The Ballbreaker Column

The One, The Only, The Outspoken, Legendary BILLY SHEEHAN

CoverBilly Sheehan is a legendary musician who continues to record and perform with no plans of slowing down anytime soon. He is best known for his work with David Lee Roth band having played on David Lee Roth’s first two albums Eat Em’ and smile and Skyscraper , Mr. Big, and The Winery Dogs. Billy has won numerous awards as a bass player.

I had the pleasure to catch up with Billy Sheehan before he left to Japan to start the next leg of The Winery Dogs world tour in support of their second album Hot Streak.

How is the tour with Winery Dogs going?

Absolutely fantastic! Having a wonderful time.

How is it for you playing with a new musicians. You played with Richie Kotzen in Mr. Big. Mike Portnoy you have never played with in a band?

I’ve played and toured with Mike & Richie in other situations many times in the past. The three of us are having a blast with the onstage chemistry that happens within the band. It makes every night something to look forward to.

What are plans for the winery dogs after the tour is over?

We don’t plan out much of anything ever. As soon as we can, I’m sure we’ll write and record more, then tour more, then repeat—however, we will only do it when we feel we can do the best, and most inspired work together. We don’t want to force it.

Would winery dogs or you as as a musician ever do an acoustic show or album?

Not sure. Maybe me, do not know about TWD. I love playing live at full energy. It’s exciting to me. An acoustic show is a little toned down.

Billy Sheehan with guitarIt’s been 25 years since Mr. Big released Lean Into It album. Was there any pressure for the band to produce a hit record?

None at all. The next album, yes, but not on “Lean Into It”. The record label fought that record from the start. We had a hit in spite of their best efforts to stop us. Nice.

Was Mr. Big surprised by the success of the album Lean Into It?

Certainly. We believed in the record wholeheartedly. But the label did not, so it was a surprise to do so well with it.

Is there any album from your career that you consider a favorite album?

Eat ‘Em & Smile, Lean Into It, The Winery Dogs

Is the eat em and smile reunion show happening at some point?

I sure hope so. I would love to.

What are your favorite places to play live?

Anywhere and everywhere. As long as the audience is pumped up, it doesn’t matter. The audience makes the show.

Is there still a city, country, or venue that you would like to perform in that you haven’t already?

Actually, no—surprisingly. But I LOVE to play live, and I LIVE to play live. So I’ll play anywhere that will have me.

At this point where you have been able to do it all in your career. What keeps you going in your career?

I’m a musician first and foremost. There are always new challenges and new mountains to climb. It never ends. There’s always more to know, more to learn, more to experience. It’s still exciting to me—even more exciting than when I first began.

Is there anyone you still hope to work with?

Probably—can’t think of anyone at the moment.

Are there any new bass players out there that you enjoy listening to?

Tons! But I mostly listen to bands and songs, rather than just a bass player.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pick up a bass guitar and play?

Bass is the easiest “entrance point” instrument. I could have you up and running, playing most popular rock songs in very little time. That’s very good because you can quickly get on stage and be in a band. However, become really good at bass is as hard as any instrument there is. Maybe harder. So, it’s a challenge to keep going. It ain’t easy! It hurts too. No pain, no gain. And there will be blood. But if you can see it through, the satisfaction is beyond description. Anyone can do it, but few can see it through to the end. There’s nothing I do that anyone else can’t do—it just may take some time. Maybe 50 years or so. ; )

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By Angel Alamo

Angel is co-host on The Metal Summit & has been featured in Metal Sludge, sleaze roxx & other publications.