It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly thirty years since hard rock giants Firehouse released their monstrous debut album. A self-titled opus, fueled by hits like “Don’t Treat Me Bad,” “All She Wrote,” and the ubiquitous “Love Of A Lifetime” (a song that’s still a wedding staple), which ushered in legions of fans worldwide and gave Firehouse the coveted Favorite Hard Rock New Artist award at the 1992 American Music Awards.
These days, the band continues to tour and celebrate its legacy. Often joining forces with fellow rock legends like Warrant, Winger and Bret Michaels for sold out shows where they not only perform their arsenal of hits, but also salute our military and first responders.
On Saturday, November 23, Firehouse will once again return to Northeast Pennsylvania for a show with Warrant at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA. Longtime fans of both bands will be able to enjoy an evening of hard rock as well as reminiscence about both bands early days and the glory of 1991’s “Blood, Sweat and Beers” tour.
Firehouse is: C.J. Snare (lead vocals/keyboards), Bill Leverty (guitars), Michael Foster (drums) and Allen McKenzie (bass).
I recently spoke with Leverty about the band’s upcoming performance at Penn’s Peak and more in this exclusive new interview.
What do you enjoy most about Penn’s Peak?
Bill Leverty:Penn’s Peak is such a great venue. It sounds amazing in there because of the acoustics, big stage, killer light show and the world-class PA system. The vibe is so full of energy, which comes straight from the fans. There’s something about Jim Thorpe, PA that makes people want to rock!
What can fans expect from the band’s upcoming performance?
BL: We’ve changed the set up a little bit this year and are playing songs we haven’t played in a while. It’s made everything fresh. We’ll also throw in a few surprises as well. Getting to play with Warrant again is always a great time. For anyone who saw us on the “Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour” with them back in 1991, this is your chance to come relieve those great, youthful days.
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Interview with Bill Leverty by Clicking Here!
Firehouse guitarist, Bill Leverty, recently surprised fans by releasing not one, but two brand new singles. The metaphoric, “Love Is Like A Song” and the Seventies, funk-infused, “Memorable.”
Leverty already has a proven track record of releasing eclectic, hook-laden singles, including “The Bloom is Off The Rose,” “The Heart Heals The Soul” and “Strong,” as well as his more recent, melodic rock inspired track, “You’re A Natural.” These two new songs continue to expand his catalog of groove-ridden, sing along material with tasty guitar work.
Both “Love Is Like A Song” and “Memorable” feature Leverty on lead vocals as well as guitar, bass and keyboards. Fellow Firehouse member, Michael Foster, also contributes drums to the cause. Both songs are now available from Leverty’s website.
Leverty and Firehouse are kicking off another year of extensive touring. AXS recently spoke with him about his new singles, Firehouse and more in this new interview.
AXS: There’s been a resurgence in popularity in band’s like Firehouse over the last few years. To what do you credit the band’s longevity?
Bill Leverty: Give credit to the fans. Because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to play. I remember back in the early to mid-nineties, when grunge hit, it was a tough time for bands like ours to get airplay and gigs. Fortunately, we had a hit with the song, “I Live My Life For You,”which sustained us here and overseas. We’re grateful that we have a bunch of loyal fans that have stuck with us. Now we’re feeling a resurgence and a cross generational section of fans. We’ve got kids buying tickets as well as their parents and grandparents It’s really cool to see such a wide age variety come out when we perform.
AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?
BL: I wish I could say that I have a formula. The truth is, I’ll take it any way that I can get it [laughs]. Anytime that I get inspiration; whether it’s from a vocal melody, guitar riff or lyrical idea, I try to record it in some way. I also do a lot of practice, so I’m always keeping an open mind to see what ideas come out of my head and heart and not just my fingers. I sing a lot and am always developing a lyric or melody that’s in my head. More often than not, it’s the chorus or hook that comes first, and it was no exception for these two songs. Both came from a chorus idea, and I developed them from there.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Bill Leverty by Clicking Here!
It’s been 25 years since Firehouse won Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist at the 1992 American Music Awards, beating out Nirvana and Alice in Chains.
These days, the band—and its individual members—is still firing on all cylinders.
Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty has just released a powerful new single called “You’re a Natural.” The song, which features contributions by Firehouse drummer Michael Foster and bassist Keith Horne, continues Leverty’s trend of releasing melodic singles full of tasty fretwork.
I recently spoke to Leverty about the new single, his gear, Firehouse’s upcoming tour plans and more.
How did “You’re a Natural” come about?
Just like every song I’ve written lately, it started backwards with the chorus first. With this one, the punch line was actually the first thing I wrote—“You’re a natural, a natural disaster.” I didn’t want it to be real descriptive, so it could be about athletics or any kind of work you do. I took it from that line and started working with the guitar to come up with a riff and chord progression.
What was it like recording with Firehouse’s Michael Foster and Keith Horne?
They’re phenomenal musicians. Michael took the song to an extremely high level of energy and creativity. As a guitar player, I’m usually thinking snare on beats two and four, but his feel and the way he shifts the beat to go along with the rhythm is remarkable. Keith is another amazing player. You give him the song and he just goes off and does his thing.
What are Firehouse’s touring plans this year?
We like to say we’re always on tour. It’s our creed. I think we already have 15 to 20 dates booked. Last year, we did 62 shows and played a lot of really cool places. We played with a lot of really cool bands and met a lot of new fans as well as ones we’ve known for years. We want to do it again this year. This will be another summer where we’ll be out every weekend and catching up on sleep during the week.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Bill Leverty by Clicking Here!
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.
Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty’s latest project, Flood The Engine is classic, melodic hard rock at its finest. Together with Keith Horne (bass), Andre LaBelle (drums) and Jimmy Kunes (vocals), Leverty’s managed to channel elements from many of his favorite guitarists while also adding his own personal flair, giving the album a much broader appeal.
In addition to the killer vibe this combination of players brings to their own original compositions, the eight track opus also includes two tasty renditions of mid-70’s gold: “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler) and “Love Is Alive” (Gary Wright).
I sat down with Leverty to talk Flood The Engine and more.
What started the Flood The Engine project?
Keith Horne called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in putting together a recording project. I knew that he had recently moved back to the area and doing anything that Keith’s involved with is a huge honor. I asked him who he had lined up for a drummer and he said Andre (LaBelle); who I’ve known since the early 80’s. Andre and I had always wanted to work together, but were both in different bands.
How did you hook up with Jimmy Kunes?
When we were looking for singers, I suggested him. Jimmy has elements of all of the great classic rock singers all rolled into one. When his vocal cords rub together, it sounds so good. Once we had all of the pieces in place, Jimmy came down on a train from New York City and we wrote and recorded the album.
How was writing for this album different from writing with Firehouse?
It’s kind of similar in some ways and different in others. Generally, I’d come up with a guitar riff and then send it off to Jimmy; or Andre, Keith and I would assemble a song instrumentally together and send it to Jimmy. Sometimes we’d give him an idea of what we had in mind, but we always gave Jimmy the freedom to do what he wanted to with his voice and lyrics. We wanted to make sure that everybody could put their own individual style into the project and then we’d showcase it all as a group.
Let’s talk about some songs on the album: “Lay It All On Me”.
That was the first song we wrote for this record. I had sent Jimmy a demo of some music with just a basic beat and a guitar riff. He immediately got some lyrics and a melody together. He also had an idea of what to use chord wise. In addition to being a phenomenal singer, he’s also a very accomplished guitarist.
“All Your Trouble”.
That one started with a guitar riff as well. I remember we had worked out the music and then Jimmy [with his creative mind] came in and just started scribbling down lyrics. To watch him work is amazing. He just has a pad of paper and a pen and scribbles like there’s a typewriter going off inside of his head and he’s just trying to keep up with it [laughs].
“Open And Undone”.
That song started out with Andre’s drum beat. He and I sat in a room together for a few hours and put together the music for it. The song has a simplistic rhythm, but a very unique beat. It creates such a perfect mood. I remember Jimmy listened to it for a while and then had another scribble session where he got very spontaneous. It was another one of those things where we gave him a skeleton of a song and he just went to town on it.
In addition to six originals, you also have two covers on the album. [“All The Girls Are Crazy” & “Love Is Alive”]. Was there a reason why you chose those particular songs?
Jimmy and I had recorded a version of “All The Girls Are Crazy” together a few years ago. He and I have a common ground appreciation of Paul Kossoff, and that song in particular was one of our favorites. What Andre and Keith added to it was awesome.
Keith was the one who mentioned that he had always wanted to do a version of “Love Is Alive” and it was the perfect suggestion. I remember hearing that song when it first came out and thinking what a great tune it was. People who hear it today can still identify with it lyrically and the melody works so well with Jimmy’s voice and soulful delivery. It’s such a unique song and it also gives Keith a chance to shine as well.
What gear are you using for your live rig now a days?
I’m using a Fractal Audio Axe Fx II. I go from that direct into a monitor console and straight into the front house PA. It’s a two rack space unit that you plug into. It has over a hundred different amp and speaker cabinet combinations along with every rack effect you can imagine. So it can be used to sound like any amp you want. I’ve actually sold nine of my amps since I’ve gotten it. It’s the greatest thing that’s happened to the electric guitar since the pickup.
What satisfies you the most about Flood The Engine?
The goal of this project was to put together an album that we all felt good about. For me, being able to get together with these guys was an honor, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process.
Listeners of Bill Leverty’s new covers album, “Drive” will find that it’s more like a time machine. One that transports you back to the carefree days of the 1970’s, when riding in the backseat of your parent’s car and listening to rock radio was the norm. It didn’t even matter where you were going at the time; all that mattered was the music.
The Firehouse guitarist has released several solo albums over the course of his career, but this effort is one that pays tribute to the most sacred music of all: songs that inspired him as a youth. In addition to a blistering guitar attack on tracks like CCR’s “Fortunate Son”, “Drive” also contains tasteful renditions of Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and The Guess Who’s “No Time”. Leverty also puts his own spin on such classics as “Free Ride” (Edgar Winter Group), “I Shot the Sheriff” (Eric Clapton) and “Spanish Moon” (Little Feat). Contributing the brunt of the vocal work himself, Leverty keeps the essence of the original songs intact and yet, adds something excitingly fresh and new to the musical equation as well.
I sat down with Leverty to discuss “Drive” as well as his playing and songwriting. During the course of our trip back in time, we also discuss how Firehouse was born. Fans may recall that Firehouse beat out Nirvana and Alice in Chains for the AMA “Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist” award but as Leverty points out, there’s another band honor he’s even more proud of.
Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Bill Leverty Here.