Musician Bill Price is what makes us happy to know that true genuine music is still alive and kicking. He sings, writes, and performs from a level that puts him above the rest. In this spotlight with our publication, the singer/songwriter explores his passion for making music with our readers. Enjoy!
ISSAC: It’s an amazing time to be a DIY artist/performer/band/musician. What do you enjoy the most about being an indie performer?
BILL: Being my own boss and having total creative control.
ISSAC: If you had an opportunity to sign with a major label, would you sign now knowing you may have to give up some of what you have built up over the years about you in the process?
BILL: There are so many variables in a scenario like that, that it’s hard to say. I will say that I’m always willing to discuss anything and if doing one particular thing or another falls within the wider scope of what I feel is acceptable to me artistically, then it might be worth pursuing.
ISSAC: I remembered Simon Cowell from American Idol talking about the “it” Factor that makes a musician/band stand out. What do you think is your “it” factor that makes you stand out from others in the music business?
BILL: I hope that the way I look at the world, what I choose to write about and how I express it, might be of interest to people. Every singer/songwriter has an approach to writing, arranging and performing that is unique to them. Maybe mine is different in some way. It comes down mainly to a sense of taste, I think, and the choices we make in determining what we write about, how we write, arrange and perform. I can only do what I feel makes sense to me in those areas and if someone finds that interesting, I think that’s pretty cool.
ISSAC: Why should music fans listen to your music? Describe what they are going to get when they listen to your music?
BILL: I hope that those things I mentioned before, such as world view and sense of taste are something that the listener can relate to. I hope that some ideas, both lyrical and musical would surprise them, maybe make them look at something differently and in an ideal world, inspire them. I also try, in many of my songs, to write lyrics that are very visual and not real literal. I think if the listener can get into a song and create along with you, so to speak, they get more out of the experience. I try to do that by creating a scenario or image that might mean something different to each person, without being so abstract that it becomes meaningless.
ISSAC: Briefly describe your humble beginnings that led you to where you are at musically now.
BILL: I was born at the very end of the baby boom right in the middle of America, right in the middle of Indiana. Like millions of others, I grew up in the suburbs. I got interested in pop and rock music in the 1970s and have had that bug ever since. I played in a band with my cousin and next door neighbor while I was in college. I then played in an acoustic duo through most of the 1990s. All of that time, I was writing songs and trying to learn about the entire process of making music – the recording studio, booking gigs, using the proper gear, publishing – everything. Around 2000, I started my first “solo” album (Bones & Apples) and met bluesman Gordon Bonham. We started The Brains Behind Pa as a kind of side project, which I’m happy to say is still active. Since then, I’ve just been writing songs, recording albums and playing gigs – trying to get better at all of those things and attempting to get my music out to as many people as possible.
ISSAC: You have some strong iconic influences. Of these influences, which artist/band do you relate to the most and why?
BILL: The two biggest musical influences on me are Bob Dylan and The Beatles/Paul McCartney. There are a lot of others, but those are the biggest. Those two (Dylan and McCartney) are really obvious influences on musicians, but what can I say when something influences me? I think that they are the best (and I hesitate to use the word “best” because what we usually use to define the best doesn’t really apply in art and music) two singers and songwriters in rock history and oddly enough, for totally different reasons. They are such opposites in many ways yet still so amazing and inspiring to me. I think that’s why I seem to have two directions going at once – my “Bill Price” music and my “The Brains Behind Pa” music. I my mind, they are very different approaches to music, even though they overlap in some ways. I think Wilco is an incredible band that has merged elements of Dylan and The Beatles (and others) in an amazingly creative way and come out with something that is totally their own as a result. Perhaps my music will move in a similar direction.
Back to your question of “why.” The Beatles always seemed to have just an incredible amount of good taste. They never overdid anything. Their arrangements are just so perfect. They were not technically amazing musicians, but they came up with the absolutely coolest parts for songs – harmonies, guitar solos, bass and drum parts. Just incredible. If Dylan and McCartney are two of rock’s finest voices, then Lennon was right behind them. So having two of the best writers and singers in the same band made for just an amazing chemistry and that doesn’t even add in the talents of George Harrison and Ringo Starr. McCartney is such an amazing melody writer and from a songwriting and arranging standpoint, there are hardly any two songs in his catalog that sound the same. Most artists start to repeat themselves after so many years, but it seems like he just hasn’t. It’s amazing.
Dylan is one of those artists that it seems like people either don’t get or they are just blown away by him. To me, there is just something very profound about his music. In some ways it’s almost as if he’s mocking the very thing he does. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone. I’ve always felt that about him and I said that to someone awhile back and they said they knew exactly what I meant, which was comforting – that I wasn’t alone in thinking that. So somehow he seems to be operating outside the norm and creating his very own standards or genre or something. Some people do that, and the result is unique, but not very listenable. I think Graham Nash said something about Dylan being so real that it’s almost painful. I don’t know. It’s hard to describe, but I think he puts his finger on the mystery of life better than anyone. Maybe not every time, but song for song, he is just amazing. His songs are just really, really powerful. It’s that magic combination of words, music and the spirit of the song. He is a melting pot of so many things that make life meaningful and profound – part bluesman, beat poet, preacher, painter, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Mark Twain – there’s just so much emotion and history pouring out of that guy in that amazing voice. I don’t know. It’s just magical to me in some profound way. I could go on, but I’ll stop because it starts to sound silly after awhile because it’s really hard to describe with words.
ISSAC: Do you feel that Indie music gets the respect it deserves? Why or why not?
BILL: Well, probably not. But I think that’s just typical of our society. Teachers don’t get the respect that they deserve either. I think we can say that about a lot of things. It’s just our society’s priorities, I suppose.
ISSAC: If you could change one thing about the music business, what would it be and why?
BILL: Hmmm. That’s a good question since I don’t think that there really should be any rules in music. But I suppose when you introduce a business aspect to it, that gives us all the right to second guess things a bit – right? I can tell you one thing that I would like NOT to change and that is the format of the “album.” Everything is going so strongly toward individual songs now that the album format is becoming a bit endangered, I think. That would be very sad to see bands just recording songs and not albums. That’s the way it was back in 1950s. The Beatles really made albums valid by including so many great songs on them. But our attention spans are so short now, that I worry about the album as a format. The LP (people rarely use that “term” anymore) is a great format. Some of my favorite albums are double or even triple albums. But then again, I also tend to like long movies. I think we need both, singles and albums.
ISSAC: What type of feedback have you been receiving about your music from fans and music critics?
BILL: My latest album (With the Eye of a Skeptic…) received quite a few nice reviews – mainly from outside the United States. I seem to be building some strong interest in my music in Europe. In terms of listeners, people that appreciate and listen to lyrics and like singer/songwriters have generally been very positive about my songs and albums. Other people have as well, but it’s generally most acceptable to the singer/songwriter listener.
ISSAC: If you knew that you would never gain fame and fortune with what you are doing now, would you continue to make music? Explain.
BILL: I pretty sure of that already! It’s fine to reach for that and I will admit, I’d love to be making a lot of money at this – not for the sake of the money, but because of the increased options that the money would afford me. Isn’t that nearly everyone’s goal: to do what we love to do and get paid well to do it? I think that’s most everyone’s dream, at least in terms of work. So, yes, I’d like some of the fortune, if not the fame. But making music doesn’t hinge on that. It would be nice to be able and go record an album when I have the songs and inspiration to do so, and not have to wait until I can afford it. But such is the life of the independent musician. There’s a song on my latest album called “Waterfall #2” which is about the decision to “do your own thing” as they used to say. There are so many ups and downs that it can be really discouraging and so many people give up. So the song attempts to say, the success and the destination are not really the important thing. It’s the fact that you are “doing it” – that is the important thing. It’s the journey. At least you are doing what you’re called to do. Not many people can say that.
ISSAC: What role do your family and friends play in the equation of your pursuant of a music career?
BILL: Both of my parents are gone and I have only my sister and her family left, so there’s not much immediate influence there. The only friends who would be an influence would be my musician friends. I do have certain players in mind when I think about how to arrange songs and certainly as I’m writing songs for The Brains Behind Pa, I have those players in mind. So in that regard, they are there as a positive influence. I’m lucky to play with some really great musicians.
ISSAC: What is the best site/s that you can be found on the Internet?
BILL: We’ve put a lot of time and effort into my website and have made it informative and easy to navigate through. The url is: www.billprice.info
ISSAC: The floor is yours; final words…
BILL: I just want to thank you for your time and for featuring me on Junior’s Cave. I really do appreciate that.