Brad Wilson Featured in July '06 Issue of Vintage Guitar

Vintage Guitar article July 06

Take just one listen to Brad Wilson's new self-titled CD, and it quickly becomes clear he has been around long enough to absorb a host of influences, and that he has fun playing rock and roll. - In the old days he would probably have been called a "road warrior." And as with so many musicians, Wilson's musical road starts with - and goes back to - his family.

"My parents loved having music in the house," he said. "We lived in rural Nevada at the time, and from my earliest memories there would be western music like Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash, as well as big singers like Sinatra and Streisand. My mom played piano and organ.

"When my family moved to San Francisco, I was given a subscription to the Columbia House record club and I was off and running with the Rolling Stones, Beatles, and Byrds. I was lucky that my parents would take me on Saturdays to the local music store for guitar lessons. I'd be in my room practicing and listening for hours."

From there, he says it was a natural progression to getting together with buddies and forming a band. For him, it was the summer after eighth grade. Throughout high school, they played the usual joints. "We played at the recreation room at the park, the church pancake breakfast, and any local event that would let us perform. We were all best friends, hanging out and spending all of our free time together.

"My buddies from back then came to a gig I played recently in San Jose, and we were remembering the early days," he said. "They brought pictures of us playing a show we are about 14 years old!"

Wilson says geography also played a part in his musical upbringing. "Living in the Bay Area was the best, because Bill Graham ran the Fillmore and Winterland Concert Halls. There were also terrific shows at the Berkeley Community Center, and Bill Graham produced mega shows called Day On The Green concerts at the Oakland Coliseum. My friends and I would go see guitar players and their bands, like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Mike Bloomfield, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, the Stones, The Who, Allman Brothers, Robin Trower, and all the San Francisco bands from Santana to The Dead. And all

of the amazing female singers I like Janis Joplin, Lydia Pence, Stoneground, Grace Stick, Kathi McDonald, and the Pointer Sisters. Every weekend, we would be in line to see these incredible musicians , then go back to the garage to play music and try and learn their songs.

"I still get inspired hearing the music from those artists, and want to pick up the guitar and play."

Wilson got his first big gig with Kathi McDonald, who released an album on Capitol and played all over the Bay area. Wilson says that in many ways it was a dream gig at the time. "I needed the money and I wasn't 21 yet, so getting in the clubs was a lot of fun. Kathi always had celebrities sitting in, so I met and jammed with a lot of talented musicians. San Francisco was red hot with guitar greats like Boz Scaggs, Neal Schon, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana, John Cippolina, Michael Bloomfield, Taj Mahal, and John Lee Hooker, just to name a few."

From there, he played with a band called Blind Date, which eventually signed with RCA.

That gig led to his band, Stone, spending the next three years on the road playing gigs with the likes of .38 Special, Cheap Trick, Paula Cole, Tonic, Derek Trucks and many others. But the notoriety Wilson has gained lately comes from the movies and TV. He eventually fronted Stone and their album was produced by the Robb Brothers, who introduced him to John Carpenter.

"I met John Carpenter while he was filming Vampires, which starred James Woods. He really liked a song I wrote called 'Teaser' for a specific scene in the movie where James Woods' character and his buddies are celebrating the destruction of a vampire nest. The film was released and went to number one.. John also made 'Teaser' the first song on the soundtrack. In fact, it's the only song with vocals on the entire record. The soundtrack went onto win a Saturn Award for Best Music, from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films."

These days, Wilson gigs with his band about 150 days a year, His influences are wide and varied, but he cites Gregg Allman for vocals, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, and the Gershwins for songwriting, and his guitar influences include Dominoes-era Eric Clapton, Hendrix, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and newcomers like John Mayer.

Equipment-wise, Wilson is a fan of Gibson Les Pauls and Mesa Engineering amplifiers. A listen to his record highlights his great tone, which he credits to Brian Daugherty at Total Access Studios, and his gear. "Daugherty's microphone selection and technique play a big part in the tone of the guitar on the record."

For guitars, I credit the Seymour Duncan pickups - JBs and'58 reissues in my two Les Pants, and a BC Rich Bich. And I'm a fan of Lexicon delays. The amps and cabinets on the album were all Mesa Engineering; a 50-watt Recto-Verb, 35watt Blue Angel, 45 -watt Nomad. Cabs were 4xl2", 2xl2", and a 1x12" closed back, and an open-back 1x12". Each of these amps uses different power tubes to noticeable effect; the 50 -watt with EL34s for classic Marshall high-gain tone, the Blue Angel has 6L6s for vintage Fender tone, and the EL84s in the Nomad, for a modern Mesa sound."

For 2006 and beyond, Wilson says he plans to stay busy, making another record and, of course, lots of road work.

- John Heidt