Hailing from Woking in south-east England, Billy spent his formative years playing in various local bands before promoter Neil Pengelly of Leeds and Reading Festival fame agreed to give him a regular gig at the now defunct Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, North London. The successful run of shows lasted two years during which time he released his debut EP, ‘Glebeland Blues’, a set of recordings that drew favourable comparisons to Love and Rockets, The Men They Couldn’t Hang and Billy Bragg.
In recent years Billy has drawn inspiration from time spent in the remotest parts of the UK as well as artists such as The Alarm, Tom Petty, John Mark McMillan, Charlie Fink, Ha Ha Tonka and The Waterboys. It was in fact a five week journey through the Highlands of Scotland that proved to be the catalyst for Billy’s more recent songwriting and recordings.
Billy says: “Five weeks is a long time to spend walking. I had a lot of opportunities to think and reflect on the places I’d seen, people I’d known, family, friends, hearth and home etc. Although the themes in the songs vary, it’s really the experience of walking down through the Highlands that underpins everything.”
Billy goes on to say: “I admire songwriters who can tell a story and are able to use language and metaphor to illuminate a real experience. Songs that can transport you to a time or a place in just a few short sentences – it’s such a talent. That’s what I’m gunning for I guess, that’s what I’m trying to emulate.”
2020 saw the release of Billy’s first recordings since the 1990’s – the upbeat and lyrically personal EP ‘Yours Hear Wears It Well’. Produced by Steve ‘Smiley’ Barnard (The Alarm/Archive/Joe Strummer), ‘Your Heart Wears It Well’ comprises of four songs; ‘Evelyn’, ‘What Needed To Be Said’, ‘Stand Up For Your Love’, as well as the title track. “I wanted hooks, melody – a kind of West Coast meets The Beatles sounding record that remained lively and positive despite the sometimes pretty earnest words. Smiley got me over the line, as well as being an incredible drummer and songwriter, he also has an amazing innate musicality”. A full length album will follow in 2021.
Billy gigs on his own and as frontman to the Orbiteers. “The band is such a joy. Good friends and fantastic musicians. At heart I’m a rocker and this band rocks!” The Orbiteers comprise of Jakey Miller (Guitars), Andy Lodge (Drums), Mitch Veness (Bass), and Al Zarth (Keys). Says Billy: “2020 was quiet for us, as it was for everybody, and 2021 looks like it will be much the same. We had hoped to have put a record out by now, but alas events conspired against us. However, I know that we have a killer album in us, the songs are there, we just need to be able to get into a studio together and light the place up!”
For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.
© 2021-3 Billy Liberator