Tag Archives: Toby Jepson

Review: Wayward Sons, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Anyone who is old enough to have thrived on the nineties rock music scene will remember the Little Angels and also the bouncing vocals (and curls) of frontman Toby Jepson.  If you hadn’t been following Toby’s career, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is his first project in a long time, but you would be sorely mistaken.  Our Toby has been a busy bee over the years, fully utilising his songwriting and production talents for some high profile names, but if the last couple of years with Wayward Sons are anything to go by, clearly his heart lies in performing with a band on a live stage.

Wayward Sons album cover

The Sons’ burst onto the scene in 2017, with the critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Ghosts of Yet To Come’; featuring top class musicians from bands such as Chrome Molly, Gun and of course, Little Angels, the band quickly ascended the rock ranks as a well-respected outfit, winning the accolade of ‘Best New Band’ at the esteemed Planet Rock Awards in 2018.  They toured the ‘Ghosts’ album extensively, with a mixture of headline and support gigs and also several festival appearances, including Winter’s End, Ramblin’ Man and Stonedeaf.  Now, the eagerly awaited second album is finally upon us; released last Friday, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is described as, “Hard rock, but mixed with a vitality and energy – both musically and lyrically”.

Comprised of twelve tracks (plus a little hidden treat at the end), this album is not just a random collection of songs.  It is common knowledge that Jepson counts Freddie Mercury’s Queen as perhaps his highest influence, as well as admiring the storytelling mastery of other greats such as Elvis Costello and David Bowie.  It therefore comes as no surprise that the record has been loosely billed as a ‘concept’ album, having a ‘narrative thread’ connecting the twelve tracks.  A description on the band’s Facebook page says it is, “A ‘protest’ record and [Toby] describes the new materials as ‘political’, but not of the sort that seeks to hammer the message home, more of a reflection of his take on where the world and we are.”

WS band pic

So far, so good, but are the songs any good?  When I first listen to an album, I try and wipe my mind of anything that has gone before it, because sometimes second albums can be notoriously disappointing.  I like to take each record as it comes and this … well, it appears that this is a belter.  From the guitar picking introduction and pure spine tingling melody of Toby’s vocals (which are still as good today as they were twenty odd years ago), opener ‘Any Other Way’, is a rousing, fresh romp of a track that really does set the scene for what follows.  Listen carefully for the sweet harmonies on the unrelenting ‘Black As Sin’ and the twinkly piano sound on new single, ‘The Joke’s On You’, which carries a slightly more relaxed tempo and (I might be mistaken) also features a cheeky bit of cowbell.

I liked the meandering tempo on ‘Little White Lies’; it’s also very clear to see those main influences coming into play, particularly with the vocal effects and in the guitar sound and solo.  I also particularly liked the showcasing of Toby’s voice on the frenetic (and ironic) ‘Feel Good Hit’.

Fade Away’ features some rather beautiful piano on the intro (and again, it’s great to hear that mellifluous voice with no musical distraction), before exploding into a Bowie-esque, soaring, glorious wall of sound; again the Queen influence comes into play towards the end of the song.

The title track is a solid, chugging and bouncy anthem; thanks Toby, for that particular ear worm, I couldn’t get it out of my head for hours.  The pace cranks up yet again with next track, ‘Punchline’, which features a wicked, tight solo near the end.

I have many favourite tracks on this album, but ‘Totally Screwed’, the hidden, final track resonated with me on many levels; I liked the pacy, punky feel to the song and also identified with the lyrics; if you know me, you’ll understand why I say that when you listen to it!

The lyrical and musical progression of the band is clearly in evidence on album number two, which is a more confident and settled effort than the debut; whilst the style is still clearly owned by Jepson and the Wayward Sons, there is more artistic expression and exploration of musical style here, than there was on ‘Ghosts’.  There is also a very clear nod to the music of Jepson’s heroes, with a classic sound coming through that is unmistakable in its influence.  The PR blurb puts it beautifully, describing this album as, “Passionate, honest music made by passionate, honest musicians who have come together to create rock music that reflects their heroes from the ‘70s and ‘80’s – modernity through homage, that’s Wayward Sons.”  I couldn’t have put it better myself and I couldn’t agree more.  This album is a valuable addition to any self respecting music fan’s collection and I can’t help thinking that “The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be” is going to be a runaway success; it’s certainly in my top five albums of the year.

Be sure to catch Wayward Sons on a live stage near you, in support of Black Star Riders; I’ve seen them a few times now and their energetic live performances totally bring their already technicolour songs into even brighter focus.

Track Listing –

  1. Any Other Way
  2. As Black As Sin
  3. Joke’s On You
  4. Little White Lies
  5. Feel Good Hit
  6. Fade Away
  7. Have It Your Own Way
  8. Long Line Of Pretenders
  9. (If Only) God Was Real
  10. The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be
  11. Punchline
  12. Us Against The World 

VINYL ALERT!!!!   There will be a limited orange vinyl available from the band’s store: http://store.waywardsonsband.com/ and the label’s U.S. and EU stores: http://radi.al/FrontiersMusic

Wayward Sons are –

  • Toby Jepson – Vocals/Guitar
  • Nic Wastell – Bass
  • Phil Martini – Drums
  • Sam Wood – Guitar
  • Dave Kemp – Keyboards

‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ (released 11 October 2019 on Frontiers Music s.r.l)

  • Queen of Rock rating – 8.5/10
  • Stand out tracks –Any Other Way’, ‘Black As Sin’, ‘Joke’s On You’, ‘Fade Away’ and  ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Four part video ‘story’ –

Socials –

 

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, a.k.a Queen of Rock.  No part of this review must be reproduced, either in part or in full, without the express and explicit permission to do so.  Failure to observe this will result in a report to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.

 

News: Lightning In A Bottle – new music consultation agency launches

lightning in a bittle lofo

It’s been a just over three weeks since the new music consultation agency, Lightning In A Bottle (LIAB) launched.  The project is the brainchild of Wayward Sons and ex-Little Angels front man, Toby Jepson and former Panic Cell bassist and Stampede Press owner, Rob Town.

With over 30 years of combined music industry experience between them, Toby and Rob wanted to create a ‘one-stop shop’ where musicians and bands could obtain advice and guidance about the industry; they offer consultation packages, PR and marketing advice, workshops and music production and songwriting.  In addition, they offer mentoring and education services, giving the benefit of their experience, both on stage and behind the scenes.

LIAB’s ethos is ‘The Art is the Heart’; they believe that everything comes back to great songwriting, especially in these times of saturated social media, where the pressure to get music out to an ever widening audience can result in a lack of purpose and proper planning for artists and bands.

In just under a month, LIAB has been gathering momentum and support from across the industry; several interviews have emerged with high profile rock radio shows, including Great Music Stories with Guy Bellamy on Meridian FM.

LIAB toby and rob

Rob Town and Toby Jepson, founders of Lightning In A Bottle

The vision for LIAB is to be a support platform for musicians, to help inform, encourage and support and empower them, and to bring a real, honest approach to the issues and challenges that many bands and music artists face on a daily basis.

For more information, you can get in touch with Rob and Toby on info@lightninginabottlemusic.com or see the links below:

Website

twitter

Facebook

Instagram

LIAB’s ‘High Voltage’ Spotify playlist

Guy Bellamy’s Great Music Stories interview – July 26 2018

 

 

 

Interview with Scott Sharp of Blackwolf

It’s been a bit of a year for Bristol rockers Blackwolf; what with touring, being nominated for the Classic Rock ‘Best New Band’ award, releasing their debut album … you would think that singer Scott Sharp would be above talking to a lowly blogger like me, right?  Wrong.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a more humble rock star and it was a real pleasure to chat with him for half an hour following a belter of a show at the Dome in London this month.  Enjoy …

Blackwolf band pic

Blackwolf was recently nominated for Classic Rock Magazine’s ‘Best New Band’ award.  How did it feel to see all of the support that you were getting?

We got a lot more support than we perhaps would have thought, really but Cadillac Three are a great band; I’m a big fan and I would love to get out on the road with them – it was well deserved.  To be honest, when Classic Rock nominated us, it hit us for six.  We had no idea and we were very, very chuffed, just blown away, to be honest.  We’ve been together for just over two years and the support that we’ve had has been insane.  We wrote the EP literally in my audition for the band and we recorded it a week later.  From that we got the Union tour, then The Answer and Winger tours.  One thing has kind of led into the other really, which is great.  We pledged for the debut album, ‘The Hunt’ and we did that just after our first tour.  It was a case of, we want to record an album, let’s just see what happens and sincerely did not expect to meet the target, but I think it took nine days and it just kept coming.

You’ve had some great, positive articles and reviews from the big magazines, Powerplay, Classic Rock etc., – do you enjoy doing press and publicity?

It’s a massively important thing because success for us is sharing what we’re doing with as many people as possible and magazines, radio stations and all the rest of it, they’re one of the prime ways (apart from live shows) to do that, so we relish it and we love talking to people.  It’s all fun!

I don’t like pigeon-holing bands, but if I had to put you into a genre, I would say you fit into the Southern rock genre.  Do you think it’s a genre that’s getting over-saturated?

It’s weird because everyone seems to call what we do something different, so some would say southern rock, some would say classic rock or modern hard rock.  To us, it’s rock and roll and that’s what we play, how we think it should sound today and we don’t forget what’s gone before us because rock and roll has such a rich bloodline which you can’t escape and we’re by no means interested in imitating or pretending that we’re in an era that we’re not.  That’s nothing against bands that do that, some bands do it amazingly, but every time we write or every time we do a show, we try and just take a step forward.

A lot of people say they hear grunge influences and that kind of stuff, which could be a little bit of me as I’m a huge Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains fan, all that kind of stuff.   I’m also a fan of people like Aretha Franklin, Big Mama Thornton, and all those kinds of blues and soul singers as well.   The influences do literally go from the beginning of rock and roll; Jason is very into Chuck Berry and our influences go right back to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, all the way up to Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry and what’s happening now.  There are all kinds of stuff in there.  I tend not to listen to our stuff much because I’m a huge perfectionist and I tend to pull everything apart; it’s good when you’re writing new stuff and I do hear the odd kind of metal slant it has and that soul edge.  I suppose it all kind of hovers around that blues rock and roll sound.

You’ve already mentioned your debut album, ‘The Hunt’.  Was it well received?

It was, shockingly so.  We got in the studio; our supporters paid for it all and got us in there and it was fantastic, in all honesty it was a real kind of intimate thing with us and the people that are following us and funding it all.  We did loads of blogs and video diaries, Q&A’s, stuff like that.  It was a very close relationship with the fans on that album and all we were really thinking about was making sure they were happy with it.  We weren’t thinking about magazines, or about how we were going to go down live.  When we released it, the magazines starting picking it up and for us it went insane because we expected it to get lost in the void as there’s so much good music out there.  We’ve been very fortunate with all the support that’s come out for us.

4-Panel-CD-DigiPak-with-Tunnel-Pocket-Template

How does your writing process work? 

It’s really important for us all to be there together.  Because our influences are so vast, it’s important to us that we all feed off of each other, but it will always initially start with a riff, or, like with ‘Moving Mountains’, I had a melody in my head  and I whipped out my phone and recorded it.  I took it to Ben, who’s like our riff-master and he just whacked something out straightaway and it fit perfectly.  That was on the way to rehearsals and we just jammed it out and it came to life – that’s pretty much how it always happens.  It normally ends when we’ve played it live a little bit – although we’ve recorded the album, we’re still writing the songs, they change constantly and continue to breathe.

Do you find it easy to engage with your fans?  You have over 5,000 likers on Facebook and you seem to be on twitter quite a bit … are fans that have been with you since the beginning?

Yeah, there are lots, we hang out with some of them.  In all honesty, I find it easy to talk to them because – and I mean this from the bottom of my heart – if it wasn’t for them, we would be five guys playing to an empty room and making stuff that nobody’s listening to, which is a bit pointless and just a bit of an ego massage.

With regard to Facebook, probably about two thousand of those people are also on my own FB account and we’ve got street teams, as well as a twitter group who spread the word for us.  In Birmingham we had a lock in with fans who came and saw us and a whole heap of them followed us to Hard Rock Hell and some stayed in our caravan with us!  It’s a lot of fun and they’re like family to us because that’s how much they mean to us – it might sound cheesy, but it’s crucial for us and anything we can do to encourage them to fall more in love with what we’re doing, we’ll do it.  There is so much great music out there and so many great bands, that I think it’s important to make that personal connection if you can.  Every show, we hang out at the merch table, whether it’s headline or support – we just want to meet as many people as possible.

But you won’t be able to do that for much longer, surely …

I don’t care, if the Gods look down on us and eventually took us to an arena or something like that, we’d still be doing it.  When we stop doing that, we’ll stop playing because there’s no point.  If you’re not playing your music for the people that want to listen to it, why are you doing it?

If you’re hanging out with fans all the time, do you get people coming on to you?

Sometimes, I suppose – it always freaks me out a little bit.  I’m quite shy when it comes to things like that, and I’m so over-the-top focussed on the music and what I’m singing!

Blackwolf B&W pic

You mentioned earlier that you’ll be starting work on a new album soon, are there any particular producers that you have lined up or anyone that you would really like to work with?

We’ve got a small list of producers that we’re meeting in December and there are a couple of people who we would love to work with, including Toby Jepson (Little Angels) and Jeff Rose (formerly of Skindred).

Who’s the biggest pain in the arse on tour?

It’s not really someone, it’s something, i.e., tiredness.  I don’t know if the other guys struggle with it, but vocally, I get tired and it’s constantly just keeping up my voice and what we’re doing. That’s probably the hardest part of touring.  I’m such a perfectionist that I hate it if I can’t reach 110% on every show.

I notice that there’s no alcohol in here either …

No, the guys do drink a little bit but I don’t touch the stuff until the last date, so I’ll probably have a drink tonight but whilst we’ve got shows I won’t touch it.  It messes with my vocal cords and people are coming out to pay to see us and we want to make new friends – I don’t want to let them down.

What are the best and worst things about doing this?

The best thing is looking out and seeing people, well for me anyway, and shaking their heads or grinning like a Cheshire cat.  The worst thing is looking out and seeing a straight face.  For me, if I see a straight face, I just want to get them smiling.  I don’t want to create anything weird between me and that person, but I do kind of keep coming back to them and obsess a little bit.

I’m very much a homebody, quite a rooted person and if we go on a long tour, sometimes I get a bit homesick, but that’s nothing, really.  It is something that I think about for later on, when we’re out on the road for eight, nine months at a time; we were talking to the Blues Pills and they’ve had four weeks off in the last twelve months or something insane and although we can’t wait to get to that point, and there is half of me that loves doing that, I’m a big family guy and I love being at home with my family.  It’s a double edged sword because we’ll come out and meet loads of new people and I love all of them too, that’s kind of what ‘Sleepwalking’ was about.

If the world was to end here in one hour, what would you do?

That’s deep … I would go and see as many of my friends and family as possible and try and get in a show with the people that want to come and see us.  If anyone out there wanted to come and spend their last few hours with us then that would be awesome!

What’s been the biggest highlight so far for the band?

It’s hard to say because every time we do something, something else happens that tops it!

A semi-serious question for you that I ask every band that I interview … given that rock is allegedly ‘dead’, where do you see the music industry as we know it heading?

I kind of get irritated when people say rock is dead, it’s absolute bullshit to be honest.  I think what people are on about when they say rock is dead is that the money in rock and roll is dead.  As long as people look at this type of music like that, it won’t make any money because it’s not about how much cash you’re making.  When it went down that route, it was the death of that element of it, because it became about something it was never meant to be.  If you go back to the original roots of rock and roll, it was deep, they played and sang about stuff that meant a lot to them.  As long as bands are still doing that then rock will still be alive.  People like Royal Blood, I think what they’ve done is fucking fantastic because they’ve gone out and they’ve shown that with the right support and backing and marketing plan, just two lads, they can do a lot of shit.  We just need to hijack their marketing plan!

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

We just want to share what we do with as many people as possible.  Playing arenas would be fantastic, if we can do that in 5 years I would die a very happy man.  Next year it would be good to get some more backing, like an agency and maybe a label.  It’s very intimate the way we work; we’ve literally got a manager and an agent and then us.  We have people coming out and crewing for us but it’s very small so more support in that kind of business element would be great.  As we grow as a band, hopefully we’ll get bigger and the quantity of people following us will grow.

Vix and Scott of Blackwolf

I would like to thank Scott for his time – it was awesome to chat to him and the guys in Blackwolf and it’s not very often that someone’s so happy to answer questions!  If you haven’t yet bought ‘The Hunt’, you can find it on iTunes.  check out the video for ‘Moving Mountains’ here – http://youtu.be/XayXsQIgImU and new single ‘Kiss The Fire’ here – http://youtu.be/M9TMwrxtkqg

www.ukblackwolf.com

www.facebook.com/ukblackwolf

Planet Rock presents UK showcase featuring Blackwolf, The Brew and Fire Red Empress

Planet Rock Blackwolf poster

Classic Rock Magazine’s ‘Best New Band’ nominee, Blackwolf, will be appearing alongside fellow British bands The Brew and Fire Red Empress on a mini-tour of the UK in September.  Dates as below:

Fri 12th – MANCHESTER – The Roadhouse
Sat 13th – OXFORD – The Bullingdon (Art Bar)
Thu 18th – SHEFFIELD – The Corporation
Fri 19th – BRISTOL – The Exchange
Sun 21st – LONDON – The Barfly* – date change (originally Sat 20th September)

Bristol-based Blackwolf have already toured with the likes of The Temperance Movement and The Answer so far this year and their debut album, ‘The Hunt’, went down a storm.  Following the release of new single ‘Moving Mountains’, they also appeared at Wales’ Steelhouse Festival.  With a nomination for ‘Best New Band’, alongside the likes of Blues Pills and The Cadillac Three, these guys are not to be missed whilst you can still catch them in a fairly intimate setting.  You can watch ‘Moving Mountains’ here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XayXsQIgImU

Blackwolf

Blues-infused rockers The Brew have been busy, with lots of headline shows under their belt, as well as support slots to rock royalty such as ZZ Top, Joe Bonamassa and Lynyrd Skynyrd. With an album produced by Toby Jepson, The Brew are set to perform at Hard Rock Hell VII later this year, so this will be the perfect warm up for them!  Watch their ‘Repeat‘ video here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhOIbj92wKs

The Brew band pic

New boys on the block, Fire Red Empress are picking up followers at a rate of knots with their own particular brand of melodic rock and their EP, ‘Paint Me The Devil’, is gaining critical acclaim from music press.  You can catch them in the latest issue of Classic Rock magazine.  Watch their video for ‘Left Unspoken’ here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxmphhvoN8Q

Fire Red Empress logo pic

Tickets for this epic, energy-infused mini-tour can be found here

http://www.ukblackwolf.com

www.facbook.com/ukblackwolf

http://www.the-brew.net

www.facebook.com/thebrewofficial

http://www.fireredempress.com/

www.facebook.com/fireredempress