Ann Wilson Talks Upcoming Solo Work & Heart Hiatus: 'It Will Never Be the Way It Was Before'
"I'm definitely working on" new material, Wilson tells Billboard. "The tour's over in the late fall, and when we get back, I'll go into my home studio and we will do it, 'cause there is stuff coming." And, Wilson adds that she has plenty to say when she does get down to writing songs. "Just being out in the world, you see so many things, and every day you experience so many concepts and different people and their coolness and weirdness. It's a feast of ideas."
Wilson released her first solo album, the guest-laden Hope & Glory, in 2007. She's also released a pair of EPs as the Ann Wilson Thing, in 2015 and 2016. Her new music will likely speak to today's social and political climate, as evidenced by the covers she's been playing on her tour.
"I just wanted to do a set that was wide awake and there's no filler," explains Wilson, who in addition to Heart songs has also been covering material by Jimi Hendrix, Yes, The Black Crowes, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and others. "I chose [songs] that mean a lot to me personally and I think are relevant for now and have great lyrics and a message. We do a version of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' by The Who and people just lose it; but that's what I meant by finding songs that are relevant and true to the moment. I think that as an artist I should participate in the conversation. I shouldn't be saying, 'OK, let's just leave the world outside the door and come in and engage in fluff.' I really feel that a concert is a place where you can bring up topics and you can actually discuss them and feel them and have a great time. ... It's definitely a place for considering things and saying something that should be said right now."
Before any album, however, Wilson will release a film from the tour; performance footage was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the end product, she says, will have "a lot of documentary footage in it. It's not just a straight live thing. There's been all kind of B-roll and interview footage, and it's going to be really cool." Heart, meanwhile, remains on ice after Wilson's husband Dean Wetter pleaded guilty to assaulting her sister and Heartmate Nancy Wilson's teenage twin sons last year backstage in suburban Seattle. But while that was the tipping point, Wilson says a schism was already in the offing.
"It was already happening long, long before that, at least a couple of years before, and that was just the straw that got things moving forward," Wilson acknowledges. "The last 10 years have been mostly constant touring, year-round with different packages. By the end of last year, I felt like I was being imported to do a job, but there wasn't anything new about it. "I just went, 'Well, I want to do something else for a while and see if I could get a breath and some distance and recapture my fire."
There's no guarantee of a Heart return, either. "I really don't know at this moment," Wilson says. "But I do know for sure it will never be the way it was before. It will be something out of the box, moving forward and evolved -- if it ever happens again."