Essentially Wille and the Bandits is a classic blues rock band much in the vein of Cream or The Jimi Hendrix experience. But in a similar way to how these bands pushed the genre in their time, Wille and the Bandits try to take their sound beyond what is expected of such a traditional line up.
The use of more bizarre instrumentation and eclectic influences in the song writing often pushes them more into a world music or progressive category. Having toured with artists such as Deep Purple through to the John Butler trio and played major festivals across Europe, the band seem to leave an equally astounding impression on audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds with their energetic and soulful performances.
They have received great critical acclaim, being voted in the top ten must see bands at Glastonbury 2014 by BBC Radio 1 and reaching number 2 in the UK blues chart with their first single on downloads alone. Now touring their third independently released studio album Wille and the Bandits fan base, repertoire of sounds, styles and innovation seems to be growing at an exponential rate.
The band are praised in the press for their albums; bursting at the seams with textures, originality and soul. Rock legends such as Ian Paice, Joe Bonamassa and Francis Rossi have also praised the band’s musicianship and their unique edge to Rock and Blues.
It’s rare to find a band as dynamic as Wille and the Bandits, one that is just as comfortable and as impressive at both ends of the sonic spectrum. In the modern age of disposable music it is refreshing to hear a band that still value the art of creating albums and who continue to bring new instruments and ideas into their songwriting rather than settling for a tried and tested formula. Ten seconds of Youtube will not scratch the surface of the band’s sound and message; this is a band that is very much about discovery and one best experienced LIVE!.
“Wille and the Bandits are a blues rock powerhouse.” – Guitarist Magazine
“If you give them a chance, these Bandits may steal your heart – they have mine.” – Powerplay Magazine
“Their thoughtful ambition, allied to hard-touring independence, remains refreshing.” – Classic Rock Magazine
“So many bands slavishly advertise their record collections and ape their heroes to the point of pale tribute. Wille & Th Bandits take their influences and refine and develop them into a sound that is entirely theirs.” – Blues Matters Magazine
Formed between Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall in 2016 and commanders of a legion-like local following, Haunt the Woods deftly interweave alt rock, folk, prog and pop with an epic level of pomp and poetic elegance that suggests a far longer tenure than their young years suggest. With a tip of the hat to Queen and Muse here, Jeff Buckley or Radiohead at their OK Computer best there and with a sprinkled-in tinge of Beatles-loving pop sensibility, they have a rare ability to conjure legacy while creating a bold sound that is completely their own: masterfully layered, gleefully out of step with the demands of fashion and creatively informed by literature and the landscape.
With two warmly received EPs and a debut album, Opaque which was released in 2020, the stage has been set for their overdue introduction to the world, and a beautifully crafted record, Ubiquity: 12 tracks of eccentric brilliance and light and shade and that most uncommon quality: range. From the cinematic scale of their operatic opening track to the stirring, confessional balladry of Home and the dreamy psychedelia of Overflow, Haunt the Woods’ magic is in their multi-faceted approach to songwriting. Spend any time with the musicians behind it and you’ll see why. With the time, space, and salty air to let their ideas flourish and grow, it is both a testament to musicianship and a powerful statement of intent.
“There isn’t much of a scene here so we made one for ourselves,” says singer Jonathan Stafford. “It was like, ‘can we do a gig here?’ and we’d just get rid of the tables and chairs and bring a soundman down. We’ve played in caves! When you grow up in the Southwest, Cornwall specifically, the pace is slower, and I grew up surrounded by sea and countryside.”
And it isn’t just an idyllic environment which afforded Haunt the Wood’s sound the time to incubate. Stafford’s words, like his shimmering vocal performance, pull from the writerly Steinbek, Keats, and Kipling among others, and as with all other aspects of Haunt the Woods there’s an intelligence and intentionality coursing through it all.
Supercharged by the production wizardry of Peter Miles whose weighty credits include Architects, We are the Ocean and Martin Grech among many others, Ubiquity was produced over seven weeks in a residential studio which granted the powerful upstarts those two rarest commodities: time, and space.
“The music industry is very saturated with immediate gratification,” says Stafford. “Music is consumed, people want immediate gratification – we’re all slow build and dynamics, and it’s about the shape of the record as a whole. If you listen to any one part you’re only getting a very small picture.”
But if a thought to composition and a progressive approach to influence makes them sound like the candlelit dinner to most people’s right-swipe, make no mistake about the colossal sounds that Ubiquity contains. A band with the imagination to dream and the chops to deliver, their time is now.