Express & Star

Unsigned band WOUNDEDSPiRiT talk about their career so far

Not every Unsigned artist is a teenager with dreams of world tours and YouTube stardom.

WOUNDEDSPiRiT, from left, Terry Ebanks, Elton McTaggart, Debbie Partridge, Jason Kelly and Steve ‘Biggsy’ Biggs

Some of our finest musicians have been here, doing it for themselves for a long time. They've watched the music scene evolve around them and countless bands come and go as tides and tastes change.

One such group is WOUNDEDSPiRiT - a band with nearly 30 years' experience and their hearts still firmly planted in West Bromwich. So much so, that their latest video for single 11Months3Weeks6Days was shot at Albion's Hawthorns home.

"We formed in 1989 out of my mom and dad's pub in West Bromwich called The Windsor Castle, on Sams Lane. We still have the four original members," said frontman and vocalist Jason Kelly, 47, who now lives in Rowley Regis with his wife and two daughters working as a regional training manager for JD Wetherspoon.

Jason is joined by drummer Elton McTaggart, 44, from West Bromwich, who is an NHS general transport driver. Guitarist Steve 'Biggsy' Biggs is 48 and from Walsall - now living in Featherstone - and is a lorry driver, while 44-year-old bassist Terry Ebanks is a father of three and an orders and export co-ordinator from West Bromwich.

And supplying keyboards and vocals is Debbie Partridge - Jason's cousin - a 47-year-old admin assistant who joined the band in 1993. Debbie is from Wednesbury but now lives in Kingswinford with her husband and two boys.

Last year saw them release 11Months3Weeks6Days with the video shot at the home of The Albion. It received airtime across the globe, bringing the band to a wider fanbase and reaching No1 on the Reverbnation UK Charts.

"We are all WBA fans apart from Debbie, who leans more towards Walsall FC," adds Jason. "The Albion Foundation (WBA's charity arm) have been a great support to us, they arranged for us to shoot the video at the Hawthorns which was an amazing experience.

"We hope to present them with a cheque for a percentage of the sales from our upcoming album when we promote it at the club's Fanzone on March 31."

And releasing singles is something the band have become used to over the years.

"Our first single Alone (Without You) came out in 1995. This was self funded, it achieved minimal national airplay, gave us a chance to play Europe, but not enough success to sustain a full-time career.

"We disbanded in 2000, no fall out, our family came first and being able to support them. We then reformed in August 2016, the idea was a one-off gig but we realised we had not achieved the reason why we started a band back in 1989 - to have an album released.

"Our style and direction has changed with age, when we started the band it was all about play live, get famous, any negative criticism we would take personally. We failed to plan, we did not have a strategy to follow.

"Our direction now is very planned, we can deal with criticism because we know not everybody will like what we do. If we love what we do and that comes across in our performance then I believe other people will also love what we do. Those who don't, then that's okay as well."

Their indie, stadium pop-rock groove may have evolved over the years, but what about those around them? Have Jason and the team seen a shift in the music bands play as a whole?

"Has the local music scene changed for the better or worse? I'm not the person to judge that," admits Jason. "But what I will say is there is a lot of opportunity for people who are willing to get out there and be heard and have realistic goals.

"The facts are you will play in front of one man and his dog, should your performance waiver because of this? No, you never know who that one person is. Plus playing live is better than any practice. Learn your craft, put your songs out there, don't be upset if nobody claps or cheers. To be successful you have to believe in yourself before anybody else will."

WOUNDEDSPiRiT aren't precious, worried about sharing their space with fellow acts - old or new.

"I would look at open mic nights which are plentiful, build up relationships with other bands for support slots," he said. "Be nice, nobody will book an a***hole. Look for venues that suit your style of music, aim for regular spots in pubs to build your fan base. Do the odd cover that fits your style of music.

"Don't record a demo until the song is ready, the hard work is in the rehearsal studio and recording can be expensive. But most of all don't give up, it only takes one 'yes'.

"For my generation, pick up your guitars out of the attic, or keyboards. Listen to your old demo cassette tape and think...'why not, let's get the band back together'."

That one-off show Jason mentioned sparked a crescendo of calls from their fanbase for WOUNDEDSPiRiT to get back together permanently. They eventually listened to those calls, and they don't plan on leaving their supporters wanting more once again after the release of 11Months3Weeks6Days.

"On February 10 we play the Claptrap in Stourbridge. Our debut album comes out on March 9. We will launch the album at a Robin 2 show on March 17, with support from Marlowsounds, Amoeba Teen and Har-Q. The Robin 2 gig will be recorded live and hopefully come out as a live album in the autumn with a DVD of the gig."

And it doesn't stop there.

"We also plan to shoot a video in West Bromwich town centre of our song Love Is By My Side off the new album. We have potential festival dates for the summer and we will also be performing at West Bromwich Town Hall with the people's orchestra. We will also plan for a follow up album for 2019."

For more on any of these live dates or to find out more on the group visit their website at or search for them on Facebook at or Twitter @WoundedSpirit1