The band Wayland has been making great music since 2010. Eight years later the band is poised to propel things to the next level as they prepare their next album. With the recent addition of drummer Nigel Dupree to the band, the guys in Wayland are ready to do things their way and make the music that’s in their hearts. Before playing a powerful live set at the Southgate House in Newport, KY lead vocalist Mitch Arnold and guitarist Phil Vilenski invited me on board their tour bus to discuss the band’s past, present, and most importantly…their future. If you have never heard the band before, do yourself a favor and check them out. They are a group of good guys making some killer music.
The Music Room: I’m sitting here hanging out with Mitch Arnold and Phil Vilenski of the band Wayland before their show tonight at The Southgate House Revival in Newport, KY. Guys, your latest record, “Rinse and Repeat” has been out there now for about six months. I know that when you’re making a record, you live and breathe that record during the time your writing and recording. Now that it has been out there and you have been able to go out and play those songs, how do you look back on that record?
Mitch: Right off the bat, for myself, it was kind of a whirlwind making it because we were making it while we were on the road. So I don’t really remember an actual feeling of getting into making it. We were just trying to find ways and time to do it. Once it was all finished, and our year finished up last year…I feel like we all kind of got together and decided a direction and where we want to be as a band. We’re very proud of the record but we’re very excited about what we have coming up next. Phil, how do you feel about that?
Phil: You know, I was just thinking about that yesterday. When I listen back and go through those songs, I can hear a band that is struggling to figure out who they are. There was a lot of pressure from a lot of different directions and a lot of different people who maybe didn’t mean to pressure us…so we were trying to make a lot of different people happy. Us being one of them. So we want to make ourselves happy. We want to make so and so happy. Then you want to make this certain radio station happy. And that’s the outcome. It’s a great record full of a lot of great songs and a lot of great sounds on it. But I think we’ll do things differently on the next one.
TMR: It seems like we are in a time where a lot of bands depend on a schtick to get noticed. With you guys, I don’t see that. So I was going to ask if there has ever been any pressure to try and push you guys towards one direction or another. But it sounds like that has been the case to some degree…at least with this past record.
PV: It was nothing intentional. We are very fortunate that everyone in our lives wants the best for the band. If they don’t want the best for the band…if someone is in our lives who have other motivations or intentions, they usually end up finding a way out of our lives. You mentioned the word gimmick. One of the things we pride ourselves on is that there is no gimmick. We are a band that plays mid-western music from our hearts. Sometimes we write songs about a story we make up because it sounds fun. We love writing songs. Putting words together and putting them to music and playing them together. That’s the gimmick.
TMR: When I listen to the record I hear so many different things, yet there is a distinct Wayland sound. The songs that come to mind are “Come Back,” “Shopping for a Savior,” and “Revival.” I was wondering if you could explain what the songwriting process is like for the band.
MA: I feel like its different for every song.
PV: Yeah, we came in and met Justin Rimer and we had a couple of them. We had “Come Back,” which you mentioned and “Through the Fire.” He helped bring those to life as a producer. Mitch and I always write acoustic. Then once we got in there with him and…you kind of look at what you want in an album and you fill buckets. Then we started looking back through our catalog of stuff we had written. We tend to do that. We’ll write something a couple of years ago and we’re not into it. Then we look back and pull it back out. So really what that record is a collection of five or six years worth of writing.
TMR: You guys have been doing this now for a while. It’s been eight years now, right?
MR: Wayland has been a band since 2010.
TMR: It’s definitely a weird time for music right now. Especially rock n’ roll. With the decline of the record company, people have declared rock n’ roll is dead. The internet has now provided a new way to bring life to it. My question for you guys is do you feel like now is a good climate to make music in?
MR: I don’t think there has been a better time to make music. I feel like that as a band we have more opportunities than any other generation has ever had. I mean, there are pluses and minuses to everything. But we’re able to be the captain and master of our own ship.
PV: We’re directly in touch with our fans.
MA: That’s bonus part of it. I remember a time not too long ago when we just wanted to be on the road and have fans so bad. We didn’t know what that was like. I remember sitting in L.A. and we would see the little white vans and trailers going in and out of town because we all rehearsed at this big place called Downtown Rehearsal. All kinds of bands rehearsed there. Everyone from us to bands with multi-platinum records, we all rehearsed there. I remember thinking, I want to be in one of the little white vans with a trailer so bad.
So now you can put yourself on the road. Once people start listening to your music you can engage with them. That’s a miracle. It’s amazing.
TMR: And you guys are road warriors. I read that you guys played something like 250 shows last year, is that right?
PV: There have been years where we’ve played 300. 2012 and 2013. We don’t really do that much anymore. We’re starting to focus on writing the new record, so we’re not going to be doing that.
MA: We do have a pretty intense summer ahead of us. It will be non-stop.
TMR: Do you find that live show helps shape whats next? Do you write on the road?
MA: Yeah, we have been writing on the road. Hotel rooms and back lounges. I do feel like our live show has steered us in one direction or the other. As you start getting more honest with yourself on stage you start gravitating towards what you really want to play. Then you start going to your band members with songs and they come to you with songs. Then you start recording those songs. So it’s a very natural progression because it comes from that honesty of what you’re doing on stage.
TMR: You seem to have a pretty clear picture of where you want to go with this next record. Where do you see it going? Will it be heavier? Or maybe more melodic? Or is it too early to tell yet?
MA: We’ve started writing and it’s all about doing what we love to do and what we feel we do best. You asked earlier if the live show depicts what we do…It absolutely does. When we’re writing in the studio I get the most excited when I can say ‘I can totally hear us doing this song at Brat Fest in Madison, WI.’ I know how that crowd will react. Or Grand Rapids, MI. We know that crowd. We know what they love about our band. We have a great relationship and exchange of energy with them
PV: It won’t be heavier. The music we’ve gotten into, and just diving into ourselves…Mitch and I as songwriters. It’s just going to be honest. It’s going to be the sound of when I plug in my guitar, Mitch plugs into his favorite guitar, Dean plugs in his bass, and Nigel behind the drums. That’s what this record is going to sound like.
TMR: That’s a good point, now you have Nigel in the mix. You know, with a long time member like Tyler deciding to step away from the band to focus on other things, what has Nigel brought to the band? Obviously, he had the Nigel Dupree band and came with his own experiences to bring into the fold.
MA: He brought a fire and an enthusiasm to the band. He’s a natural performer and is born for what he’s doing. I think he brought a lot of that. But also, a lot of this grassroots stuff that we’re talking about…he was like the fourth member into that movement and was really supportive and really excited about us taking this turn. He was a part of that decision and I think that’s what helped solidify him being a permanent member. All four of us at one time were leaning in a certain direction! I think for a band that’s really powerful.
VP: The cool thing about Nigel is that he was a big fan of our band before he was in the band. So he is sometimes more protective of the history of the band and where it came from than we are.
MA: And he’s a good outside perspective. Being the last guy in he has an outside perspective to sometimes remind us of what our strengths are as songwriters. I think that’s really cool. The first record that we ever put out together as Wayland…we hadn’t really been playing those songs at all. He loved those songs so much that they started to slip back into the set.