Wille & The Bandits
Wille & The Bandits release their new album 'Paths' by Fat Toad Records and distributed by Proper tomorrow, encapsulating the excitement and gusto of Rock ’n’ Roll. The album is a breath of fresh air challenging the listener while embracing technology and instrumental possibilities that are afforded to musicians in current times. To support the release of their new album, the band will tour the UK in March 2019 with special guests The Rainbreakers, beginning at the Ropetackle, Shoreham, on Wednesday 6th March and ending in London on Saturday 30th March at the O2 Academy 2 in Islington. From humble roots in Cornwall, Wille Edwards (lead vocals, guitars), Matt Brooks (bass) and beats master Andy Naumann have toured with bands and musicians such as Deep Purple, Status Quo, Joe Bonamassa, the Jon Butler Trio and Warren Haynes. In 2014 the band was voted in the Top Ten bands to see at Glastonbury. They also played the Isle of Wight festival as well as at the London Olympics, picked to play by being voted one of UK’s best Live acts. Other festival appearances include Boardmasters and several festivals in Europe.
Edwards Cajun style intro on the album opener 'One Way' sees Andy's thundering drums and Wille's bottleneck guitar immediately driving us down the right path with a thumping anthem, thanks to an Edwards guitar solo and some political fist pumping backing vocals from Brooks and Naumann, on a song that you can't help singing along and tapping your feet to. The political message continues as the band unite with the groovy funk of 'Make Love' (not war), its retro flower power feel all the more accentuated as the guitar licks were not only recorded using 1950's valve amps, but the vocals were run through a vintage tape machine. The introduction of a cool swirling Hammond organ further demonstrates the versatility of the band on 'Victim Of The Night', about someone who finds solace in the toxicity of the nightlife. Well the solace of their forthcoming UK tour certainly appeals, as this track builds into an outro featuring guest vocalist Alex Hart, that soars into epic Blues Rock with wailing guitars. You know that occasional feeling when you hear a song for the first time and it just hits the spot? The moving ballad 'Four Million Days' does just that - opening with Matt's cello and Wille's finger picked acoustic guitar, it is a joy to be behold, also showcasing Andrew's consummate drumming plus the power of Wille's vocals, its piece de resistance being Edwards signature lap slide Gilmouresque solo, weaving in and out of its outstanding orchestral construction. Follow that. Well the pace and political message picks up again with the impressive 'Chakra' - taking us in another musical direction with its world music vibe - Andy's percussion literally drumming home its environmental message with his djembe and hang drum accompanied by Wille on electric Weissenborn and Matt on his six string bass.
To keep us on our musical toes, the track genre order continues to twist and turn, with some more groovy funk on 'Keep It On The Down-Low' - the combination of Wille's hip-hop/rap vocal and bottleneck solo, Andrew's heavy percussive elements and some serious funky bass from Matt - very reminiscent of Blondie's 'Rapture' meets Derek Trucks meets AWB's 'Cut The Cake'. Love it. And talking of vibe, the band use the the retro valve amps and vintage tape machine once again to good effect on the Nick Cave/Tom Waits sounding 'Judgement Day', its powerful message about people from a religious background, surviving as best they can on the street, inspired by the TV series 'The Wire'. 'How Long' is Edwards heartfelt tribute to his late idol Chris Cornell - a song fittingly written and delivered by Wille, right from the guts about depression and how difficult it is to overcome. And if you needed a headbanger after the raw emotion of the previous song, then their first single 'Find My Way' takes you down that very same path, thanks to the combination of Wille's husky vocal run through a 1970's space echo, plus playing his super fuzzed out slide through a 1953 amplifier guitar, seriously whoopin' ass as it belts along. However, the start of its cool mystical sounding second phase sees Brooks on six string bass, Naumann on Udu and Djembie drums and Edwards playing Indian scales on a dobro, before they find their way back to a rockin' path outro with some great backing vocals from the engine room of Naumann and Brooks.
The Indian influence continues on the opening of 'Watch You Grow', its subject matter all about the beauty of becoming a parent and your child's subsequent development. Indeed, this toe-tapping track certainly grows on you after repeated plays, which sees Willie once again playing his Weissenborn, a hypnotic bass line from Matt plus Andy on an African tongue drum (yes really), that all adds up to that 'You Can Call Me Al' world music feel. It's now 'Retribution' time - the final track on the album - the band signing off with the message of how governments have sold out our planet and it is now payback time. More like 'Retro-bution', given Edwards soaring Skynyrd like lap slide solo, once again consolidated by Brooks and Naumann's solid foundations plus some awesome keys. A real cracker to round off an album that has everything musically: attitude, experimentation, energy, diversity and thought provoking messages, whilst at the same time having the beauty of the manoeuvrability of another dimension in a raw, live, environment. This is real Rock 'n' Roll as we know it, personified. On this evidence, Wille & The Bandits are certainly heading down the right path.