When you sit down to talk to a legend, you sometimes have preconceived notions about how they will be. When it comes to the power house that is Bill Champlin, I was terrified. Not because I had any knowledge about his personality or past behavior, but because he is just that, a legend. His most recognizable work is his incredible tenure with the band Chicago, including singing the hit, “Hard Habit to Break”. He has been a part of numerous hits with many other artist in several genre’s. He is just incredible musician and singer.
I knew I could relax from the first moment as he broke into his “postal adventure” story and the eyes “burning into the back of his head” as he was mailing Cd’s to various international destinations. We were instantly talking like friends. I definitely got the vibe that he is always that warm and friendly. One of the biggest positive side effect of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has been, when I’m doing an interview, both of us are so happy to be talking to a human, it goes very well, but Bill, well he’s a real talker by nature, and forty five minutes later, we were still going strong. This goes straight to the top of the list as one of my favorites.
Of course we talked about how the pandemic has effected him and the industry. We agreed that since there is barely any live shows, there has been a bumper crop of new music. ” There’s going to be as much new music in 2021 as babies after the New York City black out.” The up side is there’s “better writing and producing and a way to exorcise the demons of Wuhan. With all the social distancing, the only thing that can go across that (6ft) is music. Everyone is starving for love and hugs” He managed to get out for a bit over the Holidays. “We drove to Houston for Christmas as a cure to our cabin fever. (It) really saved our asses.
“I really dug making the album.” (Livin’ For Love- due out January 22) ” I’m not an EDM person, but I started with that and replaced with real drums.” ‘Reason To Believe’ (the single) is about finally, towards the end.” It was a rough personal period for him. “I was diagnosed with a real aggressive type of cancer the same week my older son passed away from cancer.” So to say that this is personal would be a understatement. Writing and producing lasted about two years. ” I approached it as an artist. Didn’t sing and backing vocals on the same day as I sang any lead.” Quoting a line from his song: “Music is the perfect path to love”.
An expected view for someone who grew up in San Fransisco. “Peace and love may seem a bit hippy dippy (quoting George Carlin), but this (album) is something I haven’t gotten across in a while. The album as he describes is “Bambi meets Godzilla” and also gets “stanky” with its groove. “I really like to write the lyrics and let them (the listener) find them.” There’s even a thank you to his wife, Tamara, who has been by his side for 41 years of marriage. “Thanks to Tamara for saving my ass.”
It was an big transition from a 24 track tape to digital but as he described “tapes were heavy and you had to carry them around everywhere”. Also, duplication lowers quality so back ups weren’t as easy to maintain. Someone asked him recently, “how did you tune it? We recorded it. If it wasn’t right, we did it again.” His production experience, brings him to some interesting thoughts, such as “what if Beethoven or Tchaikovsky worked with pro tools? “
The album will be widely available January 22, 2021.
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