An Interview With Don Hosler & Bill Burns
Xhibition is a band that’s lookin’ to put the FUN back in rock ‘n’ roll music. Armed with their debut, 16 song release, “Taking Back The Power,” vocalist Chuck Clancy, guitarist/bassist Bill Burns and drummer Don Hosler are lookin’ to bring back that “feel good” vibe that was popular back in the 80’s…back when rock ‘n’ roll actually meant something. They’re not just tryin’ to re-live old glory here. They’re trying to breathe a new life into a style and sound that still has a major audience floating around out there. They’re “Taking Back The Power” and sharing it with the rest of the world. Well, at least the part of the population who still likes to ROCK. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Don Hosler & Bill Burns about the band and their debut release. This is how that conversation went.
Paul Autry: Well, Don, the last time we spoke, it was to promote your debut solo album. So, let’s start there. Did that album accomplish everything you wanted it to accomplish?
Don Hosler: It did all it could in light of the state of music at the time. That CD came out in 2001, during a time when pop/punk like Green Day and Blink 182 was at its peak, plus we were still feeling the after-effects and shrapnel from the early 90’s “grunge” movement, which I wish I could have hibernated through! The people who missed fun, good time rock dug it, while others at the time didn’t want to hear anything that was remotely connected to the 80’s. That’s still a problem now, although not as much so. People are starting to come around and younger generations are starting to re-discover classic melodies, which is a testament to the cyclical nature of the business what comes around goes around. In fact, it IS coming around big time! Newer, younger bands like Nickelback, Hinder and Buck Cherry are beginning to really carry the torch for that era and are evolving into a new millennium version of that whole melodic, hook driven style. The sex anthems and the power ballads are coming back with a vengeance courtesy of all of the above artists. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see 80’s icons like Bon Jovi, Journey and Def Leppard still recording and touring, but when a younger band from THIS generation starts incorporating that style into their own music and modernizing it, it sheds a whole different light on the matter. I went to a Hinder show in Allentown (Pennsylvania) last month and for the first time since 1988 I witnessed teenagers not only getting into the music but throwing leopard skin bras and undergarments at the stage, which then proceeded to line the microphone stands. It really was an epiphany. I only hope we don’t make the same mistakes again this time by overemphasizing image and creating stupid terms like “hair bands” which takes the focus off the music and places it somewhere where it quite frankly doesn’t belong. That’s what killed the movement in the first place. Looks and image should always be secondary, and instead we made it the primary focus probably because of an over-dependency on MTV. Thank God that’s pretty much a joke nowadays. Just listen to the music and don’t worry about what the band looks like if they play good and come out with long hair, poofed hair, no hair, leather pants, carpenter pants, boots, sandals who cares ? It’s all about the music. I think the climate is much better now for this kind of music so in essence I think we’re coming out at a real good time.
Paul Autry: You recently remastered that album. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how can people get a copy?
Don Hosler: We were mastering the Xhibition stuff and Bill Burns always thought the “Boardwalk of Broken Dreams” CD could have been mastered a lot better, especially since the CD was recorded at two different studios and you could really tell the difference on certain transitions. He figured while he was in “mastering mode” he’d go in and re-master it and he did a phenomenal job the CD sounds a lot better this time around. The best way to get a copy is to go to my MySpace page at www.myspace.com/donhosler and send me a message and I’ll hook you up with a copy.
Paul Autry: Can you introduce us to Xhibition and how the band came together?
Don Hosler: : I have to use the term “band” loosely because we’re still in the process of putting a complete band together for live performances. Bill Burns and I met a decade ago and then he moved to New York and we lost touch. Then the hand of fate stepped in towards the end of 2006 when we found ourselves working together for a one-off show. My wife Kim actually urged me to pursue trying to write original music with Bill because she sensed that we hit it off and she had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do at this point in my life. I was fed up with playing covers and no matter what I got involved with cover-wise I kept getting a “been there-done that” sensation and I had a few really cool song ideas already stockpiled. At this point, I have to do it for the right reasons, and playing Joe’s Corner Bar for $50 to a room full of drunks who are only half paying attention to us just didn’t hold any interest to me anymore. I couldn’t do it for the money anymore or “just for something to do”, it had to be all about the music and my love of it and ultimately working with Bill I was able to find that again. I had worked with Chuck Clancy before both in Aslan and on my “Boardwalk” CD and I’ve always thought the world of his vocal abilities and I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone else singing the new material. We knew from the get-go that he couldn’t commit to live performances because of his work schedule, but we were itching to get these songs recorded and we didn’t know of anyone else with the vocal range to pull this off so we went for it. Since Bill plays guitar, bass and keyboards the three of us were able to make all the noise on the record without depending on anyone else. That’s both good and bad. The good is the whole “two many cooks spoil the broth” saying and the benefit of having a consistency of vision across the board and no one else to dilute the original concept ; the bad obviously is that it is always ideal to have a more cohesive full band vibe and environment on the record because that always translates well to live performances and projects an aura of unity and dimension.
Paul Autry: Before we go on, I’d like to get a little back history here. Were any of the band members involved in any other projects?
Bill Burns: I am originally from Long Island, New York, and I’ve played in many bands in the 80’s, some names would be Trix, Lazer, Third Rail Shock, Razor’s Edge. We played all the clubs and it all came to a screetching halt once grunge and flannel took over. I wanted to stay in music but I wasn’t interested in what was coming out at the time so I took the advice of a friend of mine and got into home recording. I began to set up a home studio in 1989. I went through several upgrades until I was 16 track digital recording and 16 tracks analog. In 1994 I moved to Lancaster (Pennsylvania) and set up a real studio with 2 rooms and all the treatments, no expenses barred. I met Don back in 1996 working on a mutual friend’s CD at my studio. That project never got finished and we didn’t talk to each other until 2006 because I moved back to NY. I then in Jan 2002 moved back to Lancaster and completed the studio. It was funny the same mutual friend called us both up to back him for a Halloween show. About another 10 months went by before we talked again and then started writing together. I always wanted to write with Don… it just never worked out until recently.
Don Hosler: I’d worked with Bill before in a recording capacity, but never in a band situation. Chuck Clancy I’ve obviously both toured and recorded with so there was a comfort zone there. Chuck had previously played in a power trio called Mad Mulligan. I should also mention that we brought in Andy Kelley, whom I collaborated with on “Boardwalk”, to help out with some of the background harmonies, which turned out very well. The only other person on the record is Diane Bender, who sang the female component vocals on “The Last Two People On Earth”, which is a duet ballad between her and Chuck – again, that came out fantastic. I’ve known Diane since around 1994 when she used to follow Runaway Train (the band I was in at that time) around religiously and I had discovered that she had some vocal potential locked up inside that no one seemed to know about ! (LOL) When we were demo’ing “Last Two People”, Bill and I realized that we should make the vibe of the song mirror the title, and the best way to accomplish that was to make it a male/female duet. I already thought the song was very unique and one of a kind, and this only elevated things all the more. My wife Kim also helped out with some of the group backing vocals and impersonated a newscaster on the title track.
Paul Autry: What made you go with the name Xhibition & what’s the meaning behind the album title?
Bill Burns: I remember driving up to Don’s place we were on the way to see a Journey tribute band that wound up being members of Open Skyz and Valentine, both bands we knew from different areas… see I grew up on Long Island and knew of Open Skyz from there, and Don knew them as Valentine… small world… anyways.. I was trying to come up with a catchy name that wasn’t taken or too cliché… Exhibition sounded cool but was probably taken so I lopped off the E… and ran it by Don and he agreed. There was no fore-thought that any possible followers would be called xhibitionists. LMAO.
Don Hosler: And it made sense because in essence a band IS an exhibition you’re putting your talent on display for all to see and hear. Eliminating the “E” just made it look more rock and roll. If I remember correctly I think my wife had something to do with bringing up that particular name as well…sometimes the best name is the one that nobody laughs at, and at this point no one was laughing!
Paul Autry: How was the songwriting process handled within the band?
Bill Burns: I originally wrote song melodies and then added lyrics later… Don writes the opposite… so for a little bit it was tough for me to reverse write… but it felt good writing that way. I now find I can write either way and it works. As time went on we started to try things, make it interesting. Don wrote most of the lyrics on the cd and since Don doesn’t play another instrument than Drums I created all the melodies and counterpoints. Don would throw me a chorus idea lyrically and I’d throw back at him a song wrapped around that idea. As the process went on we started with 6 songs, then went to 10 and kept writing.. when we reached 16 we didn’t want to cut songs down for the CD so we released all 16 and it comes in just under 74 minutes. Not too shabby for a debut band’s cd.
Don Hosler: Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to expand my writing by having someone throw me a completed musical piece and have me wrap lyrics and a vocal melody around it, but I just never had that opportunity up until now. Sometimes I would have to add or subtract measures to get everything to click, but once I got past “Hard Way Home”, which was the first song I ever wrote that way, it was smooth sailing all the way!
Paul Autry: What was the recording process like?
Bill Burns: Don and I live about 90 mins apart… Don would send me his ideas via email and I’d pass him back a demo version. Once we had a few demo’s figured out, Don would come down to the studio and we’d put down the keeper drum tracks, and I would go back and record scratch bass & guitar tracks so our vocalist Chuck Clancy could come down and record his vocal parts. His schedule is sooo logistically hard that we had to cram songs into long nights just to get his parts recorded. I only wish he had a better job schedule as it prohibits him from doing anything more with us. Shame really. After the vocal parts were all completed I went back and recorded all the keeper bass, then guitar and finally added all the keyboard parts to complete the songs. We started in February 2008 and I had keeper tracks on all 16 by August 2008. Because I was recording in my own studio we had no clocks or money related issues to deal with. I could record a guitar solo at 3am… which I did… or just work on sounds for hours until everything sat right, which I also did til 3am. There were plenty of “Studio Gremlins” and equipment breaking down or just not working correctly somedays… so it was trying at times but in the end well worth it. August was spent doing rough mixes and the first 2 weeks of September was mastering the CD. Learned a lot of what to do… and what not to do.
Don Hosler: Like anything else, there were good days and bad days…productive days and frustrating days. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t go back to the drawing board a couple times on a few songs, because we did. But I found it very liberating to work without the constraint of a studio by-the-hour budget or time restrictions. It all meant that we could take as long as we wanted and needed and we didn’t have to release it until it sounded EXACTLY the way we wanted it to sound. Looking back, I think that’s exactly what we did. The road wasn’t always easy, and some days there was a huge freakin’ roadblock in our way…but we always found a way to go around it or go through it!
Paul Autry: The two of you produced the album yourselves. What made you decide to go in that direction?
Don Hosler: I think I made reference before about “too many cooks ruining the stew” or something like that, and not having too many opinions to dilute the original meaning of the song. I’ve always believed that no one knows better as to what a band should sound like than the band themselves I think it’s more honest that way. That being said, sometimes after awhile it becomes difficult to be totally objective because you wrote and performed everything and you become just too close to it which is ultimately why I think a lot of bands turn to outside producers and/or engineers. Since Bill is a competent engineer, we didn’t need to go down that road…and unless you have the production budget to enlist the aid of a total genius like Mutt Lange to steer your sound, it simply isn’t feasible to consider any other avenue. Bill and I were a good sounding board to each to bounce things off of, and we both understand that a great take and a great mix not only hold up right after you finished it, but days later as well. That was real important and we both got it.
Bill Burns: Since I had written most of the melodies of the songs and Don doesn’t play another instrument, I wanted to produce the CD from the get go. Don was passionate about his lyrics so during the vocal tracking sessions he was in-charge to get the performances that he wanted and with Chuck… that was easy. In fact most of what we would consider to be keeper tracks.. Chuck would come back and say “Now that I know what I’m doing, can we do it again”, and indeed it would be better. I felt it was only right to give Don credit production-wise on that and for ideas as we went along.
Paul Autry: Since this is pretty much a new release, can you tell us a little about some of the songs…like…what they’re about…what can people expect to hear…your personal favorites and why…stuff like that.
“Taking Back The Power”
Bill Burns: Written live in the studio. Double tracked solo the hard way. LOL. Came together very quickly and was recorded that day to retain its “live vibe feel”
Don Hosler: Yeah, that was one of two songs that was born out of a studio jam actually towards the end of the CD after we had the CD title for quite some time, and it wound up being both the title track and the first song. Lyrically, it deals with the trappings of Hollywood and the many ways you can lose your identity along the way when you have big dreams and fall victim to bad influences by listening to people you shouldn’t be listening to. My inspiration for writing this came from me being sick and tired of hearing about spoiled rich celebrities like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, etc who have breaks and opportunities some of us can only dream of and yet they somehow manage to screw it all up and wind up in rehab! Bill already had the riff, I coupled my lyrical ideas with it, we jammed it in the studio and the song was done the same day. Sometimes the quick ones work the best.
“Closer Than You Think”
Don Hosler: Bill had just written a very serious song with “Afraid of the Dark” and I wanted to contrast that and keep the balance on the CD so I intentionally created an extremely uptempo “fun” rock song with a super catchy chorus that just breezes along at a breakneck pace. I love the breakdown after the chorus and the drum lick that drives the song back home.
Bill Burns: Fastest tempo song on the CD. Very simple parts woven together.
“Better Things To Do”
Bill Burns: Orchestrated this song to be heavier sounding that it was. One of the rare times I used the 7 String guitar… only on the choruses.. gave it a modern feel to it.
Don Hosler: My oldest contribution to the record. Back in 2003, my girlfriend was going through a divorce and she said to me one day “I’ve got better things to do than think of him” and I just ran with it! This is turning out to be a song that a lot of people are relating to, so I think it’s very cool that this song came from a real and genuine place and believe it or not people pick up on that. My girlfriend became my wife and the song was finally recorded in 2008. Thanks Kim
“Bad Truth, Good Lie”
Don Hosler: The hook idea came to me on Easter Sunday of 2008 while just hanging around the house. This came at a time when Bill and I thought we were done and had enough tunes, and then songs like this just started popping out almost on auto pilot. I couldn’t get the chorus out of my head, which is what strongly encouraged me to run with it. I’ve always believed in the catchphrase “I’d rather hear a bad truth than a good lie” because I think it’s a great basis for ANY relationship, so having something you truly believe in fused with an unforgettable hook made this my favorite tune on the CD.
“Don’t Leave Me In The Dark”
Don Hosler: We were about ten songs into the record, and at this point I had my doubts if “Last Two People on Earth” was going to work out, so I sat down and tried to write another ballad. Let’s just say when it was done it wasn’t a ballad anymore! The chorus has a Def Leppard vibe and the verse kind of reminds me of “Let’s Put the X in Sex” by Kiss! It definitely mutated into its own animal somewhere along the way.
Bill Burns: It’s funny the verse has a certain groove to it and its not one single instrument that makes it groove, it’s the way the 2 guitars and bass work together to make that Kiss groove work. I am not the biggest Kiss fan so after I recorded that on the demo version when I told Don it had a certain Kiss song feel to it, I couldn’t remember the name… that song came up. Funny how things you hear years ago recircle and land when you least expect them.
“Better Than You Know Yourself”
Don Hosler: We didn’t really have any “traditional” ballad love songs for the CD, and I always wanted to write something for my wife but I didn’t want to do it just for the sake of doing it…it had to match the quality of everything else. I had something called “Where Would I Be Without You” but I wasn’t happy with the chorus but I liked the verse, so I kept it and wrote the new chorus which turned it into “Better Than You Know Yourself.” I’m real proud of this one.
“We’re Not So Different”
Bill Burns: The only song that had a total rewrite from the demo version. I think I blew Don out of the water that day. Has A LOT of different feels and the number of different influences I’ve been told people have heard out of this one song is amazing. After I mixed the rough demo I wanted to have a “Children of the Damned” (Iron Maiden off Number of the Beast CD) feel to the beginning. Came out better than I thought with all the layered textures. Probably my favorite song of all due to all the textures, influences and genre’s involved in its conception and production.
Don Hosler: Yeah, what he said ! I wanted to combine our two styles of writing into the same song, so I wrote a chorus hook, threw it at him, and told him to write the rest of the music based on that. He then threw it back at me and I wrote the rest of then lyrics and melodies. I rejected his first idea because I thought it was too repetitive…I really put him through the ringer on this one, but he completely floored me when he sent his second idea to me. It put a big smile on my face and immediately sat down to work on it ! (LOL) The harmony guitar solo at the end is pure genius!
“Always Out Of Love”
Bill Burns: The first song Don threw at me and I “reverse” wrote it. LOL. Tongue in cheek view of a relationship going bad. The outtakes of the “Phone Operator” session is still hilarious!
Don Hosler: I had a batch of song ideas stockpiled and laying around before I met Bill, and this was one of ‘em. I wanted to try something lighthearted with some humorous lyrics, like Bill said it was a tongue in cheek look at the breakup of a relationship. Interestingly enough, the verses are angry, while the choruses in contrast are big sing along four part harmony hooks. This is definitely the song that got the whole ball rolling.
“Afraid Of The Dark”
Bill Burns: Started out as an idea I had from a drum machine pattern, has a Joe Satriani Feel to it ala Flying in a Blue Dream era. Song came together real quick. One of the two I wrote exclusively on the CD.
Don Hosler: Bill wanted to take the reins and come up with both the lyrics and music to a song, so I let him ! (LOL) This was one of those instances where we started pushing the envelope with respect to lyrical subject matter definitely a more serious, darker turn but it balances out the CD very well.
“Til Hell Freezes Over”
Bill Burns: A modern little riff in drop D I threw at Don… made him reverse write for a change. LOL. I think I had heard a Daughtry song and heard how rough sounding the guitars were and upon just playing around with it, I wanted to then write a song that could be played with one finger on the guitar’s fretboard.
Don Hosler: I thought having a more modern sounding song was a great idea, but I wanted to contrast the darker, more aggressive musicality of it with an arena rock vibe and an expressive vocal that didn’t just drone that really went for it ! To his credit, Chuck got it, and he completely nailed it ! This is a classic case of “old meets new” head-on in a dark alley!
Don Hosler: Bill sent me the music to this and I could have wrote a traditional rock and roll relationship song out of it and it would have come out sounding like Dokken (LOL) but I backpedaled and decided I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to stretch out a bit lyrically and write about something more topical and pertinent in today’s society, so I thought war was a great topic to cover because it is very easily relatable to a lot of people right now. It may hit a little close to home for some, but I feel it is done very respectfully…not only does it condemn the act of war and say we should get it done quick and bring our children home, but it also gives credit where credit is due to those soldiers defending our nation. No matter what side of the fence you stand on, I feel this is a song that should mean something to just about everyone.
Bill Burns: Originally titled The Golden Idol until I though about the lyrics and they sounded more like a soldiers perspective, and being away from their families. Million Miles seemed the distance between them.
“The Last Two People On Earth”
Bill Burns: Had the most parts 40+ recorded and took the longest to come to fruition. On the final demo version before Chuck put his vocals down, I only then knew it would work out since it’s the most different song on the CD. After Chuck’s Vocal was in place, I thought about the idea of a Duet and have each person sing it to each other. Diane Bender came in and made that happen.
Don Hosler: Ditto here…I didn’t totally think this song would make it until I heard Chuck’s performance because the song is very vocally driven and we needed that representation. I call this a “post-apocalyptic love song” about two people left alive after a holocaust and reflecting on how they thought they had problems in their relationship before ! If you can survive something so terrible together then be thankful for what you have and be an inspiration to others. The only duet on the CD, this features the counterpoint vocals of Diane Bender, who along with Chuck drove this one right out of the park.
“Hard Way Home”
Bill Burns: A riff I was working on for a little bit before I met Don and he went old school Boy Meets Girl from wrong side of the tracks. Modern Day West Side Story with a twist.
Don Hosler: When I heard Bill’s music I knew it had to have a gritty kind of “street” vibe, so this is what came out. Along with “Last Two People”, this song is very cinematic a “story” song if you will and the toughest one for me to write because it was the first time I tried to put words to someone else’s music.
“Ready For A Better Way”
Don Hosler: We had quite literally closed the book and said “we’re done no more songs ! We’ve got 15!” and then I had to go and come up with this ! Shortly into the demo process, we realized this song was too good to ignore. Great melody, awesome harmonies, and Andy Kelley added a Beatle-esque vocal in the second verse that just kills!
Bill Burns: A song where I was allowed to go into the studio and play with the sounds…gongs Included!
“Never An Easy Way”
Don Hosler: 2008 was a tough year for both of us as people. Loss of jobs, deaths in the family, breakups of various bands a lot of negative situations. I decided to channel all that into a positive, uplifting song of hope and standing tall in the face of crisis.
Bill Burns: Very true, but we persist and survive…and here we are to tell about it.
“Rock ‘N’ Roll Party”
Bill Burns: Written way back in 1985 originally, updated over the years. Finally given the proper recording it deserved. A sonic barrage of riffs, pounding drums and shredding guitars, that would have been perfect in the late 80s. For me this song was the most fun to play on.
Don Hosler: For me, this was the toughest song to nail, thanks, Bill ! (LOL) This will go down great live. To me, it’s the only deliberate “retro” or “nostalgic” tune on the record..it’s pure 80s and we make no bones about it! Turn it up!
Paul Autry: Your album features 16 songs, which is quite a lot in this day and age. Would you consider any of them “filler” and were there any leftover tunes that we may get to hear in the future?
Bill Burns: There was one track we never finished… the intro before “Taking Back The Power.” We wrote 16 and felt strong enough about every song that we didn’t need to have any filler songs, we could’ve put out 2 cds, but felt this was the right thing to do. Filler.. leave that for another band. While writing we never said.. oh we need this kind of song or maybe we should have this kind on here…we just wrote and whatever the music or lyrics make me move towards, I just followed my best judgement and I think it worked.
Don Hosler: We just kept writing and writing and the longer we worked together the better the ideas got, but we had really strong stuff at the beginning as well and we didn’t want to part with anything. Nothing sounded like a knockoff of something else we did, so it was all validated in our minds put it all on there. The next project will be fresh ideas, like wet ink on a newspaper no leftovers!
Paul Autry: I know you started doing some radio promotion. Is it too early to ask how that’s been going?
Bill Burns: Great response from the stations and their listenership… always fun to get out and talk up the songs and what we did to ‘em. Or what they’ve done to us. LOL.
Don Hosler: Radio interviews are always fun and a great way to promote your product. .plus we do some over-the-air CD giveaways as well, which people always appreciate. We only did one so far and one was just cancelled due to weather and rescheduled for January, so it’s a little early…but thank God for radio stations that have local music spotlight shows because it gives us an outlet and an avenue which bypasses traditional radio station red tape and politics. The only thing separating a talented band from a successful band is opportunity because alot of talented bands never get heard and that’s usually because the correct opportunities are not laid in front of them. Some radio stations say things like” “If we play you then we have to play every Tom, Dick and Harry’s demo tape” and that’s not true. They should judge it on the quality and the time and care taken to produce the product. If Tom, Dick and Harry hang two microphones from the rafters in their garage and record a tape on a boombox, trust us YOU DON’T HAVE TO PLAY IT! But if a band takes almost a full year to produce a quality product and engineer it to sound comparable with what’s on the air today then I feel it deserves as much of a chance as anything else. God bless the radio stations that “get it” like WZZO 95.1, WMGH 105.5, WRKY in Altoona, WPAM 1450AM and 105.7 “The X” just to name a few. They all have local band shows committed to showcasing independent unsigned artists and that’s a wonderful thing.
Paul Autry: How about internet promotion? Have you done any of that and, if so, what?
Bill Burns: We have a website I run and am currently updating. We are on CDBaby, Garageband.com and ILike.com.
Don Hosler: In today’s medium, internet has become almost the primary source of promotion because it has made the world a much smaller place. Our MySpace page (www.myspace.com/xhibitionpa) links us to CD Baby and very soon other digital download points like itunes, rhapsody, amazon, napster, etc. If it’s cutting edge, we do it, because you really can’t afford not to. I hate missed opportunities, and any opportunity to reach audiences is a good one.
Paul Autry: During some of our phone conversations, we spoke a little about Xhibition playing live. Would you care to explain that situation for us?
Bill Burns: Well we are looking for a lead singer with Chuck’s vocal abilities… unfortunately like I said before Chuck’s schedule doesn’t afford him to promote or play with us any longer. I think once we get the right people in the band, it will be a loud hard rockin’ rollercoaster of an event. I think we have a lot to deliver and a sonic impact that will leave you remembering who we are and can’t wait to see what we’re doing next.
Don Hosler: Chuck can record with us anytime, but unfortunately when your job requires you to work 12 hours every Friday and every Saturday that doesn’t leave much room for playing live gigs, especially when you consider the amount of hours involved in doing that and you tie in the sleep factor ! (LOL) We’re ready to get out there and play as soon as the right vocalist walks through our doors, but Chuck has set the bar so high that replacing him live is quite a daunting task. Looking back, I have no regrets about doing what we did because this style of music DEMANDS this style and range of singing, and anything less just wouldn’t do. We won’t settle. So, if you know anyone, Paul, don’t hold back on us! (LOL)
Paul Autry: What are your musical influences?
Bill Burns: OMG where do I start… AC/DC to Zappa, Country to Electronic Music. Hard Rock, Classical, Big Bands, my dad played those 40’s bands all the time, got into my head. Guitar wise my heroes were Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore.. then I heard Randy Rhoads and it was all over… changed everything for me. Gary Moore was another huge influence, Al Dimeola, Eric Johnson, Albert Lee, Billy Sheehan, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai… I remember hearing Steve practice like 13 hours a day out of his Carle place home bedroom window. I learned early on to evolve and have your own style.
Don Hosler: The first band I ever got into was KISS, then Cheap Trick, and so on into the 80’s with Def Leppard and Quiet Riot. I always loved the blending of power and melody…a loud heavy crunching guitar counterbalanced by a super catchy vocal hook that you can’t get out of your head. In my opinion, bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi really pioneered that and from there you had your innovators and your carbon copies. Today I really like bands like Nickelback, Hinder, Daughtry, Buck Cherry and anyone who is bringing the FUN back to rock and roll. It truly is about time.
Paul Autry: Since Bill plays both the bass and guitar on this release, was there ever any thought of bringing in an additional member, such as another guitarist or bassist, so that he could concentrate on one instrument?
Bill Burns: Chuck also plays bass and we did invite him to play, but he heard what I had played during the demo phase of the project and said he couldn’t play anything better than what was there. For years I produced & recorded with other bands and listened to how the different instruments fit with one another, giving the others space where they need it and shining through when they have to. Playing a lot of the instruments was something I’ve done a lot of over the years and on this project it was very natural. I think when you have too many people and having to adapt their styles to the original songwriting effort, if you can’t improve upon it.. don’t try to. Many bands have tried that over the years, redoing a song with another lineup.. and it just doesn’t work out. When I wrote these songs I wrote them from the perspective of 2 guitarists, so I knew I had the main part and woven another part around that part, and sometimes multiples around those as well. Next CD may have a slightly different feel in some areas I’m sure, but Don & I are still at the central core of it all so we won’t be going too far from center.
Don Hosler: We know we need a second guitarist and a bass player to do this live, that was never a question. These songs have so many complementary guitar parts that it is nearly impossible for one guy to pull it all off live. If someone would have come along who fit perfectly while we were recording and he could easily be assimilated into what we were doing we would have had him on the recording, but like I said before we needed to retain the consistency of vision with respect to the writing of the tunes, and doing it the way we did it was the best and easiest way to insure that.
Paul Autry: What do you hope to accomplish with this release?
Bill Burns: Get a singer LMAO. We wanted to record the CD we’ve always heard in our heads and make it the best we could, I think we achieved that, and then some.
Don Hosler: Bill hit the nail right on the head there…I think we got tired of waiting for someone to make the CD we always wanted to hear so we decided to just go ahead and make it ourselves ! A major record deal doesn’t mean anything close to what it used to mean, so I don’t believe that’s in the cards. A distribution deal either here, abroad, or both would be nice. Actually, just having people listen and respond favorably to music you created is success in my book, whether it be five people or five hundred people. Right now, we can promote the CD and the music, but there technically is no “band.” Our immediate goal is to change that and morph this from a CD project to a cohesive performing live band, which requires the right alliance of people to make that happen. With the right people, this could be up and running live in about 6 weeks. The problem is, to create a winning team, you need 5 people who all want the same thing and are willing to work for it self-motivated people. Those are hard to come by these days. The twists and turns music has taken over the last decade affecting the accepted performance and professionalism level hasn’t helped the situation either.
Paul Autry: Final comments?
Don Hosler: Find us a singer, Paul! (LOL) No, seriously, thanks for once again taking the time for this interview and to allow us yet another avenue to introduce ourselves to the musical public. We hope people listen to our CD and enjoy it for what it is and what it is meant to be good old fashioned entertainment. The title “Taking Back The Power” is synonymous with a lot of topics on the record. There are a lot of ways for someone to “Take Back The Power”, whether it be with the obvious political overtones hinted at in the war-themed compositions or whether you’re “taking back the power” by getting out of a bad relationship or by standing tall in the face of adversity, it’s all positive and it’s all good. Music is becoming positive and fun again and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here…and I hope Xhibition can be a part of it!
Bill Burns: Thank you for having us. I hope we can do this again and have even more to tell you. Take care.