In this week’s show, Dave and Paul welcome Billy Butler, a multi-instrumentalist who plays a variety of instruments including the piano, guitar, and cello. Oh, and Billy is Dave’s bandmate in Bitter Pill, too!
Your three favorite weekend warriors dive right in, sharing insights on the process of memorizing music and lyrics, emphasizing the role of repetition, muscle memory, and physical engagement. They touch on the challenges presented by non-linear lyrics in songs like Beatles’ “Come Together” and Bitter Pill’s “Tom Waits for None,” and share anecdotes about performances where muscle memory helped them through forgotten lyrics.
The conversation also delves into the world of music creation, stressing the need for confidence in performance and the role of the conductor as the artistic leader. Billy articulates the line between drawing inspiration from other songs and downright plagiarism, citing the example of the stride piano style in “Betty the Stripper.” Billy also shares his admiration for the lyrical storytelling prevalent in songs from the 1920s to 1940s, and expresses his creativity by writing songs based on his own experiences and ideas. He also praises the genre-blending nature of hip-hop, appreciating its seamless fusion of different music styles.
This episode wraps up with a detailed discussion on the practicalities of live performances. Billy describes his cello setup, highlighting the complexities of bowing and the use of pickups and a pedal board to achieve specific sounds. The trio emphasizes the importance of soundcheck, adjusting instruments to match the room and the other onstage instruments, and maintaining good stage volume. They further discuss their choice of original songs and covers, including Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” and Tom Waits’ “Get Behind the Mule,” and explore the punk folk aesthetic of Bitter Pill’s covers, considering potential additions from Velvet Underground and Misfits. They conclude with a candid discussion about their personal music preferences, including a shared lack of enthusiasm for the Grateful Dead. Hey, Billy and Dave play in Bitter Pill, not Happy Pill!
With insightful perspectives and engaging stories, this one’s a must-listen, folks! Press play…and always be performing (and prepared)!
Chapters and (clickable!) Timestamps:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction and Travel Plans
- 00:03:16 – Billy’s Musical Background and Dyslexia
- 00:06:43 – Memory Guy’s Trick to Remembering 72 Decks of Cards
- 00:12:59 – First Impressions of Dave Hampton in Next to Normal Rehearsal
- 00:14:19 – Meeting and bonding over music
- 00:17:40 – From Accordion to Drummer: The Band’s Beginning
- 00:25:28 – Songwriting Process: Influences and Accessibility
- 00:28:13 – Family’s Musical Background
- 00:35:06 – No Shortcuts in Learning Bowing and Cello
- 00:37:40 – Gear Gab: Pickups, Stage Volume, and In-Ears
- 00:42:40 – Cost Prohibitive IEMs and Prioritizing Studio Recording
- 00:43:35 – Great stage volume and Theatrics
- 00:44:27 – Introduction to the Bitter Pill’s music and band members
- 00:47:10 – Bitter Pill’s Covers Repertoire
- 00:52:04 – Playing Midnight Special and other covers, personal stories behind them
- 00:53:25 – Lou Reed and Bob Dylan’s Music
- 00:57:21 – Enclave of Artists and Musicians in a Multi-Million Dollar Downtown
- 00:58:43 – Two Relationships in a Band: Parent and Artist
- 01:01:24 – Where to find Billy and Bitter Pill