sixty seconds with...
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he jumped in his limo for the airport, we grabbed a quick chat with lap side guitarist extraordinaire: Wille Edwards of Wille And The Bandits.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
WE: Pink Floyd and those amazing David Gilmour solos. I remember being transported to another place and having goose bumps all over. It wasn’t till I got older that I realised that he used many lap steels for the solos and this may have been why I was drawn to the electric lap steel and Weissenborn guitars.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
WE: A white Fender Strat that Hendrix used to play, but my parents couldn’t afford it so I had to make do with an old acoustic that I used to try and play like an electric, hence my style still to this day is to overdrive my acoustic and get it to sound like an electric, creating a bigger sound with open tunings etc.
GT: The best gig you ever did?
Opening for Deep Purple in Paris. We got a standing ovation and an encore which has never happened to a support act at one of their shows before, apparently. And also, from that opportunity, Don Airey offered to play on our new album which we are all super stoked about.
GT: Worst playing nightmare?
WE: I was sitting down playing lap steel, the stool got stuck in the gap in the staging and I fell off the back of it. From that day on I always inspect where I place my stool.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
WE: That the song is always the most important thing and guitar solos have to have a melody that harks back to the song or is an extension of it; it has to compliment the melodic arrangement.
GT: Do you still practise?
WE: Always. You can never stand still. I’m always looking for new inspirations, be it different tunings, different slide guitars, different techniques; or just jamming with different musicians can bring out a different side to your playing.
GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up?
WE: Mainly it’s just to relax, do some vocals warm-ups and a few noodles on the guitar.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?
WE: Drums, Michael Barker; bass, Danny Thompson; guitar, Jeff Beck; keys, Don Airey; vocals, Chris Cornell; guitar and vocals, me.
GT: Greatest guitarist ever?
WE: Derek Trucks
GT: A solo you wish you’d played?
WE: High Hopes by Pink Floyd
GT: What’s the solo/song of your own that you’re most proud of?
WE: A 14-minute instrumental called Angel. I wrote it for my mum when she passed away. I say ‘wrote’ it, but it just happened; it was just letting out all the emotions in the most difficult period of my life.
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
WE: I only use my fingers to play as I prefer the slower attack.
GT: If you were allowed only three pedals, what would they be?
WE: Stereo Pan Pedal - it means I can blend my acoustic signal and overdriven amp signal together. Roland RE20 Tape Echo, I just love the sound of tape saturation and it has that almost timeless tone which I adore. Ibanez Tube Screamer gets that beautiful valve overdrive which is a cornerstone of my sound.
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band?
WE: I can play a bit of piano and trumpet but would never want to be caught on stage doing either.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
WE: I must have learnt to read when I played the trumpet age 12, but I learnt guitar using tabs and by ear, just listening to players’ sound and feel and trying to replicate it.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re jealous of?
WE: Mr Derek Trucks - that guy can make the slide guitar weep and his touch is the envy of many players.
GT: Your house/studio is burning down: which guitar do you salvage?
WE: My Anderwood Electric Weissenborn that I helped build with Anderwood guitars. It has a mahogany body, koa top and, like a Weissenborn, is hollow through the neck. It stays hollow througout the body and under the pickups. This gives infinite sustain and with Duncan classic ’59s it produces those never-ending notes which you want from an electric lap slide.
GT: Favourite amp and settings?
WE: A Wearing amp made by a builder in Devon called Richard Wearing. These amps are 10w and full valve warmth. There is no EQ, just roll it up to 5 and you’re away as the sound breaks up on 2. I don’t always have the opportunity to play through it live, but Richard and I are tweaking a few things and it should be ready for retail soon.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars?
WE: It’s a high action on my Guild acoustic as I play bottleneck and don’t want to clip the fretboard. On my lap slides there is no action, just a big big gap and no frets.
GT: What strings do you use?
WE: D’Addario phospher bronze light gauge (12-53). Even through the amp it gives a thick warm tone. However, I always replace the high E gauge 12 with a 16 on my lap slide guitars, which does mean it’s wound tight, but it gives more sustain and a smoother attack.
GT: What are you currently up to?
WE: We are two weeks into our two-month European tour promoting the forthcoming release of our new album, Steal. We are planning more tours in UK and most of Europe, Australia and India next year with also talk of a debut USA tour. I have just purchased a Stymon Timeline which is fun, so look out for some big atmospheric slide solos!
i can play a bit of piano and trumpet but would never want to be caught on stage doing either
Matthew Brooks, Wille Edwards and Andrew Naumann of The Bandits