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An Interview with William Douglas and the Wheel.

Without a doubt, Edinburgh’s finest songwriter – a bold statement, perhaps, but I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t believe it to be true. Some say he’s “the musicians’ musician”… Me? I’d say he’s the personification of rock ‘n’ roll…

DESCRIBE YOUR MUSICAL STYLE IN THREE WORDS.
Lennon, Dylan, Young.

YOUR BEST AND WORST GIGS?

I honestly can’t remember any gigs that stand out as being the best or the worst. The most people I ever played to was in Ayr supporting The Proclaimers. There were a few thousand folk there and I got them all chanting “Higher!” and clapping their hands in time together – it was a buzz. I also used to like playing in the Leftbank when it was still the Leftbank because they had a little room in the back where all the bands hung out. There was a lot of craziness going on, then you would just go through this curtain and you were onstage. I used to like finishing gigs by going off and then coming back on again a few times – Elvis-style – while the band kept on rocking. The worst gigs are the ones where you try and play music to people who don’t like music. That’s even worse than playing to no-one.

TELL US A FUNNY WILLIAM DOUGLAS STORY.
I had just finished a late-night slot at The Jazz Bar on Chambers Street and I was feeling a little zoned. We were packing our gear into Stoddy’s car and the sun was just coming up. The street was mostly empty and you could hear a few gulls screeching up above but when I looked up at the sky I realised that these were no ordinary birds… they were seagulls of negative space. I didn’t want to alarm the others so I kept quiet about it. And all the way home I behaved as if everything was fine. And it was.

BEST AND WORST DESCRIPTION OF YOUR MUSIC SO FAR?

Lots of people have said some really astute things about our music, and lots of people have been way off the mark. One of the more memorable things I heard was after a solo gig at the Queen’s Hall, which had gone rather well. I was in the bar when this old fellow came up and said, in his very upper class accent, “Your songs are very intelligent. You, on the other hand, may be completely unintelligent but your songs are very intelligent.”

YOUR FAVOURITE TUNES AND ALBUMS AT THE MOMENT?
I heard an album recently called Inner Speaker by Tame Impala. Daniel McGeever told me about it and he had heard about it through Lewis Gibson from the Midas Touch. It’s good psychedelic rock and there’s a track I really like called’Desire Be Desire Go’. Then, I was at local music man Gav Duvet’s house recently and he played me a Dylan tune off’New Morning’ called ‘Sign on the Window’ really loud through a ghetto blaster and it blew me away much farther than any modern music could.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL BANDS?
There are lots of good bands kicking about Edinburgh at the moment. Aaron Wright and the Aprils, The Chans, The Banana Sessions, The Black Diamond Express, Miyagi, The Mike Kearney Ka-tet, Delta Mainline, Lewis Gibson and the Midas Touch and Future Heroes, to name but a few.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BITS OF MUSICAL GEAR?
As a kid, I used to mess about with pedals and all that. I used to layer things up and try to sound like Brian May. Nowadays, I prefer to just plug in and go for it with as little fuss as possible.

WHAT’S UP NEXT IN YOUR MUSICAL CAREER?
I’ve recently been joined by Austen George on lead guitar, Daniel McGeever on acoustic and Mike Kearney on keys, with Chris Agnew on the bass and Stod on the drums. I’ve played with Chris and Stod for years, but this is the first time we’ve had other people writing songs and it feels pretty good. We are half way through recording an album and, so far, it sounds barry. Once it’s finished, I imagine we’ll be out and about playing loads more gigs and whatnot.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WANTING TO EMULATE YOUR SOUND?
Well, there’s nothing too fancy going on, it’s basically roots-y rock ‘n’ roll. Stod is a classic drummer, Chris is a solid bass player; and with Austen, Mikey and Danny now in the band, I’d imagine the vocal harmonies would be the most difficult sound to replicate as they are all top notch singers with their own style. I think the main thing to be doing is writing songs and crafting the sh*t out of them. It makes everything else a lot easier.

IF YOU COULD’VE WRITTEN ANY SONG IN THE WORLD, WHICH SONG WOULD IT BE?
‘5 years’ by Bowie. The lyrics are really great.

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Who is William Douglas?

William Douglas has been writing songs and performing them for over 10 years. For8 years now he has been a musician in Edinburgh. He started out playing folky story-telling stuff on his acoustic guitar in “well kent” venues like the Royal Oak and the Waverley, then he went on to form rock ‘n’ roll outfit ‘The Wheel’. They have supported (and toured with) bands such as Ocean Colour Scene, the Bluetones, Nazareth & The Dresden Dolls. Recently, William, Ian Stoddart (drummer) & Chris Agnew (bassist) and have been joined by lead guitarist, Austen George; ex Alfonso vocalist, Danny McGeever & piano-man, Mike Kearney. He also has a side project called the House of La.

About The Author

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