I can say without hesitation that 2017 is going to be the year of The Wholls. Last year saw Arturo and Santino Cocchiarella, Joe Stevenson and Daniel De Feo touring relentlessly, with countless shows both within the UK and further afield. Throughout the course of the Summer, they conquered many of our most prominent music festivals including Reading & Leeds and Isle of Wight, proving by way of their electrifying live performances that they are already worthy of a main stage slot. And it didn't end there; September saw them supporting The Enemy on their farewell tour, before heading to Hamburg where they played to a completely sold out audience. Now the name on every music lovers' lips, The Wholls ended 2016 in the best possible way by signing to Sony Music.
The future looks incredibly bright for this London based alt-rock quartet, and so I was extremely honoured to be given the opportunity to chat with them on the evening of their headline gig at one of Sheffields' finest venues, Plug... and, as I'd expected, they have a great deal of charm, and an incredibly witty sense of humour to match their musical talents!
How did The Wholls first come to be, and how did you all meet?
Arturo: Usual story, really. We got together as friends from school, and Santino is my first cousin so we picked him up later just as he came out of music university in Leeds! So we stole him, the puzzle was complete and we just started cracking on. We entered a Battle of the Bands, and we won it... we carried on, and now we're here!
Joe: Taking a step back a little bit further than that, I didn't feel like I was quite fulfilling my potential with the ladies... the band definitely helps!
What did you grow up listening to and would you say that your musical tastes and influences have changed a lot since then?
Santino: We've all got very different tastes. When we're in the van on the way to gigs, we're always fighting to put something on! What did we listen to on the way here... Bob Marley, Twenty One Pilots...
Joe: I think we've all broadened eachothers' musical horizons! Danny definitely had a hip hop background, I'm more into indie rock and roll, Santino is all over the place... jazz and whatever, the more technical the better!
Arturo: I like Norah Jones and Pavarroti.
Joe: The bonus as well is playing now, we get to see loads of new bands before they make it. As well as seeing and listening to our original influences we're finding all of these new ones as well.
Santino: Seeing them at grass root levels before anyone blows up. This is where you get to see it best.
Joe: It's very important to support that. It means the world to bands.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do... is it the creative process of writing a great song and watching it come together in the studio, or being able to perform it live in front of an audience?
Daniel: I'd definitely say playing it to a live audience... the reaction, the adreneline, the buzz... that's my favourite.
Santino: I think when we're coming up with a new tune as well... you wake up in the morning and you have nothing, but by the time you go to bed you have this whole new vessell and you don't know what it's going to do or how people are going to react to it. You feel good that you've come up with something, and almost picked it out of the air.
Joe: There are so many different parts to it as well, it's not the same thing over and over again so the enjoyment comes from a lot of different things... the travel aspect, the songwriting, the comradery, meeting new people... all of that comes together because of this one thing, music.
You're just about to embark on a European tour... is there anywhere that you're particularly excited to be playing?
Joe: It's his birthday when we're in Barcelona.
Arturo: Everywhere! All of them. It's a dream isn't it, for a band to be able to get on a plane with someone else paying for travel... it's good. If you go on holiday and someone else pays, it's good!
Joe: The Czech Republic is on there as well, and it just sounds weird doesn't it... that we're going to somewhere like the Czech Republic to play shows. Hopefully it'll become less weird in the future and start being more normal!
Santino: It's a dream, going to different places and the reason you're going is to play a show. It's always a pretty cool thing!
Joe: And we're going to leave Danny there as well...
Santino: We'll leave him in Barcelona.
Daniel: I'm up for that.
Joe: It's nice there, you'll like it.
Do you get to be tourists inbetween shows when you're on the road?
Arturo: We'll have plenty of time. We have a lot of time to kill, it's like when you do any show. You have to get there early, so we're travelling through the night and by the time we reach our destination we'll be setting up, and once we've done that we've got nothing to do really apart from hang out.
Santino: Art galleries we said, didn't we?
Arturo: Yeah, because they're free to get in!
Joe: I failed today though... I tried to be highbrow in Leeds. We were stood looking at this piece of art and it turns out it was just a sign telling people where to go! The woman ushered me out of the way.
Arturo: We'll get better at it! I don't know about Leeds though... what was the art like, Joe?
Joe: Well we were trying to figure that out! Was the art the fact that there WAS no art and it was in your head, so you become the art? We got pretty deep with it!
Santino: This woman tried to rope us into doing a play. We were just leaving and she looked at us and said 'Oh we're doing a play about James Joyce...'
Joe: We were backing away saying 'Yeah, that sounds really interesting!'
If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
Arturo: I'd go back to Leeds this morning. Back to the art show. It was nice there.
Joe: Also he's got a fish brain and can't remember anything past this morning. How about Sunday night, Monday morning... Woodstock '69, Jimi Hendrix playing Star Spangled Banner.
Santino: I think I'd jump in front of the shooter of John Lennon so he could be alive for a bit longer.
Arturo: Was Joe Cocker at that Woodstock as well?
Joe: Yeah, that was on the Friday.
Arturo: Yeah, I don't want to go there...
Santino: It was pretty grubby there. Go back there and take wet wipes and they'll all be like 'Wow, what are these?' You could make millions! I always think that... if I went back in time, I'd be like 'Fuck, what do I come up with that I know already exists that I could make money from?'
Arturo: The wet wipe though? A wet tissue... they'd all be like 'Get the fuck out of here!' I've got the Andrex ones at home and they're so beautiful.
Joe: Yeah, they've got a slight perfume to them.
Arturo: And they're only a pound for 42.
Joe: I know how to ask for wet wipes in 7 different languages.
You're sorted for this tour then...
Santino: People will be asking about all of the stuff we have, 'Is it merch?' 'No it's wet wipes.'
Joe: Wholls branded wet wipes as well... wipe your arse with our face.
Arturo: You know what you need to invent... you know how you can get dry shampoo and when your hair is dirty you can clean it with a spray? What if you could get a spray that you could clean your pants and socks with!
Santino: Yeah, it's called Febreze...
You've become renowned for your high-powered live performances... do you think your shows illustrate a completely different side to the band than we hear on studio recordings, and in turn do you find it relatively easy to translate your studio tracks into the live setting?
Santino: There was a time where we'd recorded a load of stuff and then we started playing it live and realized it was a lot heavier and a lot more powerful live and we hadn't quite captured that sound straight away. Recently over these last few months we've been back in the studio trying to relay guitars and drums and things like that to try and emulate a bit more of what we do live.
Arturo: It's close now. Obviously you're never gonna get that buzz that you get from seeing people in real life as opposed to just listening but it is close.
Joe: On the album, we've recorded some live stuff as well. Potentially... basically... We want to incorporate an element of the live stuff into the album so it may or may not be on there...
Arturo: We've added loads of Joe bum notes in there so that it sounds like it's live!
Joe: They're funny guys!
Leeds festival in 2014 was my first 'proper' experience of a music festival, and I've been back every year since. What was the experience of playing Reading and Leeds last year like for you?
Daniel: Amazing! We loved it. Unforgettable.
Arturo: Reading especially had a wicked crowd... apparently we had one of the biggest crowds that BBC Introducing had over the full weekend, and we made the highlights reel. It was just such a good gig.
Joe: Everything fell into place. We were doing Leeds the next day so we did Reading, then we came home, slept overnight and then went to Leeds the next day. When we got home, we stuck on the TV to watch highlights from the day at Reading and then bam... all of a sudden, The Wholls were on!
Santino: And it sounded so much fatter than when we were actually playing live.
Joe: That's the thing... when you're up on stage, our on-stage sound is never the same. What we hear is completely different to what you hear out front. We know when we play well, but it's down to front of house as to whether what we play comes out the best way.
Arturo: To all of the sound engineers that might be reading... it's true that without you, we sound shit.
If you could live inside a movie or television show, which would you choose and why?
Arturo: Goodfellas. It's some cool gangster shit isn't it.
Santino: Who would you be... Tommy? You get shot, man! I think I'd be mates with Vinny Chase in Entourage. I'd be part of his posse.
Joe: I'd be Jack Burton in Big Trouble In Little China. It's cool because it's Kurt Russell, but he's cool in anything... I'd just follow Kurt Russell around.
Daniel: I'd be in The Jungle Book. I'd be little Mowgli. I'm a massive fan. Anything jungle or nature, really.
Is there any moment in your careers so far, perhaps a particular song in your back catalogue or a certain show that you've played, that you're either especially proud of or feel has been integral to getting you where you are today?
Arturo: I'd say that Reading gig. BBC Introducing and Radio 1 really, giving us a little step up. Since that, we've been signed by Sony... which helps!
Santino: We're still waiting on the PS4's though!
Joe: It definitely gives you confidence... it's like with anything, if you go out and do your hair or whatever and someone pays you a nice compliment, it's human nature isn't it that compliments make you feel good. So something like that is a huge compliment that someone who could cherry pick anyone chose us. We've played with some great bands who we think are amazing who haven't had that support.
Finally... what's next for The Wholls?
Santino: Lots of shows to get us out there.
Arturo: Staying alive on the European tour.
Joe: It's a lot of dates as well, we've never slept on a tour bus before... we've always travelled to and from gigs and stayed in towns, so this is essentially four weeks with four days off.
Arturo: Lots of different places, it's gonna be cool. It'll be interesting to see what happens... we might fucking hate eachother after a couple of weeks and dissolve the band.
Santino: I really will have to create a time machine and take the wet wipes back!
Joe: That's the very near future, and that will really determine what happens throughout the rest of the Summer. We want to get as many festivals in as we can, and it'd be great to get a UK headline tour later on in the year, or another good support tour in the UK. Definitely releases... 100%. We've got videos and songs that we haven't put out yet.
Arturo: The album is finished, the artwork is finished... it's literally done. We haven't got it yet but we've made it, so all of the components have been put together.
Joe: That moment when we get our album back... it's going to feel great. I'm getting goosebumps now! We've been playing together for 5 or 6 years, so it's been a long dream but we've put everything into it.