It’s this sort of folk music that brings me back to my recent trip to Croatia (Hrvatska). I took a 12 hour bus ride from the top of in a city called Riekja down along the Adriatic Coast to the old town of Dubrovnik. Bill’s music reminds me of the breath taking scenery particularly between Split and Dubrovnik with melodies like that of Bruce Hornsby & the Range. It’s nice to hear the older generation putting out great music, music that’s not affected by the popular culture and/or commercialism. The mature experienced, seasoned, musician pours out with every strum of a guitar.
As a fan of The Beatles and Bob Dylan as a teenager, Price set his sights on being a songwriter. “I don’t know if it was the realization that I was always going to be just an average guitar player, or the fact that I always have an opinion, that got me headed in the songwriting direction. But, for whatever reason, I just got that fire. I was inspired by certain music to try and do the same thing, and I still am.” Early collaborations with his cousin Dave Price and later on with Mario Noche were also based around writing original music. “Dave was the first person I knew that actually thought about having a “concept” for a song. Being in my early twenties, I thought that was pretty unique.” The collaboration with Mario Noche was also a fertile creative period. “I think we both respected each other’s songwriting ability and that inspired us to always try and bring something of quality to the table.”
In 2000 Price recorded his first album of original material, “Bones & Apples.” It received airplay in the US and Europe on college and independent radio. A songwriter that is in a band inspired by Bob Dylan is bound to take the next logical step – that is, write original music for his band. “It’s an obvious extension of what we were exploring in all the old songs and Dylan’s music. It was time to apply those qualities that we like in all of that music, to our own music. Carve out our own identity.” The resulting album, “Better For The Deal,” released in May of 2006, has fifteen original songs and strongly reflects the band’s influences. He has continued to play and record music both with The Brains Behind Pa and other musicians. Price released “The Circus & The Gallows” 3-song CD single in 2007.
In late 2009 he released “With the Eye of a Skeptic…”, a full-length, acoustic-based CD. “It has received some very warm reviews and radio airplay overseas – mainly in Europe. Price explains, “The reception to this record has been the most positive and extensive that any of my albums have received so far. We’ve had a couple of reviews in the U.K. and airplay in Ireland which is new ground for my projects.” There have also been positive reviews and airplay in, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Croatia to name a few more. Price’s music has continued to gather momentum both locally and in Europe where the last few CD releases have seen healthy airplay and positive reviews from independent radio and media.
CR: I wanna thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me and to RogueMag. How Are You?
BILL PRICE: I’m doing just fine, thanks.
CR: Alright, let’s do this!!! Aside from music and what is written in your bio, tell us something about you that your fans don’t know.
BILL PRICE: Let’s see. Although I don’t really follow sports any more, I grew up a huge baseball fan. I come from a long line of Chicago Cubs fans.
CR: As an artist, the musical journey is a long one (trust me I know) and cannot be done by oneself. Who are some of the people in your life who have supported you and continue to support you through you musical career?
BILL PRICE: The musicians that I play with are very important to me. Being a songwriter who is just an average musician, I’m always honored when guys like Gordon Bonham or Paul Holdman are willing to join forces with me on gigs or in the studio. They are two Indiana guitar players who could really play with most anyone if they wanted to. Michael Graham who is my long-time engineer/producer has been invaluable. So mostly, it’s the guys in the trenches with me. We’re all pulling for the same thing – trying to do good music, stay sane and make a buck along the way.
CR: What experience do you value more and in turn get more personal satisfaction from as an artist: The creative process of making a song from the thoughts, inspirations and feelings to the writing, producing and/or recording of that song OR performing the finished track at one of your live shows and feeling/seeing the crowds positive reaction and love for your musical genius.
BILL PRICE: At this point in time, I have spent far more time and effort recording than playing live. I am in the process of trying to reverse that relationship a little bit. But I just love recording so much, I think because it’s such an obvious extension of the songwriting process, which I am totally fascinated by, that I have gotten a bit addicted to it. Plus, I always have plenty of songs just begging to be recorded. So I guess the creative and recording process would be the one I would choose if I had to. That being said, I do love playing live if the venue is right for what it is I do. I do need an audience that wants to listen to the lyrics. That doesn’t happen a lot of places.
CR: Who are the musical legends that influenced you growing up, and/or affected your musical career?
BILL PRICE: I’m not very unique in this regard. Like millions of others, I love Bob Dylan and The Beatles, although each for totally different reasons. Perhaps that’s why I kind of divide my material into “Bill Price” music and “The Brains Behind Pa” music. The “Brains” music is more Dylan and roots inspired. The other stuff is a bit more arranged and more melodic I suppose. I’m a big admirer of Wilco, where it seems there’s an amazingly creative stew of Dylan and The Beatles taking place – a very tasteful mixture. I think the Indigo Girls are great and other singer-songwriters like Bruce Cockburn, Peter Case, John Gorka, Steve Forbert, Patty Larkin and Tom Waits. The Waifs are a very cool band. All of those “sons of Bob” (Dylan) guys, as I refer to them, such as Neil Young, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen are all people that I admire as writers and performers as well.
CR: Talk about the musical environment that you consciously chose to immerse yourself in that helped foster the development of your fundamental musical skills such as the self-examination of your strengths and individuality, creating improvisational music, and writing/performance techniques; shaping your musical competence and helping you discover your unique voice that your fans are blessed with in your musical creations.
BILL PRICE: This is a real fertile topic to me because it gets to the core of why I do what I do. It’s not an easy thing to discuss or pin tight little definitions on because it is different for each person. My take on it is that I believe every artist/musician has their own “thing” that they do. It’s not necessarily a static thing and may evolve over time and probably should. It’s not to be confused with a gimmick or genre. It’s more like a sense of taste I suppose.
For me, it’s built upon many things like memories and experiences, musical inspirations, beliefs, geography, a sense of purpose and even history. It took me a long time to recognize, understand, and be comfortable with what my “thing” is. It also has to do with personal identity, but is not limited to that. I would struggle to define it in specific terms but it shapes and directs what I do, and I am more and more in tune with it every year that goes by. And the thing is, when I get off track from it, I know it and it’s not a very comfortable place. I think all musicians know when they are doing the right thing, generally – artistically speaking. It’s a real balancing act, because understanding, respecting and acting on our own “thing” is where we find the most satisfaction. It’s what we have to do. But at the same time, we all need an audience and are constantly searching for one that identifies with our point of view and what it is that we’re creating. When that connection happens, it’s very rewarding – almost magical, but the minute we try to shift what we do to please a certain audience/market or whatever, we are off course.
In my case, it has a lot to do with songwriting and that whole experience of where ideas come from and how they develop and what they can reveal to us about life. It can be a very mystical process and I’m just fascinated by the entire thing – from the spark of an idea to the arrangement, the recording, the players involved, the tone of the instruments and the live performance. It’s just an amazing process. I really love it and I don’t take it lightly. So it’s really important to me to do as much of my music on my own terms as I can regardless of the financial success aspect.
Lastly, taking this approach allows an artist to be around very creative and talented people and not feel insecure. When we realize and understand who we are and what our “thing” is and are working to fulfill that, we are usually pretty content.
CR: For all of our readers who will hear some of your songs, read the interview and become instant fans; tell them where they can learn more about you, your music, any upcoming projects, events or albums. Tell everyone your website addresses?
BILL PRICE: The best place is my website. I’ve put a lot of effort into my site. There are samples of every song I’ve recorded on there as well as the usual information about live dates, photos/videos, news updates plus CDs, downloads, T-shirts and posters. The website address is www.billprice.info
CR: Cool, on behalf of the RogueMag I wanna personally thank you for taking the time out to chit-chat with me. Keep on pushing and we will work together again!!!
BILL PRICE: You are so welcome and thanks for taking your time to help expose my music to all of your readers. I really appreciate that.