Talas / David Lee Roth / Mr Big bassist
Billy Sheehan

FIBM:  What's new, what have you been up to lately and what's in the future?

Billy:  It's all on my website. New Solo Cd, New Steve Vai CD & DVD, new Niacin CD, on tour now in Europe with Steve, new instructional DVD's & more

FIBM:  What year did Talas form? Who was in the original line-up?

Billy:   Early '70's. Myself, Dave Constantino, & Paul Varga.

FIBM:   Why did it take so long for Talas to cut a record?

Billy:  We just never thought of it. We were playing constantly.

FIBM:   Any memories stand out from the Talas, Self-titled, recording sessions? Where did you record the album?

Billy:   Some studio in Buffalo---not sure which. We just went in & pounded it out in a few days

FIBM:  How many copies of that record were sold intially? How did you distribute the record?

Billy:  They printed 10,000, & sold them all. Local, Buffalo only distribution. It wasn't released nationally then.

FIBM:   Few memories from the "Sink Your Teeth Into That" recording sessions. What was your recording budget for that record? How many copies were sold?


Billy:  10K. We did it in 4 days in Toronto. It went fast, so no real events took place other than playing & singing, then getting back to gig ASAP. About 200 thousand (were sold). More now.

FIBM:  Were you in a version of the Michael Schenker Group? How did that come about? How long?

Billy:   I wasn't. I was flown to London to work on his first record. We got through the pre-production, but then but he freaked out, smashed his guitar, smashed his apartment, cut off his hair & they found him laying in the street somewhere & put him away. I left. They called me to return, but I passed on it.

FIBM:  What was it like to work with Michael Schenker? Any memories stand out from the rest?

   Tuning his guitar for him because he was so wasted he couldn't do it. Also, the smell from lack of bathing or any personal hygeine. Pretty horrible.

FIBM:  In 1982, you were asked to join UFO. How did that come about and what were the days like, leading up to your first gig with them.

  I wasn't asked to join. They needed a bass player for an upcoming tour & I agreed to do it. Talas opened for UFO (hence the Scenker connection) and they knew who I was. It was supremely un-together. Very sad---I loved that band, and Scenker. Seeing it up close as a dysfunctional, drug infested catastrophe was very disappointing. It broke my heart actually.

FIBM:  Please describe a typical day in the life of Billy Sheehan, while you were touring with UFO.

Billy:  I just tried to keep my end together and help the band get through the songs in a show.

FIBM:  What had happened to Pete Way?

Billy:  Ask him. I've got nothing to do with it. Next subject.

FIBM:  How long did you tour with UFO? How many shows?

Billy:  About 20 or 30 shows.

Billy Sheehan, live with UFO
FIBM:   When you returned you reformed Talas. Why did you change the line-up of the band for the 'Live Speed On Ice' album.

Billy:  I didn't. The other guys quit & I was left holding the bag. I got some new guys to continue on. I had no choice.

FIBM:  Eventually, Mitch Perry, who previously played in Steeler, had joined the band. Why was he chosen as the guitarist and how was it to work with him?

Billy:  Recommendation from a friend. Too much drinking, so we replaced him.

FIBM:  Describe the process leading up to your days with David Lee Roth. What was it like to work with him?

Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Billy Sheehan, Greg Bissonette

Billy:  Process? I don't know of any process. Talas opened for Van Halen; we kept in touch; Dave called to start a band. Pretty simple really---no "process" involved. We had a blast.. He was & still is a hero of mine.

FIBM:  Describe the songwriting process while you were in the DLR band.

Billy:  The band would jam in the basement, Dave would run down when we hit on something he liked, then we'd piece it all together. Lots of fun, really.

Mr Big 2001,
with what appears to be Jimmy Fallon on vocals

FIBM:  Your thoughts on Dave becoming an EMT. We heard he even donates his pay to charity.

Billy:  I'm sure he's doing it for the adventure. Very cool.

FIBM:  Describe a typical day on tour, while you were supporting Eat em' and Smile. How long did the band tour supporting that album?

Billy:   The same as any other tour. Get in, sound check, show, travel, repeat. Sometimes there's time to hang & celebrate. (Toured) Many months.

FIBM:  While you were in the band, did you receive a monthly salary or was your pay based on a percentage of sales, tour, merchandise, etc.

Billy:  I was paid very well. I own all my publishing.

FIBM:  Tell us about your first meeting with Steve Vai, in a DLR setting. Was that your first time to meet him?

Billy:   I met Steve before that & recommended him for the gig. Dave called me first. WAY before Steve was involved.

FIBM:  What was it like to work with Steve?

Billy:   Steve is one of my best friends & one of the greatest musicians I know. I'm on tour with him now.

FIBM:  Any memories come to mind from the Eat Em and Smile recording sessions. Where was it recorded?

Billy:   Some at Fantasy studios in Berkely, CA, some at the Power Station in NYC. It was a lot of fun & very creative.

FIBM:  Do you remember the day you heard Eat em and Smile, the finished product, for the first time. What were your thoughts?

Billy:   We loved it. We drank, listened some more & celebrated heavily.

FIBM:  While on tour would David hang with all the guys or did he mostly keep to himself. What was Dave's after-show routine?

Billy:   We had a lot of fun. Lots of beautiful girls, but none were ever disrespected. We raged.

FIBM:  Was there anything about the record industry that you learned from David? What were they?

Billy:   I learned a lot. Too much to type here---it would take a long time.

FIBM:  Tell us about one DLR show that stands out from the rest..or a couple of highlight shows.

Billy:   Can't think of any really---he was consitent, so you could depend on a great show each night.

FIBM:  How many copies of Eat em and Smile were sold initially? How does it sell nowadays? How many copies per year (average)?

Billy:   Over a million. I don't know what it did over the years.

FIBM:  What was the state of the band when you began recording Skyscraper?

Billy:   We were in good spirits initially. Things changed though. Dave took a different direction.

FIBM:  Any memories stand out from those sessions? Did you tour for that album?

Billy:   Not really. Nope (did not tour).

FIBM:  Why did you leave DLR? What was going on at that time?

Billy:   Two different paths. I wanted a different style of music---more like Eat 'em & Smile.

FIBM:  3 fond memories of your days with DLR.

Billy:   Being with him when he went on the Tonight Show, Hanging with the band telling stories, The tour.

FIBM:  How much did being in the DLR band affect your Talas record sales?

Billy:   A boost for sure

FIBM:  What are a couple of your favorite songs from the DLR days? and why?

Billy:   The whole EEAS album.

FIBM:  What are some of your memories of the Mr Big Self-titled recording sessions?

Billy:   Almost leaving initially because of instantly recognizable conflicts within.

FIBM:  How many copies of that were sold intially? Is the record still in print?

Billy:   Not sure.

FIBM:  What has it been like to play with Paul Gilbert all those years?

Billy:   What was it like to play with Billy Sheehan? ...(This is not a mistake, this was Billy's response)

FIBM:  You guys actually continued to sell records even after the grunge movement began. How soon after the world debut of Nirvana, did Mr Big begin to be affected.

Billy:   We outsold Pearl Jam in Japan 40 to 1.

FIBM:  What were the nineties like for you? Did your life change any during those years?

Billy:   My life changes every year.

FIBM:  Mr Big was also able to keep a record contract with Atlantic Records all through the nineties. How were you able to do that?

Billy:   I wish we could have gotten away.

FIBM:  Did Atlantic still support your releases like they did back in the day?

Billy:   They never did. In any "day". They hated "Lean Into It".

FIBM:  Why did Mr Big break up?

Billy:   Personality conflicts.

FIBM:  Mr Big was also able to keep a record contract with Atlantic Records all through the nineties. How were you able to do that?

Billy:   I wish we could have gotten away.

FIBM:  Billy Sheehan is transported back in time to the year 1982, would you do anything differently?

Billy:   Not really.



FIBM:  What is your most disgusting habit?

Billy:  None! I lead a clean life. I'm polite, helpful & considerate of my fellows.

FIBM:  What is the most feminine thing you do?

Billy:  Talk baby talk to my cat Spooky, who is the best cat in the world.

FIBM:  If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?

Billy:   When will you go down to Earth and slap all the people who kill in your name.

FIBM:  Greatest Rock band of all time?

Billy:  Impossible to say.

FIBM:  What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?

Billy:  Playing a sold out show in Budapest, Hungary w/ Steve Vai.

Went to the BIG trees in Sequoia; saw 5 bears, drank, feasted, hiked, fell off a bench in mid-sentence, camped, crapped in a urinal, then came out and threw up. Had the time of my life. Librado, Librado...15 minutes of LA. Adios Pescado. -AI Make sure to visit Billy at his website, his instructional videos allow you to take bass lessons from one of the best. How cool is life now?


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