[The following interview with Bill Mallonee of Vigilantes of Love was
conducted on behalf of the VOL mailing list .
The interview questions were submitted by the list members to Joe Kirk
.  The interview took place in Bill's kitchen
in Athens, Georgia on Monday morning, May 9, 1995.

The interview lasted about two hours.  I've felt the freedom to edit
about 10% of it out.  We were interrupted by phone calls several times
(very common at the Mallonee home) and there were a few places in the
dialog that didn't transcribe well into written form.  We were locked
in the kitchen with three very active kittens.  They kept eating my
shoestrings and generally being a total distraction.  We made a lot of
PETA jokes about them.  I've spared you from having to read that kind
of stuff.

I appreciate all the questions the group sent.  I hope I delivered them
fairly.  I have included the name and email address of the author of
each question.

- JK]

BILL: OK, What have you got here?

JOE: Well, I've wanted to do an interview for a long time, but I didn't
know how I could pull it off, given our friendship.  I thought it would
seem too phony.  I think this will work because I can ask somebody
else's questions.  Basically, I sent out the mail message recently that
had everything people sent me.  You've seen those questions.  I've
gotten a few more since then.  I've pulled the questions out and
arranged them into categories, so that we won't keep coming back to the
same topics over and over, because several people asked basically the
same question.  I may throw in a few spontaneous questions of my own
but, basically, I'm just going to ask their questions.

BILL: You just want short answers right?  I mean, you're going to be
transcribing a mountain if we go in depth.

JOE: No, I want honest answers.  If you get on a roll, I think they
want to hear that.  I can edit it all down later if I have to.

BILL: OK, I appreciate you doing this.  I don't get a chance to
communicate with folks out there on the Internet enough.  I've got
the access, but I don't get a chance to respond enough.

JOE: That's actually a good lead-in.  This is kind of unusual for
someone to have a little group of people to have their email set up
to get stuff about you all the time.

BILL: Isn't that weird?

JOE: Robert says there's about 75 people in the list now.

BILL: Really?  That's bigger than I thought.

JOE: How do you feel about having 75 people who want to hear every
little intimate detail about you on a daily basis?  Who want to
discuss your work, and are anxiously awaiting this interview?

BILL: I guess it sort of feels like you're walking around with your fly
unzipped to a certain extent.  What's interesting is that occasionally
I'll find little leaks of some conversation I had with somebody at a
show.  I'll find that it made the rounds through some other source
because somebody will write me back about it who's not local.  I know
stuff does travel.  I don't know how fast it travels, but sometimes
it's very fast.  I think it's all right.  Fans have a right to know
more about an artist than just what's on the record, particularly
somebody who's making statements about world view kind of issues.
As a Christian, it's part of an act of accountability to be accessible,
because occasionally people will say stuff to me that I don't want to
hear that will cause me to think about an action I took or a lyric I
sang or something like that.  So I see it as being a healthy thing.

JOE: Does it put you on edge at all that you can make some offhand
comment and have it transcribed on the Internet, where hundreds of people
will see it and a casual statement will become important to somebody.

BILL: Sure.  Eventually that's gonna happen in some sort of heinous
fashion.  If people are interested in me because they like my music,
that's fine.  But if people are interested in me because they want some
kind of celebrity, then that's wrong.  The inappropriate comment that
was said off the record, but travels the rounds, though it might not be
my best Christian witness, it's not going to surprise me.  I hope it
doesn't surprise anybody else, given what we know about the nature of
man.  One of my complaints about the CCM industry, in the journalistic
end of things, is that there's not a lot of substance in the interviews
I read with some of the major artists.  I read some interviews with Amy
Grant and Mike Roe lately where they've talked about the struggles or
the downside of their walk or their career.  I think that's really
informative.  But for the most part, everybody just wants celebrities
and idols who are wearing a cross or an ichthus.  That's not really
what it's about.  It's about people telling the truth.

JOE: Have you actually been out to the web page?

BILL: Yeah, Chris Rank took me over to the school and showed it to me.
I don't have access at my home yet, though Mark Hall is going to set
it up for me.

JOE: What did you think?

BILL: It looked great.  I hear they're going to put 30 second clips of
songs in there.  I can't imagine what the fidelity would sound like.

JOE: They're pretty desperate for clips of the new album.

BILL: I guess Robert Davis is doing that?  What would be cool would be
if I could get him the demos of the new songs I'm doing.  I mean, he's
going to get the new album shortly.  But what would be great would be
if I got him some stuff you couldn't get anywhere else.

JOE: That would be great.  OK, let's talk about you.

JOSHUA W. KITE : What is your goal; why do you
play and sing?  Is this just something you do for a living?  Is this some
dream which you've always had and have been able to live out for the past 
few years.  How does this relate to your being a Christian? 

BILL: That's a good question.  Why do I do it?  Well, the goal is first
off to be able to do it for one more year, financially, being married
with a family of four.  That's really the external, which I don't think
is what he means.  But it does impact the ability to do it.  Why do I do
it on the inside?  I guess I could give the answer that it's part of my
Christian vocation, and I do think about that.  But I do it because I
love picking up a guitar and I love hearing melodies and progressions
and I love being able to look at the world and rearrange it through
lyrics, or preserve it through lyrics, or scrape underneath it through
lyrics.  I like the power and vulnerability of being able to put that up
in front of people in a live situation and find out what their response is.

JOE: Have you always done that?

BILL: No, in fact, before I met my wife I was painfully shy and if
someone said that in five years I would be singing songs in front of a
good number of people, I would have said they were wrong.

JOE: But you were writing before that.

BILL: I was writing prose.  I was writing some verse, but that was
pretty much it.

JOE: How did marriage change that?

BILL: I don't know.  I guess Brenda brought out a side of me that was
buried down somewhere in there.  All of a sudden I felt comfortable with
the world and comfortable with myself.  I hadn't felt that way before.
We talked about everything.  I'm sure the first two years of marriage
she did way more listening than I did.  'Cause I felt like five years
before the marriage, I had just kind of shut down in a lot of ways.  I
didn't know what I wanted to do.  The job searches weren't working out.
I wanted this sort of identity.  Was it Bill Mallonee, Christian
schoolteacher?  Bill Mallonee, Christian librarian?  Bill Mallonee,
Christian bum?

JOE: You seem to have achieved that one.

BILL: (laughter) Yeah, I got that one.  Christian, bum, songwriter.  You
know, I couldn't find a place to fit into any of it.  And even with the
music, it wasn't like a deliberate decision to do something, and then it
was there.  There was a good woodshedding period of three to five years
before we realized that we were making a living at this.  Before that it
was just kind of a glorified hobby.  It was a real purposeful hobby.
I drove like three or four hours a week to rehearsal spaces thirty miles
outside of Athens to play in a barn with friends from church.  I was
writing songs.  We bought an 8-track recorder and started taping the
stuff.  But it took about three or four years of that woodshedding
before I figured out that this is the way it's done.  These are the way
the songs should be done.  This is the way I should deliver the lyrics.
It was a good time, but I never thought I'd have a record deal from it.

JOE: That was early Vigilante stuff?

BILL: No, earlier bands.  The first band was called Bed of Roses and
they sort of mutated through various things with different players.

JOE: But it was Christian artists, even then?

BILL: Most of them.  Not all of them.  It was always like a majority.

DARREN FIELDER : When did you know that performing
was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

BILL: I think it was when Mark Hall and I went into the Downstairs and
it was a memorable evening.  We got a call to open for a band there.
The Downstairs is a small Athens cafe that holds about 75 people.  There
may have been like 25 or 30 people down there the first time.  We came
back again and had to pick a name.  So we came up with Vigilantes of
Love.  Mark and I were playing in another band called the Cone Ponies
with Alice Berry.  Alice was singing.  I had all these other songs I
called bedroom songs.  They were like songs you would sing for your
wife.  They were more vulnerable.  A lot of the stuff on Jugular is like
that, more stripped down.  The response was overwhelming.  The second or
third time we were down there, we were packing the place out.  People
were bringing their friends.  I think there were a lot of parachurch
groups finding out about it.

JOE: When would that have been?

BILL: Like '89.  Right at the back end of 1989.  Pretty soon the place was
packed out twice a month.  Not only was it significantly easier than the
beer politic where you have to entertain a lot of hard-drinking frat boys,
but we were having more fun, too.  We could sit down in the kitchen with
an accordion and a guitar and write a whole bunch of songs, write a whole
album of songs in a week.  We thought this was the thing to go after.
I also thought people were hearing what I was saying for the first time.

JOE: And the only real document of that time is Jugular?

BILL: Yeah, although I think there is a videotape of a live performance
floating around somewhere.  I know a guy who recorded it one night on a
4-track and I believe he synched it into a camcorder.  I don't know
who's got it, but I think I can follow the trail and find it.

JOE: Now you've got me intrigued!

BILL: I'll try to find it for you.  That may not answer Darren's question.
I just feel like this is what I'm supposed to do, rich or poor, I'm a
songwriter, as long as the Lord will give me a vision behind the thing.
Now the struggle is not having the business thing cloud out the artistic
thing.  I'm not an insulated artist who only has to worry about being an
artist.  I have to worry about a lot of the other stuff, too.

(Ironically, Bill's six year old son, Joseph, was home sick the day of
the interview.  He wandered into the kitchen looking for breakfast just
as I asked this next question.)

TOM MOELLERING : What's a typical
non-tour day like for Bill? 

BILL: I clean the litter out of the catbox, I empty the dishwasher, I
beat my sons into the shower, I offer them nutritious breakfasts like
Captain Crunch.  Actually, I do about an hour and a half of housework,
like laundry, etc.  And then I go to work.  That work means, write songs.
After the kids are gone, I get about two hours in writing songs.  Then I
spend time in Bible study and go for a run.  Then it's time to pick them
up at school.  I'm pretty much at their disposal in the afternoon.

JOE: So most of your writing is done in the morning?

BILL: Yeah, I'm definitely a morning person.

JOE: That would seem to be atypical for a musician, especially one who
plays clubs.

BILL: That may explain why I don't get much writing done on the road.
When I'm on the road, I love sneaking away into a stairwell with a guitar 
and getting in touch with something new.  Night after night I'm doing songs
and so I tend to concentrate on the entertainment factor.  That's not to
denigrate the songs or the lyrics.  But after the 150th time doing "Welcome
to Struggleville," it's not as fresh every night as you want it to be.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : Have you ever taken any
of these personality tests like the Myers-Briggs type indicator or the
Herrmann brain dominance profile?  If so, would you mind sharing the
results with us?  Do you think they are a halfway decent representation
of your image of yourself?

BILL: I've taken the Myers Briggs, although I won't divulge what the
results were.  I thought it was pretty true.  See, I used to work in
a Psych unit and they gave the Myers Briggs to all the staff.

JOE: I have to ask, why won't you divulge the results?

BILL: Cause I can't remember what they were. (laughter)  It's a big
secret, even to me.  I've probably got it around here somewhere.
My wife took it too and she thought it was pretty accurate too.

KYLE GRIFFIN : Do you feel like your faith (and
writing/singing about it) has imposed limits on what you can do in the 
recording industry (recording contracts, distribution, touring, etc.)? 

BILL: The spiritual principle behind saying what's true and being clear
about one's position regarding one's faith in the person of Christ and
his work, the spiritual principle that we know from the Scriptures, is
that the world is not going to accept that.  I think you would be right
in saying that the entertainment industry is an extremely worldly
industry, though that's not always true.  You find a lot of times that
there's an intense kind of hunger out there among people that work in
the industry.  rock and roll's not young anymore.  I don't think
anybody really thinks rock and roll has the power to transform lives
anymore. That kind of talk died out after Bruce Springsteen.  I never
hear it anymore.  Now I think rock and roll is a mirror of the despair
and cynicism of our society.  I think that's what the Seattle thing was
all about.  When the industry found a way to clean that up a little and
go to the bank on it, they just made a glossier form of despair.  They
invented terms for it like X-generation.  Who in their right mind would
want to be a member of the X-generation?  People just invent terms so
they can sell stuff to you.  The industry feels better about saying,
these are the people we are dealing with and this is how we market to
them.  The classic example of that is that screwball drink the Coke
company tried to put out recently.

JOE: Fruitopia?

BILL: No, it was a one word drink, but it was a soft drink.  From what I
can tell it's dropped off the face of the earth.  But it was marketed as
an X-generation drink.  Not much in the packaging.  You couldn't really
tell what it was.

JOE: I bet it was clear and substanceless.  All form and no substance.

BILL: It was a cola drink.  Anyway, how did we get here?  As far as
being a Christian goes, if I can just keep the stuff that I actually
have to deal with, that involves my input, I just try to do that as
best I can as a Christian and live with integrity.

JOE: As a follow-up to that, I've sat in the press trailer at Cornerstone
and listened to dozens of bands aspire to what you already have.

BILL: You mean wanting a secular deal?

JOE: Yeah, they're in the CCM industry, playing churches and Christian
festivals.  When you ask them what they really want to do, they want to 
get on radio, play clubs, and go out and be with non-Christians.  They
all seem to want to be where you are.  And that's where you started.

BILL: Yeah, we never started in the CCM thing.  There were believers on
campus who came to see us, but we never played churches.  We have done
that, and we will continue to play the occasional Christian college
because those people get it.  They understand the underlying message,
but they have to come to us for it, more or less.  Have you read this
flame war going on in rec.music.christian over Peter King of Dakota?

JOE: No, I've deleted them all unread.

BILL: Well, I've only popped into it, but it seems that there's some
sort of whining and complaining going on.  I'm getting this mostly
from John Streck's stuff.  Do you know who he is?

JOE: Yeah, he's part of this list.

BILL: OK, well he said something like, look, you guys can't whine and
complain about your music not being accepted in the secular field.  You
guys have to take some responsibility for sustaining the CCM ghetto that
you are so loudly whining about.  He said the whole industry exists not
for ministry, but to sell stuff.  You know what?  He's probably right.
You ought to get out there and look in on it.  I've always respected
what John Streck has written, him and Andy Whitman.  They're great.
They're like this breath of fresh air.

JOE: Yeah, actually when I scan rec.music.christian, I always look for
certain topics and for certain people.  Streck is one of them.  This ought
to make him impossible to live with.  Bill Mallonee thinks he's a genius.

BILL: (in bad British accent) He's brilliant.

JOE: You've managed to not get stuck in the CCM ghetto.  How would you
advise others not to get stuck there?

BILL: That's easy.  Don't pick up the pen.  Don't sign a contract on a
CCM label.  (laughter) I'm not dissing those labels.  But there's this
mentality among a lot of the alternative Christian rock bands that is
duplicity at best about being on a Christian label.  Look, we're on a 
Christian label, too, when it gets right down to it.  Fingerprint is a
Christian label.  It's just that our stuff--hopefully if it's done well
and it's well written--stands in everybody's marketplace.  But there
are some labels that don't have access to the channels to get it past
the Christian bookstore.  I don't want to throw the baby out with the
bath water.

ANDY LINFORD : Can bill give any direction to a young
band (mine-River) who has reached their goals but doesn't know what next?
("advice for a band with no direction")

BILL: Any advice I'd have for a young band would be to write a better
song than you wrote yesterday.  Keep writing good songs and play them in
front of real people in real places, and find out what the response is.
To a certain extent, you can't just bang people over the head with a
Sunday School kind of gospel, or you probably won't be asked back.  To
me, the people who are doing that, although they have good intentions,
are not being as wise as serpents.  You have to be as wise as a serpent
if you're going to do that.  I'm not saying that you have to be subversive,
the gospel still has to be there.  You'll get your chance to say more.
Chances are, unless it's a straight Christian college, you're probably not
going to hear me preach.  I'm not a preacher anyway.  Not in the sense of
the ministry of the Word, the proclamation of the gospel from a pulpit.
In private, one to one, I'll say it all.  In some ways it's easy for me
because it's a hit and run situation.  I know I'm only going to get a
chance at this person one time.  If somebody says they like the spiritual
elements in my music, I'll tell them it comes from being a Christian.
I'll give them some detail about that because I want them to understand
that its not like the TV evangelists.  They can't reconcile that sometimes,
that I'm a Christian and playing rock and roll in a club.  The policy of
being honest and up front works real well one to one.

JOE: You seem to have found a balance.  You obviously don't think of
yourself as a music minister.  But you're also not like Over the Rhine,
hiding that down in the lyrics and downplaying the gospel.  You're very
open and up front.  It's all over your lyrics.  BLISTER SOUL is as
Christian an album as I've ever heard.

BILL: I think it's a gospel album.  It's why I can get out of bed in the
morning.  The bass player from my old band, Bed of Roses, goes to church
with me.  He told me that I've been doing the same song all my life.
I think that's probably true.  I very rarely get outside the confines of
a Christian world view.  I think in some ways I'm the product of a lot
of good theology and real tender nurturing from a pastor here in Athens,
Dr. Dan Orme.  You learn a lot when you stay in one place for a long
time.  I've been at University Church almost twenty years now.  Maybe I
just read the right books, but it seems to have stuck.  I'm grateful to
the Lord.  I guess I'm getting more concerned because, being 40 now, I
look back at the generation behind me and wonder where they're getting
their cues from.

JOE: You may have already answered the next question.  But I'll ask it,
even though it's probably a little self-serving for a Georgia Tech
person to ask how a University of Georgia person can believe in God.

BILL: (in a hick southern drawl) Well, Fred, we're not as analytical
about it as you are at Tech.  (laughter)

JOE: I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to drag out the school rivalries, because
I know you don't give a rip about football.

BILL: No, I don't give a rip about football.  But I do give a rip about
ACC basketball.  I grew up in Chapel Hill with Dean Smith and the
Tarheels.  SEC basketball, I guess it's all right, but it's not the ACC.
(laughter)  But I don't spend a lot of time in front of the tube
watching anything.  What was the question?

FRED WRIGHT : People in your part of the music
world are not usually noted for their devotion to family (or God either,
for that matter).  Can you tell us about how you balance these things?

BILL: That's a hard balance.  When I'm home, I try to be here as much as
I can for them.  And when I'm on the road, I run up $500 a month phone 
bills.  My biggest fear is if the thing gets big.  Last year it got 
pretty darn close.  Last year we did 160 dates.  Probably 120 were on the 
road.  That's a long time to be away from your family.  We were probably 
on the road seven months last year.  My kids are writing a chapter each 
day.  Some days, I don't get to see the chapter, what they signed off on 
at the end of the day when they say their prayers and go to bed.  That 
does hurt.  I can last about two weeks that way.  I don't know how to 
cope with that except to be totally available when I'm here.  Brenda is 
great.  VOL started to take off when we had been married about ten years 
and we were getting pretty settled into the marriage, so we didn't have 
to deal with feelings of insecurity when we were apart from each other.  
There are some things that are certain.  Some things that you bank on.  
Our love for one another is one of those.  It's nothing we take for 
granted.  We nurture it.  I wish that there was a way for Brenda to
leave her job and be more integrated into the whole thing.  She could
be the grassroots management.  She's really a great people person.

JOE: Most people don't see that part of you, if they aren't around
Athens.  How important your family is.  How important your church is.
How incredibly strong your marriage is.

BILL: Joshua comes to the shows and sells shirts.  He likes talking to
other bands.  He's taking piano now.  He says he wants to be an
architect.  I have a feeling he might end up doing music or something.

JOE: Yeah, he's got the genes.

BILL: He does.  Joseph loves it, too.  I'll take them to Cornerstone
again this year.  I try to integrate them as much as I can while still
being aware that they have their own lives.  I want to affirm the gifts
that God has given them.  They're amazing.  You've got seven of them, so
you know.  Every day you see these things come to the surface and you
wonder what God is going to do with that.

KYLE GRIFFIN : How do you stay focused and motivated
while touring and playing to crowds of 20 or 30?

BILL: It's tough.  There's a lot of boring downtime to fill.  I do a lot
of reading and have more consistent Bible studies than when I'm at home.  
I take advantage of the means of grace a lot on the road.  I pray a lot.  
The hardest part is the exhaustion factor.  We run on about four or five 
broken hours of sleep a night.  Five guys in a broken down van with none 
of the comforts of home.  It's hard to be ingenious and kind all the
time.  It wears on you to arrive at the motel exhausted and have to plead
with the desk clerk for extra towels because there are four guys in the 
room and only two towels.  We've had really amazing arguments with desk 
clerks where you just wanted to pop the guy over a towel.  (laughter)

JOE: The last set of guys you were out like that with were not Christians.

BILL: I think that's true.  I don't know for sure.

JOE: You were the only professing Christian.

BILL: Right.

DARREN FIELDER : I'm currently in a band with
some guys who aren't Christians and I was wondering how you've handled
keeping a solid Christian message flowing in your music?

BILL: Ultimately, at the end of the day, they didn't have any choice
because I was the dictator.  And it probably should have been more that
way.  I think I mistakenly led the guys in the band to believe it was a
democracy and that everybody's voice counted equal.  Everybody's voice
did count, but I had 51% of the votes.  I know that sounds hard.  But it
was my deal.  I've worked hard for it and I don't want it watered down.
They were wonderful guys, very supportive.  But, it's like any friendship
you have with a non-believer.  You can only go up to a certain point, and
then the thing that's the most important to you, Christ, can't be shared.
At worst, the relationship can become very superficial.  Like, we have a
job to do, you hold the dustpan and I'll hold the broom.  You don't need
an emotional transaction to do that job.

JOE: It felt that way at the end.  One of your last two shows was in
Augusta.  The band felt like they were going through the motions.

BILL: Yeah, it felt like that a lot.  I mean, asking someone else to
respect your music and invest emotionally in it is a lot to ask. I felt
like that was what I was asking them to do.  They sacrificed a lot.
We made a living last year playing music, but it wasn't much of a living.
I think Newt and David and Travis are all in better places, musically
and personally.

JOE: Where are they?

BILL: Newt's playing guitar with Billy Pilgrim, who's hugely successful.
Travis is playing in a band called the Beggars and is making good money 
doing that.

JOE: Isn't that Michael Been's son's band?  I just read about them in
the new issue of Counter Culture.

BILL: Yeah, that's it.  I haven't heard the band, but they are signed to
Island, so that's pretty secure for Travis.  Dave's just hanging loose in
Athens, playing music and buying houses and fixing them up.  The breakup of
the band was a tough split, but it needed to happen.  I think that if we
had gone into the studio to make BLISTER SOUL with that lineup, and the way
the emotional barometer was working, we would have made a bad record.

JOE: OK, let's shift gears.  A lot of people asked questions about your
literary and musical influences.  Let's group them together.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : What are some of the
primary sources of inspiration behind your songs?

CATHY NIENG : I've heard that Flannery
O'Connor is an influence of yours. In what ways have her stories
affected your lyrics or general world view?

JOHN STRECK : If you had to pick two or
three books that no one should go without reading, what would they be? 

BILL: It's funny because usually the people that end up in the bios and
articles--Flannery O'Conner, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy--I don't read
them much anymore.  I'm reading a great book by Clark Pinnock right now.
It's called THE OPENNESS OF GOD.  I was raised in a Reformed background,
but have never been comfortable with the way Calvinists work out God's
sovereignty, which is fatalism.  I'll probably get blasted for that by
some young buck Calvinist, and believe me, I was a young buck Calvinist
before they were born.  Anyway, this is a solid book.  Pinnock edits it
with five other guys.  It's on InterVarsity Press.  It's top notch.
I also like Frederick Buechner because he's one of those guys who can take
the simple ebb and flow of mundane and daily life and charge it with
Biblical passion, with a God-charged world.  God being intimately involved
with his people, in spite of the fact that we are wickedly sinful people.

The interesting thing with Flannery is that you never get a sense of
relationships going on between the individuals and God.  It's not warm
and intimate.  It's almost like this Old Testament awesome and terrible
God crashing into these people's lives and rendering judgment or opinion
or something.  You do get the impression that they are going to be the
recipients of undeserved grace.  But I have ended up gravitating back
toward someone like Buechner because there seems to be a warmer thing
going on between the individual and the Savior.  I don't think that's
where Flannery is.  I think she's about where does grace hit the fallen
world and what does that look like.  I think she's hard to understand,
too.  I don't think everything she writes fits into a tidy mold.

If I had to pick two or three books, I'd pick the OPENNESS OF GOD by
Clark Pinnock, and others.  Gee, this is hard.  Can I come back to this?  
(We forgot to come back to it.  Sorry.)

JOE: If I can throw in a personal story here.  I was here in your house
on New Year's Day for your fortieth birthday party.  You got this three
or four volume set of books on the history of creeds in the church.
As geeky a set of books as I have ever seen in my life.  But here were
your buddies from church walking around saying they were way cool.

BILL: (laughter) They were faking it weren't they?  They had to be.

JOE: I don't know.  It was a group of guys getting excited about getting
a dictionary.  (laughter)  Certainly, you're not actually going to sit 
down and read this stuff?

BILL: To tell you the honest truth about those books, I haven't cracked
them open yet.  That's technical stuff.  The guy who gave them to me, 
Craig Duncan, is one of my best friends.  He and I are fascinated by how 
the church has expressed what it believes through the years.  Those books 
will help in that study.  I think he gave them to me so that he could 
borrow them back.  (laughter)  I don't read that much technical stuff.
I used to read a lot of theology, but it's usually the layman's version.
People like J. I. Packer.

JOE: Let's move on to music.

JOHN STRECK : What are a few of the albums
you've most enjoyed listening to of late? 

TIM TERHUNE : I was wondering who his musical
influences were, favorite artists/albums, and authors.

TOM MOELLERING : What are Bill's
favorite bands/musicians?

JOSEPH FLOWERS : Do you listen much to
music by other artists these days?  If so, what are you listening to
(five or so discs)?

BILL: Yeah, I can name a number of discs everybody ought to listen to.
I think everybody ought to listen to Dylan's box set.  The second one,
the Bootleg series.  I think it's brilliant.  Neil Young's live ARC/WELD.
Although people should be warned, it's a three disk set and the third CD 
is nothing but 35 minutes of guitar feedback.  I think he was just 
fulfilling a record company obligation with it.  The two live discs are
his rework of FREEDOM and RAGGED GLORY.

JOE: Do you listen to the feedback?

BILL: I took it back to the store and sold it back.  They put it in the
bin for some unsuspecting soul to buy.  I can't believe they put it out.

There's a pop record I keep coming back to.  THE LA'S.  I think they are
from Wales.  They may be from Scotland.  Killer band.

These are like records I think are brilliant, right?  ACHTUNG BABY.
ACHTUNG BABY is one of the most brilliant records that has ever been
conceived and pulled off.  It speaks the truth and it rocks and it's
passionate.  All the people who think U2 has fallen off the deep end are
just wrong.  You can't tell from the records.  It's there.  I think it's
real strongly there.

Tom Waits.  I think BONE MACHINE and RAIN DOGS are great records.

Let's see, what else is like real super cool?  Oh, the COMPLETE RECORDINGS
OF ROBERT JOHNSON.  It's hard to listen to because the fidelity is not so
great.  I like all these other records because they have pop instincts in 
them.  But for Robert Johnson, you have to think about where this music 
came from, what he was about and why this music has stood the test of 
time.  Obviously he wasn't doing his music as though he was going to get 
a record deal.  He was just doing it because that's who he was.  It's 
kind of haunting.  It's kind of scary.  I like that.  

I was listening to a lot of old spooky stuff there for a while.  I've
started to listen to more pop lately.  Not pop like The Bangles or
anything. Just more radio friendly pop influenced stuff.  I just want
to hear the hooks.

JOE: Are you consciously trying to let that influence you to be more
radio friendly?

BILL: I don't think so.  I think it's hard for me to be influenced
because my playing is not so good.  But I know what I can work with in
the context of the way I create songs.  I know what my own hooks are.
It's not like I'm gonna listen to a Matthew Sweet record and try to rip
him off.  I don't think I can do that, technically.  See, I'm a strummer.
I'm not really a rock guitar player.  That's why I feel way more
comfortable playing acoustic guitar than an electric.  That's why I need
the foil in the band playing electric.  I just feel comfortable being a
strummer.  A loud strummer.

JOE: That leads pretty naturally to the next set of questions.  There
were a whole series of questions about the artistic process.  In no 
particular order...

TIMOTHY SCOTT DEVRIES : I was listening to one of
his CD's the other day, I don't remember which one, and I noticed that
he recycled lyrics: "life is like a handgun, and the hammer just went
click."  I don't remember which songs this line was in, but it was in
two songs on the same album.  My question is:  out of all the songs that
I hear that he has unrecorded, how many of them are "borrowed" either
lyrically or musically from other songs?  And is it common for artists
to steal catchy lyrics from others?  (I'm not saying he has done this,
he borrowed it from himself.)

BILL: I don't consciously borrow lines from myself.  The line he's
referring to on DRIVING THE NAILS just worked in both places.  I thought
it was a good line.  I guess some people do things like that to create a
mystique about themselves.  I just liked the line.  For the most part,
most rock and roll lyricists don't impress me.  I get most of my ideas
from reading books, not from listening to music.  I think Dylan is a
great writer.  Again, most of his ideas came from books, not from music.

JOSHUA W. KITE : Can you give a few examples of
what alternate tunings you've used and on what songs?  This may help a few
of us out when trying to learn your music, and also in writing our own.

BILL: This is divulging trade secrets I guess.  I use two main alternate
tunings.  I take the G string, and it has to be an unwound plain G 
string, and tune it up a step to an A.  I use capos all across, all over 
the place.  You'll just have to figure that out what feels right.  The 
other tuning is an open tuning.  Both the E's are dropped to D.  So 
starting from the low side it would be E, A, D, A, A, D.  

My son, Joshua, actually came up with that one when he knocked my guitar 
over and it came up like that.  One of the first stringed instrument I 
ever played was a dulcimer.  I'm sure that's where that drone thing came 
from.  You hear a lot of that in rock and roll.  A lot of REM songs have 
that melody line against a drone string.  There's a nice tension in it.

JOE: So when you switch guitars on stage, you're just switching tunings?

BILL: Right.  Given my druthers, I'd have six guitars on stage and a
guitar tech keeping them in tune.

JOSHUA W. KITE : Have you progressed your style
(i.e., going to more of a electric/rock sound) so that you can reach more
people, or is that just where music has taken you and it just happens 
that more people like that? 

BILL: That's a great question.  It's been a natural growth, starting
with JUGULAR.  Actually, I find JUGULAR hard to listen to.  I like the
spirit behind it, but it was done so quick.  It was supposed to be
nothing more than a glorified demo.  We weren't going to make a record.
We never thought it would get past a cassette format.

JOE: You say it was quick.  How quick?

BILL: Like four days, maybe three.  I think the fourth day was mixing.
I remember I borrowed the guitar on it from a guy named Don Chambers.
Don plays in a really cool group now called Vaudeville.  They are a real
hard edged kind of group.  Anyway, I borrowed this really old Takamine
from him.  It sounded better than Martins or Guilds.  I remember that
I had one more song I wanted to do.  It was "Who Knows When The Sunrise
Will Be?"  I called Mark Hall and said we've got like one hour to get
this song on tape, cause Don's coming out to get his guitar.  So we
laid it down and Mark put that accordion solo on.

To me, there are some points of musical transcendence on Vigilante 
records.  One is the end of STRUGGLEVILLE.  Those big three notes that
Newt plays.  Those are glorious.  There's something there that's almost 
indescribable.  Another one is Mark's accordion solo on the end of "Who
Knows When the Sunrise Will Be?"  To me, it's just full of yearning and
melancholy.  That's a great moment, one of the really great moments.  
When we did the song, we originally intended for him to play throughout 
the whole song.  But Mark decided to just play on the end of the song.  
When that accordion comes in for the first time, it really is beautiful.

JOE: Any moments of transcendence on BLISTER SOUL for you?

BILL: The feedback on Bolt Action is definitely one.  The song about
van Gogh, called "Skin."  I think that whole song is great.  There are
a couple of pedal steel parts John Keene plays.  The "Blister Soul"
reprise is like that for me.  It's one of those things that makes sense
about three o'clock in the morning.  I can't wait to hear it on the
radio. Because anything that comes on the radio after that is going to
sound like Ringling Brothers.

JOSHUA W. KITE : How long have you been singing
and how long have you been playing?  What instruments to you play?  What
training do you have? 

BILL: No training whatsoever.  My dad was a jazz drummer, so I started
playing drums when I was about ten or twelve.  I didn't start playing
guitar until I was about thirty.  I've been writing seriously for about
eight or nine years.  I'm totally self-taught.

JOSHUA W. KITE : Your style has changed a lot
since the early days.  Do you ever miss the accordion or mandolin, or
is that all in the past?

BILL: I miss it a lot.  I'd like to put together an acoustic record.
I talked to Capricorn about this recently.  It's very inexpensive to
do an ADAT recording.  I'd like to do a Bill Mallonee solo recording.
I'd have Billy Holmes playing mandolin, maybe Phil Madeira on accordion,
Chris Donohue on acoustic or double bass, and a small set of drums.
I've got maybe thirty or forty songs that would fit that format.
I don't really have a calling card for that end of my work.  I think
I have matured since JUGULAR.  They were open to the idea, by the way.

JOE: That's great.  That comes up as a question later on.

KYLE GRIFFIN : Which gives you the most pleasure and
satisfaction--writing or performing?  Why?

BILL: That's a good question.  Probably performing.  This is why I like
the acoustic shows, like at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta.  Invariably, I can
take out my music stand and try out the song I wrote that afternoon.
Warts and pimples.  When I nail it, it's the biggest rush.  I like
pushing those boundaries.  I think some artists would never do that.
Vigilantes of Love have not had a rehearsal hall or studio for two
years.  We rehearse at sound check.  We just don't practice.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : Mark Heard used to talk of
writing music as a form of catharsis, of a burning need to write.  Is
this how you see it as well, or is there a subtle or substantial difference?

BILL: Yeah, I feel that.  I think that's one of the reasons Mark and I
got along so well.  It was like that for both of us.  The interesting
thing about that though is that one of the implications of that mindset
is that you lose sight of your audience.  I never think about what's
commercial.  I just write what I'm able to pull off on guitar and deliver.
That's all I can do.  It's kind of like making a limitation be your strength.

JOE: I think that's a lot of the appeal of your music for many of us.
Your music feels honest.  It doesn't feel contrived or bent to make
someone else happy.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : One of the things I find
attractive about your music is the use of metaphor to convey truth 
("...he's in love with the metaphor...") this allows for multiple levels
of meaning--some of which you may have even intended. ;)  Do you find
this style of communication limiting?  Are there truths or concepts that
you have been struggling to communicate that have not yielded to this 
storytelling / "chainsaw in a velvet glove" approach? 

BILL: Chainsaw in a velvet glove.  I like that.  Ask Joseph if I can use
it.  I don't know.  The first albums had a lot of the surgeon metaphor.  
KILLING FLOOR was full of the noise in the head that won't go away.
Lately, I think my big concern has been to make the language more blue 
collar, the metaphor of the common man, the stuff that you'd hear in the 
supermarket line or down at the local tavern.  That's what a lot of real 
country music is.  Although a lot of country music now strikes me as way 
glossy.  Hank Williams or early Johnny Cash, those things are way
earthier than what I'm hearing now.

That's not really answering his question though.  I've got tons of
papers with three verses that I've used out of six.  I guess Dylan never
worried about editing.  Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowland is eleven minutes
with like fifteen verses.  It didn't bother him that it might be taxing
for the listener.  I don't really have that freedom.  Short attention
spans in pop music.

JOE: If you had that freedom, would you make those kind of songs?

BILL: Probably on some things.  Like "Skin" had five verses and I edited
it down to three.  I think it is a better song for it.  I think the
distillation process makes it a better song.  "Parting Shot" has six
verses still, but it had more at one time.  At the level we're at, we
have to think about what radio will put up with.  "Tempest" is like two
minutes, 17 seconds.  With a DJ popping in at the end, it's gonna be
maybe 2:12.  Like a beer commercial.  I'm trying to sharpen my craft so
I can write those things. (laughter)

STRUGGLEVILLE the so-called "Christian music industry," and Christian
music fans, seemed to get pretty excited about the music of VOL (e.g.,
reviews and interviews in the 'zines, invitations to Cornerstone, etc.).
Do you think that's helped or hindered your efforts with regard to
making VOL a success?

BILL: There is a perception at Capricorn that it is a Christian band and
that Bill is preaching to the choir.  I think the music is way more
expansive than that.  If it's a choir that's being preached to, it's a
pretty educated choir.  We're selling to a group of people who
appreciate a challenge, who want music that takes a little more than one
listen to get underneath of it to find out what's going on.  We've had
several offers, even recently, from Christian labels.  But we signed
with a secular label because we want to get it out a little bit further.

I think the music would be misunderstood by most Christians who expect
a more generic kind of CCM where the message is primary.  Although I'll
stack our songs, theologically, against anybody's out there.

JOE: I'd put "Offer" up against any Christian song right now.  It's as
solid and joyous as any CCM I've ever heard.

BILL: I would, too.  It's very joyous.  And it could wind up on AAA radio
this year.  Wouldn't that be great?  I don't mean to sound boastful or 
anything.  I believe God has given me a good church upbringing.  If it 
hadn't been for Lewis, and Shaeffer, and writers like that, I don't know 
where I would have ended up.  I just wanted something I could stand on 
the stage and sing to myself if I were the only person in the room and 
say that's a great song.  I'm the only audience that has to listen to me 
every night.  A lot of the stuff I hear coming out of the CCM camp seems
designed to get a fluffy kind of gospel message to as large an audience 
as possible.  The artistic end of things seems secondary.

AARON DAVIS : In the past, you (to my
knowledge) were the only Christian in the band.  Recently, I noticed
that you mentioned (in looking for a lead guitarist) that you wanted the
members of the band to be Christian.  Is this a change in the direction
of the band?  Do you think this will increase your acceptance in the
Christian market?

BILL: It doesn't have anything to do with acceptance in the Christian
market.  I don't know who that market is.  That decision was made because 
of self-preservation.  I told my wife that I wanted a Bible study that rocks.

JOE: Is that working?

BILL: Yeah, Chris Donohue and I auditioned in Nashville last week and
found a guitarist in Nashville and a drummer from Athens that look like 
they are going to work out.  It would be premature to tell their names in 
this interview, but they look good.  Two Nashville guys and two Athens 
guys.  It's loud and ugly but it also looks like a band that can play the 
nuances of the delicate stuff.

See, folks who know Chris from Circle of Dust may not realize that was a 
temporary gig for him.  His personal tastes tend to be more acoustic High 
Street kind of artists.

JOE: And he plays piano like Bruce Hornsby.

BILL: Yeah, he loves that stuff.  But when he plays bass, he goes for the
low stuff.  He's a monster rock player.  But when he plays guitar, like 
when we do the acoustic shows together, he's an amazing lyrical player.  
That's why I know we could make an acoustic record in like three days.

TOM MOELLERING : What did Bill do to
make a living before he took up being a full-time musician/artist?

BILL: I worked as a schoolteacher for two years.  I worked with
emotionally disturbed kids.  And I worked at Charter Hospital here in 
Athens.  Basically doing group therapy.  That was cool.  I enjoyed it.  
It was also a chance to be a servant.

TOM MOELLERING : Did Bill go to college?
If so, where?  What did he study?

BILL: I have a history degree from here in Athens at the University of

ROBERT DAVIS : Who were the Cone Ponies?  What
kinds of musical projects did Bill work on before taking on the name
Vigilantes of Love?

BILL: A five piece jangly rock band with country and folk influences.
Alice Berry sang in the band.  It was the first time I had written for a 
female voice.  We mostly played in and around Athens.  We were being 
slammed by the beer politic.  We couldn't draw 500 hard drinking frat boys.

With Bed of Roses, it was a sort of an early REM kind of thing.  I love
a lot of what that band did early on.  There was so much passion in the
music, even though, lyrically, they've never really been about anything 
for long.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : Any chance that you could
provide a copy of the lyrics to JUGULAR that we could put out on the
net?  it's not that they are hard to understand, you understand, it's 
just that transcription is a painful process.

BILL: I don't have them written down.  In fact, on some of them, I'd have
to go back and listen to the album myself to remember what I was singing.
I don't do much off that album these days.  Mainly just "Love Cocoon."

JOE: Do you do much from DRIVING THE NAILS?

BILL: No, just the title song.

JOE: Not even the abortion clinic song, "Odious?"

BILL: No, it would probably be grossly misinterpreted now under the cloud
of all the weirdness that's going on there.  We're also in an adversarial 
relationship with that label and I don't want to promote that record.  It 
was made under bad circumstances.  Its not as good as it should be.  I'd 
consider redoing it, but possession is 9/10ths of the law.  He's got this 
record and he's making money off it, yet we aren't even seeing accounting 
statements on it.  I don't have the legal muscle to shut him down.

JOSEPH FLOWERS : What's the inside story
behind the chicken head?  Is it now a conversation piece in your living
room, or has some more foul fate befallen it?

BILL: It got wet and pretty much decomposed.  It was made by my older son
Joshua and modeled by my younger son Joseph.  Josh made it for a play at 
school.  He blew up a large balloon and wrapped it in papier mache.  Then
he popped the balloon.  The guys in the band hated it.  It wasn't rock 
and roll enough for them, whatever that means.  I think Capricorn botched 
the cover.  It's too dark.

TOM MOELLERING : I don't have my copy of
STRUGGLEVILLE in front of me, but I am curious where the idea for "Sympathy"
came from.  And what it's about.  I get the idea that it has something to
do with a conversation with a guy in a prison and/or mental hospital.

BILL: It's a Lutheran response to Satanic attack.

JOE: Is it related in any way to "Sympathy for the Devil?"

BILL: Nah, actually "Anybody's Guess" was Billy's attempt to come up
with the same kind of groove and rhythm track as "Sympathy for the
Devil."  The strange thing about "Sympathy for the Devil" is that it's
got this massive rhythm track and a piano.  There's not much else going
on in it except Keith's lead at the end.  It's not a guitar driven track
at all.  I think Billy actually pirated part of the track and recreated
it on the drum machine.  We left the drum machine track on KILLING
FLOOR. There's my drums on there, but we left the other track on, too.

JOE: What do you mean by "a Lutheran response to Satanic attack?"

BILL: When Luther was being held at Wartburg by, which prince was it,
Frederick?  Well, whoever it was that was trying to grab him and take
him back to Rome, I think that's the place where he supposedly had all
the visions.  There's supposed to be a place on the wall where there is
ink all over the wall from where he threw an inkwell at the Devil during
one of these visits.  Luther seemed to be very sensitive to that idea of
struggling not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and

JOE: So that song is sung directly to Satan.

BILL: Oh yeah, absolutely.

TOM MOELLERING : Does he have an armed
services background?  What's the connection for "Vet?"  Does he know
anyone personally that went to Vietnam?

DARREN FIELDER : I've noticed a lot of Vietnam
references in your songs, what's the story behind them? 

BILL: I've just read a lot of stuff on war.  I was intrigued by the
world wars as a kid.  I guess I've always been interested in what
happens to grace under pressure, what common people do when faced with
unbelievable odds against them.  What does valor and heroism really look
like. That's what interested me, even as a kid, in World War II. Since
that time I've met vets from that time and from Vietnam.

JOE: Vet is about a particular person, right?

BILL: Yeah, a particular person I met while I was working at Charterwinds
Hospital.  That song was a gift.  I pretty much just lifted it out of the 
medical charts after I'd written the music.

JOE: Has he heard it?

BILL: I don't know.  He was discharged before the record came out.
I never went back to tell him that it was about him.  We've done that
song live a lot on radio stations and gotten a number of calls from vets
who heard it live.  That's highest praise when they say that no one has
ever sung anything like that to me.

JOE: I always thought that song might win you a broader hearing if vets
heard it.

BILL: Well, the record label bungled that one when they sent that out
as a single to radio stations on Veteran's Day with some flag waving
packaging.  It was ridiculous.  They sent out this single that had the
lyrics on it.  It had some cheesy looking video image of a flag on it.
It never went by the band, but it had this slogan on it that sounded
like a beer commercial.  It said something like, the band dedicates this
to everyone who served in the armed forces--this one's for you.  It
actually said that!  We were furious about it because the song doesn't
take a position, one way or another, about participation in war.  It
just said this is what it does to individuals.  That's all we were
saying about it.

JOE: I hadn't heard that.  That must have been ugly.  What a collectors item.

BILL: It was ugly.  I probably have some around here.  The thing that
ticked us off the most was that we didn't see it before it went out.
And it didn't anything for us.

TOM MOELLERING : How does it feel to have
a song with the same title as T Bone Burnett (i.e., "I Can Explain
Everything")? ;-)

BILL: I just thought it was a funny phrase.  I've seen it used in lots of
comedy shows.  I'm sure T-Bone ripped it off from somewhere else, too.
Now there's a thief for you.  That guy listens to a lot of stuff.  I hear 
threads of stuff that he's influenced by.

TOM MOELLERING : What is out of print?

BILL: It's all back in print, except the old Cone Ponies stuff.  And I
think I have the masters of that.

JOE: Oh, really.  Do you think you might ever release it?

BILL: I haven't ever thought about it.  I think it would be good for
Alice.  She's quite good--just a captivating front person.  At the time
she was in this blistering, just a spit outside the garage, 50's
rockabilly band.  She wouldn't want me to call it rockabilly.  They were
definitely like a groovin' roots band, called Hillbilly Frankenstein.
She was terror on stage.  There's not a woman in CCM who can hold a
candle to what that woman can do on stage.  She was great.  Cone Ponies
was more like 10,000 Maniacs than that stuff.

TOM MOELLERING : How many (CD) copies
(Assuming they are all out of print)

BILL: I think we've sold about 15,000 of each one, except Jugular.
But JUGULAR hasn't been available nationally.

TOM MOELLERING : What are the rough
sales figures for STRUGGLEVILLE?  (How many copies?)

BILL: It's about the same, around 15,000.  The weird thing is that we've
sold more copies of KILLING FLOOR than STRUGGLEVILLE.  That's something
to get angry about.

KYLE GRIFFIN : Did you really used to install fire
alarms?  (Inspired by a line in "The Opposite's True")

BILL: No, never done it.  (in bad French accent)  It's just a big lie.

DARREN FIELDER : Someone here on the VOL-list
suggested the idea of you doing a tape for us hard-core fans of just
you singing and playing by yourself.  It wouldn't have to be recorded
on anything more glamorous than a 4-track.  Would you ever consider
doing this?

BILL: Absolutely.  I'd love to do it.  I want to see stuff like that
floating around.  I'm recording a lot of that on my DAT player at home.
There's no compression or anything on them.  It's not like I have a big
studio here or anything.  It's more just a way of cataloging it.  But it
works.  It's OK.

JOE: And you wrote like 100 songs last year?

BILL: I wrote 75 songs last year, of which you get 13 on Blister Soul.
Some of it you have heard, but a lot of it is new.  It's good, in a way, 
that the band hasn't been playing a lot since November.  This stuff will 
be really brand new.

BRENT SHORT : In terms of songs on your new CD BLISTER
SOUL, what are you most satisfied with, and why?

BILL: I'm satisfied with it being primarily a gospel record, where the
big doctrines of the fall and grace and mercy are really in sharp
relief.  I think in a lot of ways people might hear it as being a down
record.  There's some songs that are dark on it.  But there's the other
side of the coin, too.  The Bible talks about the need and the cure.
I'm satisfied with the lyrics.  And musically I think it's better than
STRUGGLEVILLE.  Chris and John and I were able to sit down on a song by
song basis and keep the lyric and the voice up front.  The problem with
the STRUGGLEVILLE band was that there was three guys trying to go in one
direction and I was trying to play catch-up.  I'm not knocking those
guys.  I'm just saying that those guys had their own idea of what they
wanted the band to be.  And it wasn't my idea of VOL.

JOE: But you realize that appealed to a lot of us?  The big noisy rock
band that ripped up the stage and broke drum stands.

BILL: I like that, too.  And I don't know that this band won't be doing
that in a few months.  Parts of that band had been together for two years 
when we played mainstage at Cornerstone.  We were pretty big and ugly.
I loved it.

JOE: We probably ought to talk about the new album before we run out of
time.  In a few weeks, everybody on this list will have the album cover 
in their hands.  The photo on the back, a man's chest with "blister soul"
written across it, is fairly graphic for a gospel album.  You originally 
wanted it on the cover, right?

BILL: Originally.  I think it's better on the back.  The first shot was
more anatomical.  But this one, with the look upward and the jaw jutting
heavenward looks like a plea.  It looks like a prayer to me.  It's
symbolic, like having your diagnosis on your chest.

JOE: Do you want to comment on the concept of BLISTER SOUL?

BILL: The concept?  Well, I just thought it was a cool phrase.  I do
think it is a concept record to a certain extent.  That's why I have a 
song on the front and a reprise on the end with the phrase "blister
soul" in it.

JOE: The songs are really different.  Is there any real connection
between them?

BILL: They are different songs.  It's not like Neil Young doing an
electric and an acoustic version of "Rockin in the Free World."  There
are some of the same chords in them, but after that the similarities
disappear.  Just that same phrase, "oh, my blister soul."

JOE: You've had that phrase around for a while haven't you?  You've had
a sticker on you speaker for quite a while with it on it.

BILL: Yeah, I wrote it in the van one day on the way to a gig and thought
I'd find a way to use it some day.  I think it is a pretty arresting 
title.  And they did a great job on the artwork this time.  I'm real 
pleased with the art.  Like 180 degrees from the last record.

JOE: The final questions have to do with the future.  Any info on future
tours?  You're going to Europe this summer aren't you?

ANDY LINFORD : What is VOL's direction?  Does the
label give any help with this?

ANDY LINFORD : There was a rumor that VOL was going to
open for some big acts last summer.  Any possibility that will happen in
the future?  Does the label help at all with that kind of stuff?

TIM TERHUNE : And when is he coming back to New
England? :-)

ANDY LINFORD : Is VOL playing at Cornerstone, or in
the Philadelphia area this summer?

ROBERT DAVIS : Will VOL be touring in support of

BILL: Yeah, we're going to tour the states again.  We are going to Europe
to play Greenbelt and Flevofest, probably some dates on the continent.
I realize people are real frustrated about not being able to find out what
the dates are.  But please convey to them that after a band does downtime,
especially the way we did it, it has to regroup to make sure that what we
do next is as good or better than the last time.  It takes time.

One of the major holdups on decisions now is waiting to see if we are 
going to be picked up for a major tour.  We've been considered for folks 
like Hootie and the Blowfish, the Jayhawks, Victoria Williams.  I think 
that's probably unlikely at this point.  The record is coming out too 
late in the year.  So we'll probably be doing clubs again.

JOE: Is that discouraging to you?

BILL: No, not at all.  I'm just glad to have the gig.  Yeah, I'd love
to be in front of the Jayhawks, but I have a good feeling, because
Capricorn is interested in pushing "Real Down Town" as a single.
We rerecorded that for them and they are getting a good buzz on modern
rock radio.  There's plenty of stuff on there that will make it on AAA
radio.  We had that part down last year.  This time, if we can get on
the modern rock stations, that will bode well.

See, I'd rather show up in a small club and pack it than to play a big 
room opening for some other band.  The lights are still up during the 
opening band.  Folks are still finding their seats.  Probably the same 
number of folks will remember you.  150 of the few thousand who came to 
see Hootie, or whatever.  In the long run, it's probably good for us to 
get on the major tour and get it on our resume.  But for me personally, 
as a performing artist, I'd rather go in and headline the smaller club.

JOE: Even though the money's tough?

BILL: It's tough to keep a band on the road at that level.  But we've
got a good agency this time so Dan thinks it's gonna be better.  We are
playing Cornerstone this year on Thursday night, between the Lost Dogs
and Steve Taylor.

JOE: Dog-Mess told me he was going to play harmonica with you there
this year.  He said he was coming because he wanted to bring his kids.

BILL: Yeah, he's got a sweet family.  I'm trying to get permission to
set up and do an acoustic set, like on the day after the big show.  I'm
trying to see if Dwight Ozark from ESA will let us use his tent again
this year.  I'm bringing the family and we're staying for the whole
festival.  So all these faceless people on the 'net, if they're coming,
this would be a great time to meet.

JOE: I think they are going to be having the rec.music.christian
barbecue again this year.  That might be a good place to meet folks.

BILL: Really?  Maybe I should play there.  You know, that's an amazing
place.  I don't see how Henry does it.  That guy does an amazing job of 
coordinating that thing and keeping it together.  It's high quality.  
There's not another festival like it.

JOE: You really like playing there, don't you?

BILL: I love it.  That's where we started all this.  We walked in and
almost no one had heard of us, except that Mark Heard and Pete Buck
had produced us.  The response was overwhelmingly positive.  That's
where you and I first met, isn't it?

JOE: Yeah, why did you go that first time?

BILL: Mark Heard had kind of discouraged it.  But Dan said that if we
were doing one Christian festival, this was it.  Because the shock
waves just go down the next 364 days.  He was right.

TOM MOELLERING : What's his view on
the seemingly continual personnel changes in VOL?  (Discouragement?
Something new all the time?  Other?)

BILL: I'm trying to find the right chemistry of people.  I've gone
towards guys of like faith and like minds because it's safer.  It's more 
nurturing.  That's the vision behind the band.  I don't feel like I have 
an agenda that I'm trying to ram down the rest of rock and roll's throat.

You spend so many years trying to find your voice.  I think we found it.
I think somewhere around KILLING FLOOR I knew what it was and I knew
what it looked like.  I think we are there now.  I just want to get in
a position that we can make a record without this constant fear that we
are not going to be somewhere.  Look, I can make records real cheap and
sell them on the Internet if that's what the Lord has for me.  But we
have this opportunity right now with Capricorn to go somewhere else.
I'm just looking for guys who can share that vision.

JOE: Will we see singles?

BILL: "Real Down Town" will be the first.  "Tempest" might be the
second.  But to AOR, they're gonna market "Bolt Action."  I'm very
happy about that decision.  I think that's a great song.

JOE: Videos?

BILL: Probably, but we're not sure.  If so, it would probably be
"Real Down Town."

JOE: Any final words?

BILL: Tell folks to write and I'll answer them.  I really appreciate
being able to stay in touch with people.  This is what's fun for me.  
Hey, I could be making records in my basement next year.  I'd really
like to hear what people think of the new album.

Let's grab some lunch...

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Etext ©1995 Robert Szarka
Last Update: 28 Jun 1995