Interview with Bill Leverty
By Greg Prato
Although best known as the guitarist for pop metallists FireHouse, it turns out that Bill Leverty is no one-trick pony, as evidenced by his new solo release, ‘Deep South.’ Instead of focusing on the arena-ready rockers that his full-time band specializes in, ‘Deep South’ is steeped in tough blues and southern rock sounds – bringing to mind such legendary names as ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers. Leverty recently took some time out to discuss ‘Deep South’ with Guitarsite.
How and when did you start playing guitar?
I started playing guitar when I was 14. I took a lesson once a week for about 8 weeks and the teacher taught chords rather than notes. It was a great approach for me because I could instantly play songs. "Sweet Home Alabama" was the first song I learned.
Who were your early influences?
Many of my early influences weren't guitar players. Stevie Wonder was a huge influence on me. I love his music, especially his ‘Innervisions’ album. Other early influences for me were guys like Jeff Beck, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Steve Morse.
Some information about your new release, ‘Deep South.’
Deep South started while things slowed down with the FireHouse tour in early 2009. I wanted to record an album of cover tunes that originated in the southern United States. Most of the songs on this album are from the late 1800's - early 1900's. I picked songs that were either from the gospel, bluegrass, or old country genre. Some of them I rocked up a bit, and some of them I recorded with more of a traditional treatment. I play a bunch of instruments on the album that I've never recorded before, like dobro, guitarele, mandolin, lap steel guitar, and banjo. I also played some 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar, and the album is full of many different electric guitar sounds.
Photo Credit: Doug Raflik
Please describe your guitar set-up.
I have a signature guitar made by Grem Guitars that I play a lot on this album. I also played a Tele (with a B-Bender) and a Strat. My amps are Randall MTS Series Amps. These amps are AWESOME! I don't use a lot of effects on this album other than delay. I do use an old tube screamer for some higher gain tones. My cables are My Star Sound Cables, my strings are Dean Markley Strings, and my picks are InTune Custom picks.
Do you follow a practice routine? If so, please explain.
I try to play a little bit every day, at least for an hour or so. I usually pick up the guitar and start playing whatever I feel like playing. Then, after about 10 minutes of doing that, I try to practice whatever it is that I'm working on which my be finger picking, legato, or right hand technique. In this time, I try to also wire something new. If I come up with one riff, I fell like I've moved forward in some way.
What do you think of modern day rock guitar, and who are some of your favorite guitarists?
I really like the way that some of these guys have been so innovative with tuning and tone. Many of the chord progressions are also very interesting. I really like the new Shinedown album - GREAT songs!
What advice would you give to other guitarists (to both newcomer and already established players)?
Try to learn as much as possible about music as a whole. Try to learn rhythm, harmony, and melody. You've got to practice if you want to get better. That's just a fact of life. Also, record yourself and listen very carefully. Try to make your recordings sound as good as possible.
Please describe your live show to someone who has never seen you perform.
FireHouse tries to let the music do the talking. We're not a big, over-the-top show band. We're more of a "song band" that gets out on stage to have a great time and hopefully that vibe is contagious to our audience.
Have you performed songs from 'Deep South' in the live concert environment?
No. I hope to some day, but FireHouse keeps me pretty busy these days!
For more information (as well as song samples and ‘Deep South’ ordering info), visit www.leverty.com
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