Nancy Wilson burns down the barn with Roadcase RoyaleStephen Daniels December 6, 2018 0 COMMENTS
As the guitarist for Heart, Nancy Wilson has long been a part of the pantheons of rock. She and her sister, Ann Wilson, were pioneers of women’s involvement in rock and were recognized for their accomplishments in 2013 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With Heart on what seems to be an indefinite hiatus, Wilson has formed a group with former Prince band member and singer Liv Warfield. The new band is called Roadcase Royale, and they released their first full-length album, “First Things First,” last year. Roadcase Royale will be playing The Canyon in Santa Clarita on the evening of Dec. 7 at 9:00 p.m.
The Proclaimer: Where do you see yourself in rock history?
Nancy Wilson: Over the last few decades that we’ve been writing, performing and recording, it’s been really cool to see the shift of the perception of Heart. At the very beginning it was kind of weird for some to see two really strong women up on stage with men in a rock band. Some fans were even saying: “How do you maintain your femininity and rock like that at the same time?”
Then when the ’80s exploded into the MTV era, it was a completely different stylistic impression that people had of us because of the videos and the big hair and the sexy outfits. It completely shifted the perception of who we were. After a while people were even asking if I really played the guitar or if it was just a prop in the videos. Then, in the ’90s, our first couple of lifetimes had sort of fizzled so we ended up going back to Seattle and playing with members of the grunge scene. They became our friends and, being in our hometown, I think that’s where we started building a strong reputation as real musicians after having been around long enough and continuing to make music, touring and just showing up and doing it loud and proud.
I’ve read interviews where both you and your sister Ann were somewhat frustrated with your ’80s period. Can you tell me why?
It was tough for us artistically. We had come out of the late ’70s and had written songs that were not real commercial but were well received fan favorites and album cuts that were more creatively gutsy. They weren’t just about relationships or puppy stuff. We felt like we were being relegated like all the rock bands at the time. There was a push to play songs by LA’s stable of songwriters and have pop singles with the big bombastic ballads – some of which are still beautiful songs – but I think it felt a little forced and because of MTV, the image was so important too. I think the corporatization of rock in the ’80s got tough for us to live with but the end of the decade so we kind of broke free and went back to Seattle and did our side project called the Lovemongers.
Tell me about your relationship with the Seattle music scene.
We sort of got really close with a lot of that scene with the beginning of the explosion of bands like Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. We were so scared at first that they were going to think of us as some MTV has-been hair band, but we had some mutual friends and when Andrew Wood died, we got to know all those guys really well and bonded with them. That’s when my husband at the time was making the movie “Singles” and we all became really close. We were just relieved that they didn’t hate us.
What can you say about your new project, Roadcase Royale? How did it come together?
Heart was playing two nights at the Hollywood Bowl and we needed someone to open. Someone said we had to check out Liv Warfield. So we did and she was just incredible. Her voice, her energy. She’s just this amazing experience all around with an incredible energy and presence to her that’s really mindblowing. So we asked her to open for us and she did and it was a great match up for us and a great friendship develop from it. Then, Anne was going to go out and do her own thing so I said to Liv, “Why don’t we try some stuff?” We got together with my guys from Heart and Liv had her guitarist Ryan and we just took a big leap of faith. It just created this great sound. It’s a fun rock and soul thing.
What can we expect from the show on Friday?
We put on a really powerful show. We burn the barn down basically and we also have some delicate moments as well like when we do “These Dreams.” Liv is just a force that I’m always pinching myself to just be standing next to her. I’ve always loved my sister, Ann’s voice too. She’s one of the best singers there is but Liv is too, in a different way.
Are there any current female rockers that you admire these days?
There a lot more of females in bands. Writers and singers like Chvrches and Haim. I only feel relieved that there is more of them these days. It’s like, what took so long? Just to get women out there in the front. I think it’s a rare occurrence. Up until recently there has been such an emphasis for women to be at home and be nest builders. It’s an interesting dynamic for a women to choose to be a rocker and I applaud any woman who chooses to go there.
What is the status of Heart right now? I know that you and Ann had had a bit of a falling out.
Family is blood and it’s thicker than water. We’ve always loved each other and we will always love each other. Enough time has gone by and enough water has passed under the bridge. Ultimately, the past is dust. You live forward and not by looking back. We’re in touch and talking. It’s good. We met up and had a nice conversation in person recently. We’re asking each other, “What could the future be like?” So there are a lot of discussions right now and it’s all good, I’m happy to report.
Can you tell me what the future for Nancy Wilson is?
There’s some talk about Heart right now but even if Heart does go out again, I’d still have Roadcase Royale all the way. That would definitely not end. It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done because of the level of friendship, musicianship and support. It’s been life changing for me. And we’ve been working on a TV series project that’s about to start. I’m just keeping my options open to everything.