THE WILD: Canada's Great Rock Hope
Rock is dead they say? Long live rock! Sure, that was the mantra put forward by The Who in 1974. But in Canada in 2019, it’s exemplified, personified, and amplified by THE WILD. The hardest-rocking foursome to ever come out of Kelowna have earned the respect of real rock fans by delivering authentic, hard-core rock and roll with attitude, heard in chart busting anthems like “Slow Burn,” “Ready To Roll,” and “Livin’ Free.” From their earliest days on the west coast, The Wild have been creating a buzz with fans, radio and record companies for injecting a shot of kick-ass into the rock music scene. Their latest video, “Playing With Fire,” is just another typical example of the power, and the glory, that is The WILD. Heading back to St. Catharines for a November 14th gig at the Warehouse, singer Dylan Kirouac took time to chat with GoBeWeekly about the state of rock music, the problem with rock radio and the reason you should come and see The Wild.
GOBE: I’ve spent the morning listening to The Wild and watching the new video for “Playing With Fire.” It doesn’t appear that rock is dead after all.
DYLAN: I think that is one of those catchy phrases that people like to throw out. It got kind of trendy to talk about. It’s no secret that rock is in a different wheelhouse, or has a different fan base, then it once had when we were younger. By no means is it dead. How can it be when you have bands like us still going seven years later and travelling all over the world. You go to certain parts of the world and it’s very much alive and well. There’s still places like St. Catharines, which has a great rock station, that are still great rock markets out there. It’s not what it once was, but it’s not gone.
GOBE: I worked for the rock station here for 20 years. Rock’s not dead, but rock radio is on life support sometimes. It’s so cautious and corporate. The bands are out, and fans seem to know where to look to find them outside of radio.
DYLAN: I couldn’t agree more. There are a lot of really great rock bands but they’re just waiting for people to drop the whole façade and thinking that the legends are dying, and because of that the music is. Half of them are well into their 60s and 70s and have lived lives harder than you can ever imagine. Of course, that’s what happens. People die, they get old and they die. If you say rock is dying because this older generation of rock musicians is dying, then what about the younger generation right in front of you that’s putting out quality content for you to enjoy and champion. That’s what keeps it alive.
GOBE: And there always bands that come and go that keep it alive as well. Listening to The Wild reminded me of a personal favourite of mine, The Four Horsemen, who put out a couple albums in the early 90s. Same raw energy and cocky attitude.
DYLAN: I’ve heard that a lot. I hooked up with one of the guys from that band through a mutual friend in L.A. It was really cool, because we hear that comparison a lot.
GOBE: Where did you get your love of rock and roll? Who set you on this righteous path?
DYLAN: My dad for sure. I grew up listening to rock music ever since I can remember. Rock music, and heavy into the blues. It was always a thing for me and him because we grew up way on the outside of town in the country. It was quite a long drive to get anywhere you wanted to go. So it was always driving in the truck, listening to anything you can imagine at that time. Bad Company, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, the blues stuff. SRV was a big one for us too. That whole thing of being exposed to such great music at such an early age was captivating to me. Even aside from that, I think certain people just have a love of music that just takes over them. You can’t get it out of your head. I was definitely one of those people.
GOBE: And you can’t fake that. There’s authenticity in the sound of The Wild for sure.
DYLAN: That’s a great compliment, and I agree. There’s conviction in music. Even if people seem like the smartest cut, they are smart in the sense that they can tell if you’re real or not. That’s one thing I’ve always said about our fans. They love us because they can tell that there’s conviction there and authenticity. That is something you can’t manufacture. You have to belong to it and you have to mean it.
GOBE: I was reading in your press material that you got signed by your first label without them even seeing the band perform live. That speaks to the hunger labels have for real rock bands. That’s rare to not have an A&R rep come out and take a look at you.
DYLAN: Yea, around that time there was a lot of buzz around us due to a few things we’d done and accomplished on our own. It created a real frenzy around our band between labels and agents and radio. I kind of remember looking back, we knew what we were doing. We were creating a desire in people. We had two records written, and sometimes we’d only play half an hour or 20 minutes. The whole thing was we wanted people to want more of us. We wanted people to have to need to hear and see more. That created a lot of sold out shows in the early days. The secret was not giving away the farm. That created this big frenzy about us. It wasn’t long before we had labels sniffing around.
GOBE: I can’t imagine from a radio perspective that any station claiming to be a rock station in Canada wouldn’t become an immediate champion for The Wild and put you into heavy rotation as a torchbearer for Canadian rock. Yes, the old guard are still kicking, Headstones and Danko Jones. You’ve got Monster Truck and Arkells and Glorious Sons but none of them are like The Wild.
DYLAN: It’s definitely something that we strive to achieve in our own way. That’s a big part of what’s happening right now. Everything’s kind of gotten watered down and everyone’s playing it safe. They pay their bills by catering to an audience of listeners that no longer matter in the grand scheme of what that radio station is doing. If you’re a classic rock station, be a classic rock station. If you want to be in touch with younger people, and be a modern rock station, why are you not playing modern active rock? The other thing they’re doing is disguising themselves as modern rock stations while playing fluff alternative. I’m not saying those bands and those songs are not good, but pop rock is pop rock. The line between rock and active rock is so blurred, because all these bands that are doing alternative and soft active rock are taking up places on the charts. They become everyone’s radio darling of the year, they throw out a song and it runs up the charts and that’s cool. But what about bands that actually have a bit of meat on the bone, bands like us. That’s why we just keep playing and touring. Spotify and Apple Music and iTunes see their numbers spike because those are our fans who want to hear that type of rock music. I think if radio started to pay attention to that, and gave that some thought, they would stop playing it so safe and being so worried about what that older demographic in their audience is saying and took a chance on a band that plays a little bit harder with a little bit more attitude.
GOBE: I noticed in the press materials that there was a time The Wild knocked out Metallica from the #2 position on iTunes. How did that make you feel in 2017 taking out a legend on the charts?
DYLAN: It was amazing. I can even tell you the moment it happened. We were on stage in Edmonton. We finished the set and we walked backstage. It was the spot where we generally get an encore, so we were just kind of hanging out at the back of the stage. Someone ran over and told us ‘you just beat Metallica out of the number two spot on iTunes.’ We had a moment of disbelief looking at each other like, no, you’re not right. Needless to say that encore went off pretty good. We took a little longer to get back to the stage because we were all doing shots and high fiving. We brought it home that night for sure.
GOBE: You’ve been touring relentlessly through Europe. Those hard rocking European audiences must love your band.
DYLAN: Yes, Europe’s been good to us that past few years. Speaking to the whole rock not being dead thing, you go over there and it’s a whole new ball game. It’s just insane. We played last summer in Wacken, which is ground zero for metal heads. We were going on as the same time as the headliner. They were on the main stage, we were on the B stage and we thought this is going to suck because there’s not going to be anybody watching out show. We were standing backstage, heard the intro and walked out and there were 17,000 people at our show. That’s not only a testament to how great the festival is, but also a testament of how much they love rock over there.
GOBE: So what does success in the near future look like for you?
DYLAN: We just keep doing what we’re doing, because we’ve expanded every year. That’s all you can ask for, to just keep growing and reaching more people, covering more ground. We’ll be touring the hell out of the record wherever and whenever we can. That’s what it takes these days. If you like our band, cool, because if you like our music we know our live show will win you over.
GOBE: So what do you want to say to fans who may be considering coming out to The Warehouse November 14th.
DYLAN: If you like straight ahead, no bullshit rock and roll, we’re the band to see. St. Catharines has always been really great to us over the years. HTZ has always been a huge supporter of ours. If you like us, come on out. We won’t disappoint you. It’s going to be a great night. Make sure you’re there.
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