10 Questions with touring artist Bill Worrell
Are you ready for something fresh?
Meet Bill Worrell…
Based out of Nashville, former America touring guitarist, Bill Worrell has released new material. After touring the world with the Grammy winning icons, Bill has stepped out to the front of the stage to perform his dynamic blend of melodic guitar instrumentals (think Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) and pop/rock/country inspired vocal songs (think Keith Urban, John Mayer) .
Bill’s infectious smile, stage presence and outstanding musicianship have made him a fan favorite around the globe. Bill is as excited to hit the road with his own band as his fans are to see him again.
1. Who has inspired you as a musician?
I can almost trace my exposure to music through the chronological history of rock and roll. When I first started listening to music actively, I liked Chuck Berry and The Beatles. These are extremely ingrained into my DNA. I then got into bands like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. At one point, I think I would listen to the 1st 5 Led Zeppelin albums in sequence every day when I got home from school. I probably would have listened to all of them, but I didn’t have the money to buy them all! (laughs). Of course, AC/DC, Peter Frampton and a lot of the 70’s rock and roll bands were on my CD rack too, I love that era of music.
My dad (Sound Engineer) was working with bands like Edgar Winter, Dave Mason, and Pat Benatar at this time so getting to see these bands live very much became a part of my musical identity. But I remember a little after I started learning guitar that my dad said, “one day I’ll show you Joe Satriani, but only when you’re ready for it”. Well, of course, now I wanted to hear it. So I bugged him and bugged him to let me hear some of this stuff – this is pre-internet by the way – until he finally let me hear Surfing with the Alien. And woah! It was like this whole other realm of guitar playing had opened up. The outer limits! So, I started getting into that era of guitarists which included guys like Randy Rhoads, Kirk Hammett, and later John Petrucci. At one point, I started getting into heavy metal, which I eventually decided was too dark for where I personally wanted to be, so I kind of rebounded and started getting into blues stuff.
My dad moved to Austin at one point and I was fortunate to witness the Arc Angels at Antone’s. That led to that whole circle with Storyville and even Tedeschi Trucks Band. So now, I feel like I’m at a point where I’m just this completely full soaked sponge who is dying to squeeze out all of this collective material into the music that I do.
2. What was your favorite part about playing with America?
I’d say all the different bands we’d play with. We’d share the stage with 3 Dog Night, The Beach Boys, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald…by the way that’s Pat Bautz from 3 Dog Night playing drums on my 1st album.
3. What was your favorite America song to play live?
That would have to be Sandman or Ventura Highway. Sandman because of the ripping guitar solos at the end, and Ventura Highway because of the great melodies. The whole venue would jump up just upon hearing the opening notes of Ventura Highway.
4. Describe the process of leaving America and starting your own project:
Well first off, I have always written and created music. I’ve been making demos and EP’s since I was a kid. So that was nothing new. But I’ve always enjoyed learning great music too. So when I joined America, my main thought process was, number one, excitement to be a part of this very large band and I wanted to do everything I could for them. But I had hoped that by being a part of their entourage it would connect me with people I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. Whether this was record label, a booking agent, or a manager. And I did get to meet some of these people but with the band I had at the time, I guess it just didn’t cut the mustard when we were pitched. So when I left, and realized that that situation didn’t bestow an audience upon me, and here I was kind of back at square one, I realized I’m going to have roll up my sleeves and figure out how to do this myself. No band, no crazy personalities to deal with, just me.
5. You recently began working on your MBA in Music Business from Berklee College of Music. How has that helped you?
Well, I’m still learning but it has definitely helped in terms of filling a lot of the gaps in my industry knowledge. I mean we’re studying music business structures like publishing, record labels, how other people got their deals, modern methods of marketing… Ironically, I now have a manager who is helping handle a lot of the business side – though that doesn’t give me license to sit on my laurels. I have to use that information to stay up on current trends and how we can apply that to my music. And not all of it DOES apply. I’m not a typical artist.
6. What do you think has been the hardest part of creating your own career?
I think having the presence of mind and organization to sit down and come up with a logical sequence of events that have to happen in order to create and especially market your music.
I envy people who have that presence of mind, especially at a young age. I still feel I’m a bit scatterbrained. I think the people who have been successful early on are people who have this mental focus.
That is actually the reason I opted to get my MBA in Music Business. I knew bits and pieces of what you’re supposed to do to market yourself, and although there’s so much information on the internet, I needed it organized in a clear and meaningful way.
7. How have you adapted to the changing music industry? Are you someone who feels you have a good handle on it?
It’s weird, I’m not naturally a marketing person, but I feel I can be one given the chance to be immersed in it. I think many artists get their start with the help of people who ARE good at marketing, and through the process of doing it, they themselves learn and start coming up with ideas. I think that’s the case with a lot of things in life. People are adaptable, people can learn given the chance. So often artists just aren’t given the chance to blossom.
Bill Worrell has to be one of my favorite human beings on the planet. You’ve certainly heard him on many of my recordings and videos over the years, and he’s always an interesting dude to talk to. Enjoy!
8. What do you think makes you unique as an artist?
You know there’s a wide variety of guys out there now who are GREAT players – you see this in NAMM booth videos, you see this in home studios filming themselves, jam track videos – and that’s all great but for me personally, I think in terms of songs – I like jamming but that’s not what I do – I like writing a chord structure and a melody. I like taking chances with the form of a song or exploring more complex ways of piecing music together, but I still like a structure.
9.You do a mix of instrumentals, songs, and even some blues. Do you have a preference?
No I really don’t. My instrumentals are at the core of my musical soul. They allow me to create everything from simple melodies to complex compositions. But I also grew up on the Beatles, the Eagles, and some of the great songwriters of our time. So it would be strange if that didn’t show up in my writing. And blues…well, let’s just say I have great affinity for the great blues players, the 3 Kings, the Arc Angels, Tedeschi and Trucks, so that’s just gotta be in there. I think the trick with any live set or album is finding the right blend where they can all be in there and seamlessly flow under one sky.
10. What do you have on tap for 2018?
Well, I’ve got a bunch of new music we’re getting ready to release. We’ve got a major website overhaul which will include a Store with lots of new Merchandise. I’m hoping to release Deluxe versions of some or all of my previous albums so those will be for sale or stream as well. We’ve got several shows, including festivals in the works so those will be posted as soon as they are confirmed. And lots of ideas on the drawing board. It’s a very exciting time and I welcome everyone watching to be a part of it.
LIVE IN STUDIO: TRY TO SLEEP Author: Pino Libonati – Abstract: P: Hi Bill, at first thanks for sharing this interview with BigMusic. You’ve recently released your first EP, ‘The Nashville sessions’, really an impressive work! But what is the real starting point in your artistic life?