Interview with Billy T, Singer/Songwriter with The Suicide Notes
I am Billy T, rusty tack gargling, chandelier swinging singer, artist and frontperson of The Suicide Notes. Formerly in The Black Bullets, Junction XIII, Loveless Wasteland and Drunken Debauchery
1. First Punk/ Rock band you ever saw Live? Where/when?
My first punk band was TV Smith of The Adverts.
I think he was touring as a band called Cheap at that time circa 1991-92, I was 17, in a place called The Anchor in Westward Ho!, North Devon, TV Smith had formerly lived in Bideford literally which was just around the corner from the venue, both of which were adjoined as my my home towns ( Id run away from home so I was homeless and sofa hopping), so I guess I was lucky he still came that far down country on the tour.
He was a killer performer, whose image I stole briefly as a proto-teen which then seemed to show up again in when I sang for The Bullets years later.
2. First Punk/ Rock Record you bought? What made you buy it?
My first punk record was Adam & The Ants , Prince Charming.
I was 8 years old. I played the vinyl endlessly on my tiny little mono record player for a good six years.
My family was very poor, so new music was rarely bought,
to think my only other record at that point was a Basil Brush album!
I loved everything about the band ,the sound, the energy ,
the dandy highwayman/ pirate image.
I think that’s stayed with me as the biggest influence on my idealism of decadence in music and namely swinging from chandeliers at gigs and getting barred when they rip out of the ceiling.
Were they punk, or pop punk, or new romantic by then ? I don’t know or care, I'll leave those boring muso’s to argue over it at parties.
3. Favourite Venue to play shows? UK or abroad.
I have played so many great little venues across the UK, its hard to pinpoint one, Yardbirds Rock Club in Grimsby, 100 Club, The Hope & Anchor, The Unicorn , Aces & Eights in London, too many really. Its not so much the venue for, its the crowd that leave the lasting memories of a gig, I was generally too wasted to notice much else , hence why I cant name any of our European tour venues. I remember people, not places. I was gone man , solid gone ,most ,if not all of the time.
As I have mentioned already,TV Smith and Adam Ant as early influences, I can also cite The Sex Pistols, Alien Sex Fiend, Christian Death, Janes Addiction, Lords Of The New Church, The Jacobites, The Vibrators, The Addicts, Dead Boys, The Doors, The Dogs D’Amour, GnR, Hanoi Rocks, Faster Pussycat and even The Faces and Daisy Chainsaw as huge influences.
Not just on the sound my own bands have developed but also as a performer, my style and my lyrical direction, not to mention my lifestyle.
5. Any new bands impressed you and worth a shout out?
I love Trench Dogs, they are very classic trash rock, right up my street. Starsha Lee are an immense live act. Also Kickin’ Valentina, The Spangles, The Viagra Boys and A VOID to name just a few.
Covid 19 and the government might very well be trying to kill the music scene but there is a hugely strong, artistic and talented scene fighting for its life and if there’s any arts sector that can survive this chaos, its the underground punk rock scene.
I must also add The City Kids of course, who we have just recorded a 9 track E.P with as a collaboration between both The City Kids and ourselves, The Suicide Notes.
The City kids are members of Warrior Soul, The Main Grains, Falling Red and Tigertailz, none of us have been in a room together but we have recorded a fucking epic record due out in mid December.
6. What’s the future look like for you, Art Of Hellsville and The Suicide Notes?
Its tough to predict the future for the band at the moment, as I mentioned we’ve collaborated with The City Kids to keep ourselves going , we release a couple of singles during the first lockdown and a couple of acoustic demos.
We have so many great festival gigs lined up, originally for 2020, now being postponed for 2021, possibly being further delayed til 2022, who knows.
We are cracking on with a new acoustic E.P, which we hope will be as successful as our first one, which sold out on pre-order in less than 36 hours.
I’ve written a bunch of new songs for the acoustic record so I just waiting on the rest of the band to figure out their parts and then we’ll try, pandemic pending, to get a quick live studio recording of the tracks to be mastered and pressed, hopefully in early 2021.
For now everyone holds their breath and crosses fingers.
Art Of Hellsville is my artist moniker ( The Art Of Hellsville (facebook.com) ).
Over the years I’ve created and published six coffee table art books full of my weird surrealistic art works, and I’ll probably produce another 5 over the next few years too. Art is my life, above music and focuses me during the most rough moments in my life.
I’ve just released a new art book called OH MY BLACK SOUL a collection of images from a series I’ve been working on during lockdown, that features quite exclusively skeletons, a simple and easily recognisable motif for people to relate to, all of which work on the themes of life and death, the soul , mental health and love. Lockdown has been tough on many of us.
This is my way of venting, to create ,for me, is almost a form of transcendent meditation. I’ll always be creating art long after the music stops.
7. What is the craziest, most memorable thing you have seen at a show?
Honestly? I can't remember much about being at gigs,especially the craziest ones, for obvious reasons.The craziest ones tended to last 5 days and nights without sleeping.
8. If 2020 was a person?
Its name would be Donald Trump.
9. What do you dislike?
Tories, two faced friends and small talk.
10. Guilty pleasure?
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure really, only judgemental people. Enjoy whatever music that makes you happy or happy/sad, if you know what I mean. The kind of music that makes you cry but you cant stop listening to it because its so part of your soul, crying to it is better than not listening to it at all.
BUT! if you really wanna judge what may appear to be dodgy musical taste, I’ll venture to say Gerry Cinnamon and Poison ( Yes the Brett Michaels band).
Hold on that probably really is a guilty pleasure and I only really like one album honest haha.
11. Is Punk Rock Dead?
Probably, in its purest form . There’s way too many old skool punks who are tory lovers these . Tory punks !, tory punks.!..tory punks.!.Fuck Off !!
12. Any advice for aspiring young Musicians/Artists out there?
Just do it the way it feels natural to you. And don’t try to be someone you are not. Do it how it feels natural — and do it for a long time, for years, decades even. Without forcing it. Without overthinking it And without ulterior motives — like making money or growing a following , to paraphrase the famous poet Charles Bukowski ‘if youre going to try , then go all the way’.