Fender Telecaster guitar hanging over the shoulder of a New Jersey born singer is a familiar sight, and the sound that emanates from those six strings is just as recognizable. Joe Wilson is very aware of the footsteps he is following in and the sound he is trying to create with his band: a traditional American Rock and Roll sound. It only seems fitting that their first show was at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ - right across the street from where Wilson met Bruce Springsteen.
Fans of Wilson's music through the years have always held a strong focus on the subject matter of his songs about new relationships, love gone wrong, and the joy and cruelty in the world. The songs on Wilson's first effort with his band titled, To Build or Burn - scheduled for release in early 2011 - are no different, summoning the lost love stories found on of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Springsteen's Tunnel of Love. Though the music and energy in which these stories are told sounds more like NJ heroes The Gaslight Anthem.
“Springsteen and Dylan have had a huge influence on my writing over the last few years. Aside from respecting them on a musical level, I also found myself connecting to them on a personal level after my life started veering off from what I had originally intended,” says Wilson. “Once that started to happen, I turned to the albums they wrote while they were going through their struggles in hopes it would give me some guidance in my own life.”
What emerged were a collection of songs that range from dealing with Wilson's engagement falling to pieces in songs like Our Ending, The Safety of Sleep and Severed to the hopeful optimism of The Safest Place and straight up catchy-as-all-hell chorus of My Jersey Girl.
Wilson has been around the block a few times. His first band Welcome Home Travis helped to shape the sound of the early 00's NJ indie-rock scene while sharing the road on multiple tours with Taking Back Sunday and the early version of A Wilhelm Scream. His next venture was acoustic duo Feeling Left Out (signed to LLR Records by Johnny Minardi - Paramore, Gym Glass Heroes) who supported Dashboard Confessional, Vanessa Carlton and Kevin Devine. After FLO disbanded, a solo-acoustic venture took him on a cross-country tour sharing the stage with the likes of Aaron Abeyta ('El Hefe' of NOFX), Anthony Raneri of Bayside, John Wesley Harding and culminating in a packed house at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, CA. From there Wilson served as lead vocalist in We're All Broken for a short stint while sharing the road with The Gaslight Anthem on their '59 Sound' album release shows as well as sharing the stage with American Steel, Good Charlotte and The Maine.
Fueled by the energy he picked up during his trips to Asbury Park finally led him to the decision to form a band that would sound exactly like what he always envisioned: a traditional American Rock and Roll band. He asked his old drummer from We're All Broken, Casey Lee Morgan (of The Forever Endeavour, Lanemeyer) to back him on drums, enlisted guitarist Brett Algera (a friend of former FLO band-mate Andy Badac), and longtime FLO fan Matt Meola to round out the group on bass. The result: a traditional American Rock and Roll band rooted in guitar-driven melodies, driving beats, and honest, heartfelt lyricism.
Though Wilson has accrued over 1,000,000 listens online, been on multiple national tours, and sold thousands of physical CDs and over tens of thousands of digital downloads and song streams online, he’s more excited about what the future holds.
“I’ve had some great experiences in the last decade of playing music and I‘m totally grateful for all of it, but I still feel the best is yet to come,” says Wilson. “I feel these songs are the best representation of where I’m at musically right now. ”
Although this is the first album from Wilson and a new band, the songs and mindset are coming from an old soul looking to grow young again.