It’s that time of year again, when in the run-up to Bloodstock we endeavour to interview every band gracing the SOPHIE, New Blood and Jägermeister stages from 8th – 11th August 2019. This means you’ve got a chance to read up on all your favourite bands set to play over the weekend and decide which new ones you’ll want to check out.
As ever, we’re predicting some horrible clashes because, true to form, there are some great bands across all three stages so you should start planning who you want to see.
Our thanks to all the bands for taking the time out to answer our questions!
Wheel – SOPHIE Stage, Sunday
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
I am originally from Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire but have been living in Helsinki, Finland for the past ten years, where the rest of the guys in the band are from.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
We started playing together in 2015, so just over four years.
Where does the name of the band come from?
It just felt like the right fit for us – as a name, ‘Wheel’ is both an observation and a mantra. Many elements of modern society seem to be rehashes of something that has come before; from fashion ‘bringing back’ clothes from previous decades, the standardisation and gentrification of popular music and the regular tips of the hat to specific periods from musical history that have become synonymous with the contemporary, all the way through to the scarier revival of pro-isolation populism and an elite who perhaps more blatantly than ever, profit at the expense of the poor – society (or more specifically, ‘we’ as a population) can be described as an ever turning, never learning wheel, where nobody is really in control of our direction or ultimate destination.
The mantra side is more about our love of the grind. Writing Wheel music takes an extremely long time as we are constantly exploring meters, and other song writing elements that are unfamiliar to us. Experimenting with these musical ideas and learning how to get the most out of them is not that different from learning a new language and it takes some real time and commitment to navigate this unexplored territory; we want to come up with stuff that no one has thought of making before. It is one hell of a grind, but we love it.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We like writing really big stuff and shamelessly prioritise artistic exploration over commercial viability.
We aim to make music that is expansive, dynamic and interesting and having released our first album in February of this year to a slew of great review scores and some awesome tours with Soen and Katatonia, I think we are communicating this pretty well so far. We always try and avoid complexity for its own sake and only ever use it if the writing process calls for it – restraint in this area has been tough to learn but I think it has become one of the band’s core values as especially when writing in the irregular meters we use, simple ideas tend to work way better than really busy parts.
Lyrically, the latest album is about society reverting to a more tribal state and the consequences of this shift. Among other topics, we have written about government surveillance, censorship, online witch-hunting, wealth disparity and overcoming adversity on the record.
I guess the TLDR of this section would be: If anyone is up for hearing some weird hypnotic shit that really grooves, Wheel is probably for you (and if you don’t like the sound of this, what the hell is wrong with you!?) – check us out and let us know what you think!
What’s your live show like? Why are people going to watch you instead of another band?
Just to see the other players in my band kick some ass, I wholeheartedly recommend anyone to check out our show. On the first night I moved to Finland I saw a band play in a nearly empty bar in Helsinki and could not believe the standard of the musicianship compared to the UK – a real testament to what a country with free education and a passion for guitar-based music can do; in my opinion, the guys in Wheel are some of the best in the country and kick an unbelievable amount of ass live.
Live, our performance is a mind-melting journey and although we definitely lean towards the progressive musically, we don’t lean all the way; we have plenty of huge riffs and grooves to cater for people who just want to go freaking nuts at a rock show – check us out and we won’t disappoint you. There will be cake.
Have you played Bloodstock before? If so, when?
Never, it will be the first time for all of us – we are stoked for it.
How/when did you find out that you’d be playing the SOPHIE stage?
One of the festival organisers contacted me directly and invited us to play there – we really like the ethos of the festival and it’s amazing to be part of a line up with so many other great bands. Most of our touring to date has been focused on mainland Europe and the Nordics so it’s going to be a blast playing our first metal festival in the UK.
What sort of setlist can we expect?
We don’t want to give too much away here but we will be playing lots of stuff from the new album.
Which other band do you most hope you’re not clashing with so you can see them play?
The classic metal lover in me is pretty excited to check out Dee Snider and The Scorpions. If we were playing on a different day, I would have loved to see Tesseract, Raging Speedhorn, Children of Bodom and Soulfly too.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are starting to work on some preliminary ideas for new music but there is a long way to go until it will be ready. Other than that, we have had a busy year for touring and festivals; I don’t know if everything we are doing has been announced yet, but we are touring with our friends in Soen again for a month starting at the end of August and have another UK festival slot playing at Damnation in Leeds later in the year – good times!
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
If we are talking about ‘wild’ things, I’m not even going to try and top what I saw Dillinger Escape Plan do back in 2002 at Reading festival. They were playing on Sunday on the main stage and I still remember vividly, seeing their singer take a shit in a bag (I remember it being a paper bag) and throwing it into the audience. The events afterwards are a bit of a blur, but I think someone in the audience threw the bag back on stage and while screaming, the singer walking up to the crowd and emptied the bag’s contents onto the front row. This resulted in the singer being attacked by some dude who now covered in crap, was less than happy.
This continued until security separated them – you really couldn’t make this shit up (no pun intended). I have no idea what they were trying to do with this stunt, but it was definitely memorable. In short, don’t understand the gesture, but we love the band – legends.
What drink do you throw back to get yourself fired up before going on stage?
Before we play, we never drink alcohol – Wheel’s music is pretty challenging to play anyway and we always feel like it is kind of ripping off the audience to play less than the absolute best we can; I used to drink before shows all the time in the past until I realised that it always makes me play at least a little bit, (often, much) worse.
I’m sure some other bands can manage it, but with the stuff we write, it’s not an option for us – these days, it’s all about a decent cup of tea before the gig and drinking more alcohol after the show to catch up.