High Hopes: Wilson

There are many valid reasons for starting a band. The one given by Chad Nicefield, frontman for Detroit hard rockers Wilson, may not be the most noble we’ve heard but it’s certainly one of the most fun.

“The band was started purely to get free beer while Jason [Spencer, guitar] was at college. We were playing house parties and college bars, and the band naturally evolved from there. We got our name when somebody was like: ‘Hey, you’ve got a band, right? We’re putting on a show. What name do you want on the flyer?’ Jason, being a little intoxicated, said: ‘Just put fuckin’ Wilson on it, man.’”

The band – completed by guitarist Kyle Landry, bassist James Lascu and drummer Matt Puhy – have a sound to match those beer-swigging formative days, as heard throughout their primal debut, the gloriously to-the-point Full Blast Fuckery. Musically the record is somewhere between Airbourne, Motörhead and Soundgarden. Lyrically, however, is something else, as song titles like College Gangbang and Viking Pussies Can Fuck Off attest to.

We spoke to Nicefield on the day the band’s second album, Right To Rise, was released. While musically it is as beautifully brutal as ever, the chuckle-raising song titles are gone. Have Wilson gone all grown-up on us? Not so, says Nicefield.

“If you put out a record, you would hope that in the natural progression of life you would have made leaps and bounds as a person two years later. I still like titties and beer, but there’s other things that are in play that are important to me – a lot of which I need to do in order to enjoy titties and beer.”

One thing they’ve done over the two-year Full Blast Fuckery cycle is define what they are – and how they sound. And Right To Rise is a better record for it.

“A few years ago we would say: ‘Oh, that idea doesn’t sound Motörhead-y enough,’ whereas now we’ll say: ‘That doesn’t sound Wilson enough,’” Nicefield says. “The first time I said that, the guys were like: ‘Did you just refer to us sounding like our own band?!”

Given the ferocity of tracks such as Guilty (You’re Already Dead) and Give ‘Em Hell, when Chad describes the record as “like there’s a crosshair where we’re hitting you and it’s straight in your nuts”, we’re inclined to agree. But in these tough times for up-and-coming bands, you need more than just songs that hit hard in the family jewels. And while Nicefield admits frustration at seeing indie pop acts jump from nobodies to arena-fillers after one hit, he doesn’t have an axe to grind about the work he and his bandmates are putting in as they try to climb the ladder.

“I’m not putting out a record and getting on a tour bus, I’m putting out a record and getting in my van and trailer for the next two years. And if I happen to get a little extra room to stretch out at some point, holy crap would my mind be blown.”

FOR FANS OF: Monster Magnet

“We each have influences and we meet in the middle, mainly around 90s alternative rock like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana,” Nicefield says of their sound that strongly echoes stoner kings Monster Magnet. “I’m a product of my environment; my father introduced me to bands like Thin Lizzy, Nazareth and Black Sabbath.”

Classic Rock 214: News & Regulars

Rich Chamberlain

Rich Chamberlain has written for Classic Rock, Musicradar.com, Total Guitar, Nuts, FourFourTwo, Billboard, Classic Rock Presents The Blues and Classic Rock Presents Country.