(2 news stories listed.)
YEAR FORMED: 1980
HOME TOWN: Los Angeles, CA
Back in the 1980’s, when metal in all its formations was hot, a band called Black Sheep and its founder, Willie Basse were mainstays on the Los Angeles metal scene. The band, at different times throughout its career, boasted members including Slash, Paul Gilbert, James Kottak, Randy Castillo and Mitch Perry.
It’s been 8 years since Willie has released an album, but now he’s back with 12 earcrunching, classic metal songs that will bring him back to the forefront of a genre that always survives no matter how many others seem to get temporarily hot for a few years and then fade into the “where are they now” shelves.
“The term classic metal doesn’t really make sense to me,” explains Basse, “because that implies that there isn’t anything current about metal music, which isn’t true. Alternative, grunge, punk, emo, etc. – they all have their basis in the same metal music that I’ve been playing for years.”
Indeed, as frontman and bassist first with his band Black Sheep (the metal version, not the rap version who bought the name from him in the early ‘90’s) and then as a solo artist, Willie has remained a constant, true to his metal, rock roots without trying to change things around just to fit what’s in at the moment.
Among the projects slated for this year, Willie plans to re-release the Black Sheep “Trouble In The Streets” album, a must have for guitar enthusiasts. It will include the previously unreleased track, “Into The Night” featuring a guitar solo by Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big/Racer X). Willie is also planning a solo CD of Thin Lizzy songs with many famous guest musicians, all on his New Empire Media label.
“The way the industry is now in 2008,” says Willie, “artists can maintain control of every aspect of their career and develop a more direct relationship with their fans and audience.”
Basse has always stayed active in the music scene. In addition to his own label, Willie has owned several state of the art recording studio facilities. He’s worked for years as a Pro Audio Equipment Specialist and Technology Consultant. His studio is almost as busy as Willie is himself. Recent projects coming out his studios include, CANNED HEAT “Boogie 2000”, Finis Tasby “Jump Children” and several projects that feature DJ Ashba (SIXX:AM), Carmine & Vinnie Appice, Phil Soussan, Tony Franklin, Jeff Pilson, Randy Castillo, James Kottak, Terry Ilous (XYZ), Mike Finnigan (CSN),
Lee Thornburg (Tower of Power Horns).
“I know and love a lot about recording, including the technology behind it and production. I’ve found it to be as gratifying as playing in front of 20,000 people when I know the sound is great, the groove is hot and my client is happy.” He admits, “a lot of it is about knowing when to stop…Knowing when you’ve got it and not running the stop sign. So sometimes, the production aspect of my career takes up most of my time, but now I’m anxious to start performing live again.”
To truly appreciate Basse’s new album, The Money Grind, it is important to know a little about his background. Having started his music career at the age of 5 singing in church and at 10 with five years of classical vocal study, Willie’s vocal style is never limited, or overshadowed by the intensity of the music tracks. His early work with blues virtuosos like drummer Buddy Miles, Freddy King, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnny Taylor and O.V. Wright gave the teenaged Willie more experience than most players get in a lifetime of study. He has combined his blues and rock roots with his classical
vocal training into a musician who can play and sing just about anything! But Willie loves rock and The Money Grind is a guitar driven album of 12 future classic metal songs.
Only a talent like Willie could crunch out the guitars and then sing about flowers blooming in May as he does on “(Love So) Far Away”, but in this song it works perfectly. Even more heartwrenching is Willie’s vocal delivery on “Avarie”, where he sings his love ballad in the style of a singer-songwriter. Yet the pounding drum and bass tracks and the blistering guitar solo – all prerequisites for true metal – are there without taking anything from the vocals. He actually uses his background vocals as chords to back up the lead guitar solo. Only someone with Basse’s training and experience could make this work so well. In similar fashion, on “You’re Not There” Willie has put a
pop song into a metal album without losing any of the cohesive thread of the album.
The title track, The Money Grind is pure heavy metal, almost like a schooling in one song. Talkbox – bass, blistering, in your face lead guitars, Whammy Bar on the Bass? The Money Grind is like a post nuclear apocalypse, it contains all the elements and more that make heavy metal a lasting, important part of rock and roll music.
When one looks at the artists who have transcended eras and remain relevant for decades, one realizes that Willie Basse fits the bill perfectly. He is an artist who isn’t afraid to stretch beyond old boundaries, or to blend styles and genres together into something fresh and interesting. With track after track on The Money Grind, Willie proves once and for all just why it is that metal is the music for all the ages.