Music

As Heart Prepares to Launch Its First Tour in 5 Years, Ann Wilson Says Band Is Hoping to Write New Music

Five years after its last concert tour, what Nancy Wilson calls “the actual Heart,” with herself and older sister Ann Wilson, is beating its way toward the road — and looking toward making some new music, Heart’s first since its Beautiful Broken album in 2016.

“The thing that we really hope to achieve is to maybe write some more stuff together,” Ann tells Billboard. She adds, however, “We don’t have plans for that right now. We don’t really plan too far in the future; we’re not calculating like that. We’re just gonna do this tour and see what comes. But I think if a song comes out of a situation, it’ll be a real good one, ’cause it’ll be authentic. It’s just a matter of me and Nancy getting our heads around that.”

There is, however, one new song that Heart’s been working on — “Roll the Dice,” written with longtime collaborator and Lovemongers groupmate Sue Ennis with an eye toward including it in the Royal Flush Tour shows that begin April 20 in Greenville, S.C. Ann says it’s still “a work in process,” which Nancy began when she and Ennis got together “just for songwriting purposes. A lot of times we text with each other and we get on concept ideas and title ideas and lyric ideas. When she finally came to visit me at my house in northern California, we spent about a week together, and we actually recorded some demos.”

There are no plans for “Roll the Dice” yet beyond playing it at shows, but Nancy says she’s also been trolling through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted group’s vaults, listening to unreleased material with the thought of releasing some of that in the near future, too. “There’s a couple unfinished things I’d like to finish off with Ann and Sue,” she says. “There’s one really, really cool song called ‘Sweet Deceiver,’ but the words were never right, so we never recorded it properly. I think I might want to finish that song; I’ve been trying to think of new chorus lyrics ever since I heard the demo. I would love to write some new stuff, too.

“If we have a song or two that comes out of Heart, that would be really great. These days, it’s kind of like one song at a time, but you can still do a whole album, which is cool. I love albums,” she adds. “When I can put on an album in its entirety, in the sequence it was intended, that’s the best to me. The new Kacey Musgraves [Deeper Well] is really great. I love the Post Malone album, Austin. Taylor Swift’s stuff is amazing. So we’ll see.”

In the meantime the Wilsons are happy to have Heart headed back out on tour, with a lineup of mostly new members; only guitarist Ryan Waters was part of the group’s last tour, in 2019, while he and his Tripsitter bandmates — guitarist Ryan Wariner, guitarist-keyboardist Paul Moak, bassist Tony Lucido and drummer Sean T. Lane — have worked with Ann during the interim. The sisters are planning covers-free setlists this time out, focusing on what Nancy says are “songs that mean a lot to a lot of people, that are the Heart songs they know and love that are also the soundtracks to people’s lives.”

“What I really love about Heart and miss about Heart is the flexibility, musically, inside of the band itself,” she notes. “If we wanted to, we could be a Led Zeppelin cover band. Or if we wanted to, we could be a total comedy routine band. We could do all kinds of amazing covers of stuff, but this time, it’s going to be all us.”

Ann adds, “We’re really trying to keep it pure. The whole idea is to do something we have not done before … just a whole set of Heart music from different eras of the band.”

That immersion, meanwhile, has led to some unexpected perspective on Heart’s nearly 50-year recording career.

“I think I was always so busy performing the songs and trying to just be excellent on stage that I never really sank into the true meaning of some of the songs until now,” Ann explains. “The other day at rehearsal they had been working out ‘Dog and Butterfly,’ and I sat down and it was so beautiful and the sentiment was so great and beautiful and tender, and I just teared up right off, even before I sang anything. It was awesome.”

The sisters acknowledge that there are still some differences in their individual views of what Heart is and should be, but they’ve found enough common ground to put the band on tour for the remainder of 2024 in North America and Europe — with opening acts such as Cheap Trick, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening and Randy Bachman’s BTO, as well as three stadium dates this summer supporting Def Leppard and Journey.

“We’re talking. We’re fine together. We just felt it, so why not?” Ann says. “The common ground is that we both want it to be excellent and we both want it to be absolutely Heart. We just basically put it together and said, ‘Let’s go!’” Nancy — who performed with her own Nancy Wilson’s Heart during 2022 and 2023 — adds that “there’s so many things, circumstantially, since 2019 … a lot of it’s just family drama and unavoidable, and just other stuff people wanted to do besides Heart. So we were off doing our own things for a little while, and there was also this little interruption called the pandemic.

“And, y’know, I just turned the big 7-0 [on March 16], so it’s like, ‘Whoa … If I ever want to get a chance to do this amazingly fun thing one more time, now is the time.’”

That said, Nancy, for one, would not mind if Heart’s resumption lasts an even longer time than is currently planned.

“I think this will carry us at least through the year, if not beyond. My fingers are crossed,” she says. “There’s no telling if it’ll run like a well-oiled machine, but I think once we get started it’ll go smooth and steady and rock like the well-oiled machine it knows how to be, and that’s the fun part. The shows can be so elating and so transcendent, and the electric energy is unbelievable. So that’s what we’re here for.

“We’ve built this train,” she adds. “We’ve got the wheels on and we’re putting it on the track, and we’ll see how fast things thing can go — and how far it can go.”

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