How does Tormented musician Gary Wilson find peace? “A little wine and a cheese pizza at Filippi’s and I’m in paradise.”
Gary Wilson’s new album is Tormented. Which is not to say that Gary Wilson himself — notorious denizen of San Diego’s weirder side — is necessarily tormented. Although he came reasonably close to going over the edge; closer than his other albums have taken him.
“The album was recorded at my pad,” explains the artist. “While recording the album, my ceiling collapsed. The bedroom ceiling in the room where all my instruments and recording gear are set up. Damaged a lot of my equipment. That’s showbiz.”
Wilson believes the album reflects how “We all have our ups and downs on our journey through life. One moment I’m happy. The next moment I’m sad.”
In his long-running one-man-band fashion, Wilson layered his own keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and drum machine on the album. “Also vocals, with the help of my band The Blind Dates. I try to make it sound like a band behind me. The above instruments plus upright bass and cello, are my favorite instruments, the cello being the most challenging.
Lyrically, Tormented’s classic Wilson. He ruminates on long-gone days he may not have actually lived, girlfriends who may or may not have been real, and his perpetual loneliness in the “Twilight Zone.”
But he’s not immune to some real-life revelry. “My favorite restaurant in San Diego is Filippi’s, located in The Little Italy area near downtown. A little wine and a cheese pizza at Filippi’s and I am in paradise. Their pizza reminds me of the pizza from my hometown, Endicott, New York.”
His lifelong cinemania also helps. “I started working as an usher at the UA Glasshouse 6 around 1981-1982,” Wilson remembers. “I helped secure the seats to the floor before they opened. Stayed with UA Glasshouse for five years before moving on to The Academy Theatre on 37th and University Avenue. The Academy Theatre at one time was part of the Landmark Theatre chain. Monty Jones (the unofficial mayor of Kensington) managed The Academy Theatre. Before working there Monty booked my band Gary Wilson And The Blind Dates at San Diego State University. Thus, it was like working with your friend.
“Had good times at both theaters. One of my favorite films was the Jack Nicholson/Meryl Streep movie Ironweed. Though the film takes place in depression time Albany, New York, it makes me think of being homeless in Binghamton, New York, about eight miles from my hometown of Endicott.”
The virus abides for now, of course, but Wilson globetrots when he gets the chance. “I did two tours in Europe. The band and I were treated well and we had a good time. The thing about touring Europe is that you can feel the history and age of the various cities and countries. Hope to go back sometime in the future.”
Asked about his seemingly-inexhaustible supply of stage costumes — mixing hats, wigs, sunglasses, women’s clothes, uniforms, institutional clothing, gauze, bolstered sometimes with flung flour and/or paint — he allows, “I do have an assortment of wigs and other wearable robes and sunglasses. I can always use more. Artist Kelly Paige Standard made me a beautiful robe which I wore on my last tour. Kelly also painted the cover for my latest album.”
Next for this juggernaut of arcane? “Working on a new album and more shows.”