Billy Sheehan’s interview
Written by Kevin Tanza on April 22, 2020
Billy Sheehan is one of the most important bassists in the history of Rock music and I think that is stating the obvious: the man has played in some of the best bands and projects of the last thirty years or so, always pushing his skills further and proving that he is one of the most talented musicians as far bass playing goes.
He is currently playing with Prog Rock supergroup Sons of Apollo and they have just released their latest album, MMXX, which was a very expected album after the massive success of 2017’s Psychotic Symphony. Billy took some time off from his busy schedule and we had the opportunity of doing a short interview.
Thank you for doing this, Billy. It’s an honor. I would like to start with a very broad question: What makes a bass player to you?
Someone who plays bass. Pretty simple.
And how do you think a bass player can find his or her own style as their careers progress?
I think it just happens. If you’re “trying to find a style” you never will. That would be like trying to choose what accent your speaking voice has.
Who were the players the influenced you the most and why?
It’s a long list, very well documented. This question is asked in every interview. It requires me to do a lot of typing.
It’s no secret that the bass is an instrument that is often underrated. What do you think are the aspects that are no discussed about bassists enough?
Bass has its own magazines, websites, thousands of social media pages, and is totally mainstream in every way. I do not think it is “underrated” in any way. It’s supremely popular and enjoyed by millions. Hit songs testify that it’s “all about the bass”
Focusing more on your career, you have recently released the second Sons of Apollo album, aptly titled MMXX. For those readers that perhaps haven’t bought it yet, what can you tell them about it?
The newest Sons of Apollo record is doing very well, thanks. Thousands of wonderful comments and messages on social media—for which I’m very thankful. The new record is a great illustration of the benefits of how being on tour together makes a band more cohesive and tighter.
Compared to Psychotic Symphony, what are the differences that we can expect from this album?
New songs, more adventures, evolution, and experimentation.
Sons of Apollo could be considered a supergroup of sorts. Is it complicated to make the band work with so many cooks in the kitchen? Or does it make the writing process a lot easier?
We have all been in this business for many years. It’s been easy to adapt to any situation.
And does your role in the writing process of this album compare to the first album?
I concentrated more on bass than writing.
You obviously have a notorious career: Sons of Apollo, David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Mr. Big, Tony MacAlpine, The Winery Dogs… how is the experience of being a journeyman of music of sorts?
I like all kinds of music and enjoy different band situations. It helps you grow as a musician. I’m very thankful to have had these opportunities.
All these groups and projects that I mentioned have different music styles. How do you adapt to each group’s style and musical preferences?
I don’t really think about it. Things just happen. People WAY overthink this point. Nature takes its course.
What plans do you have with Sons of Apollo this year in terms of touring?
To do it. As much as possible. We don’t choose where we play. No band does. We’re glad to see many cities and countries have booked shows with us.
Considering that you are such a renowned musician with decades of experience, what goals do you have at this point of your career?
To become a better player, singer, performer, songwriter.
And what advice would you give to people wanting to make a career in the music business?
Start. Get in a band. Get in a band that has songs. Play songs that have singing in them.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Billy. It was great. Any last message for our readers?
I’m very grateful and appreciative of all the people who are kind enough to listen to my music and come to my shows. I’ll always play my best for you!
You can find Billy Sheehan here: