Ralston and Sink’s Virtual Podcast sat down with the Michigan-bred guitarist for a free-wheeling exchange about small-town boredom, bluegrass snootiness, pride in parents, rowdy concerts, love of life and riding the wave as long as you can.
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Billy Strings was reared in the world of bluegrass, but his first band as a teen was all about loud, heavy metal mania.
The guitarist dyed his hair black and played the role to the max.
“When we performed it was the furthest thing from a bluegrass traditional performance,” he recalled. “We were jumping around the stage, head-banging, sweating, ripping our shirts off, kicking people in the audience, spitting on each other, stage-diving, breaking instruments, just everything. Just crazy.”
While that’s no longer his M.O. as an attention-getting, bluegrass acoustic guitarist, Billy Strings — who grew up as William Apostol in Ionia and later spent years in Traverse City while touring with mandolinist Don Julin — still unleashes heavy metal-styled energy on stage and still listens to “crazy death metal bands” on occasion.
That was just a small part of a free-wheeling discussion Apostol had with singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles and Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics as part of the most recent RSVP Music Chat. The conversation was staged while the now Nashville-based musician was touring Michigan with his band over the Thanksgiving holiday in support of his latest studio album, “Turmoil & Tinfoil.”
(Check out a review, photo gallery and videos from that Grand Rapids tour stop: ‘I’ll never stop’: Billy Strings brandishes ceaseless bluegrass passion in Grand Rapids.)
During the podcast — which followed the band’s performance on-air at WYCE-FM — Apostol credited his parents for influencing and supporting his music, shunned the convention of playing only traditional bluegrass and instead taking a “no-rules … Jerry Garcia approach” to music, urged small-town kids to “go explore” their potential, touted the value of jamming with and learning from other musicians, and admitted he had “no idea it would take off like this” when it comes to his burgeoning career.
Listen to the full podcast and watch video highlights below.
PODCAST: RSVP Music Chat Episode No. 8 with Billy Strings
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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: RSVP Music Chat with Billy Strings
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