Featured Guest is the section of my website where I interview artists, actors, musicians, authors and various cool people I have crossed paths with over the years. Tonight we get to connect with Canadian artist and musician the main man Bill Kole. Bill has a band called Ol' Time Moonshine and when he's not rocking the stage he's also a well loved artist working with groups like Foghound, Buzzard Canyon and others. We talked to Bill about music and art in this very cool interview. - G

1. Hey Bill and how have you been?

BILL: I’m good, thanks. 

2. Good to hear man. When you were growing up, what inspired you to begin playing in bands and what continues to inspire you today?

BILL: I grew up in and around Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, closer to Detroit than my current home, Toronto. Detroit rock radio caught my interest just before high school, when punk and metal came crashing through the front door.  Around the time I was 15 my cousin convinced me to buy a bass and join his band.  I played my first show, a punk/metal fest in our home town, the week after I bought my bass and joined.  My nerves were shot, but the night didn’t go too bad all said and done, and the rush was out of this world incredible.  I love the rush of performing heavy music.  It’s that moment when everything’s firing on all pistons and it’s flowing so naturally that it almost becomes transcendental – that’s what I’m trying to achieve every time I play.  It’s something you can feel on the fan side of things too, and it’s powerful.

Well said man for sure.

BILL: I’m a big fan of music in general.  While I identify most with rock, punk and metal, my musical tastes are all over the place.  Having played for a while now in a number of different bands and styles, cities and scenes I’ve met a lot of creative people in a number of different arts and drawn inspiration from their processes, dedication and approach to their craft.         

3. Me too man I listen to all kinds of styles, really whatever makes me happy. Yeah I think all artists can find something cool in just about any kind of music or inspiration. The longer you are in it, you start to see less walls between it all and find cool stuff everywhere basically to whatever extent. Were there any concerts or stand out albums that really influenced you and in what ways?

BILL: When Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” first came out, I was really into it.  I remember reading an interview with one of the band members (Billy Gould?) where they described it as Black Flag meets Black Sabbath.   Ironically, it was only that one FNM album that I really connected with, but I started paying attention not just to the music but the music that influenced the music I loved - it led me down the rabbit hole into punk and the darker side of early heavy metal.  Before that point it was mostly classic rock and hip hop. 

Yeah that was great innovative record. The versatility of all the band members made for a innovative cocktail. Yeah I love punk rock like Clash, Exploited, Rollins era only Black Flag, Misfits, DOA, stuff like that. The Sex Pistols to me were a rock band, that album was strong rock music to me. Black Flag really inspired me with their work ethic. Rollins has always been inspiring to me. Yeah man I am a big classic rock fan and I love rap and hip hop, especially founding fathers of the genre. I only saw FNM once and totally missed their set. The security was moving the crowd in so slowly I got to hear their set from the outside and when we finally were ushered in by these guys, the set was just ending. I never saw them again. It was GNR, Metallica, FNM tour in Columbia SC. Back in the day I saw Ice T, Ice Cube, Ramones, etc. Tell me about Sarnia?

BILL: Sarnia’s a border town, and while the record store options there were pretty top 40 at the time, there were one or two across the bridge in Port Huron, Michigan that were our connection to the more underground stuff.  They used to give out these compilations that exposed me and my friends to a lot of new music we wouldn’t have been exposed to.  I also grew up in the era of MTV and its Canadian counterpart, MuchMusic, which also has informed me musically and artistically.  It certainly changed the landscape of music in general, putting stock in image and attitude in addition to performance and the music itself.

Yeah okay I used to see Much Music when I was in Canada.

BILL: Through playing music bands, I met a dude named Neil McDonald, who has kind of popped in and out of my life time and again since high school.  He was a drummer and a music head with an encyclopedic collection of CDs from my home town.  His tastes at the time were somewhat fickle, and he’d often buy CDs, tire of them quickly, and give or throw them away, or maybe buy the special edition version and give away a double if it didn’t have anything worth keeping it for.  He’d give me cassettes and some those extraneous CDs from time to time, and he is singularly responsible for introducing me to Kyuss, Danzig, Misfits, Cathedral, and quite a few other bands I still love to this day.  I ended up at a music/commercial studio with him my first summer out of film school.  He’s a freelance producer/engineer these days.

That's cool your friend turned you on to a lot of cool bands. I'm a big Misfits and Danzig fan, love the Catherdral stuff.

  

BILL: After high school, I enrolled in a radio and television program at the local community college.  Me and some of the guys went to check out a number of incredible bands while in the program there – Fugazi, The Ramones, Monster Magnet to name a few – but there was this one show where two tours came together that took place at an outdoor venue that was on top of a parking garage in Lansing, Michigan.  I can still remember most of that day vividly.  The line-up that day was Core, Orange 9mm, Fu Manchu, The Misfits (Graves era), Cannibal Corpse, Clutch and Anthrax.  It was an all-day event, with little to no cover from the sun and blistering heat, and during the Misfits’ set, the sprinkler system went off and the crowd got sprayed with tear gas.  Rock ‘n’ roll! 

Damn yeah that was a great show I bet. I haven't heard Orange 9mm in a long time! I saw the Graves era Misfits once he did a great job. My favorite Anthrax is when they did "Only" with John Bush, thats probably the first time they truly connected with me. Always like Fugazi, I admired their ethic and standards. Monster Magnet is classic stuff, its strange because almost every interview I have done lately someone wants to mention them and that is awesome, it shows how much people love them.  Fu manchu is great. Damn that's crazy man about the tear gas, glad I missed that nonsense but yeah sounds like rock n roll crazy for sure.

BILL: I’d say the single most influential concert for me, though, would be Eye of the Stoned Goat 4, which took place in Worcester, Massachusetts in May of 2014.  I’d met the promoter, Brendan Burns (Wasted Theory), online and he invited me to do the art for ESG4.  Through this connection I met Sixty Watt Shaman and designed a tour poster and shirt for their trip to Europe for Desert Fest. 

Yeah sounds like a great one man.

BILL: I went from doing designs for my own band and Toronto shows to working with one of my favourite bands just like that.  I ended up travelling down to the fest with some good friends.  It was a well-run and well curated line up of national and local bands, and I didn’t waste much time away from the front of the stage.  I was completely impressed with the quality of music represented at the festival, and the venue had a ton of character.  I made a lot of good connections with great people that weekend and maintain friendships with a good number of them to this day.  It was around then that I realized that I wanted to take Ol’ Time Moonshine and my design work further than I had to that point and start treating both a bit more professionally, and approaching them with a greater intensity.    

4. Did you grow up in Ontario?

BILL: I’ve lived in Ontario my entire life.  I grew up in a town called Corunna until around grade 5 or 6.  I took organ lessons for a few years back then, my first introduction to music and live performance.  We moved to Sarnia, where my mother was working and I joined my first bands, and after a few years of community college focusing in radio and television, I moved to Toronto to go to film school, and stopped playing live music for about 10 years – the lost years.  In the period of my life where I had fewest responsibilities and the most personal freedom, I stopped playing music – I kind of regret it in hindsight.  I really only started playing regularly after getting a career, family and getting into design – no rest for the wicked, as they say.  My day job is in cinema sound, and in the evenings I design posters, shirts, web sites, CD and LP layout and the like and I’m a husband and father.

5. Yes okay. What inspired you to be an artist? I know you have done some pieces in the doom metal, stoner rock and metal scene.

BILL: I’ve always been interested in art, as long as I can remember, and I’ve always been happiest making others happy.  My art and design is an extension of that.  I enjoy collaborating with bands, I try to be an extension of their vision and art, an amplification of it, rather than imposing my style on them.

That is awesome, it's very important for an artist and a musician to have a chemistry and connection. That's professional man. Sometimes artists will come up with something a band will never think of or have any input in and they will love it, other times it's important to have good communication for concepts then to leave the artist to create what comes out. 

BILL: Some of my work is photo manipulation, some of it is layout or branding or versioning existing art, some of it is original art brought into the digital realm for final touches.  I’m not always putting pen, ink and paint to paper or canvas, though I do; sometimes the nature of my work is more practical than creative.  It’s ultimately up to the bands and what they want to see.  I don’t really do much of my own art just for the sake of it right now, but I’m trying to change that too, when time allows.  Despite having a strong affinity for the arts, I’ve never really had guitar or vocal lessons, just a bit of theory from my tweens when I was taking organ lessons.  No real training in art or writing either, aside from film school, but I’ve always appreciated the arts and tried to keep my mind receptive to beauty and open to experience. 

 

BILL: In the past year or so, I’ve done the layout for Sourvein’s Aquatic Occult, Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire & Whiskey, Foghound’s The World Unseen, and a number of shirts, print ads and posters for local and touring bands.  I’ve usually got a few irons in the fire when it comes to design, that way when interest lags in one project I can usually make progress on another.

6. Cool man thats a lot of cool stuff. Did you have famous artists that inspired you? Who and in what way?

BILL: When I was young I had a book I loved called “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” by John Buscema and Stan Lee.  I loved drawing and tracing and creating new characters, though I was probably more of a cartoon kid than a comic book kid then.  I love the rich visual history of fantasy and mythology, and have always had a fascination with iconography and the macabre, and artists that explored that context.  I read a lot of Mad Magazine – Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, etc. too.  Like most high school art loving kids I fell in love with Dali and the surrealist movement.  As with my choices for music and film, I like the good stuff but I appreciate some of the corny, b-grade stuff too.  It’s not to be ironic, or anything, I just like what I like, sometimes completely out of character.  These days, I really dig a lot of poster, pop surrealism & lowbrow artists like Frank Kozik, Brian Ewing, Isabel Samaras, Dirty Donny, etc.  Locally, we’ve got Justin Erickson, Gary Pullin and Jason Edmiston whose work blows my mind.  They all inspire me.

7. Very cool bro. Do you write music in addition to playing?

BILL: For a time, before my daughter was born, I wrote electronic jingles for chat lines and internet personal ads with synths and sequencers.  I’ve written and produced a bit outside of my bands, but mostly concentrate on writing for myself and Ol’ Time Moonshine.

I’ve always enjoyed the process of song writing and composition, and try to contribute to the writing of anything I’m involved with.  In Ol’ Time Moonshine, we share the writing of the riffs and general composition of the music and everyone has a say.  Some of the songs come to the table nearly complete, and some start off as just riffs or pieces from jams that get developed at rehearsal by the whole band.  I’ve written all of the lyrics and create the concepts so far, but I’m open to contribution too.  OTM is perhaps the most democratic band I’ve ever been in. 

8.What brought your band Ol’ Time Moonshine together and how would you describe your sound?

BILL: I was playing in a band, Diablo Red, kind of a southern doom rock ‘n’ roll thing.  We had a decent run, but for various reasons the wheels just kind of came off at the end.  Following the birth of my daughter, I got the itch to play live music again. I started writing with my good friend Chris Coleiro.  Once we had a few tracks, I invited Brett Savory, the drummer from Diablo Red, to join the band.  He’s a monster on the kit.  He brought out our first bass player, Kyle Marnoch, who left after our first DIY EP, “The Demon Haunted World”, and fairly early in the writing of “The Apocalypse Trilogies”.  John Kendrick took over on bass shortly before we recorded “The Apocalypse Trilogies”, and has been a full member ever since. 

We’re all ravenous music lovers with eclectic tastes, but we share an enthusiastic love of seventies hard rock, eighties metal and punk, and the underground metal of the nineties.  We’re too heavy for the rock shows and too rock for the metal shows.  We just play the music we’d want to hear, and we’re lucky enough that it has connected with a few folks.   

9. Yeah okay I remember Diablo Red. Yeah man playing what you want to hear is the key. Any news for the band?

BILL: Not much I can talk about at the moment, but suffice it to say we are hard at work writing for a few releases in 2018, including a release on vinyl.  Putting something out on vinyl has been a bit of a bucket list thing for me since the days playing records on my Fisher Price record player, so I’m pretty excited about that.  We are working on doing some runs with a few of our label mates from Salt of the Earth Records here in Canada and considering a US run.

(Photo by K.Troutdell)

10. Yeah okay, some vinyl would be very cool bro. What about favorite books?

BILL: I’m a big Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut fan.  Stephen King, Clive Barker .  Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.  I really dug the Dean Koontz Frankenstein series.   Christopher Moore.  Chuck Palahniuk.  I’d have to say my favourite book at the moment is Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, though.    

11. Favorite films?

BILL: My favourite movie is probably The Goonies.  I loved that movie when it first came out and I still do.  I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy/horror nerd, and I love to laugh too.  I grew up with He Man, Conan, Scooby Doo, Hilarious House of Frightenstein, GI Joe, Superman, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Nightmare on Elm Street, Star Wars and the like.  I still like the same kind of things, the same kind of movies.

12. Good answers dude. I can totally dig that I always run into somebody who talks about Goonies. What are some of your favorite concerts you played in your personal history, shows and stand outs in your own music?

BILL: I’ve had the chance to play with some bands I’ve loved for a long time, like Trouble, Bongzilla and Karma to Burn and do local shows with Blood Ceremony and Sons of Otis. 

Great man.

BILL: My favourite Ol’ Time Moonshine show so far is probably a fairly recent one, playing The Chürch in Bloomfield, Vermont.   It’s a DIY venue, a decommissioned church with a ton of character.  We played a bill there with our labelmates Scissorfight, Buzzard Canyon and Cortez, and the place was packed by the time we did our sound check.  It was a really positive night, everything just sort of clicked and it was a great party.  It was everything I love about a classic Ol’ Time Moonshine road show.

That sounds like a great night bro.

BILL: I’m really proud of our current record, “The Apocalypse Trilogies”.  It’s a bit of a concept record, a trilogy of trilogies about the apocalypse and how it comes to be.  It really turned out well.  It was recorded by our friend Dave Draper, a film and television sound recordist friend I met through work.  We recorded the drums in a photography studio he’d shot in – he liked the natural reverb – and recorded the bass and guitars at his apartment using a bunkered cabinet and a power brake on our heads and his collection of Orange heads.  The vocals were done in the warehouse at my office.  We mixed and mastered with Ronald Roy, who did our first EP as well.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, it’s a good snapshot of where we were at, and I think we’ve progressed and gelled even more as  since then.  I can’t wait to get the new material out there and show people where we’re headed. 

13. Great bro look forward to hearing it. If you could work with any of your favorite bands on artwork who would you reach out to?

BILL: It would be an absolute honor to work with Black Sabbath.  Danzig, Clutch or Corrosion of Conformity would be pretty cool opportunities too.  I’ve got a lot of respect for Scott Reeder and would love to work with one of his bands or do something for his solo work.

14. Man for real, all very cool. What's been going on lately with your art work?

BILL: I’ve usually got a few irons in the fire when it comes to design, that way when inspiration lags with one project I can usually make progress on another.  I’ve been working with Kings Destroy out of NYC on a few projects; I did a silk screen poster for their tour with Truckfighters and have a few more collaborations in the cue.  Since working with Jim and Chuck from Sixty Watt Shaman on the previously mentioned job, I’ve done a lot of work with them, continuing through their new projects, Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy.  I’ve been working on a series of posters for a local promoter that I’m quite enjoying, and I’m just wrapping up a 7” layout and t-shirt for Earthride that’s coming out on Salt of the Earth Records.

15. Any advice for young musicians or artists just starting out?

BILL: Be open minded and willing to listen and learn – you’ll meet people out there with more experience and knowledge than you and you’ve got an opportunity to soak some of that up.  Don’t think you know everything and be kind and gracious.  

16. Great advice man. For the young artist learning and attitude is everything. Being kind and gracious to people is really important and if you want to be good at something learning and soaking up all the knowledge you can with sincerity makes your growth all the better. Last words today for your fans?

BILL: Thanks!

Thanks to you Bill, cool to talk with you. Stay in touch and let us know any news about your music and artwork. Rock on, G

Small Stone Recordings

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Cemetery Crows

C.Crows Gideon's side project doom metal, sludge, gothic blues band. You can check out a few songs from the early demo on the reverbnation page. Doom On.

https://www.reverbnation.com/cemeterycrows