Singer/Songwriter and guitarist Nancy Wilson is looking to make a comeback with her 1980’s band Heart as they prepare for the “Red Velvet Car” tour. From a young age, Wilson had always been a huge fan of music, and was open to listening to any kind, from Ray Charles to Judy Garland, to even classical music. It wasn’t until she was nine years old where she knew she wanted to be a singer after watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. She became aware of her musical potential when she became sick and missed school for several months, and learned to play the guitar just to occupy time.
When Wilson graduated from high school she was approached by her older sister, Ann, to join her group, “Heart.” Despite declining at first, Wilson eventually changed her mind as she left school to join her sister and band mates in Canada. Even though she was the youngest member, Wilson soon made her presence felt by merging the sounds of both acoustic and hard rock into one, especially after being influenced by Led Zeppelin. Even with all the excitement, the band would at first have to deal with being turned down by every major music label. That all changed in 1976 after being discovered by Mushroom Records, an independent record label based in Canada.
After the release of their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, Heart finally made their presence felt in the music world with the help of the iconic lead track, “Magic Man.” Dreamboat Annie was surprisingly a commercial success as it peaked at number seven on the US albums charts, along with the help of the two other singles “Dreamboat Annie” and “Crazy On You.”
Following the success of their debut album, Heart released their follow up album “Little Queen,” which was hugely successful. The album featured the band’s most popular hit, Barracuda, which peaked at number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. The album’s success was also contributed well by the release of other hit singles such as “Kick It Out,” which peaked at seventy-nine, and Little Queen, peaking at sixty-two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Heart had released other albums throughout the seventies and early eighties such as Dog and Butterfly (1978), Bebe is Strange (1980), and Private Audition (1983).
In 1985, they released their self-titled album, Heart, which to this day is their only album to ever hit number one on the charts. The album was helped due to the success of hit singles such as “These Dreams,” “What About Love,” “Never,” and “Nothin’ At All.” In 1987, they released Bad Animal, which nearly replicated the success of their previous album, peaking at number two on the Billboard charts. Bad Animal became commercial success thanks to hits such as “Alone” and Who Will You Run To.” To complete out the trio of successful albums, the band released Brigade in 1990, which was followed by the hugely successful song “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You.”
Though they did not experience the same success throughout the rest of the nineties, the band never lost their love for music. Their most recent album, Red Velvet Car, was met with commercial success as it peaked at number ten on the Billboard charts and featured the hit singles “WTF” and “Hey You.”
In our exclusive interview with the iconic rocker from Heart, Nancy Wilson talks about topics such as her most outstanding moment in her career, favorite tracks, future projects and much more!
- Q: If you were to do an intimate, acoustic set with free reign over the setlist, which songs would you choose to play? - Georgie Starbuck
- A: Well there’s so many songs lately that I’ve been thinking of doing that for. [My sister and bandmate] Ann and I have been saying lately, “Ugh, why can’t we record an album of covers, because there’s so many songs that we love.” Like Bee Gees songs. Like "First of May," "To Love Somebody." Or Paul Simon songs. There’s just so many great songs in the world. Joni Mitchell.
- Q: What do you consider to be your most outstanding moment in your career? - Amy
- A: The last couple of years since we released this new album, it’s been the best ever, in the history of us, as a band. Because we’re as tight as any band I’ve ever been in, and we’re together and we play a lot together. It’s ESP. With Ann, she’s been recovered for a year. Just focused, and her voice is better than ever. It’s just good. It’s energy. She’s getting older, but she’s getting younger and prettier. How can that be?
- Q: I'm a 16 year old girl, and have no idea what I want to do with my life. I was just wondering if after you heard the Beatles for the first time, you always wanted to be a musician or if you ever considered other career options. If so, what were they? - love2ridetawny
- A: Yeah, I was about 9 when I saw the Beatles on the 'Ed Sullivan Show,' and it was a cultural showstopper. The whole culture was watching that moment, like the lunar landing or when JFK was shot; it was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. There was a perfect amount of mystery and hype surrounding their arrival, because they were such a sensation overseas that it just caught fire, and it was just a life altering experience. Made us from that moment forward want to play music. We were already into ukuleles and pianos and family kind of music, but that’s when we knew we had to make a rock band, and be like the Beatles. So we became super aimed at getting guitars. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve never had any other real job in my life except for music. I did a little bit of babysitting. I gave guitar lessons. I was an algebra and geometry tutor, but other than that not much else.
- Q: What are your favorite tracks on the new album? And what was your process for creating it? - pete
- A: You’re already asking hard questions. The process was pretty incredible. Ann got to work on her solo album, called 'Hope and Glory' with Ben Mink, a producer from Vancouver. And when they were working and I got to work with him on her album, we all sort of fell in love, and we begged him, “Please do a Heart album with us,” and he said, “Well, show me some decent songs and I’ll think about it.” So we wrote a lot . . . we got together and wrote songs with him in mind, his production values in mind, and some of them he liked enough to produce, so once we had that going, we didn’t really take that much more time recording. It was more in the writing.
- Q: You’re also known for doing these movie soundtracks, particularly 'Almost Famous.' What are your favorite memories of that movie? - Sandy
- A: I think that’s just quite a masterfully put-together film. Even if I wasn’t involved, even when I see it now, it’s really a moment where music and picture were married really well. There was a piece of music that I had laying around for a long time, and it just fit like a glove for the scene when the bandmates are deflowering the little journalist kid. I had this piece of music for years, and I just slotted it in there, and the scene was done. It was never that easy again. That was the one time that was easy.
- Q: "Barracuda" was in the news a couple of years ago, when Sarah Palin was using it as her theme song. What did you think of that? - mikeyp
- A: Well, it turned into something that, in retrospect, was a pretty good thing. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it gained us a bit of attention that was a bit of good for us, even though some of our fans were really upset. They were off of the band entirely: “I will never buy another Heart album;” “I’ll burn my old ones.” That was a little rough, but I think in the end when people will calm down . . . . It’s just America, you’re allowed your opinions.
- Q: Did you know Palin was going to use it? - mikeyp
- A: No. We were watching the convention; we’re interested in all that stuff. And we saw it on the spot with the rest of America. I just got on my phone and called my friend, Kelly Curtis, who’s the manager of Pearl Jam, and I said, “What the fuck? They can’t do this. We want to send out a statement.” And we talked to our manager, and we decided to send out a statement. And we decided, let’s not send out the statement with the F word the second time. But it was actually a very noticeable thing. And we were on "Dancing with the Stars" the other week, and Bristol is a performer, and we didn’t know if we were going to be meeting Sarah Palin in person or not. We didn’t, but that was a photo opportunity that I was not looking forward to having.
- Q: After your tour for this album, what projects do you have coming up? - MicahD
- A: Well, we have a DVD coming out pretty soon in March called "Night at Sky Church." We filmed in Seattle. Right after we made the album we decided to do a show so we can sort of present the new songs, as well as the familiar songs, with this lineup, with this band right now, which was super charged. So that was just a great night.
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