INTERVIEW WITH ROADKILL FRONTMAN NEIL WILSON
Date: February 3, 2017
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT TASMANIA BASED ROADKILL HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS AND HAVE ALREADY RELEASED FIVE ALBUMS INCLUDING A LIVE ONE. AFTER HEARING ROADKILL’S OLD SCHOOL METAL MASTERPIECE AND LATEST ALBUM ‘E X T I N C T’, SLEAZE ROXX HAD TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BAND FROM DOWN UNDER AND SPOKE TO ROADKILL’S FOUNDER AND SINGER NEIL WILSON IN THAT REGARD.
Sleaze Roxx: I am surprised to see that E X T I N C T is Roadkill’s fifth album! Do you think being from Tasmania has hindered Roadkill’s worldwide exposure?
Neil Wilson: Not really. With today’s technology and so many avenues outside “the industry”, I think it’s better for both the music world and the bands involved. In Roadkill’s case, up until Andrew McNiece signed the band to his label Melodic Rock Records, nobody in Australia and I mean, nobody had given us the time of day over the last decade! We are not alone. Countless bands aren’t given any radio airplay on mainstream radio — with the exception being small community based radio stations — and the so called “rock” networks, Triple M and Triple J. It’s the main reason bands play to less than a hundred people. With airplay, then you pack the room! I think the events in late 2008 — car accidents and health issues — definitely halted our worldwide push for almost five years before we finally released our second album ‘Profanity & Innuendo’ so it was like staring all over again!
Sleaze Roxx: I was reading up a bit on Tasmania and think I know how the band got its name so let’s see if I am right? How did Roadkill come up with its band name?
Neil Wilson: Tasmania is abundent with wild life — be it tasmanian devils, possoms, wombats, wallabys and unfortunately many are killed by motor vehicles running over them and they end up as “roadkill” on the highways, hence the name for the band!
Sleaze Roxx: I guessed right [laughs]!
Neil Wilson: It seemed appropriate, as the band plays old school hard rock music, which is hated by everyone within Tasmania’s music industry, who are bias totally towards any music outside the “alternative” genre! The metal scene is no better as the majority of metal bands in Tasmania today are all modern “dog barking” style — death, black, hardcore, etc. Again, they dislike us but they love the “name” bands. It’s just bullshit and politics!
Sleaze Roxx: Roadkill’s fifth album E X T I N C T has a real “old school” metal feel to it. Was this intentional or just how it came to be?
Neil Wilson: After ‘Profanity & Innuendo’ — which was our salute to ’80s Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe era style hard rock music and attitude — think ‘Appetite For Destruction’ meets ‘Dr.Feelgood’, we copped some criticism for the lyrics for some of our tunes on that album. It was mainly females who just didn’t get what the band was about. We wanted to return some of our heavy metal elements that were featured on both our previous albums, albeit a couple of songs! For E X T I N C T, we wanted that AC/DC meets Judas Priest attack in the songwriting and I believe we have delivered, a solid, good old school ass kicking product that stands up against any of the “name” bands in the same musical genre! While one tune has a different groove and style, the other nine tunes kick like motherfuckers. There’s no politically correctness there. It’s just in your face rock n’ roll!
Roadkill‘s “Ready For War” video:
Opening song from ROADKILL’s 4th album release, “E X T I N C T” – starring the song, ‘Ready For War’ – which includes WW2 and Vietnam war footage. The audio is produced by Joe Haley (Pyscroptic) and recorded at Red Planet studios, Hobart. Video footage edited by Zig.
Roadkill‘s “What The Hell” video:
Second video/song from the “E X T I N C T” CD which is produced by (Psycroptic) guitarist Joe Haley – the song, What The Hell is a typical four on the floor hard rock song. Video edited by Zig.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of that tune with the different groove and style, after Sleaze Roxx’s review of E X T I N C T came out, I was surprised when you advised me that you agreed 100% with my review despite my slagging the track “Wishful Thinking.” How did the process go to choose which songs to include on E X T I N C T and why did the band choose to include “Wishful Thinking” which is quite different from the rest of the songs on the album?
Neil Wilson: I have no problem with criticism and a fair comment but when it becomes a personal attack — that’s when it crosses the line! A former “friend” did this recently. Our motto is “If you don’t have the balls to say it to someone’s face, don’t be a keyboard warrior and slag people off” and there’s plenty out there who do that [laughs]. Your comment regarding the song was apt. It’s not for everybody and if we had of included a tune called “King Of The Mountain” instead of “Wishful Thinking”, then the
album would of been ten ass kickers but we wanted to break it up — throw in a curve ball so to speak! You hated it, others have liked it and it’s fun to play live. It gives everybody some breathing time — time to catch their breath and grab a drink — before we bulldoze you to the climax of our show!
Sleaze Roxx: Take me back to the beginning. How did Roadkill come to be and why?
Neil Wilson: After returning to Hobart, Tasmania in 2004 after living in Sydney for 20 years, I wanted to pursue singing/writing for my veteran, old school metal band Tyrant (Australia) due to the original members not being interested in continuing! I enlisted a group of new players including my younger brother Zig and it was a fercious beast compared to the old band — way more “metal” in attack! So my brother and I decided to do our own band outside of Tyrant and we formed Roadkill. There were maybe only two other “rock” acts in Tasmania at the time! We recruited a drummer and bassist to join Zig and I on guitars and we learned a stack of cool cover songs to separate us from the countless cover acts in Hobart, who all play the same set of songs! We chose songs like Black Label Society’s “Say What You Will,” Buckcherry’s “Dirty Mind” and “Crazy Bitch,” Manowar’s “Fighting The World,” The 69 Eyes’ “Lost Boys,” Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sex Type Thing,” Rose Tattoo’s “Nice Boys,” Motörhead’s “Ace Of Spades,” Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love,” Saxon’s “Strong Arm Of The Law,” Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye.” They are all pretty much in your face rock and that’s what Roadkill is all about! No bullshit, no compromise — just balls out rock like the legend bands did and some still do!
Sleaze Roxx: Roadkill first released the EP ‘More To Come.’ How would you describe the songs on that EP?
Neil Wilson: The three songs on the EP were the first we wrote as Roadkill. We knew an album was our goal so we decided to bang out the EP to let people know we were up and running and to be able to have a product to sell at our shows! The opening track “Get Outta My Way” is an in-your-face rocker that lets you know what Roadkill is all about. Most think it’s about us but it’s actually about this woman I knew in Sydney who was a kick boxer! “Hollywood” is a commercial AOR rocker that’s all about a young girl, lost to the life style of Hollywood. “King Hit” is about what happens when someone breaks your heart. We still play “King Hit” and “Get Outta My Way” in the set today!
Sleaze Roxx: Next up was ‘God Bless America’ in 2007? Why that album title and how would you describe the songs on that record?
Neil Wilson: The title came from the song of the same name. It’s about all about the senseless killing that happened in the middle east. It’s a sad fact that so many service men and women lost their lives! We wrote the ‘God Bless America’ album over six months, and went into the studio over a weekend and recorded it. No bullshit, no multi over dubbing — just a band doing its thing! At the time, we were only a four piece, so it’s rough n’ ready and raw but it’s real! Songwise, there are balls out rockers like “Get Outta My Way,” “Living In Hell,” “Sex Machine” and “Lazy.” There’s some metal flavoured tunes like “God Bless America,” “Day After Day,” “King Hit” and “Locomotive.” The song “Last Man Standing” — I wrote for my other band Tyrant as I was/am the last man standing for that band. But it’s a good song, so we made it a Roadkill tune. “Hollywood” has an AOR feel while “D.F.W.M.” was a bit of fun!
Sleaze Roxx: Tragedy struck the band in the latter part of 2008. What happened exactly and how did that impact the band?
Neil Wilson: We’d just completed some shows in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, promoting ‘God Bless America.’ We even teamed up with an Australian legend metal act Mortal Sin — who I knew from my Tyrant days in Sydney — for a show and they were blown away when we covered Manowar’s “Fighting The World” [laughs]. My car accident was a high speed “head on” when I was returning from a recording session for Tyrant. I did no drugs, no alcohol and was doing the required 50 km/h speed when out of nowhere, this other car was really moving easily doing a 100 km/h plus and it came directly at me and wham! My car went airbourne, spun in mid air a couple of times, air bags went off and burst into flames when it landed! According to the police who attended the scene, they couldn”t believe I walked away with only minor injuries. Our bass player at the time had an accident about a week later and drove off the side of a mountain. Again, he was lucky as he too only sustained minor injuries. Our drummer had left the band due to health issues with his heart, so Roadkill was off the road for two years so there went our momentum for world domination [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: In 2012, Roadkill released its third album ‘Profanity & Innuendo.’ What was the state of the band at that time and how would you describe the songs on that record?
Neil Wilson: Roadkill was basically a three piece. We had recruited a new drummer named Squid. So even though we were off the road, we started the writing process for the next album! We wanted to do an album like Guns N’ Roses meets Mötley Crüe style of ’80s hard rock, so over the next 12 months, we compiled a stack of song ideas and set about looking for another guitarist, to add more depth and a new bass player. We had a friend who played bass for us for around a year and went into the studio over the next year and by then, we had added Jim on guitars and Ted on bass and we started recording ‘Profanity & Innuendo.’ The album features more hard rock anthems than our debut album — “Sex Drugs Rock N Roll,” “Dirty Girls,” “Every Dog Has Its Day,” “Lovin’ You Is A Bio-Hazard,” “Ribbed For Ya Pleasure,” “Backstabbers” and “Rude Crude & Tattooed.” There’s a couple of metal flavoured tunes — “Some Kinda Monster” and “Smack” — as well as our closing song “Two Dogs” which is just a fun song with a fun chorus!
Roadkill‘s “Rude, Crued & Tattooed” video:
Official video for the song, ‘Rude Crude & Tattooed’ from the bands’ second album/CD release, “Profanity & Innuendo” – which contains 11 songs of ‘old school’ hard rock by Tasmanian based, Australian act ROADKILL. Produced by Michael Shelley. www.facebook.com/roadkillaus
Sleaze Roxx: Next up was ‘Live 2015.’ Why a live album at this juncture?
Neil Wilson: We were happy with our previous studio albums ‘Profanity & Innuendo’ and ‘God Bless America’ — but in both cases, the production really let the products down and didn’t capture the band’s tenacious fuck you attitude! Growing up, we all loved those live albums that captured so many legend acts rocking their asses off — albums like Slade’s ‘Alive,’ AC/DC’s ‘If You Want Blood,’ Foghat’s ‘Live,’ Judas Priest’s ‘Unleashed In The East,’ Deep Purple’s ‘Made In Japan’ or ‘Made In Europe’ — which is why our ‘Live 2015’ CD is a homage to ‘Made In Europe’ with its similar look and layout! The album is a 100% real live recording, no overdubbs, no tinkering in the studio like so many supposed live albums are — KISS’ ‘Alive’ springs to mind! and it’s a desk recording where you can hear Roadkill kicking ass and you can hear the audience. Again, there is no massive stadium crowd that’s been overdubbed! It’s real, it’s raw, it’s rock n’ roll!
Sleaze Roxx: Roadkill ended up signing with Melodic Rock Records. On paper, it seems like perhaps a bit of an odd fit but given that you are both based down under, it probably makes a lot of sense. How did Roadkill end up hooking up with Melodic Rock Records?
Neil Wilson: We’ve known Andrew McNiece, the CEO of Melodic Rock Records, for about 15 years via Zig, as they went to college together and Andrew has always known of the band and he heard our products but didn’t come knocking as most of the acts on his label are AOR rock style bands! Once we had recorded ‘E X T I N C T’, I sent an MP3 of the song “In The Dark” to Andrew to see what he thought, and ten minutes later, he asked to hear the rest of the album! Within two days of receiving the whole album, he rang and said he wanted to sign the band! Andrew’s involvement has been fairly positive for Roadkill. We’ve received some great reviews and a couple of major players have got behind the band so we’re happy and sales have picked up because of his label!
Sleaze Roxx: What are Roadkill’s plans for 2017?
Neil Wilson: The band is looking at touring, most probably the “overseas” markets as that’s where the majority of CD sales has been for Roadkill. Unfortunately, Australia isn’t really behind rock acts nowadays. If it wasn’t for AC/DC spending most of their time touring overseas territories, which is similar to Airbourne, they wouldn’t of become as big as they are! There have been a plethora of good Australian hard rock and metal bands over the last 30 years and how many made it? The lack of support from our own industry down under is the reason so many acts never made it! I think the Asian markets will be the first we will consider — Japan and China. We’ll just see what happens? We have a song “Ready For War” that will be featured on an edition of Classic Rock magazine released soon, so hopefully that will entice more people to discover Roadkill.
Sleaze Roxx: Have Roadkill ever played outside Australia / Tasmania / New Zealand, and if not, why not?
Neil Wilson: Basically, it comes to money! Roadkill has made three trips to Sydney over the last few years and it’s been alright but we don’t have that “name” due to lack of not having “radio airplay” to pack a room, so it’s simply not viable and that’s why we haven’t played outside of Australia yet!
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we have not covered that you’d like to mention?
Neil Wilson: I have to give credit to our producer for the ‘E X T I N C T’ album. Joe Haley, besides being a really nice guy to work with, did an excellent job producing our album and so many “producers” don’t deliver the goods but he nailed it!
Sleaze Roxx: Last question — what are your three all-time favorite albums and why?
Neil Wilson: That’s a very hard question as I love so many bands from the last, almost 40 years! In no particular order, I have to nominate Rose Tattoo’s first self-titled album is an absolute killer. It’s tenacious, it’s raw and it kicks like a mother fucker! Rainbow’s ‘Rising’ — not only is it the band’s best ever release, but Ronnie James Dio’s lyrics and vocals are truly awesome and the band and the songs — perfection! I could seriously name a 100 [laughs] but I have to say, Slade’s ‘Slayed’ album is another of my firm favourites. It’s a great rock n’ roll album from start to finish. There are no throw aways, great songs and Noddy Holder’s voice — I can’t think of another singer who impressed me so much with that tone. His power and his distinct voice, you cannot mistake for anybody else.