We talked about Album Paths, Bandits, Busking Slide Guitar and so Much More….
Wille Edwards of the Wille & The Bandits took time out to speak to Liz over at Bluesdoodles. With new album Paths released on 1st February on Fat Toad Records and touring dates announced across the UK in March, it is a busy time for the band. BD: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to me today.
BD: Before we talk about the new album lets go back to the beginning. Wille when you were growing up in Cornwall what were your musical influences?
WE: Has to be Jimi Hendrix he was the first music that made me pick up a guitar. There are lots including Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd that I heard from my parents collection and what they were listening to, Muddy Waters Howlin’ Wolf and others. I then started listening to progressive, dance, hip-hop, world, reggae, I was always looking for new music. Music for me is about soul that comes from the heart.
BD: I am sure you are used to your name being misspelt as Willie and the Bandits. How did you get the name Wille?
WE: Laughing because originally it was Will Edwards it was shortened to WillE and that became Wille – yes has caused problems so many times gigs have spelt the name wrong.
BD: What led you to mastering slide guitar and combining with the lap-guitar?
WE: I was born in Australia and went back when I was eighteen, I have dual nationality and went with friends backpacking and doing rubbish jobs. I played my guitar around the campfire, my friends suggested I should busk. So I started busking and started to make money. The lads would go picking and I was playing my guitar busking up and down the East Coast of Australia; it was the old blues lifestyle moving from town to town. When I was in Byron Bay, I met a slide guitarist Smokey, I was mesmerized not seen it before, well not seen slide played live before with stompbox. I followed him for months we slept on boats and anywhere and everywhere. He was an amazing guy, I got the love of the nomadic life, no internet, making money, sleeping, surfing, playing music. Then I was back in civilization when I got back to Sydney and found the Weissenborn guitar as I listened to Derek Trucks and my favourite Dave Gilmour’s lap steel. The lap guitar you go for it, they have no frets so you anticipate the note – you slide up to where you think the A is, for every player it varies. Whereas with a fret guitar you play the fret. With lap steel you feel the soul of the guy playing. The Weissenborn is a very expressive instrument full of texture plus the infinite sustain as there is no fret the vibration on every string has its own energy as no frets to stop the vibration. It has an energy notes are infinite lasting as long as you want them to last. This is not keeping it alive like bending a string to vibrate.
BD: Wille & The Bandits is a trio with a difference. How do you describe your distinctive band of rock with a twist?
WE: First rule don’t label, that is the worse thing that marketing and the music business got into bed with. I feel labelling music is insensitive to people. People don’t care as long as the music resonates with them doesn’t matter what genre it is. The song is the most important, the song style is not a simple formula for each different genre. We mix it up called ourselves Acid World Rock. We like to keep the psychedelic element, world with double bass and djembe drums and the rock well we can play it really heavy at times! Labels can also destroy music; the Blues label is seen as 12 bar blues and does not show depth of music. Folk went through that and now folk is fashionable having modernized itself, but at the core nothing has changed still goes straight to the heart of the music. In the same way now marketing blues is not about its origins of Afro-Americann roots, person singing solo or a white guy playing a 20 minute guitar break. The term blues is seen as so boring. Blues is an element of soul music expressive in so many ways. Captured by Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa they channel the music yet others can’t channel the singing and it is still the blues. USA tend keep the Blues in aspic looking back towards folk/early blues Robert Johnson, stomp and slide or 12-bar blues Texan shuffle. Blues to me needs to be played with heart and soul so it needs a revival. Lot of young bands are doing this trying things out, experimenting but this is not being picked up by the bigger major media sources including Apple Play and Spotify.
BD: Paths, your latest album holds your interest from the first to the last note. In Fact before even hearing a note with the interesting cover of the three of you garlanded in flowers. Yet you named the album Paths not mirrored in the artwork. Where did the inspiration for the title come from? WE: Inspiration behind the album Paths are the different paths people take in life opening up to paths that are political, personal what we are born into. All these paths are reflected in the lyrics every song as a path to explore from climate change that affect politics and impact on the world. About searching for a father searching for what path to follow. The album cover is a very late 1960’s and not really anything to do with Paths.
BD: Paths, the album is full of musical twists and turns as you experiment with varied approaches to your interpretation of Rock. Yet again you have created an album that gets your attention and leaves you wanting more. How do you as a band keep producing albums that have a consistency of fabulous musicianship, freshness of approach and still ringing in the changes every time?
BD: Which comes first the melody or the lyrics? WE: Depends on the song. We write a lot of stuff with melody first or we have a poem that will work with a melody it is the crux of the song. Words are important, they deliver a message and in this day and age there is lot of horrible stuff going on. In the 60’s & 70’s there was Dylan, Baez, Young and others making a stand. There is not that voice today we have been actively advised not to sing and play about the stuff we do. We are passionate and care about the song. I do wonder if Bob Dylan and the rest would not get played now if they were starting out. Dylan may not have a great voice but he is a poet and great songwriter. Marketing looking at the product not at the musician or song. It makes it difficult when looking to sell into this market music has become a commodity. David Bowie interestingly said before musicians influenced the mainstream. Now mainstream is influencing musicians. There used to be Punk/hippie now no big movements.
BD: Wille and The Bandits are back on the road in March, I am sure everyone is looking forward to hearing new tracks live from the album and the band headlining. Do you have any routines or travel essentials to keep you relaxed and sane? WE: I don’t have any particular routines I take my sleeping band that I hold dear. When traveling I tend to stare out the window watching world go by. Matt always has his PS3 playing games or watching films.