Bio: Billy Sheehan
has changed the way bass guitar is played. Rising to cult status in the 80's with his Buffalo, NY based band Talas, Billy was recruited by David Lee Roth
when Roth left Van Halen in '85. He recorded two platinum selling albums with the former Van Halen front man before setting out on his own. Forming Mr. Big in 1989, the band achieved a Billboard #1 single in the US and 14 other countries with "To Be With You" from their 2nd Atlantic Records album release "Lean Into It". While developing his trademark style of playing he has performed over 4000 live gigs on every continent except Africa and Antarctica.
He has played with all of our favorite guitarists for as long as they have been around and has a unique, signature sound all his own. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to throw a few questions his way.
Eric: Billy, first of all welcome! Looking at your schedule this is a very busy time for you and we appreciate you taking a little time out for us, how are things going?
Billy: Great! But, busy as all hell.
Eric: What sort of recording projects are you currently working on?
Billy: Finishing my new Solo CD, just finished the new Stve Vai CD, getting ready to start a new Niacin CD, preparing for the G3 Europe tour starting in June, then we (Steve's band) go headline most of the rest of the world till December.
Eric: 2004 looks to be an active year for you, in June you are back on the G3 tour, you are recording and putting on clinics, how difficult is it to juggle that sort of schedule?
Billy: It never ends! I'm busier than I've ever been in my life. I love playing though, so absolutely no complaints. My cat is ****ed because I'm gone so much though!
Eric: As long as you have been playing with Joe and Steve I am willing to bet that even after a long break you can plug in with them and jump right into the groove, how much rehearsal and prep are you guys putting in before kicking off the tour?
Billy: A lot. Steve is very conscientious about the quality of what we do, so we rehe**** it pretty hard. Plus, I learn everything by ear, so its a challenge! I'm used to "launching" tours though, so it all falls in place quickly.
Eric: When you guys are out on tour, do you get a chance to do things for fun in between dates?
Billy: Not too much, but fortunately, everybody in the tour entourage is very cool and easy to work with--and hilarious--so we have a riot together.
Eric: I see you are a fan of Line 6 products and used the POD on your solo album "Compression". Since this site is based on creating and sharing our own music over the computer there are a large amount of users who swear by the POD. Are you still using their products, if so what's the latest gear?
Billy: Lots of new stuff. I love the Pod & use it a lot. I've got my SVT rig mic'd up in my studio also. I love Cubase SX and work on it all the time. I just got BFD Drums--awesome program. I should update my studio gear list on my site--a lot has changed. Most all hardware is gone. I'm happy to be here for the digital recording revolution! I find it easy now to go from idea to copleted song in a very short time. No longer a slave to the (tape) machine.
Eric: Out of your entire lineup of basses, which is your favorite?
Billy: I usually use the same bass live & in the studio. I have 3 or 4 Attitudes set up and ready at any given time. One is strung B-E-A-D for low stuff. The new BEX bass from Yamaha really came out great. I haven't used it live yet though. Soon I hope. I don't change my basses or the way they're set up much at all. It's basically the same as its been for decades.
Eric: There is a definite lack of guitar solo's in today's music, what are your thoughts on this?
Billy: The pendulum swings. If music styles stayed the same, we'd be bored to tears. The challenge is: can you make it interesting? Will non-musicians dig it? Time to stop complaining and get to work. IMHO
Eric: Overseas they seem to appreciate good old kick ass guitar music more than we do here in the states, what's the deal?
Billy: It's been like that for ages. Nothing new. Why can't America appreciate what it has? I don't know. I think we do, but you just don't hear about it as much. Most shows I've done here over the last few years have been packed with enthusiastic fans. You gotta work for it wherever you are. It's never automatic.
Eric: As a bass player, what's your opinion of Michael Anthony
Billy: He's an excellent player, an incredible singer, and a wonderful guy.
Eric: Anything you would like to add for your fans here?
Billy: Just that I'm glad to be playing and I thank you all for listening. I hope that everyone gets a piece of the action and your dreams come true. Remember to treat others with respect and kindness. I'll always play my best for you. I'll never stop working on improving what I do.