Heart's Nancy Wilson On Love Songs, Sisterhood And Her New Supergroup Wilson rocked the 1970s with her sister Ann in Heart; now, her supergroup, Roadcase Royale, is releasing its debut album. She speaks with Scott Simon about the new group and her rock 'n' roll legacy.
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Heart's Nancy Wilson On Love Songs, Sisterhood And Her New Supergroup

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Heart's Nancy Wilson On Love Songs, Sisterhood And Her New Supergroup

Heart's Nancy Wilson On Love Songs, Sisterhood And Her New Supergroup

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(SOUNDBITE OF HEART SONG "CRAZY ON YOU")

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

That acoustic guitar scrambling is from Nancy Wilson, one of the hottest songs and biggest acts born out of the 1970s. She and her sister Ann Wilson were the core of the rock band Heart. Their albums have become part of a rock canon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY ON YOU")

HEART: (Singing) Let me go crazy, crazy on you. My love is the evening breeze...

SIMON: Decades later, Nancy Wilson is now rocking out in a new supergroup, Roadcase Royale. Their debut album comes out this Friday. It's called "First Things First." There are new originals plus some hard lessons revisited.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVEN IT UP")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) Even it up. Even it up. Even it up.

SIMON: Nancy Wilson joins us now from the studios of our station WGBH in Boston.

Thanks so much for being with us.

NANCY WILSON: Hey, Scott. It's really good to be here.

SIMON: And this name, Roadcase Royale comes from...

WILSON: Well, it comes from where the road case - the Heart aspect of my new band is like the road cases, the old, scuffed-up road dogs that Heart was. And it's also, like, when you're out in the trenches of rock 'n' roll touring life, you do need to kind of develop an extra hard-shell case, you know, to (laughter) keep yourself. It's a survival mechanism. You need to kind of have a hard exterior.

SIMON: Not all glamorous, but you must love it.

WILSON: Well, I'm good at it. I mean, I've done it...

SIMON: Yeah.

WILSON: ...Long enough to know how to do it.

SIMON: Let's listen to another cut. This is "Get Loud."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GET LOUD")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) No letters of love, chocolates or roses. Cruel words fall hard and mean in city streets, crowded malls, high school halls and bathroom stalls - unheard, unseen. It will get loud. It's going to get loud.

SIMON: And that very powerful voice, of course, is of Liv Warfield, who spent all that time with Prince's New Power Generation.

How did you guys team up for this effort?

WILSON: Actually, we were looking for an opening act last year with Heart at the Hollywood Bowl for two nights. And we had seen Liv Warfield on the "Jimmy Fallon" show, and she was doing an amazing song called "Why Do You Lie?" - her power, her presence, her delivery, her righteousness (laughter). And we were like, let's ask her to come and open for Heart. We fell into a great friendship, so we wanted to put together kind of a hybrid rock 'n' soul band. And that's what Roadcase Royale turned out to be.

SIMON: Let's listen to another song, if we could. This one is "Cover Each Other."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVER EACH OTHER")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) Baby, baby, how was your day? I know it's been insane. You say it's all in vain.

SIMON: Is this kind of a love song for the long haul?

WILSON: (Laughter) Yeah - well said - a love song for the long haul. It's a song I actually wrote from personal experience when my husband Jeff was going through some really difficult life changes. And its an unconditional there-for-you kind of a song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVER EACH OTHER")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) As friends and lovers, we cover each other - discover each other.

WILSON: So many love songs - you know, a good 90 percent of them are we've-just-met love songs. (Laughter) Right - or like, hey, you, I'm attracted to you across the room kind of love songs or, you know - or, like, why-do-you-hurt-my-feelings-and-I'm-such-a-victim kind of love songs, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: One of my favorites, yeah.

WILSON: But the whiny love songs - there's a lot of those. And, you know...

SIMON: Yeah.

WILSON: But this one is a more sort of an adult perspective of a love song - when you know enough about life to really be there for somebody else who needs you when they need you there.

SIMON: Yeah. I have to ask you about something for people who have been your fans all these years. The last time we had you on our program, seven years ago, you were performing with your sister, Ann. You guys are at odds now, I gather.

WILSON: Well, we've been at odds for a while, since the end of the last Heart tour where there was a kerfuffle inside of the family with her new husband that involved my own kids. And it just felt a little bit too painful to just pretend that didn't happen for a long time now. And Ann and I both know that we're unconditionally going to love each other forever because we come from a tight-knit military kind of family. But there's just a lot of things that are kind of hard to untangle too easily or too quickly.

SIMON: Yeah. What's it like to be away from Heart?

WILSON: Well, it's different (laughter). Being away from Heart means being away from most of the comfort zones at this particular turn because we're just a brand-new baby band who has to kind of try to get a foothold and make our name. So you know, we're, all of us, in one bus - not two, not three. And we're hauling a trailer - no truck. And so, you know, we're sort of kind of the Beverly Hillbillies - the Clampetts of the brand-new rock band out here - you know, just acting like we're in our 20s or something.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THESE DREAMS")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) Spare a little candle. Save some light for me.

SIMON: Do you ever think about where you fit into the history of rock?

WILSON: It's interesting 'cause, going into it, I wanted to be the Beatles because that's where - why I started doing rock music. And along the way, I sort of figured out, you are identified by your gender more than just being a musician. I think the best part of it all, though, was that other women have come to us in droves and said thank you for being the woman that did that because then I was able to have the courage to do it myself - or try to do it myself - and be taken seriously. So I guess as we go, we find out what our imprint is and what our purpose sort of has been.

SIMON: Nancy Wilson, now with Roadcase Royale - their first album, "First Things First."

Thanks very much.

WILSON: Fantastic to talk to you again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THESE DREAMS")

ROADCASE ROYALE: (Singing) These dreams go on when I close my eyes. Every second of the night, I live another life. These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside.

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