playing this festival our van was out of action so we decided the best and most cost effective way to get to the gig was to borrow Wille’s dad’s Renault Meganne, hook a trailer to it and drive the 26 hour round trip. About 4 hours into the cramped drive we were all cursing the idea and wondering what the hell we were doing. But when we finally arrived it was all worth it.
Fusion has to be possibly the best festival we have ever been to. Set in an Old Russian air field with 27 stages, some in hangers and some in the woods as well as the standard big tops. 80,000 people with no police allowed on site and only 12 security guards with strange fire breathing robots walking round and people driving round in cars with anything they could find welded to them. It should be chaos but it works like a surreal post-apocalyptic utopia. So we drove our little Renault straight through the middle of the festival without any problems to play a couple of the most epic shows ever. Then slept in the trailer on top of our equipment. An absolutely crazy experience but we would all happily do it again because the festival was just so amazing! I advise anyone that gets the chance to go to this festival, just go.
What’s your worst festival memory?
We haven’t really had any shocking festival experiences but we do tend to have bad luck with truck stages. Almost every time we have turned up at a festival to play and the stage has been on the back of a truck it is guaranteed that the heavens will open the moment we play our first note. Wille gets the worst of this because he is normally sat at the front of the stage and wired into his rather large pedal board. We normally keep playing until he has suffered at least a few electric shocks. Thankfully we haven’t played any truck stages for a couple of years now and there hasn’t been any permanent damage to Wille’s health!
UK Tour Dates
Wille and the Bandits are an amazing live band. We highly recommend that you check them out!
- Totnes, The Barrelhouse, 6th Feb
- Bridport, Arts Centre, 7th
- Bilston, Robin, 11th
- London, Half Moon Putney, 12th
- Bideford, Palladium Club, 13th
- Falmouth, Princess Pavillion, 14th
- Tavistock, The Wharf, 20th
- Blaenau Ffestiniog, Cell B, 21st
- Doncaster, Lepards, 19th March
- Sunderland, The Independent, 20th
- Scarborough, Top Secret Blues Festival, 21st
- Cambridge, Portland Arms, 1st May
- Moulton, Malt ’n’ Music, 2nd
- Cardiff, The Full Moon, 8th
- Havant, The Spring, 9th
- Southport, The Atkinson, 28th
- Trowbridge, The Village Pump Folk Festival, 24th July
- Cropredy, Fringe Festival, 13th August