Following a successful tour of the UK with Halestorm last year, Detroit party animals Wilson are back on our shores once more.
Wilson is currently on their first headline tour of the UK in support of the sophomore album Right To Rise.Â Earlier this week and to coincide with the start of the tour, the band released the second video from the album in the shape of “Give ‘Em Hell.”
National Rock Review recently caught up with Wilson’s guitarist Jason Spencer whilst on tour in the UK to talk about the band’s new album, what it’s like touring with Halestorm and their plans for the rest of the year.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
Jason Spencer: Of course.
NRR: You have been out on the road across Europe recently with Halestorm. I know you guys have a special relationship with them. What’s it like touring with Halestorm?
Jason Spencer: It’s great, the band and their crew are some of the best people we have ever toured with. I mean when you show up their arms are pretty much wide open, whatever you need, whenever you need it. You know like they’ll let you shower in their shower before they even see it.
They’re just genuine people and they haven’t forgotten where they came from, that means a lot to a band like us. You know our first tour over here was with them, they are such a good band to introduce us to the stuff over here with. They are giving us some tips on things to not do, what to do, you know even like the power situation on stage … ok, you don’t want to plug that in here, you are going to fry your fucking pedals. You know they are great people, it’s been an honour to be out with them twice now.
NRR: You just started your UK tour earlier this week in Wolverhampton. How have the shows been going so far?
Jason Spencer: Great, it’s been amazing seeing you know people singing the words. EspeciallyÂ because we haven’t done a proper headliner over here until now and we’re playing some of our old stuff. Some of these people it’s the first time seeing those songs and they know all the words and they are jumping around, they’ve got the Wilson t-shirts that are almost two years old now (laughing). I forgot we even made that shirt. Yeah, they’ve been great man, I can’t ask for anything more.
NRR: What’s been the highlight of the European tour so far?
Jason Spencer: The highlight …man, not the headache I’ve had like every single day. I don’t know man, just being on the road with your best friends, especially being with Halestorm again, just knowing everybody, knowing the crew really well.
I would definitely say Paris out of the shows was probably the coolest, most outrageous show ever. They were just really into it and that venue is amazing, I think it’s called Le Trianon. It’s cool because in Paris you know they do the stomp and the claps and it’s just you feel it on stage. It’s almost like an awesome frightening feeling, it’s just like is the venue going to fall apart but it was great, it was awesome.
NRR: I understand you guys also pranked Halestorm on stage in Germany, is that right?
Jason Spencer: Yes, they did prank us first. So for them, they filled Chad’s drumsticks with salami. So he comes out with the big marching drum, he was smacking it and I guess he started smelling the spices in the meat (laughing), he was like what the fuck is this, and then he got hit with a piece of salami.
I turned around because I was feeling something kind of whizzing by and like a piece of wet thing and a piece of salami fell on the back of my head and kneck. So James our bass player he went out in a Minions costume that our good friend Maggie from the UK gave us. He went out and danced with them.
It wasn’t the first time we pranked Halestorm, we went out in our underwear a couple of times (laughing) and played alongside Lzzy, that was interesting.
NRR: You also visited Cliff Burton’s memorial in Sweden, is that right? You are also wearing a Kill ‘Em All shirt. How much of an influence is Metallica on the band?
Jason Spencer: I would definitely say I’m one of the bigger Metallica fans in the band, and I think it’s more of a subconscious thing you know. If I’m ready to riff I don’t think like, what would James Hetfield do? But especially the old Metallica, like getting some of that fast kind of headbanging stuff out of there and just a little bit of the attitude of having fun rocking, which I think old Metallica definitely they had the trophy for that.
The memorial was great because as soon as we got there, I like pulled it up. I was like ok, I was on the Cliff Burton fansite and I got the actual coordinates of the location. It’s a really desolate area in Sweden, which makes it even more sad when you think about it. It’s just this two-lane highway on this country road and there’s just farms and pretty much maybe a house every five miles.
The actual location we got to, there was nothing there. I was looking around and I was like no man, we didn’t come all the way to Sweden and not see this. We drove a little bit further up the road and there was like a couple of benches and some rocks setup and the memorial was right there. It was great man, it was a cold night in Sweden, I left my guitar pick there.
NRR: What’s your favourite track to perform live and why?
Jason Spencer: From the old album “College Gangbang” because it’s just a rocking song and it’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of energy and the key it’s in is a lot of fun. Off the new album, I like to play “Right To Rise” because I don’t sing that much, I kind of just do the (laughing) yelling with no tone to it, I get to sing every chorus and there’s a guitar solo which is great. It’s just a fun song.
NRR: I know you recently released the new video for “Give Em’ Hell,” which looks like it was a lot of fun to make. Could you tell us a little bit about the concept behind the video?
Jason Spencer: The concept behind the video was, well pretty much “Give Em’ Hell” …I don’t know like we’ve always had this …when you are writing songs you just automatically get this like kinda image in your head. Even before the video was thought about it, it was like wouldn’t it be funny if like we played a game against some kids, but the kids didn’t win, and then we just like kicked their ass.
Yeah, so it was kind of like one of those ideas that was in the making before the actual video, and Chad’s kind of the mastermind behind the videos. That’s kind of his area, he’s a nerd about it, he likes doing that kind of stuff. Ray one of the guys who shot it and helped produce it, he’s with us here right now, he’s shooting a bunch of stuff that we’re gonna put together for something, I can’t say yet but …
NRR: Obviously, the song “Give Em’ Hell,” is from your latest album Right To Rise could you tell us a bit about that and the inspiration behind the album?
Jason Spencer: Yeah, well the inspiration behind the album is pretty much where we come from, which is Detroit. The album cover has a dog on it, and that dog is a real dog and it’s kind of like a symbol of a Detroiter. Their current lifestyle in terms of you know when we get up, and when our parents from when we were growing up like seeing them every day, you know you are working for the end of the day, and then you get up and you do it again.
So it’s like that dog was a leader of a pack of dogs and they call them the Detroit dingos. It’s an actual pack of dogs and it was kind of like one of those weird things because cities abroad like you know Chicago and New York or St. Louis whatever, when they would write about Detroit in the papers it would say zombie apocalypse town, packs of wild dogs running around, and he’s one of them.
What he did was he was pretty much a leader, he even had a girlfriend in the pack and we followed them around, taking pictures of them and stuff and kind of realized it symbolised so much of the culture and people that we know in Detroit. What you do is you get up, you roll your sleeves up and you go to work for that day and then you move on to the next and that was definitely the inspiration for this record. With “Right To Rise,” through the ashes we will rise.
Everyone gives Detroit a bad rap, I’m sure you’ve heard it from being over here. You know don’t get me wrong, it has its pockets but it’s a beautiful city, and you have the freedom to kind of do what you want to do, especially as an artist. There’re things you can find there, that aren’t anywhere else in the world. It’s a very beautiful city and we’re just kind of explaining like hey this is where we come from, whether you accept it or not this is our story.
NRR: If you could have any artist cover one of your songs, which artist and song would you choose?
Jason Spencer: I think it would be really cool to hear the Foo Fighters do “Right To Rise,” that would be pretty cool. I would love to hear Dave Grohl sing “Right To Rise” (laughing).
NRR: Do you listen to a lot of music yourself and if so which artists are you listening to at the moment.
Jason Spencer: I listen to anything from country to hip-hop to extreme death metal. Actually, I just checked out a band called PVRIS they are a great band. You know recording myself I am also about the atmospheric effect in the headphones, and I think they just put a new song out called “You and I,” I love that album.
The new Bring Me The Horizon album is great. I like Deftones a lot, some old AC/DC and kind of always listening to a song off “Kill Em’ All” every now and again (laughing).
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Jason Spencer: Lots of festivals back home. Right now we have Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Rock on the Range, there’re two festivals in Wisconsin and festival in Virginia Beach. So those are just the festivals.
We’ve still got some touring in the works around the festivals, nothing that’s been announced yet and I’m sure you know I can’t say anything but, yeah so we are going to be pretty busy in the summertime and hopefully, we will be back here before we even know it.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Good luck with everything that you’ve got going on this year.
Wilson Tour Dates:
Feb. 29 â€“ Manchester Â â€“ Sound Control
March 1 â€“ Cambridge â€“ Portland Arms
March 2 â€“ London â€“ Barfly
March 3 â€“ Southampton – Joiners
April 30 â€“ Jacksonville, FL â€“ Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville*
May 6 â€“ Virginia Beach, VA â€“ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater*
May 7 â€“ Concord, NC â€“ Carolina Rebellion*
May 20 â€“ Columbus, OH â€“ Rock On The Range*
May 28 â€“ Pryor, OK â€“ Rocklahoma*
July 15 â€“ Oshkosh, WI â€“ Rock USA*
July 16 â€“ Cadott, WI â€“ Rock Fest*