Wigan musician puts together 10-piece band during lockdown
The past 12 months have been one of the toughest times for performing artists across the country, and for Wigan’s Joe Astley it has been no different.
Like all his fellow musicians, has been unable to play for live audiences since the start of the first lockdown last March. But the Scholes resident has been not just himself busy, but other artists too, by forming a mega group of some of Wigan’s most talented acts.
Joe made headlines last year after releasing his rousing track Anthem For The North, the video for which featured many Wigan landmarks such as the Pier, the Parish Church and even a Beatles-inspired walk across the zebra crossing in King Street, the hotspot of town centre’s nightlife.
And while the lockdown has created an uncertain future for many performers, Joe admitted that it has been one of the most positive times of his life. “I was stuck at home, not gigging, and had all this time on my hands to sort out stuff that I’d really wanted to get done for quite a while,” he said.
Joe used the long lay-off to put together The Wallgate Band, a Wigan-based 10-piece comprising musicians from across Manchester.
He said: “The 10-piece had been on my mind for a while and it’s been in the pipeline, and then finally I had all this time to find the right people. I scoped them all out, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best musicians that Wigan has to offer, and they were all on board and seem to be loving the way it’s going.”
“I approached these people but made it clear that I don’t want this to get in the way of anything else they’ve got going on. I’ve put all this together and we’ve got this great thing going on. We’ve got a horn player, a sax player, a strings player etc.
“It’s given me a lot of time to write. It’s been really inspirational for me. There’s been so much to take in and not much else to do, so I’ve been writing everything down.”
The debut single is Television Fantasy and was released in January, and has already had airtime on BBC radio.
And the band is not the only thing that’s been keeping Joe busy. Last year, before Covid restrictions were increased, he recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where he played piano on a band’s EP.
The studio has hosted some legendary figures over the years, and is where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody. It has also been made iconic by the likes of Oasis, David Bowie, The Stone Roses and many more.
“It was such an incredible experience and I was even lucky enough to record one of my original tracks there,” said Joe.
“It is a natural succession from recording at Liverpool’s prestigious Parr Street a few months earlier and previously at Sun Studios in Memphis!”
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