With the music industry today, it can be easy to feel like music has done all it really can do. Authenticity and individuality, especially in the mainstream, can seem something of days passed, yet I am voided of these doubts when I am introduced to Wille and the Bandits.
If the trio, made up of Wille Edwards, and his bandits Andy Naumann and Matt Brooks, were to be pigeonholed, it would be put under the genres of rock, blues and folk. With Wille playing the guitar and the Weissenborn – a lap-slide guitar – along with his grungy vocals, Matt playing a variety of basses from an acoustic double bass to an electric six string and Andy on the drums, or djembe, together they create a wonderfully unique sound. It is admirable to see a trio so devoted to providing such an eclectic mix of music with every show, song and instrument differing from the next.
A lot of inspiration for their music comes from social commentary, let this be climate change, gun crime in the USA or other global issues. “If I wrote about myself all the time it’d be bloody boring,” Wille explains to me. The majority of their lyrics come across as exquisitely poetic, as well as hard-hitting and eye opening at times, but just as much as a melodic time for consideration, also provide great sounds for a good head bang.
With the band having Cornish roots and Cornwall being the place Wille calls home, despite coming from Australia and moving around for half his life, this protrudes through their music with the laidback-ness of the West Country and the coast.
The early days of the band in this beautiful county sounds idyllic. “We’d just chuck a load of surfboards and guitars in the back [of the tour van] and that was sort of how we started.” So, the guys enjoy surfing the waves just as much as they like to play music, yet Wille likes to hope he’s a better musician than a surfer.
How Wille started out isn’t your stereotypical way of a successful musician, which usually entails a storyline where they have played since before they could walk and always knew it was what they wanted to do. But he just started out busking as he was fed up with “crap jobs”. He began making money from it and realised it was pretty good. His story suggests the authenticity of his skill as he came up from nowhere, no fancy training or an abundance of money to get where he wanted to be – just talent. He also tells me how the band met “mainly where most rock ‘n’ roll bands meet… the pub”. Cheers to that.
The trio are up for two awards the UK Blues Awards this year; Blues Act Of The Year – England 2018 and Innovation In The Blues 2018, where they will be up against the well- known English singer songwriter Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. This sets the bar high for winning the award, but there seems no reason why the Bandits shouldn’t be in with a good a chance of winning. Of course, winning isn’t all that matters.
Wille and I discuss how, being recognised for the award is a great achievement for them alone. “Even if we don’t win the award, we’ll hopefully get to meet Rag ‘n’ Bone Man or something. That’d be nice”, he says with good sportsmanship and optimism.
You can catch Wille and the Bandits on their latest tour ‘Living Free’ which will be the only place that fans will be able to get hold of their live double-disc album.
Wille & The Bandits play Shoreham’s Ropetackle on Thurs 15 March.
Words by: Becky Waldron