A World With Heroes (40th Anniversary KISS tribute) will feature members of Cinderella, Tesla, Great White, XYZ, Guns & Roses, The Killer Dwarfs, Little Caesar, Whitesnake, Kill Devil Hill, Honeymoon Suite, FireHouse, Black Country Communion, LA Guns, Slaves On Dope, The Doro Band and Helix, as well as Doro herself, Tommy Denander, Jeff Paris, Phil Naro, and Willie Basse. However this is no ordinary tribute album, with all the profits from the release going to benefit a cancer care hospice where sadly the father-in-law of rock photographer, writer and interviewer Mitch Lafon passed away earlier this year; a sad event which motivated Mitch to begin to put together a project which will feature Kiss songs from every era of the band. One of the many musicians involved from the start is FireHouse guitarist Bill Leverty who spoke with Sea of Tranquility's Steven Reid about the album, the band being paid tribute to and the man behind the project.
Parts two and three of this interview, which are to follow at a later date, will feature Terry Ilous (Great White/XYZ) and Russ Dwarf (The Killer Dwarves/Moxy/Hardroad).
To find out more about A World With Heroes, or to "Pledge" to buy it, or one of the many excellent exclusives available along-side the album, visit http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/kiss40thtribute.
Hi Bill, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. As the album title for this charity project cleverly suggests 'A World With Heroes' is a Kiss Tribute album. I'm a huge Kiss fan myself. How much has this band influenced your career and songwriting?
I had Kiss ALIVE as a kid and played both vinyl discs, front to back, in my room as a young guy. My parents kept telling me to "Turn that down!" I actually think that they secretly liked Kiss, but didn't want to admit it because I was literally shaking the walls with this album. I had the poster on the wall. I saw them live in 1975 and that experience changed my life.
So would I be right in guessing that Alive is still your favourite Kiss album?
Alive will always have a special place in my soul!
Obviously we all have strong memories of the original Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss line-up of Kiss, but I also have a real soft spot for the Simmons, Stanley, Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr line-up of the band. What eras, or line-ups of Kiss would you consider to be your personal favourite?
I really like elements of them all. As a very young guy, I was blown away by the original line-up, but later in life, when I started playing in a cover band, I covered songs off of the Lick It Up album the most, but I really like the current line-up as well. That's a GREAT band.
So which songs will you be contributing to for A World With Heroes?
I requested to do "Deuce". That's the opening song on that live album, and one I played more than any other song on that album. After I started listening to the album, I would progressively turn it up, then my parents would get irritated and tell me to turn it off and do my homework. "Deuce" is such a great song. I can't wait to get started on it.
Do you know which other musicians will be appearing on the tracks that you perform on?
I've heard a great rumour that Russ Dwarf is going to help me with it and I'd like to help him with whatever song he's going to do. We've done some shows with Killer Dwarfs and they are SUCH an amazing band. Russ is such an amazing vocalist and a very cool and funny guy. I'll never forget him coming down into the hotel lobby while I was pouring myself a cup of coffee and yelling, "Get off that!". I spilled the coffee all over myself laughing.
The album itself has been organised by respected rock writer, interviewer and photographer Mitch Lafon. How did you come to know Mitch and how long have you known him for?
Mitch is a legend is rock journalism. I've known him for so long that I can't honestly remember exactly where I met him first, but he's been to many of our shows. He's a great friend who supports not just the music that I'm involved with, but all hard rock and heavy metal around the world. He's one of the very few people I follow on Twitter because I love reading his style of writing. I love sitting down and talking with him because he's got so many great stories about all of my favourite bands... He swears me to secrecy by the way!
The album aims to raise money for a great cause, a cancer care hospice. My partner recently had a scare with skin cancer and the care and advice that she received and still is receiving was a great comfort to both of us and our family. If you don't mind me asking has your life, or the lives of those around you been affected by this disease at all?
I've had skin cancer and I've lost both parents to cancer. I've lost other friends and loved ones as well. My skin cancer was a wakeup call, but nothing serious, thank heaven. I've seen what a HUGE difference a good hospice does for the patients in need. I'm happy to donate my services for such a worthy cause. I'm so thankful to Mitch for taking the time and effort in putting it all together.
Do you know if there will be any other events, such as a fund-raising live show, or something similar organised to run alongside the album?
I don't know. At this time, all I'm aware of is a recording project, and I'm going to do my best to make my parts the very best I can.
Bill, you have also agreed to graciously give up some of your time to give a guitar lesson via Skype to a lucky fan who has "Pledged" to be involved with the album. How much are you looking forward to that? And have you done anything like this before?
I've done quite a few Skype lessons and I really enjoy them. It gives the person who's taking the lesson a chance to get my perspective on how I approach playing the guitar. Skype is the next best thing to being there! Anyway, I learned to play with a method that was a little bit unorthodox and I'm happy to share that method and the things I've picked up along the way. Skype is perfect for this.
Have you begun to work out what skills and techniques you would like to pass on?
I'd like to have the person who wins tell me what they want to learn. Hopefully they'll know my style and draw from that. I'm not very proficient in classical, so if that's what they want, I'm afraid we'll spend a lot of time on Skype talking about ice hockey!
The album will be much more than a quick collaboration effort, with the likes of Eric Brittingham, Jeff LaBar and Troy Lucketta making up the "house band", while Russ Dwarf, Terry Ilous, Bumblefoot, Ron Young, Doug Aldrich, Rex Brown, Dery Grehan, Phil Lewis, Doro, Tommy Denander, Mike Naro, Slaves On Dope, Willie Basse and Sean Kelly are all also contributing their time and talent. It must be quite exciting to be involved with a project with so many well respected musicians?
It sure is. All of those guys you mentioned are world class musicians and I'm truly honoured to be on the same disc with them.
Away from 'A World With Heroes', you are obviously extremely busy with FireHouse. What can we expect next from the band, or do you have anything else, such as more solo cover songs lined up for release?
FireHouse is always touring. We've got a pretty busy summer lined up. I just released my fourth solo album. It's all cover tunes that influenced me before I started playing guitar. Hope you'll take a listen.
That's all my questions Bill, thanks so much for taking the time to answer them.
Thank YOU! Rock on...
Bill Leverty photo by Harry Connor