By Keith Sharp
To get a read on what Kelowna B.C’s The Wild! are all about, you need to go no further than check out the video for the band’s debut single “Ready To Roll” off their latest record release ‘Wild At Heart’.
Yes there are the usual hard rock elements; women, booze, guns, cars. Yet this “Fast And Furious” themed video, helmed by Stuey Kubrick, also features lead vocalist/guitarist Dylan Villain, guitarist `The Kid’, bassist Boozus and drummer Reese Lightning perched precariously on the roof of an RV, zipping down a desert highway at 70 kilometres per hour, performing without the aid of safety harnesses and certainly bereft of stunt men.
“You could say there is no one else who shoots videos like us,” laughs Villain before heading out to Saskatoon to conclude a brief headline tour of the Prairies. ” In any type of art form, if you can create something that hasn’t been done by other people, then that’s amazing.”
The Wild! set the tone for creative videos when they launched their 2014 debut GxD WxB (God Damned Wild Boys) with the video for “Roadhouse”, a colourful vignette that reflected the essence of the band’s live hard, rock hard persona.
“The success of that video really set us up, it reflected what the band is all about. It turned people’s heads, there was nothing about that video that was contrived,” Villain reflected. “When we released that video, people started to pay attention. I took a step back and thought, Wow! we’ve really got something here.”
But in starting to plan for their follow up release, the challenge for the band was how to top that previous Roadhouse effort. “So we had this idea about performing on top of an RV, no harnesses, just the band on top of the vehicle driving down the highway,” Villain allowed. “Probably, the most dangerous thing we’ve ever done but it’s not like we had an unlimited budget to fake any of it, and besides, that’s not who we are. It’s something that separates us from the pack.”
Working with ace Canadian producer Mike Fraser, who lists production credits with AC/DC, Rush and Aerosmith, it’s hardly surprising that The Wild!’s sound reflects the pure essence of guitar rock. Yes there is a strong AC/DC influence, especially on riff heavy songs like “White Devil”, “Another Bottle” and “Down At The Bottom”, but you also find elements of Lynyrd Skynrd and ZZ Top as well as a strong blues presence of classic bands like Humble Pie. All of these elements go into a blender with the resulting aural smoothie producing The Wild!s unique sound and presence.
“I am not a poet, I don’t write lyrical ideas or have a vast collection of words stashed away,” Villain explained about his songwriting prowess. “I am always thinking about new guitar riffs and arrangements, I am never short of ideas. There are so many things coming out of me that I can quickly tell if something is not working, so I can put it that aside and go on to something else”.
“As for lyrics, they come out of a feeling I have for the arrangements,” Villain continued. “With most rock bands, lyrics aren’t really important. When most songs are performed on stage in front of a loud crowd, you can’t understand what the lyrics are anyway – poets rarely sell out concerts!”
Villain allowed that touring constantly off that first record allowed him to observe what elements of the band’s songs worked with their audience, what people reacted too , what worked, what didn’t and his response to those reactions was filtered into the new tracks.
Touring the United States twice, first with Airbourne and then with Buck Cherry and Sebastian Bach, The Wild! were able to road-test the new material and came to an obvious conclusion that hard rock is still alive and well.
“(Kiss bassist) Gene Simmons may claim that Rock is dead but we are proof that this isn’t the case,” challenged Villain. “When we were in the States touring with Airbourne and Buck Cherry all we saw were kids who love rock music and it’s the same all over the world. Our new album got rave reviews from Revolver and Classic rock magazines in Sweden and Germany. They love us over there, we are selling a shit load of records off our website.”
With a great production, management and agency team behind them and a record that totally kicks ass, Villain is biting at the bit to get back out on the road in a headline capacity with a likelihood of major European activity planned for sometime this year.
“With everything going for us, if we fuck this up it will be our fault. But the way this band is right now, I can’t see how we can fuck things up,” Villain declared. “I’ve got everything happening in my corner, now it’s time to go to work.”