The title for A Wilhelm Scream’s forthcoming fifth album Lose Your Delusion, released April 14 via Creator Destructor Records, is an obvious parody of the Guns N’ Roses classic Use Your Illusion. There was even chatter amongst the band about making a double album like that early-’90s classic, though better judgement prevailed over their commitment to the bit.
On the surface, it sounds like the kind of dry humor fans expect from the long-running Bedford-based skate punks, whose catalog includes song titles like “Less Bright Eyes, More Deicide” and “We Built This City (On Debts and Booze).” However, there’s also a firm but light-hearted call to action hidden in there, one that world -weary listeners might do well to heed.
“In layman’s terms, it means pull your head out of your ass,” guitarist Trevor Reilly says. “Which I think we all can do. Everybody needs that from time to time, especially in this day and age that we’re in right now.”
It’s a fitting sentiment coming from A Wilhelm Scream, a band that has balanced aggression with humor and life-affirming positivity since their inception as Smackin‘ Isaiah in 1999. While gaps between records have gotten longer over the years (Lose Your Delusion is notably their first full-length since 2013’s Partycrasher), they’ve sustained a loyal following by being relentless road dogs, always looking forward to making new fans and continuing to extend their reach.
Yet, bands don’t endure like A Wilhelm Scream without weathering some storms and learning to navigate difficult circumstances. Close friend and longtime guitarist Mike Supina departed in 2018, choosing to move on from the touring lifestyle. While Reilly and Pereira respectfully avoid diving deep into the details of the split (for what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like there’s ill will between parties here), the separation turned into a long and drawn-out process, delaying completion on Lose Your Delusion and leaving the band with an uncertain future.
“This interview should have happened three years ago,” Reilly says. “That’s what we had been planning for all this time. The songs were there, but what we weren’t sure was going to be there was Mike … we probably spent a good couple of years trying to change homey’s mind.”
If there’s a moral anywhere in this story, it’s one about perseverance. While COVID shut down touring opportunities shortly after Supina’s departure, Reilly refuses to say the band had a “tough time” dealing with the lockdown phase of the pandemic, citing the fact that “the entire world had a fucking tough time with COVID.”
Point taken. Instead of sitting on their hands, Reilly and his wife completed construction on Anchor End Studios, where he works as an audio engineer, and where the band recorded the album with coproducer James Witten. He says the studio will provide a production home base for the band “for years to come,” which should be reassuring words for the band’s future.
The band also welcomed Senses Fail guitarist Jason Milbank into the fold as a full-time member in 2021. He had previously played with them as a session guitarist in 2019. The physical distance between members has changed the group’s internal dynamics a bit, making it more challenging to get into a room and vibe as a collective whole. But spirits appear to be high.
“Everything’s just moving forward like a well-oiled machine at this point,” vocalist Nuno Pereria adds. “We’re happy to have made it through it, coming out better on the other end. That’s a big reoccurring message on the record.”
Lose Your Delusion serves as a pressure valve for their internal tension and external obstacles. It’s an impassioned entry in the band’s catalog that displays all the hallmarks of their sound in what they describe as “A Wilhelm Sampler.” Reilly and Pereria trade off on lead vocals in ways they haven’t done since their early days, with Pereria striving to sing more clearly “so your mom could learn the words without a lyric sheet.”
On a technical level, and while their shredding guitars and pummeling punk beats are still present, there are also moments that settle into relaxed grooves without always going full bore. The result is a record where the heavy parts hit heavier than ever, while melodic sections increasingly stand out, not necessarily doing much different from their past work so much as accentuating aspects of their sound in new ways. The result is a record that retains the things fans have come to expect while introducing twists and turns that will keep listeners on their toes.
“I think on a lot of our previous records, we had conditioned ourselves to go as hard as we can, like on 10, throw the kitchen sink at everything and stuff like that,” Reilly says. “It was really fun to pare things down to get some nice contrast and just make things interesting for the listener and interesting for ourselves.”
Pereira pushed himself into new territory lyrically as well, at times leveling some of the most overtly socio-political tones in the band’s history. The track “Apocalypse Porn” is a particularly pointed response to close friends that once seemed level-headed, succumbing to extreme conspiracy theories, and fascist elements in the punk scene coming out of the woodwork over the past several years. While socially conscious themes have always been present throughout A Wilhelm Scream’s catalog, they haven’t always been this direct, connecting the personal and the political in a way that is sharply resonant.
“It’s a cathartic kind of a thing, just to call out all the bullshit that I personally was going through with friends and family, and that other friends of mine were going through with their friends and family,” Pereira says. “I didn’t want to write in a mocking kind of sense or calling bullshit all the time. I wanted it to be more like, ‘Yo, what the fuck, how is this happening? Why is this happening?”
Something that’s clear when speaking with Reilly and Pereria about A Wilhelm Scream–their struggles, the work that went into Lose Your Delusion, and what they still hope to achieve—it’s that they’re not content to rest on their laurels. Even after more than two decades in the game, they’re still striving to grow creatively and connect with new listeners. The record isn’t just a love letter to longtime fans, it’s also an effort to write their most approachable record yet, to create something that “everyone’s aunt, everyone’s dad, everyone’s mom” can appreciate.
“No other Wilhelm record has had this much attention on that mission statement than this one.” Reilly says. “That’s probably why we’re so proud of it, because at the end of it, as tough as it was creating it, we really came upon something that we really feel is going to be a landmark in our history of the band.”
Watch the video for “GIMMETHESHAKES” here:
Photo courtesy of David Decker