I had a chance to interview Thomas Wilby Gang over the weekend. In their words, they play “blues, alt-country and rock”. This is a natural choice of genres to experiment with, given how well they fit together. Their music sits well in the “country” sphere, without picking up the more poppy influences that modern country seems to thrive on.
My conversation with Guy Thomas, the lead singer and guitar player, touched on many interesting areas, including his thoughts on streaming services and working as an indie band.
You can listen to the band on YouTube and Spotify. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram @thomaswilbygang
- What are your biggest musical influences?
Taj Mahal, The Band, Captain Beefheart, Fleetwood Mac, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Stones, John Lee Hooker, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
- Do you listen to any band or genre that would surprise your fans if they found out?
Delibes “The Flower Duet”. And I listened to it before those f*ckers at BA made it uncool.
- What’s next for the band?
We’ll be lining up a small tour to promote the album and then jumping right into recording the next one.
- How do you think streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have changed how bands release music?
You could say something like ‘Oh they’ve democratised [sic] the distribution and consumption of music’, and you’d probably be right in saying that. But liberation is the biggest factor – you can do it on your own terms to your own time frame. There isn’t the pressure or possible disappointment of a record deal hanging over your head. Back in the day, a band I was in had a record deal with a small independent label. I’d always dreamt of the day when I’d walk into HMV and buy a copy of my own album. It was the biggest let down of my life. I turned up all excited, walked over to where our album was supposed to be, and it wasn’t there. Just before I marched out to phone the label and ask them what was going on, I spotted something much worse than no album. There was our album. Only they’d gone with their own shitty unapproved artwork. From that point on I made much less effort to push that album than I would have done had we released it ourselves.
- Has it made it easier or more difficult?
Easier. I’m pleased that record companies are less relevant than they used to be. Of course, they still exist but have changed their parasitical nature to consume the full spectrum of a bands rights as opposed to just the music. F*ck ’em.
- Do you have any non-musical influences that show up in your music?
Of course. Anyone who writes lyrics has to draw on life experience or their observation of other people’s mistakes, quandaries and heartache.
- Can you describe your sound?
It’s like blues, alt-country and rock got together and made a baby. And then they overfed it on junk food.
- What are you listening to lately? Anything you would recommend?
I’m massively into Jason Isbell at the moment, I’d definitely recommend his stuff. Also, Phil Cook and Daniel Norgren have some top-quality stuff out there.
- What made you decide to “get into” music and start a band?
I was, ahem, in a brass band as a kid. And I joined because my mate selfishly joined, and I had no one to go lighting fires with me in the community center car park.
Then me and some mates at school decided to write a song and record it to a four track tascam. It sounded sh*t. But when we performed it in school assembly it had a massive reaction. Suddenly girls were interested. At that age girls were definitely a big factor.
- How does your writing process work, do you all collaborate on the lyrics or is that job reserved for just one person?
I (Guy) write the lyrics. Usually they come during the writing process. If we jam something cool out in the band, I add them on later. That’s much harder than organically brewing them up at the same time as the music but sometimes the results are much better.
- If you had to pick just one, which album would be your favorite?
I know other band members won’t be happy with my decision but I have to say it’s Exile on Main St by the Stones. That record got me into blues, country, gospel, etc…
- Are there any bands you would desperately love to tour with someday?
Alabama Shakes would be cool. Or the Sheepdogs.
- What are your thoughts about bands releasing more singles, rather than following a traditional route and just releasing albums?
I’m not sure about this one. We’ve gone with albums, possibly because we have free access to a studio. I like the continuity of an album. To me a single would be like writing one episode of a TV series and then saying – well we may or may not release the next episode and you’ll have to wait ages for it. On the positive side, singles possibly present an incremental evolution of a band. And it means that a band can use multiple releases as a constant point for publicity. It’s like you are teasing people with a series of appetisers [sic] instead of just giving them their Sunday dinner. Maybe I’m talking myself round to releasing singles in the future.