(Photo Credits: LINDZRS MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY & MB PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTLAND)
*PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA*
WAYWARD SONS, is the exciting new group fronted by Toby Jepson (Little Angels). After the incredible success of Little Angels, a number one album, millions of records sold, massive sell out shows and numerous hit singles, Toby has been busy these past years in movie work, performing with Fastway, Gun and Dio’s Disciples and producing albums for numerous bands (Saxon, Fastway, Virginmarys, Toseland and more).
His heart however, is always in writing and performing and so the concept of WAYWARD SONS was born – a new band built for playing live, a new direction with Toby’s songs centre stage and a new album ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’, via Frontiers Music SRL, this is his first new album in over 20 years.
WAYWARD SONS, handpicked by Toby are Nic Wastell (bass, Chrome Molly) Phil Martini (drums, Spear Of Destiny, ex Quireboys, Joe Elliots Down and Outs) Sam Wood (guitar, a real new gunslinger from Treason Kings) and Dave Kemp (keys, ex Little Angels touring band and long time sideman to Toby). GOYTC was written in a live band situation, a first for Toby.
Passionate, honest music made by passionate honest musicians who have come together to create rock music that reflects their heroes from the ‘70s and ‘80’s – modernity through homage…..Wayward Sons.
We caught up with them on the first day of Hard Rock Hell XI before they took to the stage.
LINDSAY: How’s things?
WAYWARD SONS: Great!
L: Looking forward to it?
WS: Yeah, great to be here.
L: Not your first time here?
WS: No, most of us have done it a couple of times.
L: So what can we expect from you guys tonight, the full album?
WS: Well, we’re playing an hour, so pretty much the whole record, you know, that’s one of the great things about ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’, it’s not a particularly long album as you know, it’s sort of short sharp songs, and we’re enjoying that sort of thing. We’ve been playing a lot of these songs over the summer and the Inglorious dates that we did, so we’re revolving the songs now, which is nice actually, as we are starting to stretch out the tunes a bit and start to explore them differently, which is what you do when you get new material and it starts to become something else.
So tonight, we’re playing an hour, so um, yeah, there’s a couple of little surprises in there.
L: New music?
WS: Oo you’ll have to wait and see. Actually, we do play a couple of the songs that we recorded in the sessions for the album that didn’t make the record. One is on the Japan release. You know, all of the songs that we recorded for the record, we loved them all, and it was only for the fact that Frontiers wanted a ten track record and that we had recorded thirteen songs that we had to leave three off you know. So, we still love the tunes as much as we do the other tracks. So we will play those live, and they will end up on some release at some point anyway. So it’s just nice to play them really.
L: The album has gone down incredibly well hasn’t it; it’s been a bit mad?
WS: Yeah it has, totally. You make a record, and we’ve all made many albums over our careers, and I think that one thing that you learn as you get older and you carry on making records, if you are lucky enough to do that, is that you can’t second guess anything. All you can do is make the best record you can, and put every ounce of effort that you can, and feel it as much as you possibly can. Then really, it’s down to the audience. Audience is King; I’ve always said this, that the audience is King. It’s not something that you can rely upon, and you shouldn’t do, you know, there’s no allowance for it, you’ve got to just make it and hope they like it. I think that’s what has been so staggering about this, is that we focused so much on making the record and we’ve enjoyed the process so much that I think in many ways we didn’t know what to expect.
L: So did you have the songs before and then you all chipped into it to make them, or was it a joint effort from the start?
WS: There were some bits and pieces and Toby has some kind of figured out songs, some little ideas here and there, and we got together to work on those a little bit more than others, some were more formed than others. We had a really close connection from the first day that we got into a room together and the ideas developed pretty quickly you know, for the first couple of days of rehearsals, six or seven of those songs from those initial days ended up being on the album.
L: You’ve been together just a little over a year now?
WS: Yeah about a year and a half. The first get together was early July last year. So we’d had conversations before then, and I sort of had gone around and talked to everyone and said ‘Do you fancy it?’ and they were like ‘Yeah, we’ll get involved’. Of course we’re all doing different things as well, and I am trying to put the project together with Frontiers, trying to put together a time line of what we were going to do. So by the time we’d actually hit the rehearsal room, which was in July last year, we’d had this mad, mad couple of days, so it was nuts. We’re in this room, none of us have ever worked together apart from me (Toby) and Dave really, and me and Nic, but that was producer/artist role sort of thing, it then just happened. I mean, I’ve never felt anything like that before in my entire life. I really genuinely haven’t, I’m not just saying it, it was an extraordinary experience. I think the thing is with it, like with anything else, the way that you set off is often the way that you continue, and I think there was such a feeling about wanting to do this so badly, you know, and it’s maintained that feeling. Yeah it’s been wonderful! To see all the reviews come back, and to see the way that people reacted to ‘Until The End’, it went straight on the radio and it continued to be played on the radio.
L: It’s because it’s a cracking tune!
WS: Well, thank you!
L: It really is though, I mean, you just look around at the audience and see everyone’s faces, and see everybody singing..
WS: It’s mad!
L: I should imagine it is yeah
WS: It’s wonderful, you know, I’ll never be in another band again apart from this band, and I don’t want to be in another band after this. I want this band to go on and on and on. To feel that actually is really special. I genuinely think that we can carry on making records with this band. I’m just as ambitious as I ever was. I’d like to be back in Hammersmith as a headliner, I mean, why not?
L: It surprised me actually that you’d put another band together, I thought you’d be releasing stuff on your own at some point, but this feels good.
WS: It does! Frontiers wanted me initially to make a solo record, and I just said no, I just wasn’t feeling that at all. I’ve been in bands all my life, I like working with other people, I like the banter, I like the fun, this is the easiest band I have ever been in.
L: Do you think that’s because you are not as...very young as you were in the early days, and you’ve all matured, and you all get on because you’ve got that maturity now.
WS: Yeah! Of course! There’s none of the bullshit anymore because we’re not trying to prove anything. What I wanted to do with this really was, and it was Nic that prompted it really, but with this you’ve got to just clear the decks. I could have just gone back to a lot of people that I’ve worked with before, there’s many people that I have worked with over the years, that I trust and rely upon, people that I use for other projects, but I just thought, you know what, No. Let’s do something completely new, challenge myself, and do something different, I even started writing differently. I had a different process from my side of things, about how I brought ideas in. It was fantastic, it was like a complete breath of fresh air, it was like being reborn really, I really mean that. It felt like a real rebirth, and being older is a massive benefit for that, because you can sidestep all of that s**t, you can sidestep all of that nonsense that you used to pretend was important when you were younger, attitudes and just the way that things work in the studio. We don’t procrastinate as much; we just get on with the job.
L: Where did Sam come from? How did you find Sam?
WS: He was in a band called The Treason Kings, which I produced. I found them in Leeds, a friend of mine introduced me to them, and they just sent us the tracks, and I just loved the guitar playing more than anything else. When we started working together, I worked with them for about 18 months, and then the band ended up splitting up.
L: What were you saying about maturity?
WS: Yeah exactly! What’s been great about this is that we are all old hands, we have all made records, Sam hasn’t made records. He’d had studio time but he hadn’t made a whole full blown album before. But he brings that youthful thing, he’s an incredibly smart guy and I think everybody would agree with that.
L: I said to Phil when I saw him after the Inglorious gig that as a band, you’re just so tight now, because I think I saw your second gig at Rock & Blues, and you were good then, but you do seem to have gelled even more live. You seem to be even more comfortable with each other, are you feeling that on stage?
WS: Yeah without a doubt. The more you play the songs, the more you do settle in. We never played live before we recorded the songs so, they’re still forming in a certain way, and like Toby said maybe extend them here and there. So it’s such a new thing, the live thing, to this band.
I (Toby) would go a little bit further and say that my experience, and I’ve been in a lot of bands as you know, and they’re always a bit of a struggle, or they can be a bit of a struggle, if there is a kind of challenge shall we say, with personnel, and that’s not because you don’t get on with each other, it’s just because people are different, we’re all different and I’ve never been in a band where it’s been this pure, and there’s this connection between us that exists because we love the music, and what we’ve created together, it’s been a very collective experience, and we all utterly believe in it. There isn’t a song that I don’t look forward to playing off the album, not a single one of them, and every time I look down the setlist I’m like ‘Oo I get to play that one next, brilliant! I can’t wait to play it’. I’ve never had that! Not even in Little Angels. There were songs that I thought, well I kind of like that one, but I can’t wait to get onto that one, kind of thing.
L: I was going to ask whether there is one particular track on the album that you are all kind of like, Yeah! This one next! ?
WS: No. When we recorded the album, and you’re listening, I had a favourite to start with, and a couple of days later that favourite had changed to something else, and then something else. You’re just so chuffed with them all and they’re just great to listen to really loudly.
There are other parts that we brought to the table ourselves, in a sense Toby didn’t get too heavy with what he wanted. He allowed us to just try stuff out and get playing. A lot of those initial rhythms and parts etc ended up being in the songs. So it’s all our own stuff if you like, so it’s all natural and organic to play.
I think that was good for you though wasn’t it, to allow you to write, to come in with a song and then have it pulled in a different direction, then you went back and did things that you normally wouldn’t do with them, it provides a different vibe and structure. But it means if each song is natural to us, to play live, so the next to the next one, they kind of are all favourites in that sense.
You discover stuff about each other which I found really, really interesting. I kind of knew from working with the guys in different ways, kind of what we all sort of liked. I‘m as influenced by the punk movement and new wave, American and British wave of post 70s, as much as I am about rock and roll and what we would call classic rock. I don’t think there’s any difference for me, there’s just good songs and great bands. But we’d had those conversations, and because we were just allowed to be anything we want, the palette was as wide as you wanted it to be. The biggest bulls**t thing that you ever get in a band is when you get someone saying ‘Oh I don’t want to play that, no I’m not going to do that because I’m not into that’. So you start shutting things down, doors have been closed, walls have been thrown up. A lot of it is to do with paranoia, and panicking because you don’t want to appeal or something, and you have these crazy ideas, I remember in a number of bands I’ve been you, you have the ‘Oh no you can’t do that, that will alienate the audience. How the f**k would it alienate an audience? How do you make that discernment? We never did that, we just went, anything goes. But because we are all into guitar music, it ended up being a guitar hard rock album anyway. It was never going to be any different. It’s nuanced. It has elements of things that were really, really interesting, that I don’t think would have been there if there had been other people.
L: It’s wonderful, it all sounds really good and it looks like you’re all really enjoying it.
WS: Yeah it’s great, and we’re always like totally bummed out the day after a little run finishes.
L: So my next question is when are you going to be writing again?
WS: We’ve started a few bits and pieces here and there, you know, but we are still in the thick of this record and still proving ourselves live.
To be honest there were six or seven things that we just didn’t have time to finish and we liked for this album, so there are already some ideas that we could start tomorrow with where we were with that, so I think it will still be an ongoing process. I don’t get the impression that not having material is going to be a problem in this band ever!
L: No pressure from Frontiers to get something else out really quickly?
WS: No, not at all. They have been unbelievable and I want to pay tribute to them actually, and as much as possible. They left us alone. Mario and Serafino didn’t question a thing. They gave us the money, we made the album. They didn’t even hear anything until I was mixing the album. They didn’t ask for a demo. They just trusted us implicitly and that I have never had in my career and I’ve had a number of record deals. That’s why I think they are amazing, that’s why I will always make records for them, because that is trust and respect that I’ve never experienced before.
L: So now that you have Wayward Sons are you are moving forward with that, are you cutting all the other producing out now, or are you still looking around and helping other bands out?
WS: No, on the contrary really. I would love this to be something we did 24/7 for the next ten years of our lives, I really would. But, you know, life is reality isn’t it and we all have other things going on in various ways. I am a massive champion of new music, and I want to continue doing that, I want to evolve that process a little bit. I’m starting a bit of a project which is coming up next year, to kind of help bands, so that will be revealed in time. But I do want to find artists, I just love music and I love talented people. To find a young bunch of players, who are just fabulous, who could do something that I could never do, that’s my ultimate joy, because I love to be able to say to people ‘You’re f**king fantastic! You really need all the support you can get’ and I hope in my way that I can give that support because I do have that, I have that background and that reputation if you like. I don’t want to use that just for myself. I’d like to use that for as many people as possible that would want me to be involved.
L: So when you’re not with Wayward Sons, and you’re not producing, what sort of music do you all listen to? What do you stick on in the tour bus when you’re all driving around? Have you all got similar tastes?
WS: We had some on today, some Blondie on today, the greatest hits Blondie, that was great. Punk Classics, a punk compilation which is right up our street. Skids, things like that.
I’m a massive Beatles fan; I listen to the Beatles all the time at home. Loads of stuff and actually playing with this band has prompted it in many different ways because we were talking about loads of different bands, so I’ve been going back over the record collection and rediscovering stuff, Boomtown Rats have come up a lot for me and stuff like that; Buzzcocks, various things, but also, I’ve gone back in the old Sabbath records, my youngest daughter has just discovered Sabbath, I mean literally. Masters Of Reality is her favourite album; she’s 15, so I’ve been listening to all of those records again. So yeah, whatever is great.
L: I shall let you go now, but thank you very much for your time.
WS: Thank you
You can check the band out here: