Led by former Prince collaborator Liv Warfield and Nancy Wilson, co-founder of Heart, ROADCASE ROYALE has a rich background in rock and R&B. Warfield, Wilson, and their bandmates bring their decades of experience from the upper echelon of the music industry to ROADCASE ROYALE, along with a renewed sense of direction and drive. Joining Wilson and Warfield are Warfield’s lead guitarist and musical director Ryan Waters and Heart veterans Dan Rothchild (bass), Ben Smith (Drums) and Chris Joyner (Keys). Each of these members shine in ROADCASE ROYALE with their various sensibilities creating the group’s sensitive, passionate, and driving rock and R&B sound.
Antihero Magazine had the privilege of speaking to Nancy Wilson to chat about the new band and the new EP, as well as plans for touring soon.
Mark Dean: Hi, Nancy.
Nancy Wilson: Hi, how are you doing?
Mark Dean: I’m good. We have actually met before, but I’m sure you don’t remember. I gave you a rose when you played in Dublin on the Jupiter’s Darling Tour.
Nancy Wilson: That was you?
Mark Dean: I’m sure that probably happens to you all the time.
Nancy Wilson: Actually, not too much. Thank you for the rose, I appreciate that.
Mark Dean: No problem. You gave me a guitar pick, which I still have.
Nancy Wilson: That’s awesome. Yeah.
Nancy Wilson: I had already acquired a new production company called Roadcase Production. Which legally, I had to get it cleared, because titles are actually pretty tough to clear to get companies started. Then, when me and Liv Warfield, and her guitar player, Ryan and my three guys from Heart started getting together we just kind of put a toe in the water, like, “well, okay, let’s maybe just get together for fun and see what happens, and try some songs out, and see what we feel like together, what we sound like together.” After the very first day of hanging out, and playing music, we were like, “oh, my God, we should do this with each other, we’ve got this wonderful, you know, we’re already speaking the same musical language,” and everybody was getting along really great, just like, whoa, this feels too good to be true, so we said let’s try to do it some more, so we did it some more. It was still really good, so we were like, okay, we better make this a real thing, we better make it real. What do we name our band? You know? Then, about two months later, after a million other ideas that we didn’t all agree upon, the closest thing we got to was Roadcase Royale. Because “Roadcase” kind of represents the touring rock band. We’ve been touring almost forever. Prince’s New Power Generation, which were Liv and Ryan hail from, that’s kind of the “Royale” of it. It kind of represents the two camps, the blends, the two camps like we are doing now. My brand-new band. I’m really proud of this band.
Mark Dean: Both yourself and Ann are going out now with different solo tours, and your own solo projects. There’s a lot of speculation. Does this mark the end of Heart, or just a temporary change of musical direction?
Nancy Wilson: You know, right now, for the rest of this year, I know that I’m going to be really dedicated to Roadcase Royale. I know that Ann’s going to be really dedicated to her Ann Wilson of Heart thing. That’s fine, for now. I don’t have a crystal ball. I cannot give you what happens after that. I think it feels right for now the way it is. I guess, you know, time is the great tenure of all things next.
Mark Dean: Of course, you’ve released one song from Roadcase, “Get Loud.” I just wonder how much other new material the band have, and have you enough to record an album?
Nancy Wilson: We have an EP recorded. We have another song, a new song that we haven’t, a couple of new songs we haven’t finished recording, yet. That’s going to be our next order of business is to try to get out on the road. Also, continue to make the new stuff, the new songs are going to come out sort of soon, we have one called, “Not Giving Up,” that’s coming out next. We have a live, both live and studio videos of those, and so we’ve got a lot of content.
I guess, people that know how things work better these days are advising us to not to put everything out all at once. A lot of times it just kind of goes off beside the wayside, it’s like, oh, there’s all this stuff over there, so if we take each song out and celebrate each song individually, I think, that’s going to make the best sense for us, because it will give people time to get to know us. You know, invite us to come and play.
Mark Dean: That leads me on to my next question, do you have any touring plans in place, or is it still just early days for that?
Nancy Wilson: There’s a few things in LA this week that we’re trying to pan out just to come and do, we already did a big benefit show, Rock Against MS. Then, there’s another benefit called, Women’s Choice, where it’s celebrating strong, powerful women and we’re trying to jockey into position to be Roadcase Royale for that event, which was initially offered to Heart, but of course Heart does not exist at this time. We’re trying to do that, and just get our live performance under us. I mean, we’re ready, we’re definitely rehearsed, and we’re just ready for the next something that really makes sense to us. I would love to come to Europe. I’d love to do festivals around Europe and in the States. This week I think is going to tell us a lot more about what the touring is going to be all about.
Mark Dean: That’s the reason I was asking, because I did see Heart on the Beautiful Broken Tour. We don’t get to see enough of you in the UK, and I wanted to ask if you had any plans to include the UK?
Nancy Wilson: Well, I want to. That’s something I’ve already been sort of pushing on CAA [Creative Artists Agency], because we have this to do. The thing is they’re going to have to invest in the actual travel of going over there. You know, that’s the point, we don’t want to get out there, and be losing money, but we really want to get out there. We’re at that point right now where I think this week should probably tell the whole story.
We love Brian Berg over there, who’s our buddy over there, when we just did the Royal Albert Hall, we were hanging out. You can do shows over here with Heart, so I was like, we’re already reaching out to him with Roadcase Royale. How about Roadcase Royale? Let’s go over there. We’re trying to put that together for sure, because it’s been way too long for both, with Heart for sure it’s been super way too long.
Mark Dean: That was one thing I was going to ask, as I said, I did go to the Manchester show. Why was “Alone” not on the setlist in Manchester? Any particular reason?
Nancy Wilson: Well, I think Ann was having a little bit of an issue as a singer, I mean, when you sing the way Ann sings, and you’re expected to sing “Alone” every night. Some nights, we could probably have figured out another way to do it, so it would still be in the set. Maybe just a slow version, or a different way, some other way of doing it, but I know people were very disappointed.
Mark Dean: We don’t get to see enough, and then as one of your biggest songs, it’s not there.
Nancy Wilson: Yeah, I know. Sorry.
Mark Dean: It’s okay. I still enjoyed it. It’s not often enough that you get to the UK, but it was still brilliant. Anyway, getting back to Roadcase, what format will the setlist take for the touring? I mean, will it be a mixture of song material, like McCabe’s Guitar Shop, where you mixed it up with Heart songs and some other songs, or will you be purely playing the new Roadcase material?
Nancy Wilson: We’re going to do a lot of Roadcase, new material. But we’ve already done, “These Dreams.” It sounds really cool. And when you hear Liv Warfield sing “Crazy On You,” it’s out of this world. So, we’re going to also probably include a Prince song. Probably, “Let’s Go Crazy,” but just done in a real deliberate slow way that Prince was doing it before he left us. They were raving about how Prince was doing that version of “Let’s Go Crazy,” which was like super heavy. I think there’s a couple of other Heart songs that we could really put our mark on.
Mark Dean: I was going to ask, is there any songs out by another artist, or maybe some Heart songs out you’ve hardly ever played live that you could maybe include?
Nancy Wilson: Yeah. I mean, there’s songs that I sang with Heart that a few of which might be contenders. The real test, though, is to try to drive these songs together with Roadcase Royale, and see if it kind of fits our new sound. We worked on “All is Fair in Love,” by Stevie Wonder, which sounded amazing, because that was one of my favorite Stevie songs, ever. You know, we’ll probably bring it back once we have our own kind of other… like we don’t want to do too many covers right now.
Nancy Wilson: You know, that was an interesting thing, because “The Dragon” was a song that I never felt was quite finished. There just needed one little other part, and every time I tried to kind of bring it to Heart, which was a few times, it just somehow didn’t want to be a Heart song, so I was finally able to say, okay, you guys in Roadcase, here, check this song out, and I just need this one little bridge B part, so our bass player, Dan Rothchild, came back the next day with this really cool part, and finished the song. It’s perfect for this new band. It was just never meant to be a Heart song, I guess.
Mark Dean: Do you think there will be any plans, maybe to finally get it recorded, that song?
Nancy Wilson: Yeah. It’s one of the new ones on our EP. We’ve got six songs, already.
Mark Dean: When singing harmony, rather than lead, do you find it easy for your voice to adapt?
Nancy Wilson: Harmony singing is one of my favorite ways to sing. Singing lead is really fun for me, too. I mean, especially when I know where my limits of range, when I can sing inside the limits then I feel really comfortable there, but harmony singing is, I guess, because in my family we grew up singing lots of harmony’s in the car, or driving to grandma’s house, or with aunts and uncles, and grandparents, going to the beach, family vacations where we all, you know, bonfires, and ukuleles, and sitting around singing, so it’s so natural to me to chime in as a harmony singer. There’s nothing strangely about that.
Mark Dean: How do you generally retain your enthusiasm about playing some of these songs, you mentioned “Crazy on You,” that you’ve played so many times?
Nancy Wilson: You know, that song, it’s a mark of a great song. I mean, “Barracuda” is one of those, too. There’s something about the way it sort of lands in a live situation where people respond to it because they love it, it’s a part of their lives, it’s the soundtrack of a lot of people’s lives. When they love it so much in a room like that, it just heightens the whole experience. “Crazy On You” is a beautiful song, Ann wrote beautiful words and the music just really brings a statement that doesn’t sound dated to me, even today, and then of course having Liv Warfield sing it now, it’s like, this is over the top, again, a whole different way. It’s really, that makes a mark of a great song.
Mark Dean: Just a couple then, to finish. Ann had retained the Crystal Ball from Little Queen album, I just wondered if you’d personally kept any little mementos through the band’s history? Do you have different bits around the house?
Nancy Wilson: That crystal ball was my crystal ball. I brought that to the photo shot, and later on, I kept it as a memory of a great album shoot, actually, and then Ann’s daughter Marie inherited that from me months later. Yeah. That’s one of those things, the costumes were rented, the goat was rented, the gypsy wagon was rented, the park was rented.
Nancy Wilson: Well, I don’t so much hang on. My mementos are guitars. I still have those original beautiful guitars that are a part of my life, and in my family. Those are my main mementos, because that’s where I’ve been all my life.
Mark Dean: I’m sure you’ve done many, many of these interviews, over the years, but who would you personally like to sit down and interview? Maybe a personal hero, an inspiration.
Nancy Wilson: There’s a lot of people. I guess, maybe I’d like to sit down and talk to either Paul McCartney, or Robert Plant about songs.
Mark Dean: Have you not had the opportunity with Robert? I know that Heart have done a few things over the years with the Zeppelin guys, I’m sure you’ve been in close enough contact with them.
Nancy Wilson: We’ve been in lots of situations with them where there’s a lot of people around, but not a one-on-one kind of thing. But Robert’s really a cool person. I know Paul is too, I’ve met him too. But, you know, I never really had the time to do the big, the fan’s dream come true at all.
Mark Dean: This has been my dream come true, so thanks for making that happen.
Nancy Wilson: Wow. Thank you so much.
Mark Dean: It’s brilliant, as I said, I’ve followed you since way, way back, and it’s just been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much for chatting to me, and hopefully Roadcase Royale will make it over to the UK.
Nancy Wilson: Yeah. Mark, we’re going to try to get over there as soon as we can. Thank you. Thank you for the rose.
Mark Dean: Thank you. Thanks for the music.
Nancy Wilson: You are so welcome.