with BILL LEVERTY
GUITARIST OF FIREHOUSE
Interview by Andrea Lami
Hi Bill. Let’s talk about Firehouse. Can you tell us how this fantastic adventure started?
Bill Leverty: Michael and I were in one band (White Heat). CJ and Perry were in another band (Maxx Warrior). Both bands broke up at the same time and the 4 of us got together.
Your musical production stopped in 2003 even though you keep on playing around the world. I can’t forget your wonderful performance in Bologna, on October 21st in 2008. Are you planning other concerts?
BL: We're playing all the time. I fly out tomorrow for a gig in Michigan. I wish we could play more in Europe. We've had some really cool gigs over there.
You have always maintained a certain kind of sound, though along the way you met the coming of grunge, without perverting it. Maybe was this your best weapon?
BL: I think that being honest to ourselves has been our best asset. We always wanted to make music that WE liked, not trying to chase a trend.
You succeeded in writing wonderful hard rock songs and touching ballads that have reached so many rockers’ heart. Which one of the two kinds of songs you like the most?
BL: I like a variety, so I would have to say both. I really like the emotion that you can put into playing a song at a slow tempo, and I love the energy of fast tempo music.
I know you are working on a new album. Can you tell us something about it?
BL: … We hope to have it out soon. It's a re-record of some of our songs that we thought would be fun to do. I hope people like it.
You played with a lot of groups such as Slaughter, Warrant, Trixter, Poison, Damn Yankees and some other else. Tell us about the life style on the road. We are so far from your world that we imagine it as full of fun and good music
BL: It really is a lot of fun playing with these other bands. We get along real well with all of them and whenever we get back out on the road with any of these guys we have a lot of history to laugh about.
During the Eighties hard rock metal reached its golden era- we read something about it in many biographies (Montley Crue, Slash & C.). Did you live according to the motto “sex drugs and rock'n'roll”, too?
BL: I LOVE rock n roll!
What do you remember of the White Heat and Maxx Warrior times?
BL: I remember playing in clubs for free. If we made $5 a day, we were lucky. I remember sleeping 7 people in a hotel room every night. we paid our dues, but we were young and it was a lot of fun. Those days make me appreciate every gig I play today.
Where was the name Firehouse born? How important have Bon Jovi and Slaughter been, at least at the beginning of your career?
BL: Michael came up with the name "FireHouse" after we found out that there was a problem getting that name trademarked. Slaughter was important because Mark & Dana did a great job producing our first real recording, which later turned into a demo. It was going to be our first album, but we got signed to Epic and they wanted us to re-record most of the songs and write some new ones. Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora tried to get us signed at their label (Polygram), but the A&R guy lost interest. They definitely help us "keep the faith".
What did you think when you signed your first contract with the Epic?
BL: We were thinking that we were finally at the starting line. We never thought that we had made it. We just thought that we finally had a chance to get in to the race.
How did you feel about working with people such as Davis Prater and Ron Nevilson?
BL: They were both very different, but they were both great. David Prater had his way of doing it and ron had his way. I learned a lot from both of them and I consider them both to be world class producers.
Could you tell us something about some strange episode (nice or bad) that you lived during your musical career?
BL: The first day we went out on tour, we were pulling a trailer behind the bus and it came unhitched. All of our equipment was in there. I was in the back lounge of the bus and I saw our trailer out of the window. It was like The Wizard Of Oz. Our bus driver, Ringo Nelson, was able to slow it down and nothing was broken. We even made it to the first show of the tour. We got a new trailer hitch and new chains. It was a miracle.
What kind of music do you like to listen to in this moment? Are you still listening to the old 80/90 (as I do) or you listen to something else?
BL: I listen to a little bit of everything, but I tend to gravitate toward music that has tenor vocals and strong lead guitars. I love funk rhythms. they just make me feel good. I try to keep an open mind.
In your lyrics the concept of love is always present. How important is this feeling for you?
BL: I love love, so it's very important to me. I've been married for 15 years and I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world. Having said that, I've written a LOT of love songs, and as an artist, I'm interested in many different topics. "I Love You So Much" has been done a LOT, so in the future, I'll probably write about other things.
Let’s talk about your solo career and first of all about “Wanderlust” your first album where you sing and play guitar. How do you feel to sing your own songs?
BL: I love singing. Sometimes I like singing in the studio more than playing guitar.
In 2007 you gave birth to “Southern Exposure”. What can you tell about this second work? This is an instrumental album, why have you made such choice?
BL:. I always wanted to record an instrumental album but I didn't have the songs written. One day, I was asked to ply some clinics in music stores, so I decided to write 4 instrumentals so I would have something to play. I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote another 6 and put out an album.
Do you prefer to express yourself with lyrics or in instrumental tracks?
BL: I love both. It just depends what I'm feeling at the time.
When you write, how do you know if the songs gonna be better instrumental or with the lyrics added?
BL: I usually start with the music first. I'll play a melody on my guitar. If it sounds like it needs to stay with the guitar singing the song, it becomes an instrumental. I just go with what I feel in my gut.
Can you tell us something about your third album, "Deep South"?
BL: I decided to record an album of very old cover tunes that were from the period of time right before rock music was born. At that time, there were three genres that influenced rock: blues, country, and gospel. I found songs that I thought I could make work with my style and recorded them I had a great time and learned quite a bit about music.
If you look back.. what do you see? And, on the other side, if you look ahead, what plans do you have for the future?
BL: I have no regrets as I look back. It's been a great ride. In the future, I see more recording, both as a solo artist and with FireHouse. I also see many gigs around the world.
Technique or feelings: which one is the most important for you?
What is the meaning of “rock” according to you?
BL: Rock is style of music that is most enjoyed at a loud volume!
Thanks for all. Hope to see you in Italy soon.
Thank YOU!! Hope to see you soon...
Pubblished April 23, 2011