The guys from Wayland have found national success on the radio but still owe not just their name but a lot of their initial splash to their homegrown fans in Michigan. When guitarist Phil Vilenski and singer Mitch Arnold started working together as midwest transplants on the west coast they quickly learned that their hearts and music were calling them back to the middle of the country. After relocating back to Michigan, a unique breakfast for airplay bribe landed them local radio play and a substantial hit followed, “Welcome To My Head”. They haven’t look back since and have become a mainstay on concert stages both as headliners and support for other national acts. I recently talked with singer Mitch Arnold about their latest single “Reno”, their past experiences and more, read on…. (WAYLAND will be a part of the WIIL Rock Fest in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin this Saturday along with Volbeat, H.I.M., Soil and many more, for more info go to www.wiilrockfest.com)
Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me Mitch. I wanted to start by asking a semi-obvious question about the band name, Wayland. It’s a cool name and I know it’s a town in Michigan, are all of you guys Michigan based?
A: Actually Phil Vilenski, our guitar player grew up in Wayland, Michigan, graduated from Wayland High School, his parents still live outside of Wayland. Tyler Coburn, our drummer is from a place called Middleville which is just outside of Wayland, our bassist Dean Pizzaz is from Detroit originally and I am actually from Bloomington, Indiana.
Q: You guys made a very nice splash with your single “Welcome To My Head” which did very well on radio and put your name on the map. Sometimes bands feel pressure from having a successful radio hit and it causes internal issues or they become overwhelmed by the pressure to follow up. You are having success now with your single “Reno” so is it safe to say that “Welcome To My Head” was an total positive experience for you guys?
A: It was absolutely a positive game changer for us. More than anything you see a change in the amount of people coming out to shows, the amount of people you are responding to online. “Welcome To My Head” did reach number 32 on the national charts but to be honest it was a real door opener for us in terms of delivering a follow up. It really gave us a segue to even having a career on the radio and on the road as a band. That song was a really big step for us and now we plan on taking “Reno” as far as we can take it and continuing to just keep moving with our singles. “Welcome To My Head” had a whole lot to do with us being able to do what we are doing today. I don’t really see the negative side of having a track do well, first of all I love the song, I love playing it every night and it’s amazing to see the crowd singing it. When you can just put the microphone out into the crowd and they know all the words and are singing it; as an artist that is an incredible moment. I don’t think I’m ever going to take that for granted or feel pressure or mind that part of the show. Speaking about the pressure, to be honest, I definitely feel pressure from other things. I feel pressure to deliver a great show every night, I feel pressure to keep on writing music and I feel pressure to keep up with the fans but I can’t honestly sit here and tell you that I feel pressure from that track because I still can’t say that we’ve had a “hit” single yet. When we’ve had a number one, top charted Billboard single where we’re selling a million copies and we’re a household name, that would be a different conversation.
Q: At this point you’ve had enough positive experience to keep you hungry then?
A: Oh, absolutely. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are chomping at the bit more than anything to be able to get the opportunity to have that huge single. If anything I’m like “I want that kind of pressure! Give it to me!” I want that surrounding crush of energy, I want that vessel to shatter so that we’re the biggest band in the world. We WANT that opportunity, we want to have that “problem” (laughs). I am really proud of the achievements we’ve made and happy that people are aware of us but there are a lot more people who are not aware of us and we’ve gotta find those people as well. We have to find that special formula to get into the minds, hearts and ears of millions and millions of people. We are more hungry and more determined than we’ve ever been as a band.
Q: You guys have played the big markets of Chicago, Detroit where there is always something going on in multiple places every night and the smaller markets like Rockford and Flint where there may not be a big show every single night. You’ve also made a habit of hitting the markets outside of that where a Wayland concert might be the biggest event a small town sees all year. Is there something especially fun knowing that you are hitting people that might be a little more starved for a big rock show?
A: It tends to be those type of towns where people get really excited which is amazing. They’re planning on coming out and cutting loose and letting go of their problems and having a great time. They’re working hard at their jobs all week so they have money to go out and have a good time at night and buy drinks or buy merch or whatever. Those types of small town shows are always, always really cool shows. Then again, I think all of us can relate, we’re all from pretty small communities growing up where even if we lived by big cities we were definitely quite a drive away from those cities. I think for that reason we can all relate to people who are from small towns where maybe there isn’t as much going on all year but when the circus comes to town, that’s where people are gonna go. In those instances they tend to all come out and we can pack the place. The more people we can jam in, the more everyone has a good time and it’s a party.
Q: Your new single “Reno” has been on local radio a lot and it’s definitely gotta unique sound to it with the acapella intro. What exactly inspired that track, was it a particular trip out west, a show??
A: Well, we played a private party in Reno. We were coming out of Spokane, Washington, driving through the night to get to Reno and our breaks went out thirty minutes out of Spokane. We called the guys in Reno and said “Hey, we’re really sorry. Our van broke down and we’re not gonna be able to come” and they were like “Don’t even worry about it. We’re gonna fly you guys out, rent you equipment and then have your crew guys drive the van whenever it’s ready”. So we ended up spending like three days in Reno with these guys and they just showed us the town, we saw the girls who were “cocaine pretty” that we wrote about in that song and it was just an amazing, amazing trip. We’re still good friends with those guys and it was this unique experience. The other thing that went into that song was, at that time, we were covering Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” in our set and we wanted to write a song with that kind of three part harmony. So we wrote a chorus with those harmonies kind of reminiscent of the Queen song and whenever we felt like we had something that popped and we liked it we immediately began to question how we would open the song (laughs). We actually mixed it down both ways, one way where we had it with the acapella singing and another way where it went right into the drum beat but we really liked the one which had the Queen feel to it. I think it pays homage to a great rock and roll band that we’ve always been inspired by.
Q: I think the intro really surprised me in that it really stands out when you hear it amongst other tracks on the airwaves. That may have been a good decision.
A: Yeah, it definitely pops on the radio and also, we’ve sang harmonies since we were really young, Phil and I have been writing music together for 13 years now and it just makes sense. We are brothers, we’re soul mates, this is a band but Wayland is like family and we just love singing in harmony, we always have. We felt like this was an opportunity to really showcase something that we do really well as a band, something that a lot of active rock bands aren’t doing right now. I think it sets apart and it shows off something really cool and different about us on these radio stations and Wayland isn’t an “active rock band”. We are a ROCK and ROLL band and I think there’s a big difference there.
Q: I think the singles approach is a good method for breaking rock bands, obviously but the converted fans are always going to want a new full-length album to follow up your self titled debut. So my last question is, what is next for Wayland?
A: We kind of had to decide what we wanted to do a couple weeks ago. One of the things was to go into the studio and finish up a bunch of tracks for our next full-length, another was to make a video, another was to keep touring of course. We kind of looked at it all and asked “What do we wanna do with “Reno” which is doing well, but we have to get this song on radio stations all over the country, we have to make people all over the country super excited about this song and the only way to really do that is to do it at the ground level so we are just gonna tour and tour the hell out of this song! During that time we are also gonna be releasing a lot of new content online, a lot of new MP3s, we are recording new stuff all the time and we are going to be releasing a lot of it online, for the fans. I don’t want anyone to be discouraged but a full length Wayland album may not happen until 2014 but I will tell you that there’s going to be a lot of new music we are releasing along the way so stay tuned to our social media, our website, our Facebook and all that. I don’t think any new fan or any old fan is gonna be disappointed by what we’re doing music wise for the next year.
Q: Ok, but just to be clear, “Reno” is just begging to be turned into a kickass video.
A: Oh, I know!! Half naked chicks with chainsaws and us rocking under the lights for sure.
Q: Definitely….when you have that story-boarded we will help publicize your Kickstarter, just let us take a few photos with the girls.
A: (laughs) We are on the same page…. you got it man, thanks for the support!
for more on WIIL Rock Fest in Twin Lakes, Wi www.willrockfest.com