Sometimes you miss something that is really amazing even though it’s right in front of you. That’s the case with the release of Gasoline by Wild America. The album dropped in 2018 on Kivel Records and I saw tons of promo on both Facebook and Twitter. Yet for some reason I never gave it a listen.
Wild America‘s guitarist Billy DiNapoli has been featured twice in AMP. First with his tribute band, Stairway to Halen, where he performs with my good friend Bobby Ambrose. Secondly, he was kind enough to participate in AMP’s tribute the Eddie Van Halen. Recently Billy forwarded me a copy of Gasoline and I was floored. I should have given the band a review two years ago. But better late than never.
From opening song “Long Road” to the appropriately titled final tune, “Til the End”, the album cranks. You can hear their classic rock roots yet you can also feel their modern interpretations. They bring a breath of fresh air to a music genre that’s still a vibrant force. I never saw the band live but I can imagine that the show is loud, propulsive and entertaining.
Gasoline has many highlights especially the explosive “Rockstar” and the galvanic “Gasoline”. The beautiful ballad, “Feel The Fire” is full of delicate nuances and gorgeous harmonies. These are some of my favorites but believe me there are many other songs on this album that could easily hit that status. I am looking forward to what the future brings for Wild America
AMP: Billy, give the readers a brief history of the band.
BILLY: Wild America was formed in 2017 by myself and lead singer Joe Labbadia. We have worked together since 1995. After many years of recording and performing we attracted the attention of Escape Music which at the time was distributed through Sony Entertainment. The band was entitled Aftermath. The album Natural Destruction was released worldwide in 2003. While recording the next album in 2005, the label severed ties with us. Arena rock wasn’t burning up the charts here at home and finances from the label were not there to further explore Europe. So that was that.
In 2007 Joey and I formed a more progressive hard rock act called Fools Faith (Escape Music had the rights to the Aftermath name). We released an album entitled Undone in 2007 on our own label. Shortly thereafter I retired from music for nearly 5 and a half years to concentrate on career and family. At the end of 2012 I would rejoin Fools Faith and performed many original and even cover gigs throughout New England for 5 years before we started recording again. We had sent some demos to John Kivel from Kivel Records in 2017.He responded with enthusiasm and we decided to give it a go with the label and record a full length album.
At that time, the band consisted of myself, Joey, bassist John Gallicano, drummer Jason Coletsos and keyboardist Andrew Kadin. Being in a touring band did not appeal to Coletsos and he was replaced by Jason Northrop. Kadin also chose to opt out of touring but would continue only to assist in the studio. The band name we decided on was Wild America. The album, Gasoline, was released in 2018 and has sold thousands of copies worldwide. Juggling a career at home does not always jive with a touring band and by the end of the Gasoline tour John Gallicano and Jason Northrop had opted out of the band.
Being on the road is not for everyone so Joey and I knew whoever we picked for our new rhythm section needed to have the flexibility and willingness to travel. Enter drummer Arnie Cuozzo and bassist Steve Wovkanech. Arnie was my drummer in Stairway to Halen and is a Bonham type player in style and attack. He joined in time for our last show before the pandemic hit, The Rock n Skull music festival in Illinois. Wovkanech was selected after sitting through a large pool of players nationwide. This current lineup has completed the band’s next album which is ready for release. We have delayed the release while we wait for the Covid-19 situation to resolve.
AMP: The band uses the expression “old school cool”. Can you explain what that means?
BILLY: “Old school cool”…LOL. That’s what we call sticking to our guns. We are an arena rock band that combines the best sounds of the 70’s and 80’s. Van Halen sounding guitars and melodic vocals.
AMP: Your songs have a very classic yet current sound. Give us an insight into the songwriting process.
BILLY: Joey and I write most of the music. Usually we are in search of a great riff and a great melody over it. We’re all about a tune with a quality hook in the chorus. Joey and I will come up with the framework for the tunes and bring it to the rehearsal rom where Steve and Arnie will assist. Studio engineer and keyboard player Andrew Kadin also adds input as well as John Gallicano on some songs we wrote together while he was still in the band. For the most part Joey and I put the ideas together and it builds from there.
AMP: When can we expect new material from Wild America?
BILLY: The new album is basically 95% finished. We just held it back because of the pandemic. When restrictions are lifted the band will tour in 2021-22. The album will be released a little before then..it’s looking like the spring of 2021.