Music Incider interviews Billy Sheenan –
Music Incider Magazine
Billy Sheenan is probably the world’s greatest bass player. It takes a true fan to figure that
one out. -Billy is amazing live. -Billy is single, and takes his cat everywhere with him. His cat’s
name is Spooky. -A sexy, single musician-that cooks, cleans, and loves cats-and he can play.
I love him. I only wish I could put up a picture of his cat too. Read on.
MI: What is your birthday?
Billy: March 19th.
MI: Tell me about the new album and how it came together.
Billy: It’s my second solo album and I learned a lot from the first so I applied what I learned to this new one. The idea was to play with another musician rather than do it completely solo. I brought in a drummer, who was David Lee Roth’s drummer, and it was wonderful to work off of his spectacular drumming.
MI: Of all the tracks on the new CD what is your favorite?
Billy: It’s hard to say, but I’m on tour with Steve Vai right now and we’re doing The Suspense Is Killing Me and that’s going over great.
MI: What was your inspiration behind the album?
Billy: Various things… When I write a record like this I write all new things, I don’t necessarily go back through my archives and pick from old songs. I was in quite an inspirational state after touring all over the world.
MI: Out of all the songs in the world, what is your favorite to play?
Billy: If I Fell by the Beatles.
MI: If you could be a superhero which one would you be?
Billy: Probably the good ole fashioned standard Superman. I’d stay away from kryptonite.
MI: If you were in your car right now what CD would you be listening to?
Billy: Probably Humble Pie – Smoking, some Three Dog Night, Sinatra, and something new like Slipknot.
MI: Who is your favorite poet?
Billy: Ralph Waldo Emerson, not so much as a poet but as a writer in a poetic sense.
MI: Have you ever inhaled?
Billy: Yes I have. Early 70’s I tried and stopped on my own.
MI: What made you become a Scientologist?
Billy: I wanted a way to look inward that didn’t require any drugs but also knew there had to be a way to go back into your past and fix the things that happened to you so that you’re a better person now.
MI: Do you believe in psychics?
MI: Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Billy: Yes I have. I dreamt about the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.
MI: What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Billy: Get in a band, learn some songs, and play.
MI: What would you warn a young band going into a label?
Billy: Get an amazing lawyer that has no association with the label. Whoever the label recommends, don’t hire.
MI: What about the world pisses you off the most today?
Billy: Stupidity. Ignorance in general about world affairs, our government, politics, and people protesting these things when they know very little about our government and how it works. I think you should have a license to vote, it shouldn’t be a right.
MI: When and how did you first get interested in music?
Billy: I saw the Beatles play and saw the girls go crazy. I knew I wanted that job for myself.
MI: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Billy: Beatles, Hendrix, and Zeppelin. Many different other things also… Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins… Hendrix was the first concert I saw but I saw a lot of different types of music and not just one genre which I think was the biggest help to me.
MI: What is the most memorable show you’ve played live?
Billy: Playing on the beach outside of Sao Paulo, Brazil in front of 100,000 people back about 8 or 10 years ago. The Military showed up to try and close the show down but there was so many people there that they couldn’t stop them so we just kept playing.
MI: Tell me about an average day in your life.
Billy: I get up, go for a walk, and come back. I read my e-mail and then start to play. I do answer a lot of e-mail. Probably well over the 30,000 mark now.
MI: If you were stuck on a desert island what three people would you want with you?
Billy: Will Durant who I think is a brilliant writer on the subject of philosophy, some guy who is a Navy Seal and a survival expert, and then Sofia Vergara or some other attractive young lady.
MI: Who do you think is the greatest musician of all time?
Billy: I know it’s a cliché answer, but probably Jimi Hendrix. There was an embodiment of musical spirit that he had. There are better technicians, song writers, better singers, there are better guitar players, but he embodied a character that is essential to all musicians.
MI: As a bass player, where did you get your influences from?
Billy: Originally from a bass player called Paul Samwell-Smith and of course Paul McCartney, then Jack Bruce from Cream and the list goes on and on.
MI: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Billy: When I got to sit in chair number 1 on the tonight show. The same chair where other musicians, Presidents, political leaders, cultural leaders, and important people have sat before me.
MI: What’s your impression of what’s going on with the government these days?
Billy: I think we’re in a time of transition and I think what we’re getting for politicians is a reflection of what’s going on in society and I think it’s always a pendulum in motion that swings from the right to the left and currently is stuck in the middle. I do think the world is heading for a better place and I’m an optimist for the future.
MI: Would you consider what’s going on right now more like a Vietnam?
Billy: No, I wouldn’t. I think we’re way more successful than the media is leading us to believe. I hate to see death but sometimes there’s some dirty work to be done.
MI: What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Billy: I washed windows for one afternoon and I dangled outside of a 12 story building. I got done with about three of them and said to the boss that I couldn’t do it anymore and I went home.
MI: What do you want people to know about you?
Billy: That I’m accessible and I’m willing to share any of the experience and information to assist them in their journey.
MI: What person would you like to bring back from the dead?
Billy: John F. Kennedy. I think his Presidency would have really changed the course of history and I think that bringing him back would set straight what his legacy was all about politically.
MI: Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Billy: I was in Japan at dinner and someone told me that a plane flew into the WTC. I thought it was a little Sessna… After dinner I went to a club and there was a big screen TV and CNN popped up with the story and I saw the two towers burning. My first words were that there was going to be a war.
MI: If you could design a memorial for 9-11 what would it be?
Billy: A blank space would be fitting. That’s what all those people’s loved ones deal with. A blank space…
MI: Give me your opinion on computerized music.
Billy: It has its place. I know you can create that music with a program that costs less than 100 dollars on a 400 dollar PC. It makes a lot of people a lot of money.
MI: What’s your opinion of rap and rock combinations?
Billy: That’s an ok thing. I think most of it’s already been done. Rage Against The Machine already did it. When Polka makes Death Metal I want to be there, though.
MI: Tell us what you think about the state of the music industry today.
Billy: It’s in rough shape but in a way I’m glad. So much of the money has fallen out of the music business and the people that are in it for the money are leaving. It will be good for all of us.
MI: What do you think about the free downloads?
Billy: That’s destroying do many bands, musicians, and labels. It single handedly has pretty much destroyed the record business. It will come back though.
MI: Name 5 artists since the 1960’s that you feel have been important to the evolution of music.
Billy: The YardBirds hatched three amazing guitarists; Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. I’ll skip the Beatles because it’s so obvious. Frank Zappa, Van Halen, The Hollies, and The Birds.
MI: What is your favorite movie of all time?
Billy: Raging Bull with Robert De Niro.
MI: What in the world do you like to do most?
Billy: Hang with a bunch of friends and a bottle of red wine along with a big pile of CDs in which we all love.
MI: What’s your favorite recipe to cook?
Billy: I make a vicious linguine.
MI: What does success mean to you?
Billy: Enough money in the bank to stop you from worrying.
MI: What would be your ideal vacation spot?
Billy: A tropical island, of course.
MI: What do you think about the new MTV?
Billy: I haven’t seen it because I don’t get cable. I would imagine that it’s horrible.
MI: What do you think was the best thing to happen to Rock n Roll?
Billy: The best thing to happen to Rock n Roll was probably Woodstock. That was the point of music becoming so important in the culture.
MI: What do you think of these packaged festivals like Ozzfest and Lollapalooza?
Billy: I don’t necessarily want to stand in the mud for 8 hours. I prefer a comfy seat with a waitress and some drinks. I am old guy, though. I’ve played many shows and seen many shows. I think for kids today it’s a riot and a cool thing. You can go out with your buddies and go girl watching. If I was 18 again I’d be standing in that line.
MI: If your fans could do anything for you what would you want?
Billy: Just spread the word about my new record. I don’t have MTV or radio helping me out. Fortunately I do have a lot of fans all over the world.
MI: What message would you like to send to your fans?
Billy: I deeply and sincerely love and cherish my relationship to them and I always play my best for them.
MI: What is your favorite quote of all time?
Billy: If you wait until you can do everything before you do anything you’ll end up never doing anything. That is from secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.
MI: What’s your website?