BILLY SHEEHAN - Riding With ZZ
by Martin Popoff
Talas, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Niacin, G3... Buffalo-raised bass native Billy Sheehan's made the rounds. But damn it all if it's not time to recognize him for his growing catalogue of solo albums, each of which is an enjoyable collection of kick-ass rock songs and not an exercise in fat string madness made for gearheads. Holy Cow! is the latest of these fine, eminently playable records of erudite skills channeled into rock-solid songwriting, and the man is pleased as punch - so pleased, he's going to reunite with Mr. Big to celebrate (Japanese dates are already sold out).
"I think it sounds a little bit more like a band, as opposed to a solo record," agrees Sheehan, on the record's mission to connect with a broad base of not just bassists. "I did a couple things that, not necessarily to try consciously skew it that way, but I like the idea of working with other people, when I'm making music. So when I wrote the record, most of it, I would sit in front of my little Macbook Pro with the camera built-in, maybe open up a bottle of wine and have a glass, fool around with my guitar until I figured out something. And then I would record. And I would record a video of myself playing this, and explaining the song. And I'd say, 'OK, when the chorus comes up...' and I would hold my guitar up to the camera to show where the chord voicings were, as if I was telling another person. And then when I had 20 or 30 pieces like that, my engineer would open this up, and it would be a little movie on the screen explaining to us what the song was. So it was almost like there was a little bit of an interaction."
"And then when Ray Luzier came to play drums... I love playing with Ray," continues Billy, quite rightly singing the praises of the buoyant, percolating drumming on the record, a perfect match to Billy's bubbly bass. "We work real well together, in my humble opinion. I just have a natural thing with his drumming - it's perfect. And I said, 'Ray, just do your thing. Just do that Ray Luzier thing that you do,' you know? Because normally when a drummer comes into a session, he plays what you want him to play, but with Ray, it's like, 'Cool, how would you treat it? How would you do it? Take it how you want it to go.' And then Pat Regan, the guy who mixed it, worked with me on a couple of things lyric-wise, so there was a little bit of back and forth, and it was a little bit more of a... not so much a total solo experience where it has to be my way or a highway, not that I do it that way anyway, but I just wanted to make it like, more people's ideas involved, so it has a more rounded approach than rather than just one man's. Does that make sense?"
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