Not only is Bill Leverty the guitarist for FireHouse, he is also a very talented solo artist who so kindly took time out of his night to give me a call and let me interview him. Bill, it was because of this interview that I decided to start this website- because you were so gracious towards me and completely gave me the initiative to think, maybe I can do this. I am eternally grateful, and from the bottom of my heart I thank you.
When I asked Bill when he started playing he told me he was fifteen, which he considers a “late start”, especially in comparison to the drummer of FireHouse who started at age three. His parents gave him a guitar when he was aged four- but like most children he was distracted by the myriad of other activities out there and gave it an eleven year break. He was not entirely self taught, as he had a teacher in the eighth grade who instead of teaching him from sheet music taught him basic chords. What Bill called the “chord approach” became his entire base of learning- and he would recommend that to anyone beginning.
I had to ask Bill who inspired him because it’s always extremely interesting to see what makes different people wanna pick up the same instrument. “Too many to name.” says Leverty. He states that as a kid he had always admired the sound of a guitar; his father gave him a Carlos Montoya album and he really enjoyed the sound. Carlos Montoya was a very prominent Flamenco guitarist, which you wouldn’t typically associate with influencing someone who’s career lies in rock and roll. It’s unique factors such as that, that provide Leverty with a creative edge and most likely helped aid his success. He also mentioned that he really liked a lot of bands from the 70’s that were “guitar based”- and even the ones that weren’t.
Leverty has been involved with music practically his whole life, but it all got really serious in 1990 upon the release of the self-titled, debut album FireHouse. FireHouse (both the band and the album) took America on by storm as they won the American Music Award for the Best New Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Band of 1991, Metal Edge Magazine’s Best New Band of 1991, plus many more critical acclamation’s. You also shouldn’t bat an eye at the fact that their debut album was certified double platinum by the RIAA. I asked him how a solo career compared to being in FireHouse and he instantly responded with “Love FireHouse!”. He would call them his “bread and butter”. In a band setting, Leverty says that “getting your way 25% of the time is pretty good”. However, in the solo environment he mentions that things don’t need to be done “by committee”, but that they do tend to take a little bit longer. He speaks upon the artistic freedom that a solo career provides- and the fact that you don’t ever really get the feeling of “wow, I wish I could have had the bridge go for four bars instead of eight”, for example. Overall he really enjoys both situations, as they’re both good- just different.
As one can imagine, rock stardom can be pretty time consuming, so I asked Bill what his favorite things to do are (aside from music of course). Without a doubt he responded with “Family- I feel like that’s the natural thing. I love my wife and I love my daughter.” For some reason, I expected that answer. On his website he refers to his family as his “love of a lifetime”, and that just hits me right in the damn heart, every time. Aside from his family, Leverty is very into ice hockey. Up until last year he was involved in an ice hockey league and his favorite team has been and always will be the Detroit Red Wings.
I asked Bill if he could perform with any other musicans, dead or alive, who they would be, and without any second thought he responded with the Beatles. He explained this by very simply saying that he would like to “play for the biggest audiences of all time and to play the greatest songs of all time”. He follows this by saying that “Led Zeppelin is a close second”, in which I give him credit for being able to choose a favorite. Of course, these two bands were more than just bands, they broke ground, they changed society and did so much more- so naturally I had to ask what he likes most about them. One of the greatest responses to that question I have ever gotten came from Bill Leverty when he said “The magic! The way it all works together”.
Lastly, I asked him to define success for himself. He started off by saying “success is when I listen to a song that I finished, and when I listen to it, it makes me feel good”. He then mentions how difficult it is to make money, nowadays, off of new music- but the money isn’t his focus. Most people either listen to it on YouTube or download it through other means, which benefits the artist in practically no way. Leverty even jokes abut how hard it is for someone to “lay down their ninety-nine cents for a new song”. He brings it back by saying “it’s a different culture”, which is entirely true. Twenty years ago you couldn’t pull out your phone and go on YouTube to listen to your favorite song- you had to walk to a record store and buy a physically copy of a record even if you just wanted one song off of it. After a bit of small talk surrounding the lack of record sales, Leverty closes with “Success is listening to something and going ‘I’m proud of this'”.