The Inside Story
I was born Aron Neale to a Buckland’s Beach sailing family.
My brother, father, grandfather and great grandfather were all in the building trade so I was kind of the black sheep. Dad, with the help of my brother and I, built his own 40 foot sailing boats and we’d race them.
I started playing guitar when I was 11 years old, after seeing a rerun Elvis Special on TV. My Mum was a big Elvis fan, so my birth name Aron comes from Elvis’ middle name of the same spelling.
Under family pressure I studied Quantity Surveying / Construction Project Management and gained a cadetship with a top Auckland firm. I was good at it but never held a passion for it like I do with music.
I had a couple of garage bands as a kid, before my first serious band, Acoustic Attitude.
After our very first gig in 1991 we got a three night per week residency at an Auckland club and we all quit our jobs within two weeks. I left my quantity surveying job, but continued my studies until I qualified.
Firmly focussed on music, Acoustic Attitude recorded a live album at the Gluepot and became one of their most popular bands.
There was another Aaron in Acoustic Attitude which was confusing. Whilst on tour I had a romantic liaison with a beautiful ski instructor, called Jackie Wilde, I thought I would never hear the end of it from the guys in the band. For days, every time I walked in the room, they cheered, “Jackie Wilde!” Pretty soon it became a kind of nickname, which morphed into Jesse Wilde – and it has stuck ever since.
In 1994, just after Acoustic Attitude split up, I recorded my first solo album and went to the States on my own personal rock pilgrimage.
Through sheer guts and determination, I tracked down and fronted up to meet my major influences, Bob Seger, John 'Cougar' Mellencamp and Steve Earle. Bob Seger warned me that if I turned up on Steve Earle’s doorstep he was likely to shoot me. I got a frosty reception, but won him over in the end.
When I returned to New Zealand I formed a new band and started recording my second solo album.
In 1996/97 I studied full-time at MAINZ, achieving a New Zealand Certificate in Contemporary Music Performance Art. All the while playing gigs at night to fund my studies.
I was still working on my second solo album when the record label I was signed to got into debt and wouldn’t move forward with the project or release my masters; it felt like two years of my life wasted. Frustrated with relying on other people to record and mix my records, I decided to build my own recording studio so I could give my music as much time as it deserved without any budget constraints.
To fund my dreams, I went back to a quantity surveying and took a high pressure construction management job managing projects over $20 million.
I used my salary to get a mortgage and in 1998 I bought a house in Fiesta Drive, where I built Wilde Records recording studio right next to it, modelled on John Mellencamp’s studio.
Soon afterwards I started the band Fiesta Drive, named after my new studio location in Half Moon Bay. We recorded two live DVD's, two live CD's and a studio album.
In 2002, my daughter Alesha Faith was born. People say she is just like me. She has grown up with my studio as her playground, surrounded by talented musicians and not surprisingly she now sings and plays half a dozen instruments herself.
In 2005 I returned to America and lived there for around six months.
I wrote Ghost Town Road with gold record award-winning writer, Rick Beresford and I played gigs in LA, Chicago, Nashville, Texas, and New York. One of my songs was selected by the Don Williams Music Publishing Group at the Los Angeles Songwriter Showcase.
In 2008 I happened to attend a personal development seminar with a top American motivational speaker and hypnotist, Christopher Howard. The sound quality from the desk was really poor, so I ended up working out the AV for him and landed a job as his Audio Visual Engineer. As well as recording much of his hypnosis audio product, I travelled the world doing AV for his motivational seminars which took me to exotic locations in the US, Australia, Egypt, the Pacific and Hawaiian Islands.
As well as having the opportunity to travel through work, I took a personal trip to Cambodia to volunteer in an orphanage.
While I was working at Chris Howard’s 7-day course Billionaire Bootcamp in Fiji, I had a brief holiday romance with one of the course participants.
Two days after meeting her, I knew I was falling for her and wrote it all down in the song Fallin’. As it turned out, the holiday romance evolved into something more – and that woman is now my wife, Cath.
Cath had trained with Chris Howard to become a top motivational speaker herself. The only problem was she was living in Perth, so I persuaded her to relocate to New Zealand to be with me and my daughter, who was then 7 years old. Cath and Alesha hit it off instantly, and we married in February 2012. Our beach wedding was held outside our family bach in Matarangi, followed by 9 weeks of honeymoon-roadtrip around America, touring in a Chevvy van!
As both Cath and I had learned so much about mindset, motivation and wealth, we started designing our lives so we could have enough time and financial freedom to pursue our respective passions – music and speaking.
We designed a 12-month plan in which Cath launched her business in New Zealand, I took a construction management job (for the last time, I hoped!) and we invested in property.
In just over a year, we built up a portfolio of 14 properties spanning the New Zealand, Australia, UK and US. Now no-one in our house has to have a conventional day job! ;)
Since our music and speaking businesses share so many similarities, Cath and I joined forces to launch Wildfire Enterprises Ltd. We’ve probably never worked harder than we do now! We both love what we do and have created a flexible lifestyle, as well as becoming good role models for Alesha highlighting what you can create in your life once you set you mind to it. We proudly donate 10% of all our proceeds to charity.