Think of Kelowna and you think of an idyllic central British Columbia vacation hotspot blessed with stunning Okanagan lakes, vineyards, fruit trees and that dodgy Ogopogo monster – but classic blues rock! – Not so much. But here’s a warning!, hide your daughters people because Kelowna rock band, The Wild! are about to invade your neighbourhood.
Don’t believe me! Ask eOne Music Canada’s A&R chief, Nathan Quinn who was foolish enough to accept an offer to party with the quartet after they signed with the Toronto-based label. Quinn returned to the office the following day sporting one helluva hang-over…and a broken arm!
“We didn’t even know it had happened until we found out the following day,” reported lead vocalist/guitarist Dylan Villain. “Nathan had been partying with us at Cherry Cola’s (a Toronto club), we had left and when he followed us out, he tripped on the stairs in the dark going to the washroom and fell down every one of them.”
Dylan Villain, bassist Boozus, and drummer Reese Lightning have been together in Kelowna for the past 11 years, mainly in a band called Bucknife with three other individuals, before moving forward as a trio three years ago, re-naming themselves Wild!
Born in Dryden Ontario, Dylan Villain first moved to Toronto before relocating in Kelowna. Formerly in a series of punk rock and heavy metal bands, Villain was conscious that he had a knack for writing anything Southern-blues sounding. “Southern-style blues based playing has always come naturally to me and I’ve always been playing that style of guitar even though I was in a punk rock or metal band.”
Villain solved this dilemma when he relocated out to Kelowna. “I attended this house party with a band playing and I walked around and I told the guys in the band playing at the house party that I wanted them to be in the band I was starting. Two of those guys were Lightning & Boozus. His initial band evolved into the six-member Bucknife outfit which became a staple around central B.C, but when this lineup began to lose momentum, Villain took the drummer (Lightning) and the bassist (Boozus) and reformed as a trio. “I said, hey, I’ve still got some material, do you guys wanna keep going? and they said yeah”.
It was the recording of a track called Road House, recorded in 2012 which got the snowball rolling. Vancouver’s Stuey Kubrick shot a colourful video of the band, drinking, partying and carousing with a bunch of female line-dancers. That video went viral, pulling 10,000 hits the first week, 20,000 the next and kept growing from that point on.
“Definitely a game changer,” agreed Villain. “A lot of it had to do with the content. We had a great time shooting it. So many people thought we had shot it in Texas when we actually shot in the desert around Osoyoos, ( located just south of Penticton)”
Using that video as a calling card, The Wild! Attracted the attention of several local concert promoters as well as industry veteran Lyle Chausse who agreed to be their manager. Chausse who had worked in the music industry with Sony and EMI, and even hosted his own hard rock radio show on Vancouver’s CFOX F.M was impressed enough by the band’s potential to draw on his industry contacts to interest top producer Mike Fraser.
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“I grew up listening to every record this guy has produced,” enthused Villain of Fraser’s credits which include producing AC/DC, Aerosmith and Van Halen. “And to think, this guy want’s to work with us.”
So what attracted The Wild! to Chausse’s attention? “They are well rehearsed, they know their set well, it’s all very,very well played,” he informed on the phone from his Vancouver office. “There are moments that are so well strategized, little things that just create the moment, that get you thinking, `how fucking cool was that’”.
Still without a record label, The Wild! took every gig that was offered to raise the money and even launched a crowd-funding campaign which scored them an extra $9,000 to enable them to record a seven-song EP. Holding off on releasing the record until they had shopped a deal, the stars started to align when The Agency president, Ralph James, heard about the band from Chausse, booked them an audition at Vancouver’s Roxy Theatre, flew out from Toronto and signed them on the spot.
“It’s great to have an agent who is not only the president of that agency but someone who has also been in a band (James was formerly the bassist for Harlequin),” noted Villain.” When you are going through shit, he knows what you are going through, good & bad, all of it, he’s been there ”
Next in line was eOne Music Canada who scooped up the band to their rapidly developing roster of new talent that also includes Gloryhound and Die Mannequin. “We just got along instantly with those guys,” enthused Villain. “They totally understand what we’re about and they haven’t asked us to change a thing about who we are.”
With Road House triggering initial support from the likes of the Jason Ellis Show on Sirius Radio, Power Radio 104.7 in Kelowna and even from Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, owner of New York-based Wreckroom Records who posted a link to his twitter feed, there’s a lot of anticipation over their debut seven-track EP titled `GxDxWxB’ which is an acronym for God Damn Wild Boys.[quote]People keep telling me that rock is dead, If that’s the case, why do people keep coming to our shows[/quote]
Bolstered by the addition of fourth member, rhythm guitarist Pistol Pete, The Wild! impress with fiery, frenetic rock numbers like “Party ‘ Til You’re Dead”, “Straight To Hell” “Banger” and “Roadhouse” which are off-set by more mid-temp arrangements like the bluesy “What About You”, “Deuces” and the infectious “Slow Burn” which is currently scoring serious airplay action across the country
With their debut EP about to drop, The Wild! Is about to head east to perform at Rock 94.9 FM’s `The Gen Next’ showcase at Canadian Music Week on Friday May 8th at The Phoenix Concert Theatre and Villain is confident that new bands like The Wild! are injecting new blood into the industry.
“People keep telling me that rock is dead, If that’s the case, why do people keep coming to our shows,” queried The Wild! front man. “We like to think we’re all about having a good time. We go hard, we get a little crazy off stage, but on stage and in the studio, I like to think we are focused.”