Joe Wilson

19 Apr

“I’ve picked up something new from each experience and now apply what I’ve learned to my solo venture.”

One of the most important aspects of being an artist is your songwriting. It interprets what you’re going through in your own personal life or the lives around you. I’ve always been a big fan of artists that are lyric heavy. When you can almost place yourself in their song because the words relate to you so much is a task not all artists can achieve. Joe Wilson is an artist that bears it all in his songwriting. Joe cites that Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have had a major influence on his songwriting ability which in turn gave him with the ambition of becoming what he is today. Now a solo act, he’s set to release his new album, “To Build or Burn” next month. I recently got to talk with him and learned that not only is he a seasoned musician, having more experience than a lot of artists out today, but he is also extremely goal oriented and has a lot more dreams to accomplish in the future.

1. You have a quite a musical resume including opening for acts such as Vanessa Carlton and Dashboard Confessional. At what age did you get started in music and what inspired you to do so?

A. I started playing guitar when I was 15. I always wanted to play guitar and sing in a band, even though I had no clue how to do either! I just knew it was something I wanted to do. I was really into Pearl Jam and Green Day at the time, which opened the window to some of the punk rock bands that really helped to fuel my passion of being a performer. Bands like NOFX, Bad Religion and Propagandhi played this very fast but heavily melodic punk rock music that just got me going, it really made me want to pick up a guitar and do the same thing.

Q. You noted on your website, that your major influences are Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. You also stated that their albums helped in putting you on the right path. Specifically, what are some of the songs that made you see the light at the end of the tunnel?

A. I owe a lot to those guys. Dylan really helped me out while I was living in New York. I moved there to try and find my own voice  as a songwriter and just as a person. Finding his older songs from the early and mid 60s like ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’ and ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ fit into my life perfectly. Particularly ‘Boots’, my interpretation of that song was spot on with where I was in life at that point. Realizing that you feel one way about a person, and they feel the total opposite.

From Bruce, I got more of a ‘hey, what are you doing with your life?’ vibe from him, mainly from the songs on ‘Born to Run’. I have a line from ‘Thunder Road’ tattooed on my left shoulder ‘we got one last chance to make it real, to trade in these wings on some wheels’ – that just rang a bell with me. To stop thinking about what you want to do with your life, and actually go do it. That’s just a little reminder to myself every time I get out of the shower to make something happen. There’s so much I could write about his songs, but I think I’ll leave it at that…

Q. What has been one of the most memorable experiences since beginning your career in music?

A. For me it would have to be when I played with El Hefe of NOFX out in Arcata, CA in 2006. I remember everything about that day, we played a really small coffee shop and they asked that we didn’t announce his name on the bill because they wanted to keep it low key. About an hour or two before the show starts, Aaron pulls up in his BMW with his wife just hanging out to catch all the music for the night. I remember playing for a crowd of people that night, but I could feel Aaron watching me out of the corner of my eye the whole time. He was sitting over by the door (to my right).  After the set, he came over and shook my hand and we congratulated each other on our sets… then he says “I’m not sure if you know but I’m also in another band…” – I had to cut him off and let him know how long I’ve been a fan and what an honor it was to play with him.

That and all of the tours we did with Taking Back Sunday back in the day (pre-‘Tell All Your Friends’) were amazing experiences. We did a lot of shows together all over the US with those guys and I have some great memories from those days.

Q. Your career has been full of many different ventures. In your opinion, do you feel like an artist should get as much experience as they can by either joining different bands or going solo throughout their own careers?

A. I can only speak from my experience, but I’ve been playing in bands since I was 15 and have been in 5 different bands, not including my solo venture. I’ve picked up something new from each experience and now apply what I’ve learned to my solo venture. It really is like being in a relationship or marriage, you need to keep everyone’s schedule and most importantly, their feelings in mind when making a decision, and you expect the same in return.

Q. What’s next in store for you?

A. Well we’ve been gearing up to release this full-length album ‘To Build or Burn’ for quite some time now. We started recording it in May of 2010 and it’s going to be released exactly one year later, May of 2011. So as you can imagine, we’re really excited to get this album out so everyone can hear what we’ve been working on!

Q. If you had to describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before, how would you describe it?

A. Lyric-heavy songs with meaning played with intensity. Or…  Coffee just the way you like it, with your favorite paper or book on a warm sunny Sunday morning.  Whichever description you like best is what we sound like!

Q. In what ways could you become a better artist than you are right now?

A. I’m a firm believer that once you become happy with yourself, you’ve given up on improving. I’m content with where I am, and grateful to have a great band and people backing me, but there’s always room for improvement. We’re working on a bunch of new songs right now that are somewhat different than the songs we recorded for ‘To Build or Burn’. So, I plan on constantly improving musically with each release.

Q. Other than being a musician, are there any other aspirations you have in your life that you’d like to someday pursue?

A. Luckily, my parents forced me to finish college. So, I was able to get my college degree at the age of 25, which was always a goal of mine. But to be honest, my main goal is to work for myself. Whether it’s playing music, touring, starting up my own internet marketing agency, or creating something new, I would love to create my own schedule.

Q. If you could go back and re-record any one of your songs, which one would it be and why?

A. We actually had the opportunity to re-record a lot of the older Feeling Left Out songs back in 2003 for our first release with LLR Records. Some of the songs I felt could have used an extra little something, like ‘Best of Both Worlds’ for instance, so that was our chance to give it another shot.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. Hmm that’s an interesting question! I really don’t listen to the old songs so I’d have to go with one of the newer ones off the upcoming album – maybe ‘Severed’ because it has a little bit of everything – organ, harmonica, harmonies and a ripping guitar solo!

Here is one of his newest songs, “In The Safety of Sleep (Who You’re Giving Your Love To)” off of his much anticipated album.


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