The music of the Birmingham-based Wilson Thrills goes beyond the songs of your typical punk rock band. For one thing, all five members have either studied, are currently studying, or are about to start studying music in a university setting.
“Josh Crowe (Keytar) and I both graduated this past May from Birmingham-Southern College with music degrees,” says lead singer and guitarist Joey Wilson. “Phillip Blevins(guitar) will be a freshman at University of North Alabama in the fall studying music, Jonathan Rawson (bass) studies music at Samford, and Dylan Hughes (drums) studies music at Alabama, so it’s obvious what our hearts are set on.”
Another vital element to their sound is the aforementioned keytar, a surprising addition to the typical setup of the genre.
“Josh is very tasteful with it though and knows how to really add something three dimensional to the group’s sound,” Wilson said.
The band formed in December of 2010 after the disbanding of Wilson’s math-rock outfit, The Tangled Cord. They have since played at well-known Birmingham venues such as Bottletree and The Firehouse, as well as a South by Southwest benefit show in March with local acts The Magic Math, Delicate Cutters, and the Grenandines. They released their self-titled EP recorded by Les Nuby of Vulture Whale.
The music calls to mind energetic punk-pop and progressive punk rock similar to Ace Troubleshooter and Saves the Day with driving guitar solos, musical breakdowns, and the occasional hardcore scream, all led by Wilson’s Colin Meloy(The Decemberists)-sounding vocals.
Lyrics such as “They just love to beat you up/They just 'love' everything/Is it healing? Is it healing?/Or is it all interfering?” showcase the album’s theme of “struggle and getting through the hard times with a positive attitude.”
“Lyrically I tend to use phrases that actually came out of my mouth in conversations. I get a little annoyed with overly poetic lyrics in songs,” said Wilson. “The majority of the lyrics in ‘Hole In My Throat’ are things I yelled over the phone to a girl who broke my heart. The lyrics in ‘Song for Mom’ are the actual words I said to my mom while she was in a hospital bed.”
The group has done very well for its first eight months together, but realize that they still have some goals to accomplish before hitting the big time.
“Being around bands like Vulture Whale, Grenadines, Magic Math, and the Green Seed really inspired us to work hard like all those bands and let nothing stop us,” Wilson said. “But we gotta work hard to get there. Our motto is ‘Dream big. Work hard.’ ”
You can catch The Wilson Thrills at the Birmingham Arts and Music Festival. They will be playing The Rogue Tavern on 2nd Avenue North at 6 PM on Friday, August 12th.