Sons of Bill’s James Wilson Reveals His Admiration for Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes
While some musicians will tell you that their first musical memories are rooted in discovering their parents' old record collections, that just wasn't the case for James, Sam and Abe Wilson, better known as Sons of Bill. Growing up in Charlottesville, Va., with hymns and loves songs, the brothers had to go off on their own and seek out what they craved -- rock and roll. And through their own musical discoveries, the Wilson brothers brought together those influences to make three albums, including the sophomore effort Sirens, which not only found them in the Billboard 200 chart but brought them across both sides of the Atlantic.
And now with their latest album, Love and Logic, the guys get a bit more introspective and dig deep into their roots for an album that shows how they've grown over the course of their careers. James took a moment to chat with us about their tour experiences in Europe and back stateside, their upcoming set at Mountain Jam and the gift he received from Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes.
You guys were in Europe for a bit for some shows, including the Great Escape Festival. How was your time there? How was the festival?
Touring in Europe is interesting. There's such a different mentality and historical musical understanding over there. It's always interesting to get [the] British musical perspective from time to time. Our fans there are so different, and we're still so new over there. It's an exciting feeling.
What are some of those differences you find?
I feel like there is an interesting corrective relationship between U.S. and British music, historically speaking. In the past, when British music has gotten a little over-blown and self-indulgent, it needed an American bulldozer to just push all the keyboards offstage and start over. In a similar way, I think there have been times when American music has gotten kitchy and gimmicky and it [has] relied on a British critical perspective to sift through to the real thing. It's sort of interesting to get little glimpses of that reality played out, as we hop from shows in Europe to shows in the states.
Love and Logic has been out for some time now. Is there a crowd favorite during your live shows?
I've always taken some pride in the fact that every single one of our songs, and this record is no exception, is someone's favorite. There hasn't really been a single one to emerge, at least from our perspective. But those have always been my favorite records, ones that grow and change. And different songs hit people in different ways.
You guys are back in the U.S. and ready for the summer tour. What can fans expect this time around?
We always try to change things up a bit every tour, but it is always fun to go the Midwest and west coast and play cities we don't get to play as often.
You're also playing Mountain Jam in soon. We can't wait to see you there.
We're all stoked to play Mountain Jam this year. Gov't Mule was one my first rock shows -- '97 on the Dose tour at Trax, when Allen Woody was still on bass. They were monstrously good, and it had a huge impact on the my 13-year-old psyche. Warren [Haynes] also gave me a jean jacket after the show, which finally fits me. I just might wear it.
Warren is really one of the greatest of our time -- as a player obviously, but also as a writer and a singer, which I don't think he gets as much public acclaim for as he deserves. He is also just a great man, and one of the few guys you can look to as a musician as someone who has done it right. We're honored to be a part of anything Mule puts on.
Performing at festivals can be grueling. How do you prep for it?
Its always an adventure, but there is also a spirit of camaraderie you don't always get on the road. It's always a blast.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Mountain Jam?
Mule for obvious reasons. There aren't many trios that can still do it like Mule. I also saw the Alabama Shakes on SNL and was blown away, and am excited to see it in person. I've always been a fan, but I think they're really proving that they are here to stay with this record and tour. Should be an exciting show.
Although it's only been less than a year since Love and Logic has been out, are you already working on new material?
We're always working-- writing and demoing. Making records is never a fast process for us, so we always get right back to work as soon as records come out.