Interview with Wayward Sons,
(Toby Jepson – Vocals/Guitar, Nic Wastell – Bass, Phil Martini – Drums)
by Adrian Hextall
Pics: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
As the latest press releases will confirm, 2017 is the time to ‘Reset the counters! Toby Jepson is back with WAYWARD SONS’. This is a brand new band featuring musicians Toby has sought out himself and the new album “Ghosts Of Yet To Come” is his first bonafide new album in over 20 years.
We catch up with the band after they’ve played only their third ever show on the Rising Stage at Ramblin’ Man fair on the Saturday. They went up against Glenn Hughes on the main stage so there was definitely some solid competition for a crowd yet the band found the stage packed with curious people, well wishers and punters who were there to see the man who had fronted Little Angels, return to what he does best.
Toby, Nic and Phil are, not surprisingly, looking rather pleased with themselves in the press tent after their set;
AH: It was a great crowd that greeted you today, especially given the weather (It was pouring during their set). Even the brief sound check got the crowd singing along and cheering. You got as far as ‘hello’, then the whole crowd said ‘Yay ‘ [laughter] So you know clearly, everybody was up for supporting you.
TJ: It’s a lovely thing.
AH: How many gigs has that been now?
TJ: Three. It’s our third show ever.
AH: To be on the festival bill for your third show, that’s not bad is it?
TJ: Yeah, I know it’s amazing. I mean, it’s a bit overwhelming, really. It’s kind of hard to know what to say. I mean, I just think there’s a massive appetite out there for rock music. For fans, you know, the fans of the genre just want great bands to play great music and to jump around. Why is it? It’s never been any different, you know what I mean?
But I think, we’re feeling that. I think, our band is probably slightly different in a way, to a lot of others that are out there, for a number of reasons. It’s just hard to know what to say about it… but a lot of reasons.
PM: We’re super keen on the music. We make them realise how excited to go and play it to everybody.
NW: It’s a great band to play in, great musicians. Everybody’s rehearsed up. The songs are great. A great front man out there. You might as well just — have a good time. [If you witness Nic on stage, you’ll know instantly what a good time looks like. He’s an absolute live wire, constantly moving.]
AH: And what point are we allowed to use the term SuperGroup then? Because you’ve all got that history between you all.
NW: We made an album.
TJ: We’ve made an album exactly yeah. Yes I mean you know the cool thing about this band is that it’s come together very organically. I mean we’ve known each other for years (Nic and Toby) through his time in Chrome Molly. We met over a mutual friend’s wedding a few years ago and I ended up producing an album and it’s just been very……
NW: 31 years we’ve known each other.
TJ: I must have been about 12. [laughter all round]
TJ: But it’s been fantastic and meeting Phil, I’d seen Phil play at High Voltage wasn’t it?. And he’s just a great drummer and so like I clocked him and then I think you tried out for Toseland at some point they had a sort of audition thing.
PM: I think I did.
TJ: I talked to him again there and I was looking to put the band together Genuinely there was nobody else I’d call. That dude, it’ll be amazing so I got on the phone. It’s like we sat down over a coffee and he was like. Yeah we’ll give it a go, won’t we? And then you know Sam you know he’s the youngest in the band I mean he’s a staggering guitar player. We all feel like his dad.
NW: Can I be — the older brother?
TJ: You could be older brother, Phil is the other youngster. But what I mean it was no.. it wasn’t like a chore it was not like loads of auditions, it was like have a go, have a go. We should try it out.
AH: It sort of evolved organically?
TJ: Yeah, man it was like [snapped finger] We all just sparked. I mean as soon as you got in the room and we’ve kept that vibe. That’s the interesting thing. We haven’t dropped that feeling. It’s remained and it will.
NW: Almost from like the second song we started doing we knew we’d got a style here. Let’s not fight it. It’s just the way it is. I’d never even met Phil until the first day’s rehearsal.
PM: I met Toby and not met any other boys at all.
TJ: So we’re kind of telling each other on faith that this is going to work. We locked in by the second song. Then, “God, this feels good.” Okay, cool, keep us together. Very exciting.
NW: It’s been great.
AH: The artwork alone is enough to grab the public’s attention. It really draws you in. To put it bluntly, ‘That’s a proper album cover.’ Not just a shot with the band on the front or something or a couple of arty black and white shots. Where did that come from?
TJ: Why? It’s what gets me, why aren’t they all like that. It goes back to the days when we used to buy vinyl, I would buy– we’ve talked about this. I would buy an album because the artwork was good. Sometimes whether or not I’d heard a single note of music. But the cover held you.
I genuinely feel that that appreciation in that art form has got completely lost in the midst of time. Very few people do it really well. I just thought you know what, I’m going to do that. We’re going to do that, we’re going to find a way and make an incredible piece of art that people going to want on their wall. They are going to want to look at that. We’re going to release it on Vinyl and it’s going to be in it’s full glory.
AH: Where did you find the artist?
TJ: He’s called Stuart Dilley, the head illustrator at Alchemy.
TJ: And he’s a brilliant guy he did some work for the [Little] Angels a few years ago and I’ve just kept mates with him. He’s just one of those really cool, I mean I haven’t actually physically met him at all. But he’s just the coolest bloke on the phone. I’m like rattling off like I’m here. Rattling off what he’s all about and sending me, “If this is the face, this the nose, this is the idea,” He’s like, “I’ll just check it out man. Just check it out.” [laughter] Next minute he sends us this incredible piece of work I’m like, “You got it.” He got that. He’s got this–So I think that’s a great thing about this record is that once you get the narrative, it connects to the aura, it connects back to the videos. It’s pop culture meets now, a retrospective, a retro feel, but it’s also very modern it’s got a clean edge to it. and I think that kind of retro can really re-stimulate the–certainly it re-stimulate me, we can do this again. you know what I mean, it’s not just about making a couple of songs. It’s about making a great piece of work and across the whole board you know.
AH: You mentioned the retro piece, it’s got a real sort of 60’s B movie, American movie poster feel to it doesn’t it?
WS: You’ve got it.
TJ: Totally, I mean I used to collect 1950s Weird Tales, sci-fi comics. And that’s where it all kind of comes from. So I brought that in when I saw part of my personal narrative in there too. But also this looks so great. And also they were a way of artists subverting the political system in America at the time. Talking about McCarthyism and the American activists and all that. I think the way that the world is at the moment with Trump in the White House and Brexit and God knows what else. We’ve got a lot to talk about. And I think in a way this kind of reflecting a little bit of that. So I felt it all made a lot of sense. The character is on the sleeve very much means something.
AH: What convinced you though to pull all of this together. Because you’ve been sitting in the producer’s chair for quite a while now. You drew the line with Little Angels at the Isle of Wight festival in 2013. What’s brought you back to the centre of the stage again?
TJ: Just the right time. I drew a line under singing for other people. Because I did the Dio’s Disciples thing and worked with Eddie Clarke quite a bit doing Fastway stuff and it’s all wonderful, it’s all been brilliant experiences and all great stuff. But at the end of the day it’s someone else’s music. I thought what if I can find the right situation where I’m allowed to–I can bring forth some proper music and I can make a proper record with some real investment.
I put out EPs over the last few years. Which were badly recorded on low budgets. I only did it so I can go out and play. I just thought I just can’t keep doing it. So I needed the right situation and it’s just like that whole thing was like the moment you though you put something down, it raise it’s head again. I literally decided I wasn’t going to do it, phone rings and it’s Serafino [President of Frontiers Records in Italy] on the phone going, “Hey man you want to do a record with us?”
And it’s come. Maybe that’s the universe telling me to do something. And I don’t think –you know Nic’s been massively instrumental in this. Nic’s been really big encouragement about getting on and doing it and he convinced me. He said, there’s a huge fan base out there. There’s a lot of people want to hear what you sing and write songs again. And that was massively encouraging. I’ve never thank him enough for that. It was — seriously.
[laughter] Cue shy moment from Nic as he takes grudging credit.
TJ: You can’t sit in a bubble. I’ve been in a bubble for a long time. You can’t see outside of your own bubble. So you need other people like Nic who is an optimistic and encouraging person. He goes ‘look, you can’t do this’ I’d say all those things combined led down to this path and the path has been very, very straight. There’s hardly been any kinks on the road so far so. It must mean something.
Frontiers’ enthusiasm, it was infectious, they were more enthusiastic than I was to start with. So you know, you’ve got to take it, you’ve got to learn to read the universe. You really do. You’ve got learn to go– its telling me something, there’s a sign post on the road and I better take it, else, I’m going to kick myself in the ass later on, you know. So, I think that’s being a big thing.
AH: When do we get you back for a full headline show?
TJ: You know we have taken everyday as it comes and genuinely, I am not trying to live, I don’t think that any of us are trying to live beyond the end of the week if you like. We are getting great stuff happening all the time but its just like, take these things and just enjoy them and then hope something else comes along. And we haven’t even had our first headlining tour yet so we’re looking at April for that. And that’s going to be into clubs. But I’m not, there’s no point going, “Okay we’ll do 500 heads,” you know, it’s ridiculous.
There’s no sense of entitlement for this at all. This is about a new band you know. And as such we have to earn our stripes and it’s got to be done on merit. So we’re going to be in small clubs.
AH: There does seem to be quite a buzz about the band. You were up against Glenn Hughes on the main stage and managed to completely out-scream him a couple of times – no mean feat !
TJ: [with a wink] I couldn’t possibly comment!
AH: I’m sure that was deliberate and well done! We do need people and bands like you so that we aren’t reliant on the guys hitting their 70’s to still be needed to play the big stages.
TJ: There’s spaces in the industry perhaps opening up. Some of my favourite bands we’ve loved and watched for years are beginning to knock it on the head.
AH: But if you look at the ones that are still performing, they still have to put on a show. It’s got to be a show as well as the music.
TJ: Well it’s because that’s where we came from. I mean I think we all look at those great bands–I mean you know the interesting thing about making this record had been –it has been very eclectic in terms of how we applied ourselves just in terms of music we all listen to. I mean there’s Blondie in there there’s the Sex Pistols, there’s GBH, there’s –you know there’s Green Day, there’s the Foo Fighters.
We’ve just gone in and all of the bands are those kinds hands that leap around and it’s about the fun and ethic of having a great time. We’re all super excited about this music we created and we just like we really want to play it. But it’s a self made show in like 4 days.
And what I love is it feels a bit dangerous I mean, I’ve never thought rock and roll should be pretty. It’s not supposed to be nice and finessed. It’s supposed –my favourite gigs of all time have been bands where I literally don’t know what’s going to happen next. Is he going to fall over, is the drum kit going to blow up? Is that –and those are the ones where my eyes are wide and I’m wondering, “Oh my god, this is incredible.” and I walk out the door going “that’s the best thing I ever saw.”
AH: Not “Oh well you know they played the solo, absolutely perfect.”
TJ: That’s got a place but this isn’t what this is about, this is a punk ethic, this is a — it’s just energy.
PM: It’s what real bands are like AC-DC , early days, flying by the seat of their pants.
Wayward Sons may well be flying by the seat of their pants. Assembling a band and hitting the festival circuit with only a couple of shows under your belt shows the quality of the musicianship as well as the single minded determination of a band wanting to succeed. Or it could simply be that they’re fools and need their heads examining! After the reception at Ramblin’ Man Fair, I think we know the answer!
The release is out 15th September via Frontiers Music.
Wayward Sons, are Nic Wastell (bass, Chrome Molly) Phil Martini (drums, Spear Of Destiny, ex Quireboys, Joe Elliot’s 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).