In Conversation With…Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles

Back in June before their huge gig at Fibbers in York, I had the pleasure of chatting to Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles in a sweaty backroom on one of the hottest days of the year. Since seeing them then, the band have gone on to play huge sets at Tramlines Festival and recently Kendal Calling. We believe this band has what it takes to have huge success nationwide and this interview proved they’re some of the nicest guys in the business too. Enjoy!

Every song you seem to put out has a slightly different sound, how would you describe your music?

Billy: I just like, as a band we all like kinda different things. I like listening to what everyone puts on in the van or whatever, I like the tastes that everyone has. We’re all similar but the different songs are all slightly different. At the start of us, the songs were a little bit softer as they weren’t actually for a band they were just for me and it’s sort of progressed now to being heavier stuff.

Matt: You seem to naturally go that way to be honest, me Rob and Mike all come from a heavier background and though the music we’re doing now isn’t screaming, it’s got a bit more guitar than before, we’re a proper guitar band.

Billy: I’m always into the melody to be honest, I’ll always think of the melody over anything, even over the lyrics, I try to make sure the lyrics are good but for me it’s the melody over anything. We all like something we can really get our teeth into so that’s why we’ve got heavier over time and let loose.

Matt: We used to be probably about 60% electric guitar and 40% acoustic but now we only really do one song with the acoustic because it’s still nice for the crowd. Some of the stuff recently is much heavier, I mean it’s not heavy but it’s pure rock n roll.

What’s coming up this year music wise?

Billy: We’ve got two new songs recorded that are to come this year – we’ve got one that’s due out this month (Hamburg), it’s just started getting some radio plays.

Matt: I always find that weird though, how our song is being played before they’re released. There’s nothing wrong with that but we got played on Radio Wales the othr night and I was just listening in the car and was like why the fuck is this being played

What’s the best thing about being in the music industry?

Matt: Not having to get up at 9 in the morning, meeting loads of people, I like couldn’t work in a call centre or anything, I’m sure some people love it but not me.

Billy: I’ve always been like that too, I don’t like routine so for me being in a band, you’re doing something different every day in a different environment

Matt: If you said to someone your job is sitting in a van with your mates going out making people happy you’d be stupid to say no, we all do it because we love music, best job you can have really. Yeah I’d say the best thing is meeting people and just being with your mates.

What’s top of the music bucket list?

Billy: It’d be headlining a festival like Glastonbury I think

Matt: I would like someone to propose at our gig. If we get to that point, I’d be like yes sound, that is the ultimate, you’ve made it moment. Especially if its me asking on behalf of them.

Billy: They’d be divorced in a few months if you did that.

Matt: Nah she’d just want to marry me instead wouldn’t she. I’d have to back out of the whole thing. The amount of shit we end up talking in these interviews is ridiculous to be honest mate sorry about this.

Mike: Washing machines last time wasn’t it, it’s just stupid.

Matt: What was the one I said the other day? Austrian assport that was it, we were talking, and again no idea how we did but my mam’s from Austria and we were talking saying oh yeah if we leave the EU I’d want to get an Austrian passport but instead of passport I said assport and obviously Billy started pissing himself. Like docking in the ass, assport. Only Austrian assport, it’s landlocked isn’t it so that makes sense.

Billy: I couldn’t live there, too claustrophobic, it’s too landlocked.

Matt: It’s not in a fucking dome mate, you can go outside still. I know a few that’ve been locked inside before but that was one family wasn’t it mate.

Billy: Nah I don’t fancy it, I need to be by a beach me. They’ve got fake beaches there in Austria.

Matt: What do you fucking mean fake beaches as in you go stand on the sand and it’s actually just tar, they’re not fake if you’re standing on the sand

Billy: Nah they’re man made aren’t they.

Matt: It’s not fake; unless it’s made of rubber it’s not fake.

Rob: It’s like that fake snow you buy from garden centres. Bill’s perfect beach is Rhyl isn’t it.

Matt: Nah Prestatyn mate

Billy: That bit between Prestatyn and Rhyl actually

Matt: Yeah the bit where the needles get thrown on to the beach. I saw a homeless person having a full on argument with a police officer in Rhyl, the homeless guy told him to fuck off, then the officer said no you fuck off..then I went to the fake beach it was great.

Billy: No they’re real there. We’re not landlocked in Wales so it’s a real beach, with real water, it’s salty. Sometimes to be honest the water’s too salty isn’t it. Right lets move on.

If you could invent anything what would you want to invent?

Matt: That is a really good question

Bilyl: Beer that gets you drunk but doesn’t give you a hangover that’d be the one for me

Rob: You can get that powdered alcohol

Matt: Yeah you can vaporise alcohol but that’s really bad

Mike: They have gas chambers when they vaporise vodka

Billy: I’d rather invent something you can drink though

Matt: I think an onion you can cut and not make you cry because they are the thing that form the base to like every dish so yeah. You can break the root; if you chop it through the root, that’s what causes the chemical to break out.

Mike: Yeah you’ve got to the root of the problem mate.

So you’re inventing an onion?

Matt: No no that’s not what I said I said, an onion that doesn’t make you cry

Billy: We’re just inventing fake things, fake beaches and fake onions.

Matt: There are so many things, so what about a pencil that never needs sharpening and I know people will say, oh that’s a pen, but it’s not. I prefer writing with a pencil. It’s a lot lighter a good hb goes a long way so maybe that. Something that would change the world obviously. All those struggling to lift pencils would be sorted wouldn’t they.

Mike: Yeah but then you can’t have your chats in the bin at school, that’s a right of passage.

Matt: My mate once claimed he sharpened it all the way. He moved schools in the end because we wouldn’t shut up about it

Rob: Definitely a cure for alopecia if you ask me.

If we were having this conversation in a year what would you like to have happened?

Matt: I’d picture myself saying “you may rise” in like a gold room in a massive mansion.

Rob: Just to play some good slots at festivals

Mike: Invented an onion…

Billy: Whether its in the next year or two years, getting close to selling out all venues we play, like 200/300 venues wherever we go just expect 70% at least full. We get people singing but people actually going

Rob: Yeah and like places not near where we actually go all the time.

Mike: Not needing to worry about bills I guess, just to be comfortable, to be in a place we’re doing so well it’s not much of a thing.

Rob: I’d like to be able to have a day off.

Matt: Mike doesn’t know what a day off is

Mike: Oh I said that as a joke once.

Matt: To be fair, Rob works a lot, I don’t know how often you work Mike but it isn’t as much as Rob is it? Rob on this one gig was very tired and he’d been working and this girl said I bet you’re glad to have a day off and Mike said what’s one of them. Rob literally just threw his pint on the floor and said fuck off and did his shift.

Billy: We were in a gym type changing room and he threw a dumbell on the floor.

Matt: We were in a basement that looked like home made gym with exercise equipment. I think the punch bag was full of spuds or something. It was fake sand maybe..

Billy: Fake sand’s heavier than real sand though and Rob wasn’t aware of that

Matt: He said oh yeah that’s real sand that’ll be fine and punched it and it was fake and it fucked him up. But yeah we don’t want to go to any more basement gyms.

What’s the highlight and lowlight so far of the band?

Rob: Lowlight is definitely breaking down so many fucking times.

Matt: We did one on our first tour and we broke down in Inverness and on the tour it was the furthest from the venue we could get. It was on a bank holiday too so we broke down on the Saturday and couldn’t leave till the Tuesday so stayed in the same Travelodge for like three days and we couldn’t get it cleaned as they’d have found out there was five of us in the room. We went out for a walk and there was fucking go-karting a driving range, a sports bar and all this was the Monday night after spending two nights sat on our arse doing fucking nothing. The high point was the same night, we’d all bought some booze and I dropped a bottle of lemonade and Ste fell on his arse and that was amazing.

Rob: High point, any of the gigs where people actually enjoy the music and the rooms full and they’re not just sat on the back drinking.

Matt: We did a charity fundraiser in Whitby, we played at the bottom of the hill, we played after The Real Thing then 10cc were on and I robbed a footy shirt that day to wear on stage and they’d gone before I could give it back. It was just so surreal but we played to like 2000 people.

Rob: We should have been on first to be honest

Billy: I always prefer small venues like Sheffield when we sold it out and like everyone was at the front going mad.

Mike: I expect this one to be very sweaty to be honest it’s so hot today

Last one, what would you change about the industry if you had the power?

Matt: I fucking hate pay to play, I think that is seriously taking advantage of bands. We’re all in this same sinking ship together, I don’t like it when people take advantage of young bands.

Mike: Bit of diversity I think in the charts, it all seems a bit samey, if its not Ed Sheeran its someone who sounds like him. Like Royal Blood did it but they were the first in the charts for a while that were different.

Matt: But they do have a team of songwriters don’t they so is it any different? I hate the blame culture in music too

Billy: Everyone, well not everyone but most people, are trying to stab you in the back in the industry.

Matt: Everyone wants you to do well but they want to be doing better. If any band we played with makes it, I’ll be over the moon, they’ve actually gone on and done it. If it was someone we were with tonight, at least I can say they’ve done it

Rob: It’s hard enough to get people down to stuff already, it isn’t cheap to be honest, people don’t come out, but if it’s cheap drinks and bands on, I don’t know what more you’d want. Compared to going to a club sweating and failing at pulling..why?

Matt: At the end of the day every band was a local band at some point though. I’d maybe get rid of..Niall actually that’s unfair isn’t it I wouldn’t do that.

Rob: I’d get rid of fucking X Factor.

Matt: I would get rid of…oo this is so hard, there’s so many things. I think people should just support each other a bit more really. There are too many in it for themselves right now which is fair enough but don’t go throwing others under the bus.

Billy: Fans don’t jump on board until you’ve actually been on radio or getting somewhere which is annoying. People might hear you and like you but won’t come and watch until you’re known a bit more.

Matt: I’d get rid of the word hipster. Back in school there were me and my mates who’d actively go out and find up and coming bands, listen to them and as soon as they were famous everyone would be like oh yeah they’re great, and they’d call me a hipster. It happened a bit with Royal Blood as well.

Mike: One album and three years they just kept going everywhere it’s ridiculous really.

Rob: If you could do arenas from one album though you would wouldn’t you. If it gets you there, it gets you there doesn’t it.

Matt: I hate that when people criticise bands for “selling out”

Rob: At the end of the day labels do know how things work don’t they, as long as you keep your best attempts to song rights, you won’t be too mugged off really.

Matt: Everyone’s just a bit self righteous really about what’s “good” and that is the thing that pisses me off the most. Let’s just have a myriad of things, write a music bible, a sin bible and fuck off.

Billy: Yeah apart from all that though we love music…

Thanks to the guys for giving me so much time, if you get the chance to see them this year definitely do so as we do genuinely believe 2018 is going to be a massive year for the band.


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