At 63-years-old, guitarist and co-founding member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Heart, Nancy Wilson could easily sit back and coast the rest of her life, but as an artist, that’s not in her DNA.
While Heart is on downtime after releasing their 2016 album, ‘Beautiful Broken,’ Wilson is starting from scratch with a new band – Roadcase Royale.
The band came together when Wilson teamed up with former Prince & the New Power Generation collaborator Liv Warfield and toyed around with the idea of working together. Soon that idea became a reality when Warfield brought in her lead guitarist Ryan Waters and Wilson brought in Heart’s rhythm section Dan Rothchild (bass) and Ben Smith (drums) along with Chris Joyner (keyboards).
“When we first got together, we didn’t really have anything written, but with six people in the band, everyone was throwing out ideas and it was so easy creating songs, Nancy Wilson said. “Liv would have wonderful melodies and I’d add a little guitar here, then Ryan would add in some guitar leads and before we knew it we had a song. That was basically the writing process. Someone would throw out an idea and we would build on it. It felt so organic and natural for me and everyone involved.”
As easy as Wilson makes it sound, she is exploring new musical territory with Roadcase Royale’s sound. Warfield brings a lush R&B and soul background while Wilson brings in guitar-driven rock & roll. There are also elements of soul and blues running throughout the band’s sound. The bands experience gives them a tight and layered sound.
“The funny thing was, I’ve always loved blues and the R&B style, and I wanted to explore that more because it is music I don’t usually play. But Liv wanted to move towards rock & roll because it was new to her. We met in the middle and merged the two,” Wilson said with a laugh. “I think it works well for us and we both have learned a lot from each other.”
Roadcase Royale road tested their sound playing their live debut at the Rock Against MS benefit in Los Angeles on March 25.
“The show went really well I thought, Wilson said.” We played our single “Get Loud,” which was nice to showcase live. We also played a couple Heart songs like “These Dreams” and “Crazy On You.” It was amazing to hear Liv singe “Crazy” because she has such a powerful voice and has a strong stage presence. It was insane. Not that Ann Wilson is any slouch of a lead singer, she’s one of the best, but seeing Liv put her spin on the song was out of this world.”
The Rock Against MS benefit showed, not only the fans, but Wilson and her bandmates that there is something special with Roadcase Royale. The band was looking to find an opening slot on a bigger tour for the spring or summer, but nothing materialized so they will be playing a few women’s charity shows over the summer to get ready for something in the fall.
“We almost had an opening slot with Lindsey Buckingham this summer, but he and Jakob Dylan are good friends, so he gave that slot to the Wallflowers. So you can blame Jakob for that. Just kidding. I have nothing against Jakob or his band. It’s getting too late to try to land a summer opening slot. We won’t tour but we will have some shows here and there supporting the empowerment of stronger women.”
In a sense, Wilson, Warfield, and company are starting from scratch with Roadcase Royale. Their decades of experience helps when making the music and credentials for Heart and Prince can get their foot in the door, but there are no guarantees in the music industry.
“I would never name drop my own name,” Wilson joked, “but it is a bit frustrating trying to get on a tour and book events. I feel like we are on the edge of something new and exciting with this band. When you are proud of what you have created you want to get it out to the people. I feel the same excitement with this band in 2017, that I did back with Heart. I do find it a bit clumsy and funny and humbling that after four-decades plus in music it is hard to get an opening slot for this band.”
Things have to work out for Roadcase Royale Wilson because doesn’t have any backup plan.
“I always joked that if this whole music thing didn’t work out I could be a dog groomer or maybe a private chef. I could learn how to do something useful in society. Dog therapy, I think I would be good at that.”
I am sure Wilson needn’t be too worried about her future. Roadcase Royale is a strong, diverse band with loads of experience under their belt. Once they get out there and play live, word will spread like wildfire. But if all else fails, Wilson can go back to that little band called Heart.
“I thought we [Heart] were going to go overseas to play some festival shows in Europe, but Ann booked a summer tour with her solo project, so that is why we were late on the booking plan for Roadcase. Ann just needs some time away from Heart, but I am hopeful we will be playing shows again by the end of the year.”
For the time being, all focus is on Roadcase Royale for Wilson.
“I gotta say starting a new band really gave me a sense of renewed purpose in music. I was shocked and surprised by how fun and energetic it has made me and I hope it does the same for the fans.”
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