WILSON with CITIZEN ZERO, RED STONE SOULS, and WOLFSHARK at The Crofoot Ballroom
When it came time to write their second full-length album, Right to Rise [Razor & Tie], Wilson didn’t have to look far for inspiration. In fact, hometown Detroit gave the quintet—Jason Spencer, Chad Nicefield, Kyle Landry, Puhy, and James Lascu—its chief muse.
“The record is the story of anyone who is struggling in general, and what they have to do in order to get by,” explains vocalist Chad. “The title says that we all have the right to find our happiness and grow. You can take our city as an example. You look at it from the outside, hear all of these horror stories, and see so many terrible things. However, when you’re inside, you can see the triumph. You need to make your own way here. No one will respect you otherwise.”
Wilson has come a long way since their bombastic, brash, and ballsy 2013 full-length debut album, Full Blast Fuckery. They emerged on to the scene with a raucous, raw, and righteous rock sound that saw them become a live favorite, while sharing the stage with everybody from Black Label Society and Down to Five Finger Death Punch and Motörhead. Finishing up a touring whirlwind, the group decided to approach the creative process for Right To Rise from a new angle. Previously, Chad and Jason comprised the writing core, but they opened composition to the whole band, splitting sessions between Motor City and Atlanta with producer and writer Johnny Andrews (Halestorm, Three Days Grace, Sick Puppies).
“It was the first time everybody wrote,” remarks Chad. “We essentially found a better way to work as a unit. The last album is exciting, but this shows our diversity. We tapped into our primary influences—everything from Alice In Chains and Toadies to Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath. We embraced where we each came from. You can totally hear that.”
Jason adds, “What’s unique about Right to Rise is the creation of tones, melody, and soul. We were able to capture the moments and feelings taking place in both the studio and our everyday lives. Throughout this record, you can almost smell the blood on the drumheads and the temperature of the room when the amps were running extra hot.” Armed with a battering ram of riffs and swaggering grooves, songs like the title track capture that spirit, while tapping into a distinctly “live” energy, offering a tribute to their home and rock music.
The band agrees, “Detroit is a city commonly portrayed as the underdog to most of the world. We were discarded by many when the shit hit the fan, but through hard work, passion, and determination we strive to rise again. ‘Right to Rise,’ though written to mirror our beautiful city is a song that we feel encompasses rock ‘n’ roll in the current climate of the industry. It’s for all the underdogs out there with their sleeves rolled up and their blue jeans on.”
The first single “Crave” illuminates the storytelling at the heart of the music in between a hyper-charged swell of distortion. “The Flood” begins with handclaps and a ringing bell before blossoming into a bluesy refrain while “Give ‘Em Hell” matches a searing lead with a driving percussive stomp. The title track and opener serves as a declaration of purpose and a tribute to Detroit and their music of choice.
The album concludes with the deep, definitive epic “Before I Burn,” which entwines hypnotic harmonies and hard-hitting rhythms. “We look at rock ‘n’ roll as this fire,” Chad goes on. “It’s one of the only things that ties us all together. If you touch fire, it will burn you. That’s the same idea for rock ‘n’ roll. It should invoke those feelings. It’s an homage to burning off the dead weight in your life to live fully.”
The journey of Right to Rise kicked off with a five-week European tour alongside Halestorm and Nothing More, setting the tone for the roller coaster to follow globally. Their live show continues to engage everybody from audiences to critics with Manchester Rocks claiming of the UK run, “They go out like they have something to prove. It is loud, it is sweaty, it is REAL, and fuck it’s good!” Fans continue to embrace Wilson’s louder-than-life personalities, which especially shine through in the new music. “We’ve come a long way as band mates since the last record,” says Jason. “If you didn’t know us before, you’ll sure as hell figure that out on this one.” Ultimately, the album’s cover image of a stray Detroit dog sums up its heart.
“It’s a dog my friend and I followed a few years ago,” Chad leaves off. “He was the leader of this pack of wild dogs. Every day, he has to get up, figure out how to get food, find shelter away from danger, and awaken the next day to do the same thing over and over again. The dog is a metaphor for our city, the people, the band, and what we’re trying to do with music. Take that as an example. We want to empower you with it to say this is what’s possible.”
They go out like they have something to prove, it is loud, it is sweaty, it is REAL, and fuck it’s good.