WEBB WILDER has pretty much seen it all in the music industry. He’s been on major and indie labels, toured worldwide, and accumulated a fiercely devoted fanbase along the way. Born John "Webb" McMurry, Wilder has been flying the rock and roll flag for decades now with his blend of surf rock, rockabilly, traditional rock and roll, and R&B.
Wilder, who plays a special “Evening With” gig at The Jinx on May 11 presented by Knocked Out Loaded, has been playing guitar since he was a kid.
“I was an only child, and my parents were not musical. I always gravitated towards music, I don’t know why. Before the Beatles and British Invasion thing happened, I was digging music and had some records. But I was in the fourth grade when that all happened, and it sort of launched me into hyperdrive,” he tells Connect. “I don’t know that I really asked for a guitar, but my mother said, ‘Would you like a guitar?’ And so I got this really cheap Silvertone acoustic guitar for Christmas.”
From there, Wilder began a lifelong love affair with the guitar - something that has afforded him a lucrative career as a musician, and even as an actor with a notable appearance in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1993 film The Thing Called Love.
Along the way, there have been ups and downs in terms of how popular roots rock, rockabilly, and their associated genres have been. In the 90s, Brian Setzer’s solo hits reinvigorated the genre and ushered in a resurgence of sorts for the general retro rock and roll world. Despite the dips in mainstream significance, Wilder has maintained a solid and dependable audience, and sustained a truly admirable level of artistry without compromise.
What keeps him going, he says, is his genuine love of music - a passion that is undeniably ingrained in him.
“I always tell people, ‘If you bark like a dog long enough, you’re a dog.’ What’s funny is that out of 30+ years, there are only really 10 albums. But if you look at the number of songs on those albums, it might be the equivalent of somebody else’s 15 albums. The body of work is pretty huge,” he says. “And performing has been my lifeblood, so anytime I go more than two weeks without doing it I sort of have an identity crisis.”
Webb says he’s currently working on a new album, which will be his first since 2015. He likens it to the great Nick Lowe, who’s more recent music has been fairly opposite to the more rock and roll stuff he’s known for in his early solo work and as part of Rockpile.
“I see the record I’m making now as sort of a fence straddler of those two things,” he says. “It’s kind of an age appropriate album, but it’s got the roots rock stuff and it’s got some singer/songwriter-y stuff. It’s not done yet - I never really know what a record is until it’s done.”