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Ska Face

By: Phoenix Jay Posted: February-17-2012 in
Phoenix Jay

They’ve played for Prince William and Kate Middleton at the royal wedding; in a bathtub in Reading; crammed into a Fiat 500 in Rome, and on board a rather large yacht in Monaco. Not bad, considering Will and the People – heading to Phnom Penh this month to promote their debut album – are barely out of the box.

“We met in a very strange place called the Rabbit Hole in Glastonbury,” says crazy haired vocalist Will Rendle, from underneath a large floppy lion hat. “They say the Rabbit Hole is the only way to get into Glastonbury without a ticket, but you have to know the person who runs it and play guitar well enough to be given a slot. We ended up forming on that very stage – that was our first ever gig, in 2010.”

The fantasy world created by Lewis Carroll, and transformed by the UK’s most revered music festival into ‘a psychedelic chateau peddling surreal forms of musical endeavour and stupidity’, seems a fitting springboard for these fun-centric likely lads. Channelling everyone from Jack Johnson to Nirvana, theirs is a surreal mash-up of ska, reggae, pop, grunge, and house. “We’re a combination of The Beatles and Bob Marley & The Wailers, with The Rolling Stones’ attitude to life. There’s only one place to aim – and that’s high.”

High indeed: the boys (brothers Will and Jamie Rendle, along with schoolmates James Keo, Jim Ralphs, and Charlie Harman – the oldest 25, the youngest just 18) have already stormed the British festival scene; launched their own record label, Baggy Trousers Music, inspired by ska legends Madness; and are now winging their way to Australia via Asia by way of an international debut. They’ve had quite the warm-up, having already opened for Paolo Nutini and The Hoosiers, and shared the stage with Kings of Leon, The Police, and Babyshambles. “We have no horizons. The music we make, despite being channelled into what people are calling ska and reggae and pop, we see as an amalgamation of everything we’ve heard, which is a lot of different types of music. It’s fun when you’re trying to create a record that sounds a bit like Supertramp and a little bit like Nirvana, or Bob Marley and Jack Johnson. There are so many things you can mix together.”

In tune with the hippy ethos that historically prevails at Glastonbury, the band cites their main influence as love. “Generosity and love have made us feel more in tune with the music we’re making. When you’re making music, you get these moments where you feel completely lost in what you’re doing. You feel like you’re king of the world and nothing else matters. It’s only temporary, very similar to being on-stage and holding an audience. A lot of writers listen to other things, and tape them consciously and sub-consciously, and put them into their songs. Taking love from people in general and not just necessarily music has made our music more honest because we’re writing new music from our hearts, and not necessarily from influences.”

That said, new single Lion in the Morning Sun sounds suspiciously like a product of Madness themselves. “We’ve yet to play it to Suggs, but we’re hoping at some of the festivals that he’ll come up and do a little dance with us.”

WHO: Will and the People
WHAT: Surreal ska mash-up
WHERE: Old Railway Station; The Latin Quarter
WHEN: Friday 24 (ORS); Sunday 26 (TLQ)
WHY: This time next year, they’ll be HUGE

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