It’s tough always being 7 seconds ahead of your time. That’s Webb Wilder’s motto these days.
The Nashville-based roots-rocker has released his first album of original material in five years, “Acres of Suede” (on Watermelon). Granted, he never went away – his last album, “Town & Country,” a collection of road-tested cover versions, won the Nashville Music Award for best independent album of the year in 1995 and readers of Music Row magazine named him independent artist of the year.
Still, it has been an uphill battle for recognition since the effusive singer-songwriter had a falling out with Zoo Entertainment and parent company BMG at the height of his success in 1992. Even the critical praise for his postmodern, B-movie videos “Paradise Park” and “Cornfilcks” didn’t soften the blow.
“We released (the album) ‘Doo Dad’ and got lots of airplay with the single ‘Tough It Out,’ which was like No. 16 on Billboard’s album rock chart,” Wilder said recently. “We were touring coast to coast, rolling some pretty big dice. … A fair amount of money went into making that album and promoting it, and when it didn’t sort of recoup in the first two quarters or something, I think somebody at BMG sort of said, ‘Don’t put any more money into this.’ It was a real shame, because there was a lot of momentum there.”
The big-label fumble, among other things, led to turmoil within Wilder’s band, and there were debts to pay. Still signed to Zoo affiliate Praxis, Wilder eventually told BMG, ” ‘Love me or leave me,’ and they said okay, and we got out of the contract.”
After the smoke cleared, Watermelon reissued Wilder’s debut “It Came From Nashville,” and its success prompted the Austin, Texas, label to offer him a two-album deal.
“Acres of Suede” follows in the footsteps of the all-cover “Town & Country,” saluting Wilder’s many influences – from rockabilly to “cowboy grunge.”
“I want to do what my favorite artists did, take their influences and go somewhere with them with original songs,” said Wilder, who co-wrote many of the tracks with longtime friend Bobby Fields.
“I want people to know I’m there, that the album exists, and I want them to hear it, and then if they don’t like it, fine. You just want a shot.”
BWF (before we forget): The Webb Wilder album discography – “It Came From Nashville,” “Hybrid Vigor,” “Doo Dad,” “Town & Country,” “Acres of Suede.”