From playing at a barbecue to 65 people in their back garden in 2006, to supporting Status Quo at Holkham Hall in front of more than 8,000 last summer, the rise of Redgrave rockers Walkway has been meteoric – and they’re not finished yet.
Walkway – which comprises Chris Ready (vocals/rhythm guitar), James Ready (lead guitar/backing vocals), Alex Rosedale (bass/backing vocals) and Joe Evans (drums/backing vocals) – are starting to make big strides in the music industry after forming in 2006.
Despite all of the members of the band being no older than 25, they have an impressive résumé; they have supported the likes of Status Quo, The Darkness and Black Stone Cherry; have a range of endorsements, from Orange to Roland and Aguilar; have appeared on Radio 2, BBC Radio Suffolk, and have been mentioned on Planet Rock.
From humble beginnings, Walkway have gained a nationwide following. Dubbed the ‘Walkway Family’, they have numerous contacts around the country, happy for the band to stay after shows to save on hotel costs.
“On my microwave we have got a key for somebody’s house in Stafford we can go to whenever we want,” said band manager, and father to James and Chris, Michael Ready.
Initially formed as Top Shelf Content in 2006, featuring brothers Chris and James, and friend Alex, all from Redgrave, problems with the drummer followed shortly after their formation. Needing a “fresh start”, they renamed themselves Walkway in 2007. Their original name became the title for their first album, while their latest offering, Streetwise, was released last year.
Despite going through a number of drummers, Joe, of Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, joined towards the end of 2012 to complete the current incarnation.
“We all started off, and had the same dream,” explained former Hartismere School student Chris. “Dad said that he thought there was something special, so he has taken us on from there and it has just got more and more serious.
“We have not just got the belief that we want to do it, but that we can do it.
“When we were Top Shelf Content, that’s when we were learning the covers to get our foot in the door. Then when we became Walkway that’s when I think we thought we would start writing some stuff, and it has progressed from there really.”
Although they have supported some big bands, it is not all glitz and glamour – yet. Each band member has a job as well as gigging at the weekends. Last year, they played 112 shows and expect to play a similar number this year.
There has been much sacrifice, too. Michael gave up his job at Mondi in Pulham St Mary seven years ago to be the full-time manager, while the others concede social lives, friendships and relationships have all suffered as a result of pursuing their dreams.
“If we get where we want to, you have then got the dream job,” said Chris. “Not everyone gets the chance to do this, so you have to make sacrifices for it. But we all want to do it. Myself, James and dad put in probably about 150 hours a week (for the band).”
Perhaps their biggest break came in the summer of 2012, when a persistent Michael got the band on the bill at Thetford Forest, supporting The Darkness and Black Stone Cherry.
“It was quite a hectic thing really,” explained Chris. “We had seen Thetford had announced The Darkness were playing about eight or nine months prior to the date.
“Dad basically sent off a load of stuff and was constantly going at them saying ‘we would love to do it’.
“That was the first year Sonisphere Festival got cancelled and we then saw on Facebook Thetford announced they had got a very big American band, who were supposed to be at Sonisphere, were going to be supporting The Darkness, so we thought ‘nah, that’s us out of it’, and it turned out to be Black Stone Cherry.
“The gig was on the Saturday, and Dad phoned up on the Monday of that week and gave it one last go, and they basically said ‘you are not going to get it. Dad said, ‘please, give it one more shot’.
“Half an hour later, they called back and said we had got the gig.
“We literally had five days to rehearse a set, possibly less.
“I spoke to Frankie (Poullain), the bassist from The Darkness, and he said they were backstage at the Sonisphere Festival in France and our video, they watched it, and basically said ‘that’s the band to support us at Thetford’.”
What was the feeling before walking out for the biggest gig of their lives, in front of 6,500 people?
“I don’t tend to get that nervous, I just get really excited,” said bassist Alex.
“I would probably describe it like you are about to go on a rollercoaster; you know it is going to be really, really fun, really exhilarating, but you just really want to get on it.”
James added: “I don’t think any of us were nervous as such.
“We obviously had never done anything on that pedestal before so we didn’t really know what to expect.
“Because we had such short notice, we weren’t quite as prepared as we would have liked to have been.”
Chris said it gave the band a ‘taste’, and added hunger, of where they want to be.
But could 2015 be the year they hit the mainstream?
Last year the band supported Status Quo at Holkham Hall, and will again support the legendary rockers for a further three gigs this year.
“This is a business,” added Michael. “This is not a normal band, like my band (Back Street).
“We are working with some very high-end professional people, and they expect nothing less than the best, otherwise they won’t work with you. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in it.”
Chris said: “I’ve got every faith we could be the next big rock band in the world, I’ve got no doubt about it. I think there is a gap in the market.
“If you don’t believe it, then you would never do it.
“The year is looking very, very exciting for us. I think we have got a lot of people working for the band which have the belief we have.”
n Walkway will be performing at Diss Cue Club on Friday, April 24. Free entry, 9pm start, over 18s only, arriving early is advised