On the cusp of Seger’s Grand Rapids tour stop, Wilson chats with Local Spins about dancing with Seger, her excitement about Roadcase Royale’s new album and the uncertain future of Heart.
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Considering their rise to rock ’n’ roll prominence came at about the same time, it’s not surprising that Bob Seger and Nancy Wilson of Heart would have crossed paths frequently over the years.
Heck, Wilson even recalls dancing with Seger at a party in the 1970s.
“He was a really sweet man, a gorgeous man,” she said. “Our bands were both in the same areas, touring all those times at the same time.”
But until last week – with Wilson and her new band Roadcase Royale opening for Seger & the Silver Bullet Band on what could be their final U.S. tour – the guitarist and singer had never seen Seger perform on stage.
“I think it’s going to be amazing to be on tour with Bob because I have so much admiration and respect for him as artist and a singer and songwriter, and somehow I’ve never managed to see him live so I’m definitely going to be seeing him plenty of times,” she said in an interview with Local Spins prior to the “Runaway Train” tour.
“He’s a friend of my husband, Geoff’s. He’s one of the most wonderful human beings and doesn’t ego trip for a star of that nature. He’s written some of the most iconic songs in the world. He and his team are such great people.”
Seger’s return to Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena with the Silver Bullet Band on Tuesday also offers fans an opportunity to see Wilson’s new super-group, Roadcase Royale, which also features R&B singer Liv Warfield, a former member of Prince’s New Power Generation.
“I think it’s a really perfect mesh (of bands) because Bob has a lot of soul in his rock ‘n’ roll, too,” Wilson said. “Coming from the Motor City there’s a lot of that influence in the way his music came about. I think the two bands will really meld beautifully.”
Roadcase Royale releases its debut album, “First Things First,” on Friday, three days after the sold-out Grand Rapids tour stop.
“It’s really been inspiring and refreshing because we’ve written … all original new songs and people have been reacting super positively,” Wilson said. “I’m just excited for these. I think we have sound that’s a little bit fresh and it evolves from heavy rock and R&B, which are the two worlds that I came from. It’s a rock and soul kind of sound that people are excited about it.”
GETTING LOUD, POWER DRIVING HEART SONGS AND THE SPLIT WITHIN HEART
The band – which released the single “Get Loud” in January – also features guitarist and Prince protégé Ryan Waters, Heart keyboardist Chris Joyner, bassist Dan Rothchild and drummer Ben Smith. (She’s uncertain whether she’ll join Seger for any songs on stage, saying that’s up to him.)
Not surprisingly, the band also has been performing some classic Heart tunes – from “Crazy on You” to “Even it Up” – that certainly will keep longtime fans happy.
“I think we just power drive those Heart songs even more,” Wilson said. “It makes it all really new again, and I feel like I’m in my 20s going on this tour.”
Whether sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson ever reunite as Heart remains in question, following an incident in which singer Ann Wilson’s husband, Dean Wetter, assaulted Nancy’s 16-year-old twin sons after losing his temper during a 2016 tour stop. He eventually pleaded guilty to two non-felony assault charges.
The uncertainty about Heart’s future allows Nancy Wilson to focus her energy on Roadcase Royale, “just because … I don’t know where Heart’s going at this point. What I really know (is) I’m excited to be a part of this band now and it’s afforded me so much more excitement and inspiration and I feel more stable inside this band right now.
“Me and Ann have to figure something out. I know that I’m happy to not have to be trying to figure it out right now and not make a choice with it one or the other. … It’s almost a blessing in disguise that I’ve got this new thing at this particular moment.”
And that includes playing Heart songs with Roadcase Royale.
“I don’t sing all of those songs myself, which are not easy songs,” the guitarist said, “but I love playing them, too. I have no complaints. I love rockin’ out to the Heart songs and people love it, too. … It brings it all up to a whole new thing.”
At 63, after 45 years of gigging, Wilson said it’s still a thrill, despite the hassles and the rigors and the bad food that come with touring.
“It’s worth it because the music is worth it, and if you’re careful about trying to get sleep and keep the lid on partying, it will all be fine,” she said, reflecting a lot of the same sentiments that Seger has expressed in the past.
“That’s what you pay all the dues to do. It’s for the 45 minutes or 90 minutes on stage depending on the show. That’s what it’s all for and when you get the energy back from the people who come see you and just the friendship of people who love music who come to hear the music – it means a lot to those people – and all the hard work … it’s meant everything to me. That’s what it’s all for.”
VIDEO: Roadcase Royale, “Not Giving Up”
VIDEO: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, Live in Toledo (8/24/17)
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