Rising star Hannah Wicklund is only in her mid-twenties, but she's been building towards her new album for decades

Hannah Wicklund press shot
(Image credit: Jessica Christian)

Greta Van Fleet’s alcohol intake on their Starcatcher world tour, support act Hannah Wicklund was delighted when the bus pulled up in the city that caters to her own flavour of hedonism. 

“I can’t keep up with Greta’s drinking. Those boys know how to party,” admits the singer-songwriter, sitting in her dressing room at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome. “But they hold down the drinking fort, and I hold down the ‘smoking a fuck-ton of pot’ fort.” 

Don’t bet against Wicklund returning as headliner soon. Not only a mischievous interviewee, the South Carolina native is also a traffic-stopping musician, whose thundering new album The Prize is an early contender for the year-end polls of 2024. 

Wicklund plays all the instruments (except bass and drums, handled by Greta’s Sam Kiszka and Danny Wagner), leads the writing and soars valkyrie-like over the melee with a vocal that can be curl-lipped or Stevie Nicks-otherworldly. 

The Prize was the ultimate labour of love and took every ounce of my being – the cells in my body are only just starting to replenish now it’s complete,” she says of an album that spans from the rippling minor-key jazz-rock of Witness to edgy, Heartworthy rockers like Hell In The Hallway

Clearly a visionary, she admits her foibles can be infuriating. “I had this crazy idea that I wanted to do the record in 432 [Hz] tuning instead of the standard 440.”

Still in her mid-twenties, Wicklund has been building toward The Prize for decades. She began playing Beatles songs at the family piano when she was three, sang in musical theatre from five, started her band at eight, and was playing shows by age nine. By 10 she says she was “singing songs about sex and wearing black leather pants”. When high school ended early at 16, you didn’t see her for dust. 

“But I had a plethora of painful experiences within that,” she says. “My first drummer passed away from complications of a plane crash. He was on life support for months, eighty per cent of his body was third-degree burnt. It was heartbreaking. From that point I took a lot of my grief and poured it into the band.” 

Big breaks were dangled in front of her. But the deals, and the men offering them, didn’t feel quite right, and today she hints darkly at industry machinations that kept her off the road and delayed her record release. Now, beaming, she says she answers to no one. 

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, hands-down," she says. "I’ve had lots of false starts, but I decided to take my power back. I’m self-managing and self-releasing this record. And once this album cycle is over, I would love to be an active participant in changing the industry for people like myself. Because it’s just a reality that being a woman, especially in rock, is very difficult.” 

The Prize is out now via Strawberry Moon Records.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.