Guitarist Bill Leverty Talks New Music, Touring And Firehouse
Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty has released several solo projects over the past few years, including ‘Flood The Engine’ (a side project with Keith Horne, Andre LaBelle and Jimmy Kunes) and ‘Drive’, a collection of cover songs paying tribute to music that inspired him as a youth.
But it’s Leverty’s new single, “The Bloom Is Off The Rose” that takes more of those same influences and builds a wall of texture, tastefully blending in the guitarist’s own unique sound and vocal style.
It’s the third single Leverty has recently released. A trifecta that also includes the blues-based “Ace Bandage” and country themed “For Better or Forget It”. Leverty is slowly amassing an arsenal of songs with the intention of releasing a new solo album. One that will not only be diverse in its sonic quality but also stay true to his roots as both guitarist and singer/songwriter.
Leverty and the rest of Firehouse (CJ Snare, Michael Foster and Allen McKenzie) are showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to having recently performed a sold-out show in Leverty’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, the band has announced a string of new tour dates that includes this year’s Monsters of Rock Cruise and U.K’s Firefest.
I spoke with Leverty about his new music as well as got an update on Firehouse.
Where did the idea for ‘The Bloom Is Off The Rose’ originate?
I got the hook when I heard someone mention it on TV. It was a phrase that I had never heard before and when I looked into it, I discovered that it’s really used when talking about the economy. Whenever the economy takes a downturn they’ll sometimes say, “the bloom is off the rose”. I wanted to put the human element into that phrase. So I started thinking about my past, the present and the people I’ve seen get hurt by other people. I also thought about how some people think they’re so special, that is until you pull away the facade and find out that they’re not.
What was the recording process like?
Michael Foster from Firehouse plays drums on it and Keith Horne plays bass. I really wanted the guitars to have different kinds of texture and give it a David Gilmore / Stevie Ray Vaughan type of sound along with some of my own. I consciously wanted to make it sound more eclectic.
Let’s talk about a few of your other new songs: Ace Bandage
I was actually in the shower when the line “I’m an Ace Bandage” came to mind. I remember telling my wife and daughter about how “I’m an ace bandage, wrap me around your heart” and everyone just could not stop laughing. I knew I had to finish it just for the entertainment value. It’s a very blues based kind of song that basically says if you were my woman and I was your Ace bandage, then I’m there to support you, hold you up and make you feel better.
The song was also involved in a racing sponsorship. What can you tell me about that?
It was used for Tyler Jett Motorsports, a race team that a friend of mine, Gene Ostrowski is involved with. He’s out of Berwick, PA and has also sponsored a Firehouse race car. Any car that’s out there racing with a title to a song that I was involved with I’m honored to be a part of.
For Better Or Forget It
That’s a country genre song that I actually co-wrote with my wife. I had originally written it with piano and Fender Telecasters but then decided to put some heavy guitars on it for the rhythm section. I had the hook about a marriage where the husband and wife are complaining because he said the preacher said “For better or for worse” while she thought he said “For better or forget it”. It starts off where everything is kind of cool but then she sees a Mercedes Benz instead of the Chevy S-10. Then she wants fancy clothes. This guy is working his ass off to support them but she’s like, “it’s for better or forget it”. It’s a little bit comedic.
Let’s discuss a few of the shows Firehouse has coming up:
Monsters of Rock Cruise: If I wasn’t performing, the cruise is something that I’d want to go on just to see my favorite bands. The people who organize it are all top-notch professionals and make it an awesome experience for the fans as well as the bands. It’s a great party and so much fun.
Firefest: It’s another wonderful festival that focuses on the melodic rock genre. We love going over there. It’s a really good, multiple night event. The cool thing about it is that it’s an international event and people come from all over Europe to see it. When we meet fans after the show, we always find out that a lot of them are from as far away as Spain or Greece.
Do you have a funny story you can share from Firehouse’s heyday?
There are so many funny stories from those days because we were all practical jokers and lived for the next opportunity to crack up. One of my favorites though happened in the winter of ’91. We were doing a show in Colorado Springs, CO with Slaughter and decided to play the ultimate practical joke on them. We outfitted our drum tech in nothing more than a diaper, a bow and arrow and a pair of Angel wings. During the first verse of their song, “Fly To The Angels” he walked right up to Mark (Slaughter) and put his arm around him as he was singing. All of the guys in the band loved it and we still laugh about it today [laughs]!
What’s the origin of the song “Love of A Lifetime”?
That song is about the search for the right person and the feeling you get when you finally do find the one. CJ came up with the hook and the chorus and had plotted it out on a Fender Rhodes. I took what he had and wrote the guitar intro melody and solo.
Did you know at the time how much of an impact the song would have?
We always thought it was a good song, but you never really know what people are going to grab hold of. To take it a step further, you never know what the record company is going to grab a hold of and make a priority. When “Shake & Tumble” came out, our album (Firehouse) sold 100,000 copies. Then “Don’t Treat Me Bad” came out and the album went Gold. That was when Epic records knew that they had something special and put the love and muscle behind making the video for “Love of A Lifetime”. That song resonated with a lot of people and become more than just a hit. It was a big song for us, but also for the people who got married to it. It’s pretty cool to think that we had that kind of an impact on people. To where they actually used our song for their wedding. It’s a wild feeling.