Band of the Day: Thomas Wilby Gang

Do you want to be in our gang?

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK. It gets dissed quite a bit by people who live here but it’s actually a pretty great place in my opinion – very arty. The front cover of our new album features Westgate, one of Wakefield’s main streets. It’s notorious for its pubs and bars, and the inevitable carnage that results from binge drinking. We felt that it fits nicely with the album’s title, Wasters Regards.

How did you meet?

We’ve all been in different bands over the years playing various styles of music. There’s plenty of creativity and lots of bands in Wakefield, and it’s a small city so you get to know other musicians quickly. I’d just taken a one year break from music and it nearly drove me insane. I think our guitarist Simon knew I needed to do something creative so we got together and started jamming out some ideas. The rest of the band followed pretty quickly after that.

How long have you been playing as a band?

Our first gig was in November 2012 playing with the Sheffield band Wet Nuns. A really great band actually, such a tragedy that they aren’t around anymore.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

We are named after the famous British writer and motorist Thomas Wilby, who made the first automotive trip across Canada. But sometimes we make up a different story to where the name came from just for fun.

What are your influences?

It’s safe to say there’s a definite American influence to our music – I like to listen to blues, folk, country and rock. I’m a big fan of Taj Mahal and I’d like to hope that has influenced some of my songwriting.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

We play the music that we like, and we do it for that reason – it’s genuine. We aren’t trying to emulate anyone specifically so I’d prefer other people to let me know what they can hear in our music. That said, if I think about some of the tracks on our last album Backwoods Crackin’ there’s a definite Stones vibe to some of the tracks and even a Floyd tinge to one of them. I guess our Britishness comes through in our interpretation of classic American genres.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Our new album Wasters Regards covers poverty, ambition, crime and the banality of wanting to live life your own way whilst other people tell you how to live it.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

For the most part it’s an accurate representation of how we sound on record, but with the inevitable improvisations and changes a band will make as they gig songs over and over. I’d love to say that we were amazing in our stage antics but I’d be lying – we’re animated enough and really get into the music, but none of us are going to bite the head off of a chicken! We’ve played about 50 gigs, not much for a band on their second album, I guess, but we do work hard on songwriting and recording. We’ll be going straight back into the studio as soon as our new album is out.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

I got dragged on stage by mates band The Sour Heads at a festival and ended up having my throat cut by the lead singer. Thankfully it was only simulated and whilst laying on the floor in a pool of my own imaginary blood, I punched him in the balls so I wouldn’t lose face. Oh and I once got a massage from Shed Seven singer Rick Witter whilst stood at the bar. Our keyboardist Tony apparently snogged Claire Grogan at a gig, and at another stole Tony Hadley’s egg and cress sandwich. He’s definitely the wild one in the band.

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

I’ve got a custom Bordello telecaster, it’s literally the only one in the world and the guy that made it sadly passed away. Our lead guitarist alternates between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul, I think it depends on his mood. Our bassist has this really neat Rickenbacker style thing – it’s not an exact copy and loads of people have commented on it over the years. Then for keys we have a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano and midi vintage keys (Hammond sounds) hooked up to a DX7 which is basically just a controller. Our keyboardist actually has a real vintage B2 Hammond organ and Lesley cabinet but until we get roadies it ain’t going anywhere! In the studio our drummer has been using a Highwood kit – that’s a locally manufactured drum kit and it looks and sounds beautiful!

What are your plans for 2019?

We have an album coming out on vinyl in June. That’ll be our first vinyl release and we are super excited about it. After that, we will be back into the studio working on another album!

Header image by John Jowett

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