NEWS

Interview: Wayward Sons

12/04/2018

Lisa Bartos talks to Toby Jepson from Wayward Sons about the issues facing rock music today, living life through a screen and revealing the truth…

Hello! introduce us to the members of Wayward Sons.

Hi there, the band consists of Nic Wastell on Bass, Sam Wood on Guitar, Dave Kemp,on Keys and Phil Martini on Drums, and myself, Toby Jepson the singer and Rhythm guitar.

How would you describe Wayward Sons music to someone who hasn’t heard your songs before?

It’s a hard rock, with a strong social conscience! I think it has a fresh sound, we literally recorded the new album live off the floor, so the attitude was everything in terms of the sound we made, it all goes into the DNA of making a record, so the more you ‘lean into’ the feeling, the more it shows itself. It’s a very human thing for me to make music, and I don’t agree with the modern concept that everything has to be perfectly in time and in tune, because the human experience of music is so layered and also unique to every listener that I feel compelled to offer a real experience born of real playing and real people doing real things with musical instruments! Call me old-fashioned but I’ve always believed that music is an emotional connection and not something created in a lab or ‘for a market’ if you chase that stuff, it’s over before it starts in my opinion.

You’ve released your first album “Ghosts Of Yet To Come” in September 2017 to critical acclaim… How does it feel to hear and read such nice things about all your hard work?

All I can say is that I’ve made the best record I can with the best people I know and I hope the message gets through enough for us to be able to tour and play our music to as many as will listen. Beyond that my expectations are based on whether people like the music, I have not one jot of ‘entitlement’ about this album, this music, this band, has to be taken on merit and that will cause its death or its life. I have no desire to go through the motions, it’s too important to me, so if it connects and the band can carry on because of that connection then I’m willing to take it as far as is humanly possible. So to get the frankly stunning reviews from across the globe has been nothing short of astounding! You never know how an album is going to go down with the critics and I hardly ever look at reviews because it’s such a personal thing to make music, despite the desire for as many as people as possible to hear it, that it’s kind of immaterial really, in as much as its out of my hands and also one mans meat is another mans murder and all that. But it is genuinely gratifying to know we must have done something right, so I’m enormously grateful for that. I Kind of heaved a sigh of relief if I’m being honest!!

This question always gets people stumped which is your favourite song off “Ghosts Of Yet To Come?

Each song has a very personal meaning to me, the whole record has a narrative that connects that is to with my personal view and interpretations of where we are as a world community and the mistakes I believe we are making. It’s actually a pretty serious protest record really, wrapped up in rock n roll clothing. I think the song that defines the record is title track ‘Ghost Of Yet To Come’ – it is the central message of the record. I believe that we, as communities all over the world, specifically in the developed wealthy First world, have become somewhat detached from reality where we view everything through a screen, make our judgements based on how many of our FB friends agree with our status, rather than seeking the facts and making a human judgement call. We jump to conclusion, attack from behind a keyboard, say anything, no matter how ill-judged and informed, and somehow it has become acceptable to behave terribly towards often the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our societies. We dismiss clear fact in favour of what we want to hear and sadly many find it easy to have no sympathy for others in terrible situations. This is leading to mass paranoia and hysteria, I genuinely don’t know what has happened to common sense? I guess giving everyone a platform to announce themselves has had as many negative results as positive, and so the title represents that modern phenomenon – we’re terrified of things that have not yet happened due to the overhype and desensitisation – the song and ultimately, the whole record, seeks to stimulate the discussion about what I feel are some of the most important questions facing our world right now; who are we? What have we become? Where do we want to go? And how long can we keep this up? I do it with a rye smile as well as meaning every bloody word whilst we rock hard!

You’ve just released your new single “Don’t Wanna Go” what is the song about?

It’s a song that charts my first ever live music experience, which was watching Gillan play at Hull City hall on their Magic tour something around 1982/3. I was mesmerised, everything felt hyper-real and I can still remember how it made me feel. It was like an out of body experience in a way; everything seemed alien yet incredibly familiar and connective. I simply didn’t want to leave that theatre after the show had finished for fear that the bubble would burst and I’d return to normal, just a kid. I was smitten and from that day on knew what I wanted to do. The song talks about my time away from the business and how much I missed it and how even now as a 50-year-old musician, it still means the same despite how much I have changed and how much the world has changed, that magical experience will always deliver on the promise for me. ‘Be a rock n rolla’ is a rally cry, as I have never been let down by the music, and what and how it makes me feel.

 

You’re playing Riverside in Newcastle on 21st April 2018 what can fans expect from the show?

Well, we’ve played quite a lot of shows now, but not many headline dates, so we have constructed a set that is the entire album plus the songs that we didn’t initially release which are available on our picture disc release of ‘I don’t wanna go’. We are just beginning to stretch our legs with the songs as we have lived with them now for a while and you can start to have fun with the arrangements once they have bedded in, so it takes on a different form which is meant to challenge the audience a bit and to add depth as well as just be fun to listen to. We have a cover or two which we have placed strategically into songs as well as stand-alone, so we shall see! It’s a high energy show, which is a challenge for us too! Ha! But ultimately it’s about delivering the story of the band and this album and communicating with the room. I hope this headline tour is the first of many!

 

You’ve talked about the lack of Rock and Roll on mainstream radio and record labels. Why do you think there is a lack of Rock in the mainstream music scene?

It’s very hard to answer. It’s quite astounding really, seeing as it’s a consistently well-received music genre and has probably some of the biggest audiences of any form of music. Is it snobbery? Maybe…is it market forces? Possibly, is it simply trends and fashion? Well possibly again, but one thing I do know is that I haven’t felt rock music being as strong as it feel right now for quite some time and there are so many great band out there populated by young kids who are still listening to the old guard and reinterpreting what they hear for their generation. It’s exciting to see and hear the results. I’m deadly serious about my music, but it’s the next generation that will define where it goes from here. I hope the green shoots that are appearing can continue to grow and we can see a reinvented music business that can recognize hard rock as a living breathing, profitable art form because that is what the business needs, successful bands to generate income and so, interest from the big boys. Sadly, it isn’t going to happen quickly, but it will come back around again. Having planet rock and the various magazines that are passionate about our music is a huge support.

How can we change the lack of Rock in mainstream music?

It’s about success! Mainstream is simply another word for success. That means we need inward investment by labels and a concerted effort to re-value music in all its forms. The genie is out of the bottle now in the form of the Internet, but I have found that audiences desire and want to belong to a movement and take part in the support of new music. The power, as ever is in the hands of the listener, so we need to re-engage with them and give quality and consistency. Not easy as it’s incredibly expensive to keep a band on the road and together without funding from the labels. Chicken and egg. I have high hopes though, despite everything, passionate rock music fans are legion.

You’ve recently supported Steel Panther and Inglorious on their UK tours, how did these gigs come about?

A great agent! Actually the same agent as both of those bands so we were put forward and happily we got the tours. He’s a top man, Mr Steve Strange, who I was also in Fastway with. One of my closest chums and a brilliant dude. I have a lot to thank him for and have enormous respect for him and all he has done for this project and me in general. A true friend.

Your playing Download Festival 2018, where were you when you got the call?

I was at home, and wasn’t expecting it at all! But gladly accepted the invite from Andy Copping. He has been a true mate for years, right from back in the mid 80’s when he was the promoter at Rock City in Nottingham. He’s always been there for me, and always takes an interest in what I am doing. A top man.

All your artwork is graphic novel inspired, if you could have a superpower what would it be and why?

To be able to fly I guess is the most obvious answer, but I reckon the ability to make people tell the truth would be good, and I’d zap Trump, Farage, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Putin with my truth ray and televise the answers, then perhaps we’d get somewhere and discover who was truly making sense. I’m pretty certain that would be revealing.

What does the rest of 2018 hold for Wayward Sons?

As many shows as we can muster, and start thinking about a new record for 2019/20 I guess! No rest for the wicked and I have so much more to say!!!


Wayward Sons play Riverside on the 21st of April. Come along and witness the full force of  ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ live.

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