Will and the People performed at Sin City on the 18th May. We caught up with them after the show to talk about Europe, graffiti, and their arch-rivals, Pill and the Weeple.
Supported by Paddy Kelly, who seems to be turning into a bit of a Sin City good-luck charm, and the Attic People who manage to put on an excellent set despite a few technical glitches; Will and the People bounce on to the stage and have their eager audience jumping up and down like lunatics by the second song.
Loud and raucous, they perform without a set list- playing whatever songs they feel like, much to the delight of the crowd. Towards the end of the gig a girl jumps on to the stage to dance next to Will- a few minutes later and she’s joined by 20 or so more, who cheer and wave to their friends during a foot-stomping instrumental in the last song of the night.
The tour seems to be going well already. The band are currently enjoying radio play in countries around Europe, and their music is on top of the playlist in Holland; with their self-titled album released there the same day they performed in Swansea.
They’re perched on chairs in the dressing room when I come in for the interview, passing round sweets and a bottle of rum that Gary brings in. They’re polite but chilled out, talking quietly with one another while I talk to Will.
“What was the weirdest place you’ve ever performed in?” is my first question, after seeing their list of odd gigs on Facebook which includes a bathtub in Reading, a yacht in Monaco, and a Fiat 500 in Rome.
“Cambodia,” Will says immediately. “We were on stage and Keo got hit in the head with a stiletto heel thrown by a lady-boy.”
“But apart from that you seem to be quite popular around Europe. Do you know why?”
“Because we’re from England,” he says simply.
“Any plans after this tour?”
“Keep touring. We don’t really have plans to be honest; I think we all love what we’re doing at the moment, so we’re just going to carry on.”
They’re all easily distracted, and I have to wait while they launch into a conversation with Sin City’s sound engineer. We all sit transfixed while he does a magic trick.
“Sorry,” Will says, turning back to me and grinning. “I’d quite like to be a rally driver.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Why not,” he shrugs. “But mostly I want to be in a band forever.”
“Are you bothered about the whole ‘rich and famous’ thing?”
“Nah. I think… we’d all rather our music was heard. I mean- if we had to choose between being famous and to have people be able to hear our music… you know?”
“We want to be the biggest band in the world,” someone mutters.
“That’s true actually,” Will says. “We’re aiming for 1000 people to be in the band.”
“You got pretty close tonight,” I say, thinking of the 20-odd people who clambered on to the stage for the last couple of songs.
“Does that happen here a lot?” Will asks. “After the first girl got on stage we looked at each other like, shit, it’s going to be like this for the rest of the gig isn’t it? It was fun though.”
A couple of reviews have mentioned how, while there is definitely Reggae influence in their music, it can’t really be cited as Reggae in itself. On their own Facebook page they describe their genre as “multigenre heavy chilled pop music”. Will tells me later that this is a brand new genre they invented themselves.
“Reggae is a massive influence for us but there are loads of other music genres we put in- we just love everything. Our new record’s got a lot of psychedelic stuff, a lot of Beatle’s LSD influence, Supertramp, that kind of thing.”
“What’s your favourite band at the moment?”
“Probably the Mystery Jets I think, I’ve been listening to them loads- You Had Me At Hello is my favourite track. And the Black Keys.”
“Predictions for the band?”
“I predict that… we’ll do a lot of stuff in Europe. And I want to do a heavy rock album.”
As we start to talk about the next couple of venues in the tour Will leans forward and points at my notepad.
“Make sure you write this down please. I want to make it very clear that the graffiti along the A4 was NOT US.”
(I promised I’d underline and capitalise the last two words, so there they are.)
“Someone, and we have no idea who it was, managed to get the Will and the People logo and stuff on every single sign on the A4 on the way to Swansea,” Will continues. “We were a bit worried people would think it was us.”
“Rival band?” I suggest.
“That wouldn’t be very smart, would it?” he frowns.
“Maybe they were trying to get you in trouble.”
“Ooh, maybe,” Will says. “Actually it was probably Pill and the Weeple, they hate us so much. They did this incredible remix of one of our tracks, just to spite us.”
“They are,” he agrees. “What colour are you?”
“Colour… like for my aura?” I ask.
I tell him my birth date and he works it out while I chat to the other guys about the gig they did at Beach Break.
“You’re blue, same as me,” Will says finally, and tells me to write down a couple of lines.
“Are they lyrics?” I ask.
“Of course they are,” he says impatiently. “Blue.”
It’s not until later I realise he was quoting from one of the tracks on their album, which might explain why he looks a bit put-out.
Talk turns back to music, with the general consensus from the band being that the music industry is “a bit shit” at the moment. I notice that most of them have tattoos. Will has “I shot the sheriff” on his forearm as a tribute to Bob Marley, and pulls the neck of his shirt down a little so I can see another one.
“We all got Will and the People tattoos,” Will says. “Apart from him.”
He turns to mock-glare at one of his band members who shrugs. “I’m not a tattoo person,” he says.
“You’re like an alternative rebel,” I tell him, and he grins.
Eventually (at one in the morning), the band decide that they should probably get a move on; allocating a driver according to who’s least likely to crash. They take the remains of the bottle of rum with them, just in case.
Will and the People are: Will Rendle, James Keo, Jim Ralphs, Charlie Harman and Jamie Rendle.