On the radar: Wille And The Bandits

From busker to bus tour - meet the beefed-up-slide-slinging ’Bandits

Many myths exist around ‘natural talent’. Jimi’s ability wasn’t god-given, he practised so much he noodled on the toilet. Pull back the curtain and, time and again, it’s drive that leads to success.

My Weissenborn has infinite sustain. It’s like Gary Moore times 10!

“It’s about how much you love the guitar,” says Wille Edwards, frontman of Cornwall’s Wille And The Bandits. “How much you want it and how much you’re willing to push yourself. You have to have the passion and that, in turn, creates an ability and your own character.”

The fruits of Wille’s own labours are manifested in a blend of warped slide guitar, acoustic chunk and blazing distortion. At its heart is Wille’s signature Anderwood Weissenborn, which together with a twin Fender amp set-up and some John Martyn-esque effects devilry, makes for a uniquely potent slide sound.

Hollow-bodied tone

“The character of the Weissenborn is that it’s hollow right through the neck,” explains Wille. “Mine has a chamber where the pickup sits and it’s got infinite sustain. It’s like Gary Moore times 10!”

Wille discovered slide guitar while spending two years busking Australia, performing six hours a day. An informal apprenticeship with a “stomp box and slide” player known only as ‘Smokey’ introduced him to classic rock riffs, the Weissenborn-style lap guitar and the basis of his innovative technique. “It really hit me that this is what I wanted to do and this was how I wanted to play my guitar,” he reflects.

“And I’ve just gone on a mad journey since then… that [busker’s] work ethic has never left us.” For those left in doubt, four albums (including the recent Steal), plus an average 200 to 250 live outings a year prove that point rather ably. “We didn’t have an agenda, we weren’t targeting a market, we just loved it,” summarises Wille. “And it meant that we didn’t have to get jobs!”

  • For fans of: John Butler Trio, AC/DC
  • Hear: 1970
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