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Spot-lite on Will

We first met Will and dB Acoustics at Droitwich Ska Mod and Reggae Festival, mid-Covid, and it might have been love at first sight! In this interview, we get to find out all about Will's history and experience as a musician, how driven and motivated he has been since an early age, and his trials, tribulations and jubilations as a sound engineer. It's time to go back stage and meet the best noise boy we've ever met!

Helen: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

Will: Well, technically Coventry. But Nuneaton, and Nuneaton.

Helen: OK cool, and how did you get into music? Through school? What did you learn to play?

Will: I learned to play trombone first because I was different. I wanted to be different.

Helen: That is very different.

Will: Everyone went for guitars, drums and I thought 'that shiny thing in the corner will do'. And I went to that one. Everyone wanted to do trumpet and I thought, 'That one that everyone's looking at really confused. I'll do that one.' Then I got bored in Year 6 while my teacher was on a break and taught myself trumpet. And then a few years later I joked about having a saxophone as well and on Christmas day, a saxophone turned up for me. So then I learned Saxophone. And then a few years later when I said I'm not buying any more instruments, somebody rocked up with a tenor saxophone - I had an alto - and I went 'Oo, shiny' and bought it and that worked really well because it's in the same key as my trumpet and also in the same key as how I play trombone. So it was like, brilliant, I only need one piece of music for all three of these!

Helen: Did you do grades?

Will: Yeah, I did. Only up to Grade Four.

Helen: Yes! You know what, the only people I've asked that question so far, obviously I know my answer, is Teebs. He learned piano. We're all in the Grade Four club!

Will: Yeah, I did Grade Four. Apparently, when I left lessons and such in Year 9, I was playing to a grade six standard. Trumpet was about Grade 4 or 5. I never had a lesson on Saxophone.

Helen: That's amazing.

Will: I was smashing out Grade 6 pieces in my sleep on trombone.

Helen: Nice.

Will: Then I gave it all up because I'm a spastic. Now they just sit gathering dust like expensive paper weights.

Helen: I mean, that's the best place for brass instruments, surely!

Will: Once, we played Symphony Hall with the orchestra and I was playing a B Flat and F Trombone. So you know the trombone with the trigger valve? So that's what I was playing and I'd learned the piece with the trigger valve because it changes your sixth position which is like fully extended arm to be third position or fourth position. I can't remember exactly which. I think it's third. And I'd dislocated my thumb by playing rugby the same day. And I turned up and I was like 'I don't know how to play this piece without this trigger. I've never tried it.' And obviously I had music in front of me because it was an orchestra, but I didn't pay any attention to it. I always tried to memorise my music. So on the day I went 'I wonder if my trumpet is in the car'. My trumpet was in the car, so I called my Mom to bring it. This while I was I think about 16. No, weren't even that. 14 or 15. So my trumpet was in the car and I went 'Mom, can I have my trumpet please' and she went 'But you're playing trombone' and I went 'Not anymore'. And I ended up playing Trumpet 1.

Helen: Oh, wow.

Will: We were playing Les Mis as well (Note from Helen - Les Misérables). A medley of Les Mis. And it know the 'Do you hear the people sing?'

Helen: Yes. With the fanfare in?

Will: Yeah, that was fun when sight reading Trumpet 1.

Helen: That's amazing.

Will: Because I played the trombone in rehearsal, because I thought I'll try it and I just couldn't do it, so I was sight reading Trumpet 1 and it goes SECTION SOLO. Everyone stands up around me. I'm like 'Oh ok, I will get involved', and there's a video of that somewhere.

Helen: I need to see it!

Will: Somewhere, on a DVD, in my Grandma's house. It exists.

Helen: Bless them. They're so supportive. They are the coolest Nan and Grandad ever. I mean, obviously they're my only Nan and Grandad now! OK, so big question. How did you get into sound engineering?

Will: It was totally by accident! I ended up being the one that was sort of interested in it with my band, which I played with from when I was like eleven or something like that. I was the one that was more interested in the sound and was happy to sort of try and learn how it went. And it sort of just morphed into that being my job.

Helen: You have a superpower.

Will: Yeah, so I started using the PA that we bought together throughout the band. And I started using money from gigs to buy more PA of my own alongside the stuff of the band's. And eventually I basically bought the band out of their shares of the PA and made it my own. I started doing gigs for other bands while I wasn't playing. One of the first ones I did it for was Ska 45's, which was fun because I was also in and out of there as a trumpet player for them as well. And occasional trombonist. That was quite a fun time, juggling all of that.

Helen: So you were a Swiss Army Will?

Will: Yeah, something like that. Sort of Utility. It's a Sound Engineer and a one-man Horn Section in one go.

Helen: I like that.

Will: It was good because for a band with a three-piece horn section of trumpet, trombone and saxophone, I could fill any of those positions should they need it. Sort of made me King of the Deps for any band with a horn section because it was like 'One of the horns is away - call Will!'. So I basically kept doing that and every penny that I earned, and I was only fifteen or sixteen at this point, went straight back into buying more PA equipment, better equipment, all that sort of stuff, and it gradually sort of morphed into that and then when I say it was totally by accident, I ended up...for the course that I was going to apply for, for British Airways, I needed three A Levels. So I did Maths, Physics and then didn't really like any of the other options. So I went for Music Technology.

Helen: Maths and Physics?

Will: Yeah, they wanted a science and Maths for the course and the other was free choice. So my free choice was Music Tech. I thought, well, I like this stuff, I'm doing a bit with it. So through college, it sort of became more of that and then at the end of my first year of college, British Airways withdrew the scheme that I was going to apply for, which they have now brought back - bastards. And I'm applying for it tomorrow.

Helen: Wow.

Will: Well, I've got till the 25th to apply for it this year. But I'm going to. But yeah, they withdrew the scheme and I was like 'Ermmmm, my entire life balance kind of rested on this. And now I'm sort of on my ass'. So I went through college in a bit of a wishy washy, not really know what I was going to do, way. But the one thing I did well at was Music Tech. It was the only subject I had really good attendance in. Because, in the end, once I realised I no longer needed these A Levels, I was like, what's the point?

Helen: Well, yeah. I mean, Maths isn't one of those things, or Physics, where you can just go and do the minimum and coast through.

Will: I was always quite annoyingly good, academically. I didn't revise for a single one of any of my exams. I came out of GCSE with one A, 7 B's, one C and 2 D's.

Helen: Wow.

Will: With zero revision. So yeah, I was annoyingly good academically and Maths was one of my strong points. I was actually offered a private school scholarship because of my Maths ability through junior school.

Helen: Oh, my God! That's the exact opposite of me. See, that's why I'm like 'I'll do the words, you do the numbers'.

Will: Yeah, I've always been a numbers person. So that sort of works quite well. But yeah, I ended up with about 85% attendance for my A Level Maths, which I came out of with a C in the end. I gave up on Physics because when they started going away from the sort of physics I thought I could use, and they started talking about how to judge the mass of a star based on the wavelength of the light it emits, I was like 'Now I can't be bothered with this'. So I binned it off, basically. My intention was to get into single figures of attendance. I got to 12% attendance and they booted me off.

Helen: Spoilsports.

Will: But then my Music Tech, however, I got an A.

Helen: Wow.

Will: Yeah, and then I left college and went to work for Amazon. Which, to be fair, straight out of college, was quite well paid. It was regular hours. It was all that sort of stuff, but I hated it. And at that point I was like I need to do something now because this isn't me. This isn't what I want to do. I don't like this. My Manager is an ass hole and I thought of this little hobby that I've got of doing sound on the side. I'd pretty much lost the band by this point. This was like, 2018. So I had about six months while I still had the band of doing this as a business. I basically left Amazon, signed up for a Government Backed Loan Scheme to set me up, where basically they match your investment with a very low interest loan, like a start up loan. And that's what I did. I applied for that, did all the work for it, got it. Bought a load of equipment and boom, got a business. And then that sort of became me. And I built it up from there over the course of the last five years to what it is today. Two years of which was Covid.

Helen: Yeah, that's what I'm looking at here. We're doing our five year anniversary but two of those years were Covid. It's like we've hardly done anything!

Will: Yeah, I got to the point where it was doing quite well and then Covid put a stop to it and I had to basically start again. Yeah, and I think it was Steve's...unless one of your next questions is where did I come into contact with you guys?

Helen: Well, it is, yeah.

Will: Well, in that case I shall answer it right now. It was Steve's sort of mid Covid festival.

Helen: That's what I think of it as - the mid-Covid festival.

Will: Yeah, like 'Oh we're going to release some people, but not fully'. And then everyone in the events industry was like 'Oo, Freedom!'. Yeah. 'Work, everyone, but stay two metres apart.' And it was that one where I ended up coming across you guys. I don't normally sort of ask for work, but as it was coming out of Covid I was like 'I like these guys. They sound great. They seemed like a good bunch of people'. And I saw that you were advertising for a noise boy. So I went 'Sod it. We're just coming out of Covid. I need to put some effort in so let's do it'. So I messaged you guys, and the rest is history.

Helen: It's the best thing that ever happened. OK, so what's the best gig you've engineered to date and why?

Will: The best gig I've ever done... Glastonbury headline on the Avalon stage this year. And the reason why? It's Glastonbury.

Helen: Simple as that. Yeah, that is pretty amazing.

Will: The biggest gig I've done would be the one over in Dublin. That was absolutely huge. That was around 15,000 capacity. So that was great. But yeah, the best one is definitely Glastonbury. Hands down. Just because I got free entry to Glastonbury, stayed there for the whole weekend, worked for about three hours and I just had an all round amazing time.

Helen: That is really cool. OK, so what is your favourite thing about The Reggulites?

Will: Oh, that could be quite a long list. Do I have to narrow it down to one? I can narrow it down to one word: Vibes.

Helen: I love it.

Will: That would be my one word answer, but the list is long.

Helen: Oh, that's so nice.

Will: Come on now, it's nearly midnight, it's too late to be crying.

Helen: OK. I've been painting all day, I'm exhausted! What's your favourite tune that the band play?

Will: Again, it's hard to pick. Can I pick a couple? Because I have ones for different reasons.

Helen: Yeah, of course.

Will: Johnny B Goode is one of them. Mainly because there was the one time I accidentally slipped and put a little bit too much delay on Lloyd's vocal, and then went 'Oh my God, that sounds amazing'. And now I do it every time. Picture on the Wall is beautiful just because the horns are in perfect fifths (note from Helen - I knew the harmony was nice, but I wasn't entirely aware that's what was happening!). And there's something about perfect fifths that just work. But usually they sound quite cheesy if you do them all the time, but in this one it's just, yeah, it's beautiful.

Helen: Me and Anna don't do cheesy.

Will: And then the other one has to be Rock Fort Rock with the solos. Because of the solos. Because there's nothing that pleases me more as a horn player, or ex-horn player or whatever you want to say about that, than just the whole band going 'Right, we're gonna just groove and let these guys do what they want to do'. Perfection.

Helen: Cool, I like that. Ok, what's your favourite thing about being a sound engineer?

Will: It's hard to nail it down. It's unique, I think. Yeah, it's a very small sort of community as such. You think of the groups who everybody seems to know everyone and if you don't know them you know somebody who does. It's weird. And we're all weirdos in our own right. We're all a bit nuts. But there is a sort of sense of community. And it's strange. It's just unique and like, really close knit. And I like that and it's just the fact that I get to do weird and wonderful things with some very, very incredible people. You see people who are buying tickets to shows to see these people and I'm like, just sat having a chat with them after soundcheck. They say 'Don't meet your heroes', which in some cases is true, but generally speaking, most of the people that I've, you know, met, even on a house tech level, but everyone I seem to have come into contact with who were like major A list pop and rock stars... they're all just lovely, genuine people. So, it's just a sense of it being unique in every way.

Helen: I suppose if you've got that kind of A lister person and you're teching the sound for them, then that puts you in a unique position because they are working with you. You become a colleague.

Will: Sort of, yeah. When you're talking the proper A list obviously everyone's got their own crew. But you are part of something bigger. When you see, like, for instance, we did the Tom Grennan show. That was two shows in one day. Both shows sold out. And you all the people that come in and you're just thinking, well, I might only be a relatively small piece of the puzzle, but without me this show wouldn't have happened as easily and stress-free. Obviously, those big names, they've got their own monitor engineer, their own front of house engineer, their own lighting engineer normally, and obviously then they usually have their own tour crew. So you're basically there in a consultant role. Every venue is different. And there's different things about venues that as a touring tech, which obviously I've been on the other side of as well, you walk into a venue, you don't know how everything's set up, how everything's going to sound, what channels are routed to what in, you know, outputs and all that sort of stuff. So you have to sort of rely, even as a touring tech at the top of the game, you still rely on the house tech to you know, connect your show up, if that makes sense.

Helen: Yeah, like, translate it to that venue?

Will: Exactly. So even though you might have days as a house tech where you don't even touch the desk, you're still a part of something bigger. That's appealing. To me, at least.

Helen: I like that. OK, you're least favourite thing about being a sound engineer? Apart from throwing your ring up in Somerset because you loaded out too fast in the heat!

Will: Yeah, that's the worst part about being a sound engineer. Load out. I would say the hours can kill you at time. Like Fresher's Week, particularly in Coventry venues, is rough because it's actually Fresher's fortnight because you've got two universities that share the same city. You've got Coventry Uni and Warwick, because although there's a few clubs in Warwick, Coventry in right next to it. You might as well go up there. Yeah, so Fresher's Week is always pretty rough because it's a club night every single night for two weeks. So it can be rough, especially if you've got daytime gigs as well. Like last year, when I was at Empire, we'd have three or four, maybe even five, daytime shows that would then go straight into the club night. 10pm would be the opening time for the club night. You'd have what they call a Disco load out. So you've have the main room with a show on, with a curfew on 9.30pm. They clear the room. And as a techie, you sort of leave the touring crew to start getting their stuff down while you then go and set the DJ up in the next room, which in Empire is the same room with a curtain separating them. You go and set the DJ up. Doors for the club open at 10pm. You'd then come back in, finish helping with the load out of the main show, close everything down and then while the club night is on you're still working so it's not like you can just set the DJ up and chill. And you know, you'll be coming in at 10am, sometimes earlier, for the main show. And the club night finishes at 4am. Festival hours can be rough. You can be doing 18 to 20 hour days. But it's fun. There's no other way to put it.

Helen: I mean, it's not light stuff, either - loading in and out. It's not like you're just packing up lots of little items.

Will: Yeah I mean, we had Sigala - I don't know if you know who that is.

Helen: I do. I'm still young enough to know.

Will: OK, we had Sigala and he came in with a mirror played sort of podium thing. It was a six man lift.

Helen: Holy shit.

Will: Yeah, that was half of it, as well.

Helen: I'm going to start writing that into contracts. I demand I mirrored podium.

Will: it was basically just a big steel structure covered in mirrors.

Helen: That's really cool. OK, final question and I'll let you go to bed. What does The Reggulites mean to you?

Will: As it is now, in a word, probably family.

Helen: Yeah, we have just sort of adopted your entire family.

Will: I mean, yeah, pretty much. You might as well be family. That's probably the best way to describe it.

Helen: That's so wicked. Thank you so much, Will!

Will: No worries!


As you can see in the interview, Will is an extremely multi-talented person. He's just turned 24 years old and he's already doing amazing things in his life. His determination and perseverance is absolutely unrivalled in the people I've met, and we know he's going to go and smash the heck out of life. He's a true Sound Artiste, with real in-depth knowledge of his trade and a superb musical ear, and we're extremely lucky to call him our sound engineer, our friend and a part of the Reggulites family.

If you'd like to read more interviews with the band, we have already released Teebs and Dawn's! More on the way soon!

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