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Progressive Rock Interviews

Billy Sherwood

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Billy Sherwood from 2013
MSJ:

The Squire and Sherwood live CD/DVD just came out. What can you tell us about that release that we should know?

The cover art is new, from what I gather. It's nice to see it re-released, that version of the band was great.
MSJ: You are working on the new William Shatner album. What has that experience been like?
It's been wonderful to work up close with Bill. He is writing all the words and I'm composing all the music. I've taken some of the key phrases within his poetry and made them into melodies. Bill is coming over to do his reads very soon, the spoken word aspects of the project. There will be a unique hybrid of spoken word and melody on this record, along with some amazing guest artists.
MSJ: I know you are a big “Star Wars” fan. Are you also a “Star Trek” fan?
I'm a huge sci-fi fan in general, well versed in all the “Star Trek” episodes as well as all the films. Yes, I am a fan.
MSJ: Has working with Shatner made a difference in your view of “Star Trek?”
“Star Trek” is a classic and remains so from my point of view. It's nice to meet someone who you've watched over the years and to discover the real person within. I find Bill to be incredible, warm and kind. He has a great sense of humor as well, of course. What I find interesting is how honest in his emotions he is within his writing. Lyrics for this record for instance: they are very heavy, deep and reflective. It's been the inspiration for me to go into my world of music and compose the pieces; his lyrics guided me to the feelings of the music per track. It's become a very serious project in its music and lyrical content.
MSJ: You always seem to have so many things on the table at once. What other projects do you have underway and pending?
Steve Miller Tribute finishing soon. Prog Collective 2 in production and very near completed. Just finished a gig playing bass with Eddie Jobson in Mexico. Shatner’s record.... and other stuff in the studio.
MSJ: Peter Banks recently passed away. You've worked with him and I know that you were also a Yes fan before you were in Yes. What thoughts, memories can you share with us about Banks?
It was a very sad day indeed. Peter has been on many of the records I've made for Cleopatra Records over the years. Most recently he is on the Steve Miller Tribute and the new Prog Collective. I was a huge Yes fan growing up and so it was always cool to hear his trademark style ringing through the playing on the projects. Whenever we spoke on the phone, it was always light hearted and with a lot of laughs. I met him in person on several occasions at Yes shows I played. He would be there backstage hanging out — always a good time hanging with him. He will be missed. I am honored I have his impressions on all these various records he participated on.
MSJ: You've worked with so many great musicians over the years. Are there some out there who come to mind as the ones you would still like to get a chance to work with?
I've been blessed to work with so many amazing musicians and singers. . . most of my heroes. That said there are still a few out there. Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Sting come to mind.
MSJ: What advice do you have to musicians starting out today? The music business is certainly changing constantly and you've been riding a lot of those changes over the last couple decades.
Get your music out there and heard at all cost. These days there are access points everywhere. There has never been a time when it was easier than another time to "make it" as they say. Bottom line is one has to go for it to get it going, it doesn't come to you. You must go to it and light the fires of fortune for yourself.  
MSJ: In terms of your previous projects: any stuff that you haven't mentioned earlier in this review in terms of revisits possible - say World Trade, Circa: or Yoso?
Looking and listening back on everything is always fun, all good stuff there to enjoy, lots of it for previewing on YouTube too.
MSJ: Have you discovered any new artists since last we chatted who have really caught your attention?
I produce a lot of stuff that isn't on labels per se, for bands doing their thing independently. On that note I produced recently Days Between Stations’ second record. That, too has Peter Banks on it playing a few solos. Also Colin Moulding (from XTC) is on it singing what has been deemed the single "The Man Who Died Two Times.” Rick Wakeman is on the record as well as Tony Levin playing bass. Another band's record I produced is called “XNA,” with some amazing songs and playing/singing. I produced a country artist named “Elizabeth Macinnis,” amazing singer, and now has a great sounding debut record coming.
MSJ: What about new gear?
My "TC Hellicon voice live 2" is the toy I've been enjoying a lot — amazing device for vocalists, harmonies fired from your own vocal, keyed with midi or guitar. Amazing toy indeed!
MSJ: I know you are a gamer — or at least that you were playing quite a bit of Star Wars: The Old Republic. What about games? Any new discoveries you want to mention?
I'm still in SWTOR, I find it relaxing to go roam distant lands. . . As for new games, I'm looking forward to grabbing a copy of Aliens when I get a chance — looks great!
MSJ: What have you been reading lately?
Manuals (laughter)
MSJ: What have you been listening to lately?
…creature of habit with my music listening. Just listened to a ton of Weather Report, Gabriel, XTC whilst driving to Mexico…played bass for Eddie Jobson's solo band, we headlined Baja Prog festival.
MSJ: If you could invite any three people (living or dead) to share dinner with you, with whom would you be dining?
My Grandfather, my Dad and my brother Robert
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Whatever they wanted to order.
MSJ: What things do you wish everyone knew about Billy Sherwood?
My goal is to enrich people's lives with music. It's a healing power to a certain degree and a force for good.
MSJ: Is there anything else you'd like to get out there that I haven't asked about?
CIRCA: Live From Here There & Everywhere is coming out soon on Glassville Records. It's a collection of live performances CIRCA: has done since I switched roles within the band and starting playing guitar instead of bass. It's got a ton of live energy and we are hoping it gives us the chance to go to Europe and beyond to perform more live shows.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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