Billy Sheehan of The Winery Dogs
Talks to The Dedicated Rocker Society
Interview by Tony & Bill @ The DRP
When MiKe Portnoy and John Sykes announced that they were putting together a new "Supergroup" on an episode of 'That Metal Show', music news wires lit up like a lit match on gasoline! The only big question was who would they bring in to play bass? All that was known was that it was going to be a well known player. Several names popped up, Les Claypool from Primus, Mike Portnoy' s bandmate from Dream Theater, John Myung and Tony Franklin who played with John in Blue Murder. Those were great guesses, but that was all they were.
In the months to follow Mike Portnoy and John Sykes found their bass player, none other than bassist extraordinaire, Billy Sheehan. Now all they needed was a name for the band. Before they settled on a name for the band, there was a change in the band's line up. Exit John Sykes enter Richie Kotzen. Now with all the pieces in place, the band decided to call themselves, The Winery Dogs.
Once the word got out about The Winery Dogs, the anticipation for their debut release was out of this world. The trio released a couple of music videos online to keep there fans tied over until the album a release. The wait is finally over! The Winery Dogs released their self-titled debut album on July 23rd.
The Rocker and I spoke with Billy Sheehan about The Winery Dogs and how it feels to finally the album released and to share the music with their fans. Here's what Billy shared with us....
First off, thank you for calling Billy.
Billy Sheehan: No problem, thank you for helping get the word out.
Did you have any expectations for the record?
BS: None really. I just wanted to make a great record. It's hard going into a record saying, "This is going to be the greatest record ever". You just do your best. I know Mike and I know Richie. I know that both of them are supremely concerned about the quality of the stuff they put out, as I am. So, I knew we would get something really good out. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone else loved it so much.
Why is that?
BS: Well, you know sometimes you make a record and you "Get It". But nobody else does. I don't think anyone puts out a record that is bad. So we loved it. We hoped that our fans stood by us and they have. We did our best. We recorded music that we liked. As fans of music, which all three of us are, I recorded music I would like to listen to.
How long did the record take to record?
BS: It was pretty quick. A couple sessions, a couple fixes here and there. It was a process that evolved as it went. Pretty quick though. The mixing took a very short amount of time.
So chemistry does count?
BS: Yeah, that was a big part of it as well.
Did you ever consider singing on the album?
BS: Yeah, I almost did. I forgot the song, I believe it was a bass heavy thing. It would have been great, but I'd have to be Geddy Lee, Sting Lemmy and Dug Pinnick. Unfortunately, I am not (laughs). So, I let Richie do the singing. Plus, he's a better singer than I am (laughs).
We love the fact that three extraordinary talented musicians are on one record creating mind blowing music, without stepping all over each other in the process. Talk about the chemistry between the three of you.
BS: I'm glad you pointed that out. We are older and wiser. I want to hear Richie play, I want to hear Mike play. So, I have no problem pulling back. I believe they feel the same way.
What about on stage?
BS: The natural chemistry we have on stage is easy. I can see Richie and Mike and they can see me. So we can keep an eye on each other. Working with guys like Richie and Mike on stage or in the studio is easy.
Can we talk about the situation with John Sykes? What happened there?
BS: Yeah, it was a chemistry thing. John is a wonderful guy, a great player, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. It's like if you meet a girl that is good looking, nice personality, but in time it just doesn't work. I'm sure John will be fine. He's great and will always be successful. As far as this band, it just wasn't a fit.
So, enter Richie Kotzen. How did that come about?
BS: So after John's departure we decided to look for someone else. That's when Eddie Trunck from That Metal Show, suggested Richie Kotzen. When he mentioned Richie, I about kicked myself in the ass!
Thankfully, Richie was available and very much into the project. It all worked out fine. Plus, we're all east coast guys, so it was an easy fit.
Let's talk about touring. How do you prepare?
BS: Nothing really special. I make sure all the gear I need is ready to go. It's pretty much a scramble to get everything squared away. About a million microscopic details that all must be attended to. I also listen to the album alot, so that it becomes part of my DNA.
We know the tour kicks off overeas, when will you guys play here in the States?
BS: I think that we’ll be in America in October. The US is the most important market to us being American’s. I’m sure we’ll be real tight as a band by the time we get to play back here in the States.
So, what's next for you?
BS: There is probably something down the road. I might just do a record focusing just on the bass. After playing for over 40 years, I discover a new thing every day. I tell people that and they find it hard to believe, but it's really true. So, I have a ton of things on bass that I've never done before. I also found some old tapes from the '70's that I forgot about. I'll put all the stuff together then in a year or two put it out.
Billy, we'd like to thank you for your time! We had a blast. The Winery Dogs debut release definitely has our vote for one of the best rock albums to come out in 2013.
BS: This is one record I really love listening to. Thank you guys. I appreciate the time to talk to me. We certainly appreciate it! See you guys soon!
- The Dedicated Rocker Society
For more info on The Winery Dogs: