Roadcase Royale are not only on Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's Runaway Train Tour this fall, but an example of catching a zeitgeist and riding it to fruition.

Roadcase Royale has a distinguished pedigree. Fronted by Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Liv Warfield of Prince’s New Power Generation (NPG), Roadcase Royale brings together elements of Heart and NPG to make something that is evocative of its collective history, but points to an exciting future as well.


NPG’s Ryan Waters (guitar) along with Heart’s Dan Rothchild (bass), Chris Joyner (keyboard) and Ben Smith (drums) round out the rock and roll lineage that will open for Seger at PPG Paints Arena tonight.

The band is a new venture for the rock veterans, but one that seems to have courted destiny. From Wilson and Warfield meeting after the later opened for Heart in 2015 to the idea of forming the band with Heart’s current hiatus to the quick turnaround of writing and recording their debut album “First Things First,” Roadcase Royale started to roll and looks to build upon that momentum.

The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with Wilson about “First Things First,” how timely the album feels and how Roadcase Royale came to be its own runaway train.

The Swerve Magazine:
Roadcase Royale is currently opening for Bob Seger. The album, “First Things First,” came out on Sept. 22. It seems like there was a quick turnaround from deciding to follow through with Roadcase Royale and the release of the album.

Nancy Wilson: Yes, it was that quick.

When I met Liv Warfield and Ryan Waters (guitar), they were opening for Heart at the Hollywood Bowl (in 2015). Liv caught me before we left and said, “I just had to say hello. I’m a big fan. I sure wish I could do more rock music. I feel a little stifled in the R&B mold. Can I send you some of my song ideas?”

I told her, of course, she could. When I heard what they had going on, (I knew) we had to keep talking. We talked more, and we decided to get my three Heart guys together with her (and Waters) in Los Angeles to see what kind of noise we could make.

As soon as we started, we all realized that it could be amazing. Everybody is really proficient songwriters, arrangers, producers, and performers. Everybody has this experience to bring to the table.

It did happen really quickly. We had two different sessions in LA in a rehearsal space where we wrote everything for the album, besides the Heart songs obviously. That was all done in one session; then we recorded it in the next session. The whole project, with mastering involved, must have been not even three weeks total.

We just had this thing going on. It was like a runaway train in many ways, not to quote the Bob Seger title, but sometimes you just get on a roll, and you can’t stop.

SM: That is one thing with the album, is that you can tell it is very much of the current time. One can tell that it was written recently. The topics the album covers are very timely.

NW: I think that is one of the important things that songwriting is about. I think it is important, especially in these times, there have been a lot of terrible thing going on in the world, in our country that people need to write about and that people need to be supported in their feelings about issues.

Songs hold a lot of weight in people’s lives. When you start talking about women’s issues, which are basic human issues actually, people respond to that. When all the women marches were happening around the world, that is why we rushed out “Get Loud.” It became a bit of an anthem. There was a momentum. There was feeling that we could help somehow with this terrible situation that is multiplying itself every day.

SM: Yes, it just seems to get worse. Just when you think it has hit bottom or things can’t get crazier, they do. You would think at some point, there has to be a threshold, but there doesn’t seem to be any.

NW: It is where we fall. Where are we going to fall, nobody knows. Round and round she goes (laughs).

SM: Exactly. Music has always been an avenue for expressing opinions and messages, but in this country today, it seems that if you have an opinion, you are to keep it to yourself. People don’t want their ‘entertainers’ to speak out.

NW: I get that. I think that there are a lot of people that are affronted with having any kind of entertainer having any kind of political stance.

I don’t agree as we are all citizens here. We all pay taxes, and we even show our tax returns (laughs). I don’t think somebody like me, for instance, is going to go and make some big, bold political statement. What I do think I’m capable of doing, and what is effective, is talking about things that I care about through music, with music and song. Like “Get Loud,” it is an uplifting song.

SM: Very much so. That, also, harkens back to the 1960s and even before that where there were plenty of songs that were anthems and protest songs. It is not like it is unheard of, or hasn’t been done before, with artists expressing themselves.

NW: Absolutely right. I think it is easier for people to be narrow-minded. It is just easier to be narrow-minded and easily offended by anyone’s opinion that isn’t their own or be able to listen to other’s opinions. It is easier to stay in a narrower state of mind.

SM: Well, speaking of staying current with what is going on, you just released “The Dragon” as a single. It was written back in the 90s…

NW: Interestingly that song, I’ve done it a couple of times on my own acoustically. It never felt finished. The verse is very delicate, and the chorus is really rock. I could never find the middle part. It was never finished in my mind. I kind of forgot about it for a long time.

With Roadcase Royale, I thought, maybe, someone could help me finish this song. I gave Dan Rothchild the assignment of going home and writing me a bridge for the song (laughs). He came back the next day with a bridge that was perfect.

We decided that we should do this as it is more relevant now since we lost Chris Cornell and others. Sometimes songs just drop right out of the sky and sometimes they hibernate.

SM: It is almost something more than coincidence of how timely that song is now. The drugs may have changed, but the idea is still the same.

NW: I’m glad the song is out there as a cautionary tale. There are a lot of people who I see struggling with their addiction and covering it. Covering it up and turning into people that you don’t recognize, the song is for them too. You hate to see it coming, and that is why I wrote the song in the first place. You see it coming, and it is sad.

SM: It, again, shows how diverse and of the times the album is.

NW: I like that about Roadcase Royale now. We are not stuck in one mold. We have a lot of stylistic freedom to do different things, quite a few different things. We have all these players in the band. If we set our mind to it, we could do a concept album, a stylistic concept album, for instance, we could do it. We have all these capabilities.