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Meet the world’s last true-blue greaser. He tucks in his shirt, rolls up his sleeves, calls everybody cats, smokes out the side of his mouth, and will play his guitar ‘til the whole world is swinging!
They call him Bloodshot Bill.
Based in Montreal, Canada, Bloodshot usually plays as a one-man show. He picks at his guitar like a madman, singing with all his might into the mic, while somehow simultaneously hitting the drums; it produces melodies and tunes so painstakingly hip, you won’t know whether to cry or swing your hips like never before.
His tunes and all-around-vibe truly appreciate the classics. He grew up on Conway Twitty, which eventually led him to teaching himself the guitar and belching out what you hear now. From his album Crazy Fever in 2003, to this year’s Guitar Boy, Bloodshot makes sure to stay true to his roots and play what he truly digs.
Courtesy of Norton Records.
BTRtoday caught up with him at this year’s Meltasia festival in an abandoned zoo located in the Catskills, Upstate NY, right before he played. We rolled a joint, chilled with some goats, and talked about music.
His live performance was a little different this time, because instead of going solo he had a band back him—-all decked out also in traditional ‘50’s styles, with suits, bolo ties, and, of course, slicked back hair. While they played, the crowd was immediately transported back to the inception of rock and roll, dancing to tunes from the ilk of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley & His Comets, or even The Cramps. Everyone gladly took up the vibe of cool cat and swung each other around while running their hands through their hair and shouted back Bloodshot’s lyrics.
What we’ve deduced from chatting with Blooshot Bill: He’s a real gentleman, a classic cool cat, and an overall awesome guy to have around, whether it’s to listen to him get down on his guitar or just have a chill and memorable time with, Bloodshot’s your guy!
BTRtoday (BTR): So, Bloodshot Bill, I have to start off by asking you, how did you end up with a name like Bloodshot Bill?
Bloodshot Bill (BB): It’s just a cool name and people immediately know what they’re in for. I think it also describes the music a bit too—-bloodshot style/wild style/late night a-little-messed-up style or whatever.
BTR: Do you let people know your real name?
BB: Eeehhhh, I mean, yeah, my close friends and anyone else who I feel close to.
BTR: But you tend to go by Bloodshot Bill?
BTR: I like it. So should I call you Bloodshot or Bill?
BB: You pick whatever you want!
BTR: I like Bloodshot!
BB: Alright! Good pick.
BTR: Alright, Bloodshot! Where are you from?
BB: I’m from Montreal Quebec, Canada. Born and raised!
BTR: Oh, Montreal! What’s the music scene like there?
BB: For me, I do good. I’d played there almost every night of the week before I started traveling around. Now I travel so much, but yeah, it’s still good over there. The music scene itself is just great. There’s always something going on. Whatever kind of music you like, you’ll find some band doing it.
BTR: Bloodshot, I just love to say that name, so what are you currently working on?
BB: Rolling a joint right now… [Laughs]. No, but I’m kind of always recording something and then when it’s time to put an album out I just kind of pick songs that I like and have already done. So I don’t really go, “hey everyone! I’m recording a new album!” So that’s it…
BTR: What’s your creative process like?
BB: Sometimes collaborative, but usually it’s just by myself and it’s just whatever. You get a tune in your head and that’s it. Then you work on it and, you know, add a cool guitar part or something.
BTR: Have you played music all your life?
BB: Oh, not at all. My biggest musical training was almost every weekend the family would go on a trip and we’d have a Conway Twitty tape playing in the car and we’d just blast it and everyone would sing along to it. For years it was like the same tape; we just didn’t want to change it, it was just the best, we’d always listen to that.
There were lots of different kinds of music encouraged at home. My mom is from Trinidad, so there was always a lot of Calypso. I never took lessons or anything; I just picked up [guitar] on my own.
BTR: I love your style! What influenced this whole ‘50’s greaser/slick-back look?
BB: I don’t know actually. I got into it really early. I was really young. In high school I got into other things too, like punk and all that stuff, but I always came back to this. It’s my favorite kind of music. Favorite style. Favorite era. I just love it! So, it just went downhill from there.
BTR: You seem to already know a lot of people playing here—-did you just meet them playing music?
BB: Yeah, through mutual friends who knew them already. I was actually introduced to Shannon [from Shannon and The Clams] a long time ago. I kind of forgot and I was like, “hey, you know this band Shannon and The Clams? I think they sound cool!” and my friend was like, “yeah, you actually met them at my place.” So it’s cool.
BTR: That’s awesome, Shannon is so sweet and that band rocks! How did you end up here at Meltasia?
BB: Well, Andy [Animal] is a good buddy of mine and he’s asked me to play some of his other shows he’s put on before and we’ve become good friends through that. That’s pretty much it. I think [tonight] is going to be super wild! It’s a great lineup—-I love Kool Keith and I love that we’re playing just before him, it’s totally insane!
[Goats bleating in background].
BTR: Whoa. Did you notice there were mountain goats behind us?…
BB: No, I didn’t, but hey look! That’s my band.
BTR: Oh hi! So you guys are playing with Bloodshot tonight, got any dirt on him?
Band Member: Yeah, he eats everything in sight, just like the goats!
BTR: So, Bloodshot, how long have you been playing under that name?
BB: Almost twenty years now.
BTR: Wow! That’s a long time. Has your sound changed from when you started?
BB: Not too much. I mean, it’s basically the same. It think I just do it better now. Like, I can play guitar better than I could, so I can express myself better, you know? Hopefully I also sing better than I did before.
BTR: Guess I’ll be the judge of that when I see you play. You know, before I actually go and see you play, why don’t you give me a little rundown on what you’re like up there on stage?
BB: Depends really. Tonight I’m playing with a band, which is a little different. I usually play as a one-man band. I just always hope there’s an atmosphere of good times—-that’s it really.
BTR: Well, I can’t wait to experience it for myself. So what’s in the future for Bloodshot Bill?
BB: More touring, more records, and yeah, that’s it—-more of the same. I just played NYC like a month or two ago, nothings planned, but I’ll probably be playing there again soon.