Bill Leverty - Firehouse

February 16, 2004

Tell me about Wanderlust. When did you start working on it?

I never really officially started at any particular time. I just had been writing songs and demoing them up. I kind of realized that some of these songs that I'd written didn't really fit the Firehouse mold, sound, or direction although they didn't miss the mark by much. They were just a little bit more southern and the lead vocal is a little bit more my style than C.J.'s. The first song that was written for this album was probably written maybe five years ago. Actually I started writing it five years ago. That song took me probably three or four years total to complete. It's just been an ongoing little project that I've been working on while Firehouse had some time off and we don't get much time off.

I know.

That's what it's been. It's just a way to whet out this artistic side of me through another avenue that is a direct reflection of myself as opposed to a direct reflection of Firehouse which is a band where I am a percentage of.

Michael Foster played on the album.

Michael did a great job and Bruce Waibel played on it. I just think that they both did just a fantastic job on it.

I was sorry to hear about Bruce. There isn't much that makes me cry but that did.

We were too. Nobody saw that coming. I think he'd be real happy if he heard this record. He heard the demos and he was really happy, saying that he liked his performances on this better than anything he ever recorded before. I tried to mix his bass up a little louder than I would normally mix a bass just to let people hear what a great bass player he was. He was just the funniest guy I ever met and just so positive. So fun to be around and so entertaining.

He was a very nice guy. I was glad to have met him. Are you doing any touring for this album?

If Firehouse ever takes some time off, it would be something for me to do. I don't see that happening any time soon. Since Firehouse is my number one priority, I can't really tell the guys I'm going to take off some time to go tour on this thing. I would love to do some shows with this music but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Any chance of any of your songs being part of the Firehouse set list? I like "Playing A Game".

Well, thank you. It would be great. Right now our set is so packed. We have a bunch of songs we have to play and then we want to play a bunch of songs from Prime Time. Then we want to play at least a song from every album if we can. The club owners and the promoters where we play want you to go on as late as possible so they can sell the most alcohol. The they want you stop before the alcohol control board comes in shuts them down. We're really limited to an hour and a half set usually because they want to have the most amount of time to sell alcohol. Our set right now is a little bit over an hour and a half so I don't know if I'll be able to add any of my solo album in there. Although I am singing a song off the Prime Time record live and Michael is singing a song off Prime Time live. That gives C.J. a little bit of a break and it also gives the audience a different dimension to the band to listen to for a moment. It's interesting I think.

That's cool. The last time I talked to you guys, C.J. was working on a solo album. Did he finish his?

I haven't heard.

We don't know yet. It's still a mystery. What's Firehouse up to? Tell me about your new bassist.

His name is Allen McKenzie. He's a fabulous bass player and an amazing singer. He sang lead vocals and played all the bass in the biggest Rush tribute band in America. He's a super nice guy. I think the world of him. He's just a really good guy. We're out touring. We're going out this weekend. We're playing a couple of gigs in North Dakota and one in Indiana. We fly to Vegas to do a show and then we come home for a little bit. Then we're going to Europe for the first time in I think 11 years or something like that and then we're just gearing up for this summer. Our summer looks like it's going to be real busy playing a lot of fairs and events and festival kind of stuff.

Cool. Where all in Europe are you guys going?

The U.K. It's going to be Ireland, Scotland, England. Also Spain for now. Maybe more after this. That's what we're doing for this. In the U.K. London, Nottingham, Sheffield, and a bunch of places around England and Spain.

What about Japan?

We're working on it. There was an American promoter who had a few problems getting it all together so we're working with a different promoter over there now. We should know something here pretty soon.

You guys put Prime Time out last year. How's it selling?

Late last year. October of last year. It's doing great. Being the record company, it's been a very good thing. People ask when we're going to have it in the stores and I always tell them it's easy to get it in the stores. It's getting it out of the stores that's the hard part. Most of these distribution networks that get them into your stores like Tower Records and Best Buy can even get them in the stores. No problem. If they don't sell, they just ship them back to you. The best thing that we found is to sell them on our web site exclusively. That's worked out real well for us. The way that record deals work, you can sell one record on your own and make the same amount of money as selling maybe 20 records on a major label after they screw you over with all the little deductions they take out before they pay you. It's worked out real well.

Well, I'd rather you guys get the money because it's your work and it's your art. You deserve the money.

The only way to keep the band together is for us to be able to make enough money to pay your bills. I agree. With the record company, it's great for them to make the money if they're going to do their job. If they're not going to do their job promoting it, doing what they're supposed to do, marketing the band, getting the band in all the stores, getting the band in all the magazines, and getting the people to know that we have a new album out, then there's no point in being on a major label.

Do you feel major labels are on their way out?

I don't think they'll ever be on their way out because there are going to be artists that are going to give them enough money to keep them going. They'll be able to sign a band and get them big and everything but the thing is that artist development is definitely on its way out. You don't see many bands where a label sticks with them for five or six albums anymore.

That's true. I remember seeing an ad in Metal Edge. It was Spitfire and I forget who the band was that they were promoting the most. There was this big ad space for some newer band and then in the corner there was this tiny ad space for Alice Cooper and his CD Brutal Planet. Alice Cooper is a well known artist and he gets this tiny space. I guess that's what people are dealing with now.

Yeah, it's a different world out there.

I notice a lot of bands are starting their own labels.

Yeah, we don't have any big illusions of grandeur thinking that we have a record company now. We just think this is a way to get our music to people who want to hear it and we don't have to deal or monkey around with some record company that thinks that they have all the answers. When you've been involved with record companies like that before, it's not to our advantage to be on a label like that.

Well, I think we covered everything. Any last comments or thoughts?

Thank you so much for your time and your support. Please let people know that the only place they can get my record right now is at now and I really do appreciate them coming by and listening to the stuff. If they want to buy it, I sure appreciate their support. Thanks a lot Angela.

Bill Leverty