Some of the veteran Farmer Phil’s Festival-goers will remember the show-stopping performance given by this raucous trio the last time they were with us at Near Gatten Farm. Their infectious, groove-led blend of powerful roots rock really made an impression, with half the field getting totally lost in the music while the other half went absolutely crazy!
Since that performance, Wille and the Bandits have gone on to share the stage with the likes of Deep Purple, Joe Bonamassa and John Butler Trio while chalking up an average of 200 shows a year, making them one of the hardest working bands on the circuit.
We managed to get a few words with bassist Matt ‘Buns’ Brooks (pictured right) ahead of their return to Ratlinghope!
FPF: First of all, congratulations on the release of the new album ‘Steal’ – how has it been received so far?
MB: Thanks! We’re really happy with it. ‘Steal’ has gone down really well across Europe and beyond. With this album we’ve tried to streamline the genre heading down by going down a slightly more rock route, which fans have really enjoyed. We have the new single ‘1970’ coming out really soon and that’s almost as a classic rock tune. Again, fans have really loved it.
FPF: Way back in the day when I recorded an album with my old band, we couldn’t wait to get out on the road and play that new material live – is it a relief to get out of the studio and tour again, and what are you most enjoying playing this summer?
MB: We love touring, it’s the soul of the band. It’s actually been an ongoing trial with the albums to try and capture the band as it sounds live, which is definitely Wille and the Bandits at our best in our opinion. I think with ‘Steal’ we have come as close as we ever have, but playing live is where the magic always happens! We’ve had some great festivals this summer… Farmer Phil’s Festival obviously being a highlight we’re looking forward to.
FPF: Of course, this isn’t your first Farmer Phil’s Festival rodeo – what are your recollections from the last time you were here, and what are you looking forward to most this time around?
MB: It was a while ago now but I remember it being a great festival – great people and a really great vibe. I remember hanging out by the lake and dodging the rain! It’s a fantastic festival and we’re hoping for more of the same this year!
FPF: For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Wille and the Bandits, how would you describe your sound?
MB: Wille and the Bandits has evolved over the years but we’re often described as ‘power-roots-rock’. Heavy riffs from Wille’s slide guitar and a thumping rhythm section. As always you only really ‘get’ a band when you see them live – that’s certainly true for us I think.
FPF: The thing that really stands out about you guys on record is the musicianship – how do you get such a big sound when there’s just three of you, and (assuming there’s some studio magic involved) how do you replicate it onstage?
MB: It’s funny because we’ve found it tough to get the big sound we have live onto record. We’ve all come from different musical backgrounds – Wille is more blues, Andy’s more metal/rock and I love my jazz. When you put all that together it chucks out a big sound! We use ‘foot piano’ – a sample-based system on stage, and I’ve got an extended range bass which really fills the low end, Andy has percussion as well as his full drum kit and Wille plays numerous guitars, sometimes several in one song! With a trio there’s a lot of room for each individual to experiment, which is great fun!
FPF: Looking at your forthcoming tour dates, you’ve got a seriously busy schedule between now and the end of the year – is there any time off in sight or in Ron Atkinson parlance are you “giving it the full gun” for the foreseeable?
MB: We love the touring but we also all love travelling so getting out on the road for long periods isn’t rare. We always make sure we’re home for Christmas but because the band is our living there is no peace for the wicked, as the saying goes.
FPF: Finally, being no strangers to the UK festival circuit, we’re guessing you’ve trodden the boards with a few of the acts also appearing at this year’s Farmer Phil’s Festival – is there anyone you’re particularly looking forward to sharing the stage with (and why)?
MB: Got to say I love Echo Town, those boys can really play and have a really unique sound. Ferocious Dog too – they really get the crowd going. But all the bands are worth checking out, it’s a really great line-up this year!
Excited yet? We are! Here’s the promotional video for Wille and the Bandits’ latest single ‘1970’ to get you really pumped: