On first glance, Detroit’s Wilson appear to be a bunch of guys in Neverland – if the lost boys were fully grown rock n rollers and not kids in rags. But further than that, Wilson are a band ready to attack, with a ferocious sound and even wilder live shows.
I caught up with them just before the last show of their UK tour…
How would you describe your sound to an outsider?
James: I would just say really heavy, balls-to-the-wall, fun rock n roll.
Jason: I’ve heard AC/DC on steroids before, that’s something I keep saying.
Your music is very much a fusion of elements, so who are your influences?
Jason: I’m all over the place; I’ve been listening to everything from PVRIS, to Metallica, to Deftones, to Meshuggah.
James: Jason and I are definitely more into heavier music than the other guys are, not to say that’s all we listen to; I would say we’re definitely the ‘metal-guys’.
Jason: But us metal-guys are sweethearts. We’re metal-guys with soft, supple hearts (laughing).
James: Yeah, soft in the right places…
Your live shows usually seem crazy, have you had any bad injuries on tour before?
James: Surprisingly not bad injuries. There have been times though, I recall one incident with Jason where I was, just…I don’t know what I did, I was running and jumping in the air or something; I was half coherent, drunk, I think, and I just jumped right into him and I fucked up his hand a little bit.
How do you prepare for these crazy shows?
James: Honestly, each of us individually have our own routines. But, we all basically do the same thing. I personally am constantly stretching my fingers two or three hours before I have to play. I used to play soccer, so I do a lot of stretches for my legs, make sure everything is nice and loose. I do some mild vocal warm-ups too, like twenty minutes before…and a hundred push-ups or some weights or something to get my blood flowing.
Oh, and a little booze helps too, just a little bit though, there’s a fine line.
This is your fist UK headline tour, how does it compare to doing a supporting tour?
Jason: It’s been great! We haven’t expected this badass of an audience every night; I’m not gonna say it’s sold-out, but it’s just really dedicated people.
James: It’s one thing when you’re 3000 miles from home and people are singing the lyrics to your songs that you started in your basement or in the practice space. It’s really wild. I feel feel that UK crowds, and European crowds in general, are definitely more passionate about what’s going on with live music. I feel like people here don’t have as much trouble letting loose. I’ve been really excited about the turnout we’ve been having on this first UK headline tour. I mean, it’s the first time we’ve ever gone out here and been the last band! Which, we’re not used to! After our set I keep breaking down my gear right away and I have to say to myself, ‘wait, no one’s playing after us, I don’t need to fucking rush’! I can breathe and go talk to people and thank them for coming. It’s been really cool.
You’ve just released the music video for ‘Give ‘em Hell’ where you play an explosive game of volleyball with a bunch of kids, where on Earth did that idea come from?
James: Well generally our singer Chad (Nicefield) comes up with that sorta stuff, that’s his forte. He’s really passionate about producing and directing and that’s something he really wants to get into more. So when we wanna make a video he’s like, “you guys, what do think about this, and this, and that?” He’ll lay out a storyboard or he’ll get together with some filmmaker buddies. His ideas are usually pretty fun and cool, and that’s what our band is about.
Jason: A lot of the ideas, I think, just come from us messing around so much with each other. Like, that idea was so natural to us; I remember we tried to explain it a couple times to people like, “okay, we’re not beating up the kids” (laughs). And they’re like, “but what do you mean by kicking their ass…” They had to hear us out, because we envisioned it right away.
You seem like you don’t take yourselves too seriously, in a refreshing way. But do you find there needs to be a line between work and play?
James: There is definitely a line. We have been doing this long enough to know what side of the line to be on at the right moments. We definitely love to have fun- we do party. A lot. But I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. We don’t party all time- you can’t. I’m 32 years old for Christ sake! My back hurts and shit, I need to take it easy sometimes. We just love to have new experiences. The other day we were by the Forggarts Edge in Derbyshire and it was one the most beautiful place we’ve ever been to. We just had a blast, we were there for like five hours just fucking around. People were just looking at us like we were idiots!
You’ve done so much since the release of last year’s ‘Right To Rise’, what has been a stand out moment for you?
Jason: I think playing on a cruise ship was pretty unique, we can check that off the list. And it shouldn’t have even been on the list on the list in the beginning! And that show in Paris we just recently played , was so loud and awesome, you could just feel it. A lot of vibing going on.
So what do you do when you eventually get a break from touring?
James: We’re about to be home for month. All of us have normal jobs, we all work.
Jason: Today is Thursday, so we’ll get home tomorrow and then some of us will go back to work Saturday, definitely on Monday. And then, we’ll go back to writing songs and practice.
James: With being in a band these days, I feel like when you take a break it’s gonna come up and bite you in the ass. There’s gonna be someone younger, who’s gonna be doing something when you’re not. A big part of that keeps me driven in a subtle competitive way. You need that shit to keep you going. We always try to have bigger and better shows.
Do you guys beat yourselves up for minor mistakes?
Jason: Our drummer is probably the worst. He’ll go into like, a manic depressive state for two days! It’s really weird.
If you could have an ideal tour, go anywhere with anyone, what would it be?
James: My dream tour would be with Deftones and Meshuggah and to tour South America or Asia. That would be the coolest shit ever, cos I would just be like a little puppy dog around them all the time. Like, “hey hey, can I kiss you on the cheek pleeaassee”. Deftones are my favourite band of all time, that’s the reason I started playing music, because of Chi Cheng.
Jason: Can I go back in time? I think it would be sweet to be out with Metallica anytime between ’83 and ’86. I wouldn’t have pyro though, pyro kinda freaks me out a little bit.
James: You know those weird inflatable arm things? I want those but, giant dicks. That would be fucking awesome. Giant inflatable sex dolls or something (laughs).
Jason: We might as well put Gwar on the tour…
What are Gwar like to tour with?
Jason: They have shit, everywhere. You look to your left and there’s like, a dead Obama. Or like a dead baby thing.
James: Even like, a Jesus Christ with a cross shoved up his ass or something like that… It smells like a football locker room but when they don’t wash their equipment for a month.
Where do you see Wilson in five years time?
James: Honestly, we don’t think that far ahead. We just kinda live in the moment and try and jump on as many tours as possible.
Jason: If you’re looking at a graph…hopefully it’s going up! That’s about it, everything from there…who knows. As long as we’re having fun.
And that’s the word that sums up this band: ‘fun’. Wilson are so refreshing in showing love in what they do, and it shows throughout their set.
Devon Place – @SquadUp_