Hot! Interview: Wayland

Incredible rock quartet Wayland is a young band that’s been together for about six years. After only having their name for two years, the group’s hit single Welcome To My Head (the title track of their latest EP) is slowly taking over radio stations across the U.S., getting 40+ spins a week on Serius XM Octane alone! Managed by Jude Cole (Lifehouse) and Jesse James Dupree (Jackyl, Full Throttle Saloon) Wayland is gearing up to hit the road this fall, following the completion of their new album. While not on tour, the band resides in a pre-civil war farm house that rests in West Michigan.

We’re excited to welcome lead vocalist Mitch Arnold to GuitarTrump. First off, thanks so much for taking the time to interview with us! I know that you’re super busy, so let’s get right to it. Your latest release was the EP Welcome To My Head. Can you tell us a bit about it?

We recorded the four-song EP in LA with our production team at Jude Cole’s studio tucked up in the rocky hills above Hollywood. Jude produced and co-wrote the album with us and it would have never been finished if it weren’t for our co-producer Mike Gurley and our engineer Florian Ammon. We’re working with the same team on this next record as well.

The title track Welcome To My Head has been doing great on the radio. I hear you guys are getting 40+ spins a week on Sirius Octane alone. What’s the backstory on this song, and what about it do you feel resonates with fans so well?

First of all, we are so proud of what Welcome To My Head has done on the radio and what it has done for Wayland. We’re honored to be apart of the Octane family and we were beside ourselves with excitement when the song broke into the Top 40 on the active rock charts.

We wanted to write a balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll song that wasn’t about love or loss or some crazy bitch causing problems. We just wanted a fast ball down the middle. We started talking about the crazy things we do and it led to talking about how crazy you need to be to be a lead singer in a rock n’ roll band. I don’t think it’s a requirement as much as it just comes along with being a lead singer. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little off-center and slightly out of my mind. My band members (soul brothers) do a very good job catering to that.

We wrote a rock n’ roll song about stepping into the mind of someone out of the box…on the verge of loosing complete control of his mind. Living right on the edge of insanity. I think people can relate because who on Earth doesn’t feel that way at some point? The trucker who has been driving for a month straight. The mechanic working over-time, trying to put food on the table and get his kid through college. The college student. The house wife who wakes up at 5:00 A.M. every morning, works her hands to the bone everyday cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids and finally falling asleep just before midnight. Everyone knows what it’s like to loose it. Soldiers over seas know. They’re pushed to the limit every day and then come home to a country they don’t recognize anymore because of how they have been changed by war. People all over America sing along because they have no problems screaming, “Welcome to my head!!!”

On the EP you guys do an awesome rendition of Bob Seger’s Fire Down Below. The guitar work is so much more intense than the original and really gets me pumped up. If Metallica were to cover the song, I could picture them doing it exactly the same way. What prompted you to add a cover to the EP and why this particular song?

No one knew Wayland a couple years ago. When we recorded the album we wanted to give listeners something familiar. That’s why we decided to record a cover. When we were trying to decide which one, we came up with the idea of putting a new spin on an old classic. We wanted to pay homage to a great American song writer. When it comes down to it, that’s something that we aspire to be – song writers. It’s how we would like to be remembered. Being from Michigan, we decided to pay tribute to a Michigan song writer. Bob Seger was definitely on the top of that list. We took a look at his catalog and really connected with Fire Down Below. I’m a story teller. I love great stories. It’s a great story that we were able to hop up on steroids and make it a heavy rock n’ roll song.

You guys are just about finishing up your tour across the States, then will start gearing up to hit the road again in the fall. What are some memorable experiences you’ll take home from the tour?

We were in Chicago for Wiil Rock Fest and not only was it a beautiful day, but it was one of the most well-done festivals all year. They took care of the talent, they were organized with times, stage plots and music sets and it was one of the funnest crowds all year. During our set I looked over and I saw the members of Black Stone Cherry watching us from the wings. I stepped back to center stage, bowed and thanked them. They bowed back and we all hung out after the show. It was an incredible moment just because we look up to them so much. I felt just as geeked when we partied all night with Foxy Shazzam in Grand Rapids after playing a show with them. We listen to Black Stone Cherry and Foxy Shazzam almost everyday when we’re in the van. We love their records. It was like meeting an idol…but you’re having a beer with them and trading stories. There was a mutual respect. Moments like those where you have to pinch yourself. You dream of meeting your idols. It feels like a dream when you’re hanging out and laughing with them.

Later this month you’re finishing up the new album in L.A. for release later this year. What can you tell us about it at the moment?

The new record is digging deeper into Wayland. If Welcome to My Head is the Trojan horse to our listeners, this new album will be the army that storms the city and takes over. And I mean that in a positive manner. This album is much more musical, at times harder, the lyrics are deeper and the fast balls down the middle are bigger and more explosive! I’m so excited about finishing it and diving further into these songs. I think fans are going to get a glimpse of how versatile Wayland can be.

So, you guys are all over the radio. You’ve sold out shows all over your home state of Michigan. What you guys have accomplished after only having your name for two years is pretty amazing. What do you feel is the number one reason you’ve come so far so fast?

We have come this far because we work as hard as our parents did. We are a blue collar rock n’ roll band who writes and plays music for the blue collar people of America. We share a work ethic with the knuckle busters out there carving their lives out of the world just like our families did for us. We have made this our commitment. And we’ve committed ourselves to excellence so that when you come to a Wayland show, you will see four guys leaving it all on the stage and a crew that is working just as hard. We love our jobs and we take them very seriously. We’re not afraid to make mistakes and we’re not afraid to ask people and bands we look up to questions. We’re not afraid to ask each other what we can do better for the band. And we have Phill Vilenski. There isn’t a man in a band that works harder and in all seriousness, he is the engine and secret weapon of Wayland.

On top of that, we play kick ass rock n’ roll.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us in regards to the new album, the direction of the band or even just something you’d like to say to your fans?

I would like to tell the readers and fans that Wayland is here for you! We play music so the working man and woman can come out and cut loose, forget about the day-to-day and maybe be inspired to be better. We believe our commitment is contagious. We love to play and make music, but what we love to do more then anything is share it and give back to the people who are giving us a life and a job. Without the fans we would just be four dudes playing washed up songs in a basement somewhere. Because of you (the fans) we are inspired and will continue to raise the bar. And if you ever see us not owning up to that, we promise you can call us out.

Thanks again for your time. Wishing you the best of success out there on the road!

Stay in tune with Wayland:

Wayland “Welcome to My Head”

Wayland “Fire Down Below” (by Bob Seger)

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I fell in love with the guitar after listening to my father pick away at Metallica’s "Fade to Black" as a little kid. I picked it up at age nine and haven’t put it away since.

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