Interview: Bill Pierce

Dan McAvinchey: Bill, how did you originally get interested in playing the guitar?

Bill Pierce: When I was a teenager I was a classical violinist, and yet I was an aggressive young man.. So I switched to the guitar. Being a guitar player in high school gave me the outlet I needed. I also ended up played paying gigs during the summer of my sophomore year in high school. That was an unbelievable feeling for a 16 year old. So I guess I was lured into being a guitar player by the social status I got from being successful. And of course, the cash.
What people don't understand these days is that during the '80s times were really good for cover musicians., so making money was a big priority for many musicians. These days I scoff at cover gigs, wishing my music could pay my bills.

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars, effects and amplification do you use regularly to get your sound?

Bill Pierce: My sound is in my hands. What? That's right it's in my hands. OK, I'll explain. I can use my mint Duncan head or my Mesa Boogie set up. My tone comes through from either rig . A "smokin'" tone is in the soul and the hands of a guitar player or , if you will, a "tone meister". However, I use the aforementioned amps and a 2101, a GR50, Marshall cabs, Fostex recording gear, Ramsa boards, EMG pickups, Mark Lacey necks and a Cry Baby.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you trying to achieve musically?

Bill Pierce: I am trying to reach into the heart of the listener and make him or her feel what I am putting out emotionally. I just want young people to become emotionally attached to music again. I want to enlighten a younger audience.

Dan McAvinchey: What are your most recently completed projects and are you touring at all?

Bill Pierce: My most current completed project is "Mirrors". I am almost finished writing my next three projects (sorry about the delay folks) and audiences in Maine will be able to hear my new instrumental and vocal material on tour this summer.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you write your music?

Bill Pierce: I compose all my instrumental music as "drum machine" demos. Then I get great musicians like James Grandmont, Kent Palmer, 2-second Jim Fratini, John Berube and Matt Mead to record the final tracks. My next three projects will have many musicians on them, once I get a digital machine the tracks will be

Dan McAvinchey: Did you use commercial recording facilities for your last record?

Bill Pierce: I record at my own studio "The Matrix" as well as studios at Husson College and at the University Of Maine.

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Dan McAvinchey: Why did you decide to form your own record label and release an independent record?

Bill Pierce: I released my own record because I'm not what the 'guitar labels' are looking for. I ran into one of my GIT classmates TJ Helmerich at the '95
NAMM show and he was selling his CD from the makeshift stage at the Hughes and Kettner booth. I guess TJ's deal with Legato included selling CDs from stage just like I do. Don't get me wrong I've been in Mike Varney's column and I think that Mark Varney is by far the nicest man I've met in the business. However neither of them offered me a deal. So I started Smeatychips Music, because I don't have a record deal.

I'm just being honest, I wish I had a record deal like TJ does, but until I get a 'real deal' I'll be releasing on my own label. I must say though, independent record companies like mine should merge and mingle so as to spiral the business to other like-minded artists.

Dan McAvinchey: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Bill Pierce: The advantages are: I get all the wholesale money; it can be done from Maine (I love it here); no legal fees; running an indie label can be done on a part time basis.

The disadvantage: No "3 D's". Promo budget? Err ahh...what's that?

Face it, all musicians want a record deal. Hell, I know Scott Henderson is 'better' than I am but I deserve distribution too. I think we all feel that way sometimes.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you have any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Bill Pierce: Play a lot of gigs and develop an audience that is loyal. Start doing clinics. (I did one for Godin and sold CDs and got
the chance to give CDs to the owner's son and the CEO). Look at Neil Zaza, wow is he doing well! Even Holdsworth does clinics. If you are putting out a CD, God bless you and good luck.

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Maine fusion guitarist Bill Pierce has recently released "Mirrors", an instrumental CD of original contemporary fusion tracks, exhibiting Pierce's clearly focused melodic creativity and dynamic approach to his instrument. A graduate from the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Pierce's technique has been honed by more than ten years experience playing in various bands in the New England area. Unwilling to sit on the sidelines waiting for a traditional record deal, Pierce started Smeatychips Music to enable him to release his original music.

Pierce hooked up with Dan McAvinchey, and related the events that led up to the recording of "Mirrors" and his decision to pursue independent channels of distribution.