Meet Suzy Wilson: Solo Artist and CrueFest Organizer
Meet Suzy Wilson: Solo Artist and CrueFest Organizer
Meet Suzy Wilson, solo artist and organizer of CrueFest Hollywood. Collaborating with the likes of Matt Starr of Ace Frehley and Norman Matthew of Murder FM, Suzy recently issued her first single Lies upon the world. Suzy knows how to rock it big time, and has even shared the stage with the one and only Rob Halford of the almighty Judas Priest. Here is a recent interview Highwire Daze conducted with Suzy Wilson to find out more about this rock singer on the rise…
What do you think about the current state of the Los Angeles music scene?
While I live in Houston, TX, I am one of the organizers for an annual charity music event that is held at the Whisky and I visit LA often. Through this event, I have met and become friends with a lot of LA musicians over the years. From what I can see, the state of the music scene in LA is not that different from other areas of the country. There are a lot of talented bands and the venues for them to perform are getting fewer and fewer. Both venues and band members have bills to pay, so if they aren’t making enough money, then they can’t continue. Fans need to come out and support both bands and venues that they enjoy. At the same time, both venues and bands need to promote the shows so that fans will know to come out and support them.
How did you collaborating with Norman Matthew of Murder FM come about?
We first met when Murder FM played Cruefest Hollywood several years ago and I then found out they were a Dallas, Texas-based band. Over the years Norman and I have become friends. When I started looking for a new collaborator, I asked a few friends for recommendations. And Norman knew that he could help bring my project to life. He understands me on a personal level and he knew that creatively we would make a great team. So he kept insisting that I should work with him. I’m very glad that he was so convincing because we do work well together. Working on this project has been way more fun and laughter than the frustration and tears of the previous one. He’ll never let me live this down since it’s in writing, but he was right. For once. LMAO.
What was it like working with Matt Starr on your single Lies and how did he become involved with the recording process?
Well, I first met Matt Starr when he was my counselor at a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp a couple of years ago at the Judas Priest Camp. We have kept in touch since then. If you follow him then you know that when he goes into the studio, if he has extra time, he will record for other projects. So I saw one of his posts and contacted him. He is great to work with and the system is pretty effortless on our end. He actually plays drums on 4 songs on my new project, so far. He is also a career coach and I have been working with him on that as well.
In addition to Matt, I also have the legendary Joe Vitale playing on 2 songs that I have written. Joe also has been my counselor at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp twice. One of those songs was a song that I was asked to write by a mutual friend. This friend’s wife had recently passed away from cancer. Before she passed, I was involved with a group of people including Joe Vitale in helping our friend to write a song about his feelings about his wife dying. About a year later that friend asked me to take the letter she left to be read at her services and turn it into a song. That was probably the hardest song ever to write. When I got ready to do the music for the song, I talked to Joe Vitale and asked if he would play drums, or piano or just some percussion. He literally plays every instrument on the song with the exception of the guitar. I then asked Joe to play on a song that I wrote for the album called Road to Nowhere. And again he plays every instrument except for guitar, which Norman plays.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the lyrics for the Lies single?
There are a number of stories that are behind the lyrics. Over the years several people have mistaken my kindness for stupidity. They don’t think that I notice that the story they told me has changed several times. Lying is something that I don’t tolerate. I have said many times if you are going to lie to me, then you better be smart enough to remember the story you told me in the first place, because I will. And if your story changes, I’ll call you out on it. And also if you are going to lie then make it something that I can’t in about 5 seconds find out that it’s a lie. Because I will check up on it.
As for the concept for the video, that is totally my friend and director Paul Gervasi’s doing. He came up with all of that. It is the story about an 80’s rock star named Suzy Lazer. She got lied to and screwed over by the music industry, so she quit and became a recluse. Then years later, an unreleased song is discovered and released. She tries to continue a private life but is thrust back into the limelight. Paul is another person I know from Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. He has directed videos for numerous artists including Geoff Tate, Autograph, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Cherri Future, and Frank Dimino among others.
How close are you to writing and recording an all-new single, EP or full length?
Well, collaborating via long distance is a slow process but we are working on an all-new EP with a target release at the beginning of 2019. Lies is the first song that has been completed, and it was released in August as a single and a video. We had a wonderful opportunity pop up to do a music video for it. Just shot a video for another song from the new EP that will also be released around the first of 2019.
You sang a duet with the legendary Rob Halford at the Whisky. How did that come about, what was the song, and what was going through your mind when the live performance took place?
Well I actually got to sing a duet with the amazing Rob Halford at The Whisky twice. Both were as a part of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camps. Four of the members of Judas Priest have been the special guest artists at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp 3 times and I have been to the 2 more recent ones. First I have to say that Rob, Ian, Richie and Scott are all so wonderful to work with. Really nice, down-to-earth people, who really work to put you at ease.
The first time it was actually a trio Rob, another Camper and I did Breaking The Law. The more recent time, we did 2 songs with them. Rob & I sang Another Thing Coming. Then another Camper, Rob & I did Running Wild that we had not rehearsed with them. And despite it being on the list of songs for Camp, it turns out they had not done the song in years. And Richie had never played it before ever. But we all pulled it together and everyone had a lot of fun doing it.
So much fun, that they actually decided that night on stage at The Whisky that they were going to add it to their set list for their most recent tour. And they did. It was really cool to go to their show and hear them play that song and know that we had a part in that happening.
As for what was going through my mind, that’s hard to say. Probably just trying not to mess up the song. As we did rehearse with them before the performance, I probably had all the butterflies from performing with such a legend during the rehearsal the first time. The second time was about a year later and all of the guys recognized me from the previous time. Rob and Richie gave me a big hug and told me how glad they were to see me just before our rehearsal the second time, so I think that I was thinking wow, they remembered me.
How did your involvement with Cruefest come about and give me a brief background behind the once a year show?
Back in the late 90s, a couple of fans set up a Mötley Crüe website along with a message board called Shout. At that time, the band was not together and no one knew if they would ever perform together again. So there was no “official” website. The fan-built site did turn into the official site later on but at that time it was just the fans. There were about 200 of us on the message board and about 40 or so posted on a regular basis.
Around 2000, the people on Shout wanted to meet each other. So we all began talking about having a get-together somewhere. There were members of Shout from all over the world so it was decided that it would be in Hollywood, where the Crue began. Somewhere along the line, it was decided to do a show at The Whisky and to make it a benefit in memory of Skylar Neil. At that point, it was planned as just a one-time thing.
While I was on Shout at that time, I didn’t get to attend that first one, but from what I understand everyone had so much fun and so many people weren’t able to be there that they decided to do it again the next year and we are still doing it almost 20 years later. I was finally able to attend my first one in 2007. I had so much fun with all my friends that I wanted to come back again and wanted to be more involved. My background is PR and Advertising. I had been both the manager and production manager of a musical theatre company and had organized numerous events and fund raisers. So I dove in and have been a part of it along with Nick Culves, Cat McClain, Randi Keaton and Derika Hibbs and a host of other volunteers. There have been a lot of others who have served on the committee over the years and their contributions are greatly appreciated. Without them, we would not be where we are today.
It has grown way beyond that initial group of Shout members. We have a group of people who come from around the world every year, who were not a part of that original group. But they are now a part of the family. And as long as people keep coming and having a great time and we are able to raise money in Skylar’s memory, we will keep on doing it. And the family will continue to grow.
All of the organizers are still a group of friends who met on a message board more than 20 years ago. Cruefest Hollywood has always been an act of love from the fans. The committee members are from all over the US and we are still all unpaid volunteers. Only one member even lives in California. We still raise money in the memory of Skylar Neil and donate the proceeds in her memory to Letty’s Angels of Hope.
How did this year’s edition of Cruefest go and what could we expect from Cruefest 2019?
This year’s event was very successful and everyone had a great time. As far as next year, expect a lot of awesome auction and raffle items, cool t-shirts, great bands, and good friends getting together to celebrate together, listen to some great music, have fun and raise some money for charity.
What’s up next for you recording and performing wise?
Wrapping up final recording on the songs for the new EP and getting everything ready for release at the beginning of 2019. When you are an independent artist, that means you have to do everything yourself. So will be busy with all the business aspects of releasing an EP. Getting the new music video ready to release as well.
November 8th through the 11th, I’ll be participating in another Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. This Camp will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The special guests are Joe Perry and Jason Bonham. So I will be performing Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith songs with a band of people that I just met at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, Florida on November 10th and 11th. Check www.rockcamp.com for more information on the shows.
Any final words of wisdom?
If you don’t ask the question, then the answer is always NO. If you do ask the question and the answer is No, then you aren’t any worse off than you were to begin with. And sometimes you can be surprised and the answer is either Yes or No but how about this instead. That’s actually how the music video for Lies came about. Wish that I had learned this years ago.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Suzy Wilson on Facebook