Interview: Thomas Wilby Gang
CREDIT John Jowett
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
From an early age, I've used music as a way to cope with things. I remember having a tyrant of a teacher when I was about five years old. I wrote a song about her and bashed it out on a big toy barrel that I had in my bedroom. If I hadn't got into music I'd be doing something else in the arts. I'm pretty sure that I can speak for most of the band when I can say it's likely to be the same with them too.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I work a lot and that's the same for the rest of the band. We don't have a huge record contract so we have to keep our day jobs. In a way, it's a good thing because it makes music such an attractive escape.
How long has your band been around?
We formed in 2012 and had our first gig with the Wet Nuns in November of that year. Becca, Simon and myself had been in bands before that though, so we've got a pretty long history of playing together
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based in Wakefield in the UK. I'm not sure how Wakefield influences our music directly but I can say that we have a strong music and arts scene in our city. I think that definitely rubs off on you -- going to see other bands can be very inspiring and we have some great bands in Wakefield - The Sourheads, Knuckle, Dark Horse to name a few.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
Naming a band is hard. Everyone has a different idea of what sounds cool and what should be avoided. In the end, we just cobbled our surnames together and thought it sounded pretty good.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Our recent album launch was a really good gig -- we nailed the set and the audience loved it. We also experimented with doing a fully acoustic (no mics!) track which went down really well. The worst show we did was last year at a "festival" where we turned up and they had no monitors, no sound guy, no microphone stands, no clue of how to deal with bands. We managed to bring our own gear and it went OK but that was a real lesson in researching "festivals" before agreeing to play.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
The Counting House is a new venue in our city and we'll be playing there this weekend. It's an old bank with this amazing view of the city behind the stage -- I'm really excited about playing there. Besides that I'd love to play Fibbers in York - it's only a small venue (and I've played there in other bands) but it's got this amazing atmosphere.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
A gig with Jason Isbell would be pretty sweet. I'd also love to play support for Phil Cook.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Don't do it for any other reason than to enjoy it. If you compromise artistically and you are successful then you will be doomed to churn out something you aren't happy with for the rest of your career.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Definitely the advice in the previous question. Also, write more material, focus on your lyrics and listen to more music!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Calder sometimes gets to me. It's about a kid at our school who's mother was really strict. We'd go out drinking (underage with fake ID) but she'd never let her kids out. Then when he turned eighteen (that's the legal drinking age in the UK), he went off the rails a bit and ended up swimming drunk in the lagoon -- it didn't end well. It was a long time ago but it chokes me up sometimes when we play it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Lordy O is a big favorite with our following - I'd say people sing along to that one the most. I'm not sure which I enjoy playing the most. It's probably always going to be the newest songs though -- when they are rough around the edges and we don't know them so well it's kind of scary and fun.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Sometimes Simon puts an idea down and I add lyrics and a melody, other times I write the entire song. I like writing songs in my head when I'm bored -- when I'm driving on or on a train. One of the best songs on our new album was just jammed together in the band - I love it when that happens.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I don't think about it like that - if I did it would totally stifle the creative process for me. The lyrical topic or sentiment behind any of the songs is generally something that happens spontaneously and I'd have to really analyze it to give you an answer. Even then I'd be guessing!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Yeah, but not like some other bands. We're all generally amiable and get on with each other really well.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Well, we released our album "Wasters Regards" recently and we have a few more gigs before we go back into the studio and start working on new stuff. I'm thinking we might do a single -- watch this space!