Interview; Billy Liar
It’s no secret that Billy Liar is one of my best friends. We’ve played shows together, toured together, drank together, talked together and shared the same bed more times than both of us would care to remember. He is also, to my mind, one of the finest singer/songwriters that our country has produced in some time. I caught up with Billy recently when he phoned to needing a place to crash after a show in Dundee a few weeks ago. This interview was the result, coupled with a couple of live videos shot down by the River Tay on a Sunday morning in late May.
WYAZ; Greetings young man, how art thou? You’ve always been a very busy boy, touring all over the place. Where have you been thus far this year?
BL; Good evening Derrick. I am well. How are you? Yes, well. Burning the candle at both ends is an unfortunate occupational necessity, much to my mother’s dismay. This year, I toured for 2 weeks in the UK with Tim Loud (Bootscraper) and the X Ray Cat (X Ray Cat Trio). We got up to all sorts of hi-jinks (‘a babe’s a babe!’) and recorded an EP together that’s coming out in July, via Make That A Take and TNS Records.
I have also played Eden Festival, Strummercamp, the Reel Iraq Festival, toured with The Barents Sea and played with the Strawberry Blondes. There are many more that I can’t be bothered mentioning.
WYAZ; You released new music for the first time in a while in the form of the now sold out “The Ghosts Of Punk Rock” EP. The EP is in a more reflective vein than “It Starts Here”, adopting more of a storytelling style. Has this been a conscious shift?
BL; I did I did. You can download it now via bandcamp, but the physical copies are sold out. I will press more copies later in the year. It was my first release through the Make That A Take imprint. As for the style, not conscious, no. I have written hundreds of songs since my last EP came out, so I guess it’s natural that things have changed in my writing. This is where I’m at now. The songs are a glimpse into my diaries, for better or for worse!
WYAZ; How has the EP been received?
BL; Everyone says it’s great to my face. I have no idea what they say behind my back. I’m still happy with it. I recorded three out of the four tracks in one day, and the other one in an hour, so ‘it is what it is’ as my mate Lost Soul always says.
WYAZ; New music wise, what’s next?
BL; The three-way split I mentioned earlier with Tim and the X-Ray Cat, and then a new single in early August. The single is called ‘All I’ve Got’ and I’m sorting out plans for shooting a video for it just now. It will have four tracks on it, and has my pals Stina (Honeyblood) doing backing vocals, Jen Hill on double bass, Fraser Fulton (Victorian Trout Conspiracy) on cajon and Rory Sutherland (Broken Records) on fiddle, and was produced by Garry Boyle in Edinburgh. I am very happy with it. Oh, and another stripped-to-the-bones EP like ‘Ghosts’ at some point. The two tracks in the videos on this site will probably be on it.
WYAZ; You are seemingly always on tour or making plans for your next assault. I know that you have yet another busy summer coming up. What’s on the cards and what are you most looking forward to?
BL; Playing three in a row with Ghost Mice next week, Leeds and Spannered Fest in July, and then a full UK tour in August, by the looks of things. Also, Rebellion Festival for the fifth year running, Fest in Florida (as part of my first American tour), Hempen Jig Fest and Book Yer Ane Fest. And I’m discussing touring with my old pals Ed Ache (I.C.H), Villy Raze (The Dead Class), and Cleavers, seperately. Oh, and Finland. Possibly Australia. We shall see. There is not enough time in the day. Nor weeks in the year. Can we have some more please? Great, thanks.
WYAZ; You’ve been announced for The Fest 12 in Gainesville alongside The Murderburgers and Mark McCabe. Obviously we are all excited by this. How do you feel about playing in the USA for the first time?
BL; Very excited. I’ve been to the US once but I was on a family holiday, and I was too young to appreciate it like I will this time. My dad took me to CBGBs and showed me some of the sites but I really just wanted to go to the big Nike store. I was nine.
WYAZ; There seems to currently be a lot of international recognition afforded the UK punk scene. Why do think this is and how do you feel about the UK scene as a whole?
BL; The UK scene is great. Everyone helps each other out.
WYAZ; You’ve toured in some very interesting places (New Zealand, Portugal, etc) with a wide range of different artists. Where is your favourite place to tour and what are the main differences between playing at home and abroad?
BL; I love touring everywhere. I am lucky that I can travel, see the world, play music and meet people every day. These are my favourite things. New Zealand was amazing. Portugal was amazing. Germany and the Netherlands are always great. The UK is great. What else have you got? Email me. I want to play wherever YOU are.
WYAZ; Edinburgh has always featured quite heavily in your work. You live there, live with Fraser from Murderburgers, are involved with The Forest, etc. How are things in the capital these days and does it continue to be an influence?
BL; Edinburgh is my favourite place to come back to. Things are good. I will always sing about it. The Forest has a lot of battles to fight, as we always will. But that keeps us on our toes! Fraser and I joined legendary horror/punks, the Misfits, earlier this year, so will be releasing a record entitled Project 1960 (Return From The Graveyard) in 2013 with Jerry Only on lead vocals and bass, of course.
WYAZ; What’s next?
BL; After I finish this interview, I’m going to stick the kettle on. And then read some Murakami.
WYAZ; What was the last record you listened to?
BL; Ben Marwood – Back Down.
WYAZ; Favourite shows of 2013 so far?
BL; Bruce Springsteen – Glasgow, Fist City/Cleavers/FUCK!/Kimberly Steaks – Edinburgh, Frightened Rabbit – Edinburgh, Uniforms/Loaded 45/Maxwell’s Dead/Jaded Playboy – Edinburgh, Richard Thompson – Edinburgh.
BL; Lach’s Antihoot Radio Show, Edinburgh. Lach invented anti-folk. And now lives in Edinburgh, putting on THREE amazing shows PER WEEK. He is insane. And brilliant. I’m bringing him to Book Yer Ane Fest in December.
WYAZ; Favourite tour breakfast?
BL; Real coffee. Orange juice. Cold water. A cooked breakfast. Bananas.
WYAZ; Favourite Charlotte Church song?
BL; Moodswings (To Come At Me Like That). I remember the day I brought that record back to the flat, and sat Fraser Murderburger down and insisted that he listen to that song. He listened. And stared at me. I think he thought I was joking. I just fucking love that chorus. And that bit where everything drops out apart from the bass and the vocal. I need to steal it. If you can book me as support for Charlotte Church, get in touch.
WYAZ; Where did you sleep last night?
My own bed. I just bought a new one. And it’s the comfiest thing ever.
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Thanks for reading. Those are lovely shoes, by the way. And your hair looks nice today.