Words by Tracey Moyle – Music Maven
Canadian Rockers The Wild! have released their third studio album ‘Still Believe In Rock And Roll’ just in time to keep spirits up and a high voltage of rock flowing through our veins.
With a tireless energy they take us on a musical charge that will have everybody dancing, smiling and full of good feels. Rock and Roll was never dead and with bands like The Wild! flying the flag high, it never will be.
Tracey Moyle has put together an album review with a very special twist. She has had another chat with frontman Dylan Villain about their energetic new album and delved deep to get the inside story behind their latest offering, the true essence of the songs and why we all ‘Still Believe In Rock And Roll’.
‘Still Believe in Rock and Roll’ is a statement backed up by the strong character behind each and every song on this album. The best way to kick off any rock record is with a bolt of energy and Bad News has exactly that and more. If you had to clarify the term ‘cheeky rock’, you would play this song. There’s a punk driven core to the song but with an 80’s glam rock Motely Crue-esque feel in the chorus. Villain says of the track – “Bad News in my opinion was the song that set the tone for the whole vibe of the record. For me it has more of the punk rock vibe to it, that we all had in us and we all grew up playing in punk bands. We just wanted to bring it out more in this record and when I wrote it I went ‘OK, this is the vibe, this is the lane in want to be in for this whole record.’ And that’s another reason I chose this song to start the record, because I feel it really kicks things off the right way, puts things in the right gear.”
The second track on the album is Crazy and I dare you to listen to this and sit still. Another high energy track full of addictively killer riffs, and a beat set at that perfect pace to hook you in from the start. Villain confirms the momentum of the track – “ I wrote the riffs of the song based around a rhythm, and the rhythm was based around a feeling, and I just wanted it to be up tempo, agitated and exciting. That’s how the rhythm was shaped. When I was writing the lyrics, I knew I was writing a song about dysfunctional relationships because I knew every body has had at least one. It’s one of those scenarios that when you’re in it, your family and friends can all see you in this storm or tornado kind of thing, and they’re like ‘what the hell are you doing’, but you can’t see it. It takes time to realise your in a situation you shouldn’t be in and get out of it. But I find the reason why people don’t ever know they’re in these shitty relationships is usually the sex between two crazy people, that’s usually pretty good and that’s what keeps people together. You’re stuck in this constant boomerang of fighting and making out. Who hasn’t been in a scenario like that, I know I’ve had several.”
Nothing Good Comes Easy brings out the attitude and on first listen I immediately felt it had that classic 70’s AC/DC meets Buckcherry vibe. It felt to me like music made by Rock fans for Rock fans. I mentioned this this Villain – “That’s really cool, it’s actually the only co-write on the whole record and I co-wrote that song with my good friend Keith Nelson who is the founding member of Buckcherry, so good ear. Keith and I have been friends’ for a number of years. In the early days of our band, they brought us out on the road in Canada and America. I like to think of Keith as the older brother, he’s like an older more sober version of myself. He looks out for me and I love him for it. But him and I wanted to get together and write a song and Nothing Good Comes Easy was the song and it came to us really quickly. I came off the plane from Europe in Canada, went from Canada to L.A. and he said ‘how you doing man, you’ve been really busy’ and I just looked at him and said ‘nothing good comes easy’. We knew we were going to write a song around that catch phrase right then and there in that moment because we knew something was really cool about it. It’s such a blue collar, working class type of a saying, ‘people say it is what it is’ or ‘nothing good comes easy’. That kind of vibes is basically the kind of guys we are. We were all raised in working class families and homes and despite any sort of extraordinary circumstances we might have had in our lives and the job we have playing music, we’re still very much regular down to earth guys who are not afraid to put our nose to the grindstone and working hard and being determined and that’s the kind of stuff I feel our fan base really understands. Because they’re the same kind of people to. I like the idea that it’s something for the fans. It’s something the band can get behind just like the fans can and it becomes one big family of hard working people.”
The name of the next track, High Speed says it all. It revs up to a wild ride and the energy doesn’t stop. “I wanted to write a song about going fast. I wanted to encompass that feeling of going fast” says Villain. “It’s no different for me hanging on to a motorcycle or hanging on to a guitar when your playing that fast. There’s a feeling of freedom that comes along with it. I just wanted it to be about going fast and that freedom and that rush of adrenaline you get by doing that. I know there’s a lot of people like me who really get off on doing that, so that’s how the song High Speed came to be.”
King of this Town gives us a track full of cocky attitude. Growing up on a heavy dose of classic Australian Rock music, I get such an overwhelming feeling of where the roots of rock were planted for me. In my previous interview with Villain we spoke about the influence of Australian bands on The Wild! and how it shows up in their sound. (You can read that interview HERE ) Villain confirms my thoughts in his first sentence – “That one was really cool because we were on tour with Rose Tattoo in Europe and it was world cup. World Cup in Europe is no joke. They love their soccer. Every night we were playing, we would get together before the show and everybody would be in the entrance of the venue watching soccer, so I would think ‘we’re not going to play to anybody tonight.’ They’d do this thing where they’d say ‘five minutes til show’ and they’d turn off the soccer and like two thousand people would file in all at once and there we were, playing to a full house. It was great. I started thinking about soccer and soccer hooligans and how they’ve got they’ve got these badass chants and I thought, what if I could put something like that into a rock and roll song and get the crowds at gigs that way. That’s how that middle part of that song came to be. When I was doing that and thinking about rivalries I thought about the locals only mentality of growing up skateboarding and being in punk bands and being a ruffian myself as a kid. We came from a small town and we didn’t really like people from neighbouring towns coming around and there was always a rivalry that way. So I just wrote the whole thing from having that bravado and being the top dog in your town and that sort of feeling against outsiders it just became the song King Of This Town.” If you want the perfect cruising song, this is the one.”
The title track, Still Believe In Rock and Roll brings out the punk roots that run deep with these guys. It’s in-your-face vocals and belting drums give it that punk rock mindset with a chorus that has a rock anthem feel. It’s a great mix of the many influences The Wild! have built their sound around. Villain says “It was a song I wrote later into the writing process of the record. When I wrote the lyrics to the chorus and it had that statement in it, some of us still believe in rock and roll, I just knew it was a statement I could get behind. I knew that it was definitely going to be something of a statement. I didn’t know at the time it was going to be the name of the album. A little further down the road I knew that it would and once I decided that, I started to think about how great of a statement it is, because it’s not only a statement for those people who maybe have forgotten about this music or have moved on, people who say ‘rocks dead’ or ‘rocks not what it use to be’ or ‘it’s not the most popular genre’, in a way it’s a middle finger to those people but on the other hand it’s also salute to everybody like myself, the guys in my band, like yourself, like the other people, all the fans out there who truly believe in this music and it has never faulted or waivered, because to them it’s not a flavour of the week, its not a passing trend, its not a little outfit they throw on for the weekend, this is a way of life, this is a lifestyle and for so many people this is who we are, we don’t change for anybody. It’s a cool way for me to give a shout and a salute to all those people who are always in our corner.”
The first single released from the album, Playing With Fire has life all of its own. With an opening I can only describe as hillbilly blues rock, it pulls together so may genres into one song that it shouldn’t work, but it does. The Wild! give us another song that follows the tone of this album – full of energy. It keeps the listener moving to the beat with killer riffs and dynamic paced drums taking over your consciousness like a puppeteer. Villain explained how it came together; “Kid, the other guitarist in the band, had the riff in his head and he kind of had it worked out a little bit and he kept playing and I thought ‘that’s a really cool riff, let me take that for a minute and kinda mess with it’ then it got to be the way you hear it now. In addition to that I was playing this other, somewhat of a country song, a traditional country melody I was playing a different rhythm to. I took that rhythm and I thought ‘can I put this with that other really fast riff that he gave me’ and I changed it to be this new version of it and I though would it work together. When I put them together it really worked when I sped it all up. It was actually a country thing. I took that country aspect of melody and storytelling and put it in a really fast sped up rockabilly, rock, punk rock sort of thing. Final product is the song you hear today and it’s a really cool song I wrote about making mistakes in life.”
Young Rebels has a steadier pace with a touch of reminiscence. “I have a son, he’s around one year old now.” tells Villain. “When I was writing the song, he was born and he was a very young baby and I was playing to him the chorus, singing ‘Hey Young Rebel’ over and over, his name is Rebel. As a result of that I thought, this is a really cool melody. I thought can, ‘I write this into a song for The Wild!’ and as I was doing it, it became a message to the younger generation to hang on to their youth, understand that they are the most carefree days of freedom that they will ever experience and it’s a really important time to remember and hold on to. And in doing that I wanted it also to be a message from somebody who was in their shoes and to my son as well, to know that just because you get older that doesn’t have to change. That feeling of personal freedom, that relief, is just a state of mind and it’s important to remember that just because you get older it doesn’t have to change. I’m 34 years old and I still living like I’m 16 still running around playing rock and roll music and I’m very thankful for that. It’s a cool way for me to express to the younger generation to be thankful for their youth to be thankful for their freedom and to remember as they get older it doesn’t have to escape them just because they got old.”
Going to Hell has a great beat full of more of that rock attitude that exudes from The Wild!. Full of brilliant riffs, frantic drumming and a kick-ass guitar solo keeps you refereeing back to the title of this album. Villain’s story of how this one came about takes us back to his younger schooling years. “I went to catholic school for ten years of my life, and when I was in kindergarten, the first day of school, the priest said to me, I can’t remember what I had done but I was six years old how bad could it be, he said to me ‘you are bad and the devil is in you’. I can remember being so young that it scared the shit out of me. I went home and I freaked out and my parents woke up that night with me screaming in my sleep about ‘the devils in me, the devils, in me. They weren’t to happy about that of course, but I stayed at that school for ten years and all that oppression and that belief being forced on you, sit down, stand up, can’t do this, can’t do that or you’ll go to hell. I got older and developed and different train of thought that didn’t fall in line with my previous upbringing in that school. To me, the bible standards today, you can’t even get out of bed in the morning without going to hell. Everything according to these people is a sin. The whole think is a joke, I just wanted to have a laugh at it, take one big jab and give it the middle finger. If there really is a big man in the clouds with a big beard, I’m sure he doesn‘t give a shit if you drink, smoke or your sexual preference or any of that shit. Again it’s just a big joke and I wanted to have fun with it.”
The final track on the album, Gasoline has a raw honesty to the music and that resonates through the lyrics. It’s slow and blues driven. This reflective track is a great way to finish of this album. Villain pours out his heart and soul in this track. “That song took me a long time to write” recall’s Villain, “it took me almost 3 years to write. I just started writing it in thoughts and memories. I had a lot of things I wanted to get off my chest and I did it as a therapeutic thing just to get rid of it, to write some of the stuff I’d been through down, to be expelled from me, to feel better about it. And in doing that I never thought it would be a song for The Wild! at all. I’m glad that it is. I’m glad that I put it on the record because the response to that song has been overwhelming quite frankly and people have told me it really helped them. If anybody can get through what’s troubling them as a result of that song being written and take something positive from my negative experiences or the experiences that gave me character and made me who I am today then that’s something I’m grateful for. I don’t know that everybody in the world has been through some of the things I’m singing about in that song. You know some people have lived through them but some people didn’t and I’m singing for those people but I’m also singing for everybody else, to get that feeling of acceptance from the song because that’s really what its about, it doesn’t matter what you’re going through tomorrow’s a new day and you just got to get there. “
Dance around your house, jump in the car for a cruise or go for a run, whatever it takes, just turn it up and fill you soul with rock and roll – Go Wild!