Rachael Harker

Interview: Wille and the Bandits “We’ve always found the North East crowds are into different music and are really responsive”

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Willie and the Bandits

Passionate and tour loving band Wille and the Bandits spoke to us about playing in Sunderland, their time touring with Status Quo, their fans, their influences, festival season and the best kebab in the world. They continue their European Tour and start a new tour in October this year. We wanted to find out more about the band that has been tipped for big things.

From the off you could tell the band were keen to be playing their music, Wille said: “We always get excited. It’s sometimes more anxious in a way, especially playing so far away from home, I mean we tour all around Europe, but are people going to turn up?  What’s it going to be like?” Despite the possible hint of nerves the band was ready to play Sunderland after forming a little soft spot for the North East, Willie added: “We’ve played a few shows up here, we’ve played in Newcastle, we’ve played in Middlesbrough and they were alright so the next one is Sunderland. We’ve always found the North East crowds are into different music and are really responsive, so a few more trips up this way and try and get more people into our music and get them engaged.”

As the the drinks continued to flow the band moved on to what it’s like touring as a band, and touring with Status Quo, Matthew, Andrew and Wille were in agreement with each other that Status Quo can be classed as nothing short of “legends”, and that they are going back to tour with them again soon.

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One of the main topics they were keen to discuss was their growing fan base. They receive huge crowds down South due to their Cornwall roots, so the transition to the North East and trying to gain numbers is something they are looking forward to working on. Willie and the Bandits are a band that started in the purest of forms as they literally started from the corners of pubs in Cornwall. The band have no record label, they gain fans through their music: “Basically we’ve done it a very organic way, no record label, just doing gigs and I think the fact we are so different with our sound to a lot of others. It’s also a discovery thing. They are very loyal, it’s almost like a little cult and it’s really nice” Willie explained. The band do over 250 gigs a year and love to meet, and have a drink with, the fans after. The band has grown and become successful in a very organic and personal way.

Willie and the Bandits takes its influences from the likes of John Martin, Eric Clapton and Pearl Jam. The band takes pride on their unique range of sound and are passionate about making sure that they don’t fall accustom to mainstream music, Willie explains why the band find this so important: “If you try and appeal to too many people you’re just going to water everything down to a point where it really doesn’t appeal that much to anyone.” They like to incorporate their influences into their songs but keep all their ideas at the forefront of their gigs. The idea of a boom and bust, in terms of becoming big and famous then fading is something that Wille doesn’t want for the band. He would love to see the band develop the way it is, as a strong continuum.

The future holds a lot more travelling for the band, Wille summed up the future simply as: “More beer, more miles… a lot of miles.” A lot of their time will be spent in Europe, however they will be hitting the summer festivals yet again this year:  “There’s a lot bouncing around, I mean hopefully we are doing Glastonbury, we probably aren’t going to do Isle of Wight this year, we’ve done Isle of Wight for seven years in a row. We are doing quite a lot of festivals out in Europe over the summer.” An exciting summer and year ahead for the band who have already clocked in a lot of miles.

The interview was drawing to a close as they had already told me so much about themselves, however I couldn’t leave without asking where their favourite place has been to visit? And of course Wille shouted “SUNDERLAND”, they informed me of the “best kebab” they had had a few doors down from INDEPENDENT and gave a thumbs up on location of the venue as food is a main priority for any band.

Wille and the Bandits head back to the North East on the October 25 for a gig at the Cluny 2 in Newcastle. A charismatic and passionate band that anyone would enjoy listening to, they love what they do and are enjoying the journey.

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