Interview with Scarlet Rebels: Insights from frontman Wayne Doyle

" I want us to be as successful as we can be in terms of chart positions, how many tickets we sell for shows and ultimately be able to make a modest living doing what I love doing"
31 May 2024
Photo by Rob Blackham

We recently sat down with Wayne Doyle, frontman of South Wales’ rock band Scarlet Rebels, to discuss their latest single, Grace, from the upcoming album Where The Colours Meet. With the album set for release on August 16, 2024, and the single already out, Wayne shared insights into their creative process and journey.

Scarlet Rebels continue to impress with Grace, showcasing their evolving songwriting. Following the release of Secret Drug, Grace is the s more from their upcoming album Where The Colours Meet, produced by Colin Richardson and Chris Clancy. Expect fluid guitar lines, tasteful leads, and irresistible choruses.

The band’s lineup includes Wayne Doyle on vocals and guitar, Chris Jones on lead guitar, Gary Doyle on drums, and Carl Oag on bass guitar. 

In this exclusive interview, Wayne Doyle shares the inspiration behind Grace, the band’s collaborative dynamics, and what fans can expect from their upcoming special show at Bunkhouse in Swansea.

I like the idea of what being mine is taken by someone and them making it theirs and them having their own reasons for that…

Photo by Rob Blackham

Congratulations on the release of Grace! Could you share the story behind the song and how it reflects the band’s evolution as songwriters?

My favourite songwriters have all set scenes in my head in some of their story-based songs, Bruce Springsteen in the track Jungleland references a ‘barefoot girl, sitting on the hood of a dodge,​ drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain’ which helped inspire me to try and create a similar imagery in a song. So, I tried to use that sort of imagery, setting the scene of a girl picking flowers, who laughed about the rain as it had come to wash away her gloom and darkness I was trying to tell the story about someone who had a tough past, that’s trying to break free from the shackles of it by being positive and ultimately due to that, could also be classed as the narrator’s own saving.

A lot of my favourite artists have written songs with a person’s name as the title, and I’ve always loved that idea as well. I wanted to do it slightly differently though, with the idea being that I start the verses with the name Grace and ending the chorus You could be my saving so there’s a subtle hint at what’s coming at the resolution of the song. My idea is that it sounds like I’m singing about someone called Grace, but when resolved You could be my saving Grace, the song could be about anyone…I just think it’s more rounded in the way it’s delivered and how the narrative starts and ends coming full circle at the ending of the song.

Secret Drug received acclaim and made it onto the Planet Rock playlist. How did its success influence the creation of ‘Grace’ and shape the direction of the new album?

Well, we wrote Secret Drug and Grace at the same time, so the fact they were born and matured at the exact same time and in the same space, obviously means they had an influence on each other. We had no idea that Secret Drug would be the lead track when they were written, but to see that it’s gone down so well on radio is amazing. It was the perfect opener for the new campaign and opener on the album as it blended the melody we crave with a kicking guitar riff.

Wayne, you mentioned Grace is a favourite. Can you detail the collaboration with guitarist Chris Jones and its impact on the song’s development?

CJ sent us the composition of this song a few weeks prior to us starting work on new songs, before recording demo’s and then ultimately recording them properly. I’d already written a different song called ‘Grace’ and after listening though CJ’s composition, with a few tweaks, I’d be able to use the lyrics from that older song and put them to CJ’s music. So, that’s what we did. CJ will always provide us with ideas around riffs and things that he’s come up with. it’s my job to find the melodies and lyrics to accompany anything that he does. He writes differently to me; he looks for the vibe and how a song will get people actually physically moving. Whereas I tend to write from a place of wanting to move people emotionally. When we combine the 2, it’s a winner. Which I think Grace is a good example of.

Photo by Rob Blackham

The upcoming special show for the album sounds intriguing. What can fans anticipate from this live experience, and why is playing the album in full significant?

It’s significant because it’s likely to not happen again…Not in the order of the track listing from the album and doing a show with every single track on an album is probably going to be rare as we have other tracks which people expect to hear at our shows as well. People can expect to have an intimate show, where we will have the time to explain about the songs before we play them and also get the chance to spend some time with the band. It’s going to be great.

With influences like Bruce Springsteen, how do they come alive in your music, especially in Grace, and what narratives do you aim to convey to your audience?

He’s got the knack of being able to create scenes and pictures in your head through his songs. I’ve always thought some of the storylines in his song would translate really well to films or something. He’s also got a way of writing about things that touch and resonate with me (and millions of others clearly!) It just inspires me to try and do the same and to be able to write words and melodies that whilst they might mean something to me, can mean something totally different to them but being able to touch them in the same way.

With the release of Where The Colours Meet approaching, what are your aspirations for the album, and how do you envision its reception by both your existing fanbase and new listeners?

My aspirations are for it to be the album that changed the trajectory of the band, I want us to be as successful as we can be in terms of chart positions, how many tickets we sell for shows and ultimately be able to make a modest living doing what I love doing. But as an album, once it’s out and been soaked in by people, I hope they can acknowledge us as a really good band that writes songs that mean a lot to people and it will be an album they come back too for years to come. I’m really proud of it as a piece of work. It’s the best set of songs I feel we and I have ever written.

If you could tour alongside any musicians, living or deceased, who would be your dream collaborators and why?

Bruce Springsteen, cos he’s the GOAT for me. As a live act, it’s just 3 plus hours of nothing but joy…And from someone who isn’t afraid to write about social matters and call out right and wrong. He manages to tread the finest of lines but does it flawlessly. Tom Petty as well is a huge hero of mine, again, he just writes amazing songs and had the ability to write lyrics and melodies that just touched me. I love early Bon Jovi as well, the Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora era and listening to them sing together was magic.

What initially sparked your passion for music, and what continues to drive you forward in the industry?

Listening to Queen in the car when I was a child with my parents, I think. I just remember asking for a guitar one day. I don’t know why, it just intrigued me. When I came home from school the next day, there was a little ¾ guitar waiting for me at home. I think I was around 8 years old maybe, so as you can imagine, I asked for stuff all the time…But this one day, I came home, and my parents had sorted one for me and encouraged me to learn it and have encouraged me to chase the music dreams for my whole life. And that’s what drives me, I guess. The want to prove to people wrong, who sneered at me for years as well as prove the people right who stood by me and stood tall for me when I needed it.

Which artists or bands have left a lasting impact on your musical style and creative approach?

Without harping on about anyone I’ve mentioned above…Tim Hamill of Sonic One Studios in Llanelli, who we recorded the first 2 Scarlet Rebels albums with and all of the V0iD albums with. He’s just so insanely talented as a musician and I learnt loads from him, just by being in his presence and watching him work and taking his ideas and advice on board. Chris Clancy and Colin Richardson who produced Where The Colours Meet were also really interesting to work with and provided insight into things that helped me grow as a songwriter and artist.

What message or emotions do you hope your music leaves with listeners, and what do you ultimately aim to communicate through your songs?

The main thing is to touch people for me. I mean there are songs where I’ve called out the Government for things that I’ve seen and where I’m stating what I think. They’re self-explanatory…

But having songs that will make people feel a certain way when listening to them, whether it evokes good or bad memories and maybe the songs being a coping mechanism. I like the idea of what being mine is taken by someone and them making it theirs and them having their own reasons for that…