Shows

Today’s Question:

“how many songs have you written for acoustic guitar that you perform?

do you usually play by yourself, just with a guitar & singing? how often are you play with a back-up band, with drums & bass etc.?”

I just looked at my iPod and apparently I have 101 demos. Some of these are probably duplicates and some are likely songs that ended up being Billy and the Lost Boys songs but at any rate, I really only play about 10 of them live!

I’ve been playing shows with a band lately but it really all depends on the show. Last Thursday at the Hotel Cafe I did the first half of the set by myself (which allows me to play songs that are new or that I don’t have recordings of) then the band came and joined in for the rest. I’ve been super fortunate to play with some uber talented musicians lately…it sure adds a lot to the live sound to have a great backup band. I like the idea of playing a bit alone and then adding musicians. Sonically it changes things up and if people aren’t really in to one, hopefully they will be in to the other.

On Thursday, Randy (who has payed with the likes of Ringo Starr, Dave Stewart, Chantal Kreviazuk, Kelly Clarkson, Five For Fighting and Raine Maida’s solo project) played a cajone (this cool box thing you sit on) and a bunch of percussion stuff…he has a tambourine hooked up to a kick pedal so he can be playing a beat on the cajone, shaking a shaker, and then on the backbeat hit the tambo. It’s super cool! Andrew Doolittle played some ambient guitar stuff (what I like to call Whale Sounds) and Joe Karnes from Pedestrian was on bass this time around. My last show at Hotel Cafe we had Ben Peeler from the Wallflower/Jakob Dylan on guitar and Eric Holden from Five For Fighting and Josh Groban on bass. When in Vancouver, I try to steal Sarah Mclachlan’s band. If they’re not around to do it I just play by myself 😉

Random Fact of the Day: I feel as if my best songs were the result of not writing anything down or picking up an instrument. I would just have something stuck in my head and make up words as the day passed. By the time I picked up a guitar, I already knew how the song went and just had to figure out how to play it.

Bowling at Pinz:

Ask Billy + New Videos

I’ve been answering reader questions every day on the blog…head on over and feel free to leave a question or comment.

Also, got a new YouTube page. Just posted some shorts videos of recording with Raine Maida and Steve Mazur from Our Lady Peace, as well as my All Time Favourite Recording Moment with Stan Behrens. Head on over to http://www.youtube.com/billythekidofficial and don’t forget to become a Subscriber so you can be up to date on the latest vids as they are posted.

Thanks for your comments,

Billy the Kid

My All Time Favourite Recording Moment Ever


Love the look on Raine’s face. You can tell we’re freaking out, internally.

Home Recording

This from Zimmy:

what kind of computer & programs do you think are good for self-recording? i listened to ‘catastrophe’ just now (the version you put back up). it sounds really good!! it always did. what did you use to record it? can you easily self-produce stuff with drums/electric guitar/bass as well? or is that too difficult for getting a proper sound? (sorry that the question is so technical!)

I use Protools and an MBox Mini to do all my demos. It only has a few inputs, which is all I need for laying down an idea. There are lots of similar programs, I know Mac computers come with Garageband and lots of people use software such as Reason etc.

When I’m doing stuff with a full band (like the new Billy and the Lost Boys album) I have access to a studio with a great live room that has drums and amps and stuff when I’m in L.A. but I know from experience (and 4 albums) that not everyone has this luxury. There are lots of ways to build your track with or without studio access.

Stuff like guitar and bass you can do “in the box”, meaning that if you live in an apartment or place where you can’t make a ton of noise, you just plug your instrument into your MBox/Digi002 etc and that goes in to your computer. Easy. There are a lot of programs to make beats with (or, just borrow beats until you can get yourself a real drummer) and I see a lot of people doing it this way when they’re in the demo stage. It’s great for playing along to, getting ideas and doing pre-production. Then you can email the track to a drummer who has access to a studio or book yourself a room for a few days.

If you’re doing the home recording thing (a lot of bands book studio time for drums and bass and then do things like guitars and vocals in the comfort of their home in order to save money and be able to take their time) then I would recommend one thing: invest in a good condensor mic. When I was researching what to buy I found a great used mic that was the same cost of a new one and I think that’s helped me get half decent vocal and acoustic guitar sounds in my crappy little concrete apartment.

Does that help at all?

Random Billy Fact of the Day Number 19: Two years ago I had never recorded anything on my own in my life. Now I’m working on an album where I’m producing, engineering and playing everything on my own except drums. How did this happen? I bought a couple books and spent hours trying to figure out how!

Fun In The Sun

This from Desi:

I really like reading your blogs, Billy.

I also have some questions for you! My little brother is in school at OIART right now, and in September us two Saskatchewan kids are getting in my car and driving to California! Do you have any tips on the most fun things ever to do there…. or also things for a dude who wants to work in the sound/music industry there someday to check out?

Why thank you Desi 🙂 It likes you too.

That is so exciting! California is my favourite place in the world right now. How long are you in town? You gotta do all the “tourist-y” stuff, especially if you never been here. There’s Disneyland, California Adventure (still Disney, but more roller coaster type things), The Santa Monica Pier, The Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Sign and the Sunset Strip to name just a few. If you’re in to shopping there’s Melrose Ave, 4th Street Promanade, The Grove and so much more.

There will likely be a ton of concerts going on (if you’re in to that) and a million fantastical places to dine…my all time favourite (vegan) restaurants are all in California. My advice would be to go to some shows, check out some bands and just start meeting and talking to people. There are a few recording schools here that may have some guest speakers or performances too. So much to do, I’m sure there are a million things I am forgetting 🙂

Something About Me You Maybe Didn’t Know Day 18: In preschool I wanted to be a cat when I grew up. In elementary school I wanted to be a vet. In high school I wanted to be a music teacher. In University I wanted to be an English teacher. Now, I don’t want to grow up.

Playing To A Crowd of No One

Zimmy asks:

– i have a question: have you ever played to a crowd of people & just thought, ‘wow … nobody really listened to that’ – how do you keep going when you get a bland reaction like that — after you’ve poured out your heart & soul? what keeps you going & makes you feel excited about it?

Haha. Why yes indeed!!!

This type of situation is inevitable when you’re an average sized person in a big-ish sized room armed with only a guitar. Things like venue, sound system, sound dude, other bands on the bill/crowd in attendance can make or break the show. That is, if you let it get to you.

Somewhere along the line I realized that any opportunity I get to play in front of anyone, I should be grateful for. Whether there are two of you or two thousand, you will see the same show. This happens (in my case, at least) because I have this theory: I would be at home, alone, doing pretty much the same thing anyway, so the fact that I’m here, and we’re in this together, is a total bonus.

I have been lucky enough to play shows where not a single person in the audience uttered one word for the whole set. I have also played shows where it seemed like just about everyone talked the whole way through. To quote a wise prophet and paraphrase just a bit, Performing Live Is Like A Box Of Chocolates…You Never Know What You’re Going to Get.

I always make it my mission, manifesto and code of conduct to battle my way through any tough audience. It is my goal to get at least one talk-y person to lend me their ears for a half hour or so. Sometimes, the results of this are astonishing, and somehow, everyone in the room starts acting like they’re enjoying themselves or something! Sometimes you just fight and fight the whole way through, but then someone comes up and tells you they were impressed by how you handled everyone talking and it makes it all worthwhile. This is why I sometimes play with a band…then I’m not as quiet 😉

Random Fact 17: I have lived in 3 group homes, 3 foster homes and with many, many kind friends and relatives.

Question Two

This from Chris Kettleson:

“I am kinda of a folky, acoustic, alt pop kinda person… I play my own music and stuff but I was just wondering how did you manage to get your first break?”

Hmmm…first break huh. I guess that depends on what one would consider a “first break”…

Was my first break the all ages show I played with my punk rock bank The Blue Collar Bullets? Was it the time that Billy Bones from Teenage Rampage Records (and now, Sparrow Guitars) offered to put out my first album? Or did the “lucky breaks” only start when I started flying around places and working with people I looked up to?

Perspective.

That is what I am naming my new album, by the way.

They say it takes ten years to make an overnight success.

I am by no means an overnight success but if you talk to anyone on the other side of Living Off Music they will most likely agree with this concept. In the ten years that I’ve been playing all ages punk rock shows, learning how to manage a band and record company and driving all over the damn places cause I love music, it’s been a series of small breaks. You never know where the next one is going to lead you, and sometimes even the not-so-lucky breaks turn out to the be the best thing that could have happened.

I find it incredibly cheesy when someone asks for advice and all they’re given is “Just Keep Up the Good Work!” or “Follow Your Dreams Kid!”, “Never Give Up!” Sure, this is good advice if you’re already on the other side, but it doesn’t TELL you a damn thing. I’m not on the “other side” but I swore if anyone asked me for advice I would be truthful. In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your music is WORK.

Work.

1. Get a good paying job, or find a skill that sets you up every time you come back from tour unemployed (fork lift driver, cook, construction…anything, regardless of whether you like it or an interested in it at all.) If you can hack it, get two jobs…you’re going to need the money.

2. Put all your money in to your band. Merch, tour, a van, posters, gear…you’re going to need stuff that will stand the test of time cause Lord knows when you’ll be able to afford it again! Look at your life and analyze where you spend your money and see what you can/are willing to live without.

3. Build up as much credit as you can. Get as many credit cards as you can. Take out a loan. This could potentially be the worst advice anyone could ever give you but the fact of the matter is this: You never know when your “Big Break” might come, and wouldn’t it be a shame to miss it because you don’t have any money to do that big tour, fly to that cool studio to record or do a new run of merch cause you just got added to Warped Tour?

4. Learn everything. Everything. If you think you know half of anything, you’re wrong. Learn how to book a tour, settle a show, run a publicity campaign, follow up with radio, build a mailing list, market online, record yourself, write songs…any thing Music OR Music BUSINESS related…You Need To Know It.

5. Start working. Yep, as if you didn’t think you ere working enough cause you’re exhausted from your two jobs, trying to book a tour and make it to band practice without falling asleep on the bus, now it’s time to really work. Every second you are awake, there is something you could be doing for your music. Whether it’s writing, recording demos or getting better at your instrument, there is always, ALWAYS something that you could/should be doing for your music if you’re serious about it. Every time you sit down in front of the T.V., pick up your guitar. On your lunch break, read music industry books and write lyrics. In the car while driving plan your new album artwork. See? It never ends.

Did that help at all?

Random Fact 16: I’ve been keeping a scrap book of every article, interview or review that has ever been done about me since I was 16. I also keep every piece of mail I’ve ever been sent. Once for my birthday Dana gave me a $20 bill with a thank you note written on it and I still have it. It reminds me that no matter what, the sentiment was more valuable than the money. Always.

Question One

This question hot off the press courtesy of THE BEEZE:

I’ve got a question, or two…

What is your favorite song of all time?

Who are your biggest musical influences?

ALL TIME!?!?!?

I ONLY GET ONE!?!?!?

gosh.

Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen. I have listened to it about a million times.
Other tunes on the all time top listening list include:
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – The Band
Joleen – Ray Lamontagne
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc – Ryan Adams (actually, everything by Ryan Adams)

Biggest musical influences? Hmmm. Much the same of the all time favourite song list… The Band, Neil Young, Dylan, Springsteen, Kathleen Edwards, Ray Lamontagne and Ryan Adams for sure. Musically, that is 😉

Random Fact 15: I hate listening to my own music. In fact, I can’t even be in the same room with someone if my music is playing. This includes recording. I’m incredibly shy.

PROMOTIONAL PHOTOS

Hi Resolution Promotional photos.
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A Question

Anything you want to ask me?

Got a question, problem or concern?

Ask away! 🙂

Random Billy Fact 14: I love sending you mail