Drums & Percussion
a brief history of wayward sons
In September 2017 Wayward Sons released their debut album – ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ to widespread acclaim.
What started out as a tentative and generous offer from Frontiers Music SRL to help Toby Jepson ‘get back on the horse’ ended up, twelve months later, as a full-blown new band project that took everyone, including the members, by surprise.
At the tail end of 2015, Toby had all but given up on being in bands. Several years of singing for established acts such as Fastway, GUN and Dio’s Disciples had, despite the obvious rewards of touring the planet, convinced him that should there ever be an opportunity to make records and tour again it would have to be on his own terms, writing and performing original music.
When the call came from Frontiers it was, to say the least, a surprise. However, the idea of making new music with the full support of a record label was hard to resist, so Toby set about formulating a plan that would ultimately see the creation of Wayward Sons.
Finding the members was actually very straightforward.
Toby’s first call was to long term friend and colleague Nic Wastell. Nic had been the bass player in Leicester band ‘Chrome Molly’ when Little Angels were taking their first tentative steps into the UK live rock scene, and did in fact share the same label for a while, which led onto support slots with the band in the late 80’s ahead of Little Angels signing to Polydor Records. After losing touch for several years, the friendship was re-kindled and Toby eventually produced two albums for Chrome Molly. Nic was instrumental in the formation of Wayward Sons, bringing a wealth of experience as well as an old school punk ethic to the music.
Dave Kemp has long featured in Toby’s life having been a member of the ‘Big Bad Horns’ and playing with Little Angels throughout their most successful period; the ‘JAM’ album era. Toby and Dave have been co-songwriting partners for several years and so it was a no-brainer to ask Dave to take part.
Phil Martini was the only drummer Toby considered for the job, having seen him play for Joe Elliot’s ‘Down and Outz’ at the ‘High Voltage’ festival a year or so before. An email, a couple of phone calls and a coffee meeting secured Phil for the position.
The final piece of the jigsaw was finding the right guitarist. This was crucial and from the very start Toby had his eyes set on a young, exceptionally gifted player whom he had met whilst producing Leeds based band ‘Treason Kings’. Sam Wood is a unique musician, being possessed of a fearless approach to his instrument that is drenched in the glory days of classic rock but also adheres to the modern-day concepts and attitudes.
The first time the band all met each other was a rehearsal at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios near Bath Somerset in the early summer of 2016. From the first moment they played together it worked. Toby admitted later that it had been a ‘heart in the mouth’ moment when they began working on material but thankfully his instincts had proven to be correct.
Over the course of three days of initial rehearsals, the band worked on ideas that Toby had presented as well as a co-write he had done with Nic ahead of the meeting. Nine songs were worked on and seven made the grade for the first record, which is pretty remarkable.
The recording of ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ took place at Vale Studios in Worcestershire in the winter of 2016. It took approximately 2 weeks to track the band, a further 2 weeks of vocals at Toby’s home studio ‘Strangeplace’ and around 10 days to mix, again at Vale. The album was co-produced with the band and Chris D’Adda who also mixed the record with Toby.
Making records is always about taking a chance. Nobody really knows what the results will be and even the most experienced artists can misstep and convince themselves that the music works when it doesn’t. The studio It’s a weird world of doubt, euphoria, success and failure where second-guessing is commonplace and the wood really does get in the way of the trees, but it’s also a place where creativity is the key and if you can hit the sweet spot where everyone is pulling in the same direction, the results can be beyond expectation.
The good thing about the recording of the album was that there was no huge expectation from either the fans or the band, it was recorded in an atmosphere of joy, where the band genuinely had nothing to lose and so had fun.
Once released, ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ was met with an instant chorus of approval from critics and fans alike. The first single ‘Until The End’ had an immediate reaction at radio with Planet Rock putting it on their A list which in turn drove many internet radio stations and terrestrial rock show to take notice.
The album was very much a statement of protest, with much of the songs’ narrative direction talking about the fears and suspicions of the modern world and the human condition. It is very much a full-blooded rock album, featuring eleven hard rock songs without much let up from a tempo point of view, which mirrors the anger and frustration in many of the album’s themes.
The album unique and memorable artwork was created by graphic artist Stuart Dilley and helped define the band’s approach to their music. It also was the backdrop to the creation of a series of 4 music videos that tied together a narrative using a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ theme, all of which became talking points for the album’s reception.
Following release, the band embarked on live shows that saw them take a bow for the first time at The Louisiana venue in Bristol on the 26th July 2017. The gig sold out and preceded a summer of shows at festival level that included ‘Ramblin Man Fair’, ‘Rock and Blues’ and ‘Steelhouse’ in South Wales. Throughout the campaign, the band played with Inglorious, UFO, Saxon and Steel Panther amongst others as well as headlining their first tour in April of 2018. A crowning moment for the band was an appearance at the Download Festival in Donnington UK in June 2018, when they played the Dogtooth Stage to a beyond capacity audience that crammed the tent.
The second album ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ went into production in December 2018 and was finished in April of 2019.
Once again the album was recorded at Vale studios using the same team as the Ghost sessions – Chris D’Adda engineering, co-producing and mixing. The songs were written by Toby once again, with the band contributing ideas and parts through what proved to be an exhaustive process that started in the rehearsal room before taking shape in the studio over several sessions. The attitude this time around was very much, ‘no holds barred’ and the palette widened as a result.
Toby wrote 56 songs for the album in total of which over 30 backing tracks were recorded. All of the songs were considered for inclusion on the album, and none were considered ‘better’ than others. It was more about making the songs sit together as a collection.
A more introspective record, ‘Truth’ features a broader sonic palette which includes mid-paced songs like ‘Little White Lies’, ‘Us Against The World’ and album fan favourite ‘Fade Away’ a song that aches with longing for a better understanding. But the essence of the work is still very much embedded in hard rock once again.
The album finally emerged on the 11th October 2019, with first song ‘Joke’s On You’ going straight onto the playlist at Planet Rock.
Once again a series of four interconnecting videos were created to tell the story of the album, and again it was based on the outstanding album artwork created by Stuart Dilley. If you were to ask Toby what the album’s intentions were he’d say it was a ‘borderline concept album, that examines the post-truth phenomenon and the state of the world and its leadership’. The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be is very much a protest album and the idea of using maniacal clowns as the central theme to both the artwork and the videos gave a fun, yet sobering backdrop to that concept.
To support the album the band embarked on a live campaign that saw them open for Living Colour, Saxon, and Black Star Riders in the UK and finally a triumphant special guest slot with Steel Panther that took them across mainland Europe and back into the UK in Jan/Feb of 2020, culminating in an epic performance at a packed Brixton Academy.
As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the band’s operations and plans were curtailed in March of 2020, meaning the planned UK headline tour and the opening slot on the Main Stage at Download Festival had to be postponed.
However, rather than waste that time the band decided to forge ahead with the recording of their third album, using some of the unsuspecting backing tracks from the ‘Truth’ session as a starting point as well as cutting three brand new songs in October 2020 to add to the material.
The album is set to be released in 2021, and as this biog is being typed the band are in the studio putting the finishing touches to the backing tracks before Toby once again, returns to ‘Strangeplace studios’ to complete the vocals.
Early reports are that this third release is set to be their strongest yet.
Why not show your support for The Sons by treating yourself to some of our official merch?