Hailing from Australia, Laura Wilde already has a well-shaped leg up with great looks and a fabulous accent.
But it’s her rip-your-head-off, full-fledged guitar assault that’ll really get your attention. No gimmicks. No backing down. Just gonna have-a-good-time raunch rock with fierce guitar riffs, searingly unapologetic lyrics and a driving back line. Oh yeah. Remember when rock was rockin’? Now you know what I’m talking about.
A mere 22 years old, Wilde fell in love with the guitar as a young child and got her first taste of the stage at 16 when she snuck out to a club with friends. The band was short a bass player and Wilde bravely gave in to her friends’ urging and stepped up. She hasn’t backed down since.
During her teen years, Wilde became an in-demand guitar and bass player and has worked with a who’s who of Australian artists. She also appeared regularly on Australian TV, working as a presenter on Beat TV and on Australia’s Got Talent in the house band.
Now Wilde lives in Los Angeles and has recently released her debut album, Sold My Soul. She’s touring as an opening act for Ted Nugent this spring. We spent a few minutes with Wilde. Check it out!
GUITAR WORLD: Tell me about your new album.
My new album is called Sold My Soul, and we’re promoting the album and a video for the title track. It’s pretty much straight-up rock and roll, with the more melodic tracks thrown into the mix. The majority of the album was produced in Australia by an Australian producer called Brian Canham. And there was one track produced by a guy called Bill Kio. And I actually managed to weasel in and produce a couple of tracks myself, which was a very fun learning experience.
Who else played on the album with you?
Actually, I ended up playing all the instruments myself. That was pretty interesting, but it was just because I couldn’t really find any session guys that came up with hooky guitar parts. They all just sort of came in and half-assed it, and so it was like, “No, I’m just going to have to do this myself!” It was like being thrown into the mix and having to either sink or swim. So you know, it was good fun.
That’s fabulous. Do you have a favorite track that you like to play live?
Actually, my favorite one isn’t on the album. I just wrote it in January, and it’s our new closing track. It’s called “Tragedy,” which is more of a blues/rock 12-bar song. It’s great live, and it’s got that familiar sound so the audience really likes it as well.
Is that available anywhere that people could download or anything?
No, not yet. You’ll just have to come to a live show and see it! Also, I really love “Nothing Back” from the album. It’s a punky, trashy song; that’s another one of my faves. I like the ones where you can just swing your neck around and just go crazy.
Tell me about how you came to be doing some opening dates with Ted Nugent.
Well, my publicist at the time, Laura Kaufman, actually used to be Ted’s publicist as well. And so she thought it would be a great fit. And unfortunately, she’s passed away now. We’re missing her every day and wish she was around to see all of this come into fruition.
Well, she laid the groundwork for you so at least you’re taking it and running, right?
Yeah, yeah exactly. I mean, it’s how she would’ve wanted it to be. I’m so thankful.
Have you had any challenges being a female guitarist?
Yeah, I mean, the biggest challenge is just not being taken seriously as a guitarist. I remember one of my worst memories back home was I had just played my little heart out, got off the stage, and someone said, “It would’ve been great if she wasn’t miming.”
Yeah, they just didn’t think I wasn’t playing at all. That wasn’t the nicest thing anyone’s said to me.
I guess you've just gotta take that with a grain of salt though, right?
Exactly. I don’t know, I just think being taken seriously as a female rocker is one of the hardest things, but people are starting to believe it’s true.
Let’s step back a bit. Tell me about your experience picking up the guitar.
I’d been hounding my parents for years about buying me a guitar every time we used to walk past a music shop. I’d be like, “Oh my god, can we have a look in?” And they’d be like, “No!!” So, it was a very special treat even to look in a music instrument shop. But I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 12. My mom, you know, there was a big square box underneath the Christmas tree. I asked my mom what it was, and she was like, “Oh, it’s a whole set of Harry Potter books.” I was like, “Oh, awesome. Great.” And when I opened it on Christmas Day, it was a guitar amplifier. I actually screamed and cried with happiness. One of the best moments of my life. From then on, like that day, I was teaching myself how to play songs on the guitar and it was love at first sight.
That was pretty brave of your mom.
Yeah! And she’s very supportive now. I just thought it was a great little stunt, so I would have no clue what it was.
So did you take lessons at that point as well?
I did. I took lessons at my school, but the teacher was a touring musician. So I got one lesson every like four months. I’ve been pretty much self-taught from when I was a kid. It’s got its advantages and disadvantages, because sometimes you can get into a playing rut where you just play the same thing, something that you’re comfortable with. Whereas you’ve always gotta keep yourself challenged and learn new things from everyone.
Who are you guitar-playing idols?
I guess Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Slash. They’re my all-time guitar heroes.
You have a bit of technical knowledge of guitar gear. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah! Well, I actually ended up, my first year out of high school, I ended up working in a guitar shop just to earn a bit of extra cash, and we had some of the best guitar techs in Australia working in there. So they used to show me some of the stuff out the back, the workshop, what they were doing to $10,000 guitars, and how careful they had to be. It was such an amazing experience.
We had all these amps and countless guitars in there. So it was a natural instinct to plug in as many as you can and see what they sound like, and experiment with everything.
What are you playing now? What’s your rig like?
Right now I’ve got a Marshall JCM 800 from 1984 and that’s with my Gibson Flying V. I’m actually having some pedal epiphanies right now, which I’m still working out. I’m going back to the drawing board, back to analog and still messing around with everything at the moment.
Have you found any pedals that are particularly appealing?M
I’ve got an MXR analog delay, and now I’m sort of making due with a Boss Blues Driver, but I’m going around with my band, and I’m on a pedal hunt. If anyone has any amazing pedals, then yeah let me know. It’s a whole new world, just limitless capabilities so I have to choose wisely.
So you’re touring now. Who else is playing with you? You can’t play everything yourself when you’re on the road, right?
No, unfortunately I don’t have eight arms and legs. I’ve got Chris Price on the bass, Keith Robert on the guitar and Matt Starr on drums. And they’re all great, great guys, fantastic musicians. You know, when you have to sit in a van with someone for countless hours, we all get along really well and that shows on stage. It’s been great playing with them.
Sometimes it’s just fun to not have to play everything yourself, too.
Yeah, exactly. I love to learn something new from everyone. You know, someone comes in and plays something and puts a different flavor or spin on it. It’s good. I’m not some instrument hog, “No! I’m gonna play this part!” It’s the best person for the job.
I have a burning question I’ve wanted to ask you. Americans think Australians are really big partiers. Would you concur?
Oh, I can concur until the cows come home! Haha! Yeah, we certainly like to party. But that being said, Australian pop culture has been conducive to writing great rock and roll. You look at bands like AC/DC, Jet, Wolf Mother, INXS, you know? When you tour, you can’t really party. It’s a big myth, you basically just have to play the show and get out of there, because you have to be at the next place on time. But yeah, when I was back in Australia it was a good party, rockin’ time.
What’s next for you?
We’re touring through the Midwest in early June until about the 18th, and then we’re playing the East Coast in July and August so we could be coming through a town near you.
Find out more at laurawilde.com.
Check out the official video for the Sold my Soul title track:
And here’s some live footage of Wilde and the band performing “Nothing Back”:
Photo: Robert John
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the co-producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band, Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.