Guitarist Laura Wilde has sold her soul to rock and roll. Currently on tour as the opening act for rocker Ted Nugent, her half hour opening set consists of performing all original songs, except for a cover of “Jailbreak” by AC/DC.
Only in the States for just three years, having travelled from her native Australia, she moved to California with her parents, who were heavily supportive of her playing from a young age.
In Australia, she was part of the house band on the television show Australia’s Got Talent. When she was 18 years old, she took off to go on her own 22 show tour, while continuing to do session work, and even played a private acoustic show for the Saudi Royal Family. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
Now 23 years old, Wilde says, “I was always obsessed with guitars from an early age, and was always bugging my parents to take me to music shops. I got my first guitar when I was 12, and it was an electric guitar. So I started taking lessons at school, but my teacher was a touring musician most of the time, he wouldn’t even show up to the lessons.”
She remembers, “He wouldn’t even show up half the time. So I’d listen to the radio, and try to figure out songs by ear.”
Like most guitarists, Wilde says she’s picked up a lot of licks from playing with other guitarists. She says, “I’ve mentored with some guitar players, but my last lesson I took was with Michael Angelo Batio, and that was completely not the usual style of guitar I play, because I love the blues based stuff, but it was certainly a wakeup call for my fingers. All that metal shredding and arpeggios, and all that. It was this year. Just one lesson. We met at the Dean Guitars booth at NAMM in January, and he’s become a good friend, so when he was in L.A., we decided to get together.”
As far as lessons, she says, “I was booked in for six months, and the rest was pretty much self-taught.”
She was on tour with Nugent from May through August of 2012. “We’re going out on the road together again in July, and we’ll be doing that through September.
She became his opening act, when a connection intervened. Wilde comments, “At the time he was getting ready for another tour, I was working with a publicist who was Ted’s first publicist, and she thought that Ted would be a good match for me, and the rest was history.”
Now based in Los Angeles, Wilde fronts her band. She acknowledges that it’s her band, and that she auditioned its members.
“My current line-up formed before the Fuel tour. I’ve actually known Jeff, the bass, player since a few weeks after I moved to L.A. We got the drummer probably about March, so it’s all pretty recent.”
Laura Wilde is endorsed by Dean Guitars. “That was very exciting,” she says. “A few days before I left for the Fuel tour, I picked up a Dean straight ML, which is my current weapon of choice, and I’m totally in love with that thing. The ML shape is a cross between the Flying V and an Explorer. I love Flying V’s and I love Explorers, so I love this shape. It totally rocks my world.”
She says of the guitar, “It’s straight stock. It’s the perfect combination between great tone and great looks. I’m used to playing a Flying V. So the Explorer wing at the top of the guitar balances out the V bottom, so it doesn’t sort of lean to one side, which makes playing it great.”
“I saw Lenny Kravitz playing a Flying V when I was three, so that made me sort of obsessed with them,” she recalls.
“I also have a ML that’s just a standard ML,” she explains.
“I used to work at a guitar shop in Melbourne, so I picked up a lot of very cool guitars at that time. I’ve got a Gibson Explorer, a Gretsch Silver Jet, a Fender Strat, and a couple of Flying V’s. I basically put everything I earned back into the shop,” she said with a laugh. “But I got pretty good equipment.”
Wilde hopes to delve into vintage guitars at some point.
As far as gear, she prefers Fuchs Amplifiers. Says Wilde of her model, “I’ve got a Mantis, which is just a face-melting machine, pretty much. So yeah, it’s just electrifying. I love to plug in and go crazy. When we were on tour with Ted Nugent last year, his guitar tech said that with the type of music I was playing, I should check them out. They’re all handmade. So I got in touch with the company, and checked out some of their stuff, and just fell in love from day one. I’m endorsed with them, as well.”
She had previously been using a Marshall JCM 800.
When it comes to strings, her preferences, she says, are “The10 to 52 skinny top, heavy bottom Super Slinky strings (Cobalt 7’s). I used to use the heavier ones, but I found it so hard to bend the notes.”
Wilde has recorded a 12-track CD that is available through her website.
She has videos for two songs on the album, the title track, “Sold My Soul” and “For You.” Then she added some additional videos. “I put up some covers online just for fun, and they’re some solos I really enjoy playing. It was just to give people more insight into what my playing style is.”
When describing her song “For You,” she says, “It is more of an empowerment song than a victim song, because that’s how I think women should be, anyway. No matter how down you feel, it’s never too late to turn it around.” At the end of the song, she tells the guy to get out of her life.
“Assertiveness and electric guitar go together,” she says.
A Melbourne native, she co-writes her songs, noting, “I actually had about 3 or 4 collaborations on that record with a couple of producers and another writer from Australia. Then the rest of them, I just wrote by myself. I also managed to produce a couple of tracks on it, too. So keep your ears open, and see if you can spot which ones they are.”
Her album was recorded over four years, so from 2008 to 2012. “I recorded the first track “All Alone,” which is a very assertive song for women. The last one was “Sold My Soul,” which I think was recorded in December, 2011. So that was the span of the album,” she elaborates.
As far as future plans, “We’re out on the road until September. I’m in the process of writing my next record, so hopefully, sometime in September we’ll be going into the studio, and getting it into shape, and releasing it soon.”
She estimates that she played about 30 shows with Ted last year, and that there are probably 40 more coming up on this leg of the tour.
Touring with Nugent has resulted in a lot of exposure for her, she notices. “Definitely. I think it’s definitely important from an exposure point of view. We’ve had a lot of contact with industry people since we got on the tour. It’s showing that you’re committed, and that you can play shows every night, and that’s what you want to do.”
She advises young players, “Align yourself with positive people that make you feel good, and to work with people that believe in you as much as you believe in yourself, and never forget who they are.”
When it comes to her gear on the road with Nugent, she points out, “I try to keep my pedal selection very limited, and it’s the hard way. Because on stage, everything on stage has to be taped down with duct tape, even the dials on the pedals.”
She explains, “At one of the shows with Fuel, I ran across the stage, and did some crazy jump or something, and the cord got wrapped around the pedal, and cranked the volume booster up.” She starts laughing when speaking of the experience. “I had to sort of carefully, and delicately, shut it off, and forget about the whole thing.”
“I just use a tuning pedal, I’ve got a volume booster for my solos and an MXR analogue delay pedal, and a noise suppressor, of course,” she says, noting her simple set-up.
As far as distortion pedals, she responds, “I have an Ibanez Tube Screamer, just to give it a little extra crunch. I’m sort of experimenting with just using this at the moment. That may change in a little while. I’ll keep you posted as to if that changes by the end of this tour.”
“I just try to keep it as organic as possible. Just plug in and play, because I’m jumping around and running around, and I forget to turn the pedals on half the time,” she says enthusiastically.
When it comes to her band, she says, “We learned so much on the tour last year. Probably the biggest thing I learned was how much I want to capture the feel of a live show into the recordings. Vocally, my voice sounds a certain way, but then live, it’s sort of got this extra energy that I think you can only capture at the shows. I learned how much of the live shows I’d like to bring to my album.”
“You realize there’s nothing to be afraid of. You realize you can just put your whole personality and everything about it into your playing,” she says of playing live.
Explaining her reference to Texas in her single “Sold My Soul,” Wilde says, “I was in Austin for SXSW (South by Southwest) and really fell in love with it. I was inspired by it. Loved the vibe, and just didn’t really want to go home.
~ Phyllis Pollack