Gear Talks: Wayside on working with Will Yip

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Gear Talks: Wayside on working with Will Yip

Wayside Will Yip
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

The relationship between producer and artist can be a tough one to manage, requiring a lot of trust from each party.

Wayside have built a solid following on the back of a few years of singles and their debut album Shine Onto Me, all of this ultimately culminating in the release of their new album What Does Your Soul Look Like. The duo travelled to Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to make the record at Studio 4 Recording, with Grammy-nominated producer Will Yip (Turnstile, Title Fight, Balance & Composure).

Huge fans of his work, Wayside’s Thomas and Josh hoped Will could sprinkle some of his magic across their own music, allowing him to have a hand in writing, re-arranging and of course recording the debut from the Naarm duo. Ahead of its release, we spoke to Wayside about the new album, coming November 10, 2023.

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Congrats on announcing the new album What Does Your Soul Look Like. How and where did writing for this begin? 

Josh: Thank you! We started writing for this record around March 2022 and hit it pretty hard for 6 months leading up to getting into the studio with Will. We try to keep everything as simple as we can when we start to demo songs. Basically, it’s the two of us in Thomas’ living room throwing ideas around and seeing what sticks. I’ll get there and mess around on the guitar for a few hours, either coming up with riffs/chords in the moment or expanding on something I’ve come up with during the week. Thomas will more often than not be humming melodies that are coming to him while I’m doing that and it just kind of builds from there.

The gear I use for demos is very stripped back to what ends up in the final recording. I think I was running my guitar into a JMP-1 preamp and a 9200 power amp straight into our interface and only really messing with pedals when we really needed to. We wanted to keep things as bare as we could before going into the studio so we could do all the experimenting there y’know? 

Thomas: As soon as we vibe an idea in the writing phase, we record the guitars and program the drums straight away to kind of get an immediate idea of whether or not we think it has legs. 

In the studio with Will, I’m 95% sure we used a Neumann M49V or M149 for vocals. It sounded phenomenal, and ten times better than the Shure SM7B that we used for demos. 

As far as lyrics go, I use the ‘Notes’ app on my laptop and phone. This just allows me to make changes easily and build on things no matter where I am. This began about twelve months before we started even writing the record. Inspiration is definitely not linear, so it’s important that whenever thoughts come to me I write them in my notes for me to build upon when the time comes.

Is this traditionally how a Wayside song starts? Have you got a regular formula?

Josh: This has been the way it’s usually worked, for sure. Two of the songs on the record started with just a drum beat that was looped. So there’s always going to be times where the formula is shaken up but for the most part I would say this is how we go about it.

How complete were the songs when you got to Will Yip and Studio 4?

Josh: Some were more complete than others. Some that we might have thought were 90% done were probably closer to being 40% after Will got into it and picked shit apart haha. We never really had the intention of taking over complete songs. With Will, we knew we were in the best hands to build songs and expand ideas. I think if we had overcooked the tracks before getting into the studio, it wouldn’t have been as fulfilling as it was.

Why Will Yip as producer? 

Josh: Damn. I mean, he’s THE guy when it comes to music we would align ourselves with. We’re both big sweaters of a lot of his work haha. We knew that he would become a part of our band and have our backs more than anyone else would and a lot more than we would for ourselves. We have full faith in him and he, no doubt, elevated us to a level we wouldn’t have reached on our own. If we were left to our own devices to produce this record it’d be ass haha.

Will Yip

What role did Will play? Was he songwriter, producer or engineer? How much input did he have in composing vs. pushing for the best takes? A bit of both?

Josh: He does it all. Will is really involved every step of the way. He’s the QB [quarterback], for sure.

When we were demoing tracks at home, we would send whatever we had over to him and he would go through it and be across everything and know what he wanted to get from certain ideas and songs. When we started pre-production in the studio he really got under the hood and picked our shit apart. He definitely throws everything he has into making sure the songs are the best that they can possibly be. That same commitment to the songwriting carries over when it’s time to track and he definitely pushes you for your best take but it’s always all love.

Have you been performing these song/s live yet? How does live performance differ from the recorded versions?

Josh: A lot of our set is made of unreleased tracks from this record. We’re all so stoked on them that it was hard to only pick a few to add in. We kind of inadvertently became one of those bands thats like ‘fuck our old shit, we’re all about the new stuff’ haha. 

We try to stay as true to what we did on the record when playing live but I guess the biggest differences would be certain pieces of gear being swapped in and out between shows. Unfortunately touring with our dream gear isn’t always feasible when it comes to flying, so we’ve had to make a few compromises. We put a lot of our efforts into making things different with samples between tracks to help things flow and avoid long gaps of just silence. Nothing too hectic just yet but we’ll see.

Is there any gear you used on the making of the album that has made its way into your live rig? 

Josh: I’ve always used a Boss CE-2 live and in the studio. The biggest change for me with this record has been moving onto using guitars which I guess you might say are more used in heavier music than ours? Maybe that’s just my dumbass perception of it though haha.

Boss CE-2

Thomas: The heavy rhythmic tones you hear on the record are the Peavey 6505 and EVH 5150 with EL34s. The slightly overdriven tones (like the “Proud Of You” bridge) is the classic Marshall JCM800 and the cleaner stuff is a blend between a Fender Twin Reverb and Roland JC120. The latter are some of our favourite amps of all time, so we were stoked. 

Josh: In the studio I used an Ibanez, Fender Telecaster Deluxe and Fender Superstrat. Playing live I swap between a Charvel San Dimas and a Jackson Soloist. I ripped out the pickups in the Charvel and replaced just the bridge with a Seymour Duncan Invader and I swapped out the bridge with an Invader on the Jackson but kept the stock single coils in the neck and middle.

Thanks for your time! As a closer, have you got any funny stories or anecdotes from the making of What Does Your Soul Look Like? 

Josh: Thank you! When I think about the funny stories from then a lot of it is us laughing about the stupidest shit haha. We played around the world every single day we were there and Will kicked our asses every single game. He kept a tally up on this window in the studio and it was like the first thing you’d see every time you walked in. We were there for a month. Home ground advantage though, kinda horseshit if you ask me.

Thomas: We had so much fun that there were moments where we almost forgot what we were there to do haha. The Phillies were in the playoffs while we were there so we took a lot of breaks to watch baseball, and found nearly any excuse to go upstairs and have a few cocktails.

There was one night we went out for dinner with Will and his partner to the best sushi restaurant in town, and the food was so good that it made us emotional. After a few cocktails and a lot of sake, Josh said “it’s like a colour I’ve never seen.” Will and I looked at each other and knew we had to work that into the lyrics somewhere. It ended up living inside the “Asymmetry” chorus and probably outshines any other lyric I wrote on the whole record haha. That was one of the most memorable parts creatively simply because of the memories associated with it.

Keep up with Wayside here.