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2 Apr 2010

Please, Eltonites, get up, stand up to receive one of the greatest musicians of the world... the fantastic... Billy Trudel!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello Eltonites. Today is a very special day on the blogsite. We have here a very talented person, a genuine artist. Most of you will remind him from the One Night Only concert, backing vocals on that joyous event. Some of you, because he was the lead singer on Warpipes. He writes music, hundreds or thousands of songs, in his words. We feel so priviledged to have here the one and only, from Los Angeles, CA: Billy Trudel!!!!!

Hello Billy. I am really pleased to have you here and thanks for the acceptation. Let's start this interview asking: At what age did you decide you wanted to be a musician, Bill? And what were your musical influences?

I was 3 years old when I started singing and performing, by the time I was 10, I was putting together bands to perform in my front yard, but starting getting really serious about it when I got out of high school.

Right. In the early 80's you started out as a recording artist, first on Lazer, right out high school, then Slang and Michael Thompson Band, before you joined The City. All this band are very successful, specially the last one, with the song "Planets In Motion", which was all over the radio. What do you remember of that days?

Lazer was the first real band I was in that I joined in 1979. We would rehearse 5 nights a week, then after rehearsal we would hang up posters all over Los Angeles to promote our shows we did on the weekends with bands like Motley Crue, Dokken and Ronnie James Dio. This is were I learned how to market and perform live. Then I met Michael Thompson in late 1983, through a Manager I knew that was working with another local band called Missing Persons. I went down to Redondo Beach and met with Wyn Davis and MT, loved Michael's playing and Wyn's productions, so at this point, this is were I learned how to record. Then in late 1984 I answered an add that a major recording band was looking for a lead vocalist. That was The City. We put that band together in the studio with Producer Peter McIan. I didn't get to write on that record because it was Peter's project so it wasn't as much fun as working with Mike and Wyn, but I was under contract so I had to stay with The City. Some of the good things about that was working with Stuart Mathis, and Wade Berry, we had a blast and also spending a lot of time with Luther Vandross who was recording in the next room. We spent a lot of nights together in the lobby of Westlake audio talking and hanging out and singing a lot of our favorite songs. I really enjoyed those times with him.

Let’s focus on a band called “Public Domain”, a team effort shared along with principle songwriter and keyboard player David Young. I must recommend the 1998 album: “Radio Nights”, which I fell in love since I heard it for the first time. Although touches of mid-western feel, the most part of it is straight ahead pop AOR. Highlights are the title track, “Clues” and “Shadow Of Eden”, to name just a few. How this group came about? If music belongs to people, songs are public domain in some sense.

That came right before I got the gig with Elton, I met with Magnus Soderkvist who was A&R for MTM records out of Germany, I was already writing with Dave Young so we just took it from there and created the band. I called my friend Bruce Watson, who also did some live performances with me for Elton. Matt Laug and Larry Antonino were also in the band. That was hard to make that CD because I was touring with Elton then coming home and going back into the studio, I was really getting tired from the process. But we did get some songs down on tape and finally got that CD out into the world.

What I love about them is the emphasis in the writing of lyrics, they have managed to come up with some really thoughtful lyrics. You regarded songs “just like children”. Why? Also, as a songwriter, which is your idea about writing songs?

Songs are like your children, when writing, you are giving birth to a song. Then when you have the finished product, you send it out into the world, hoping they will find there way to ears who will listen. Just like our children, we only hope they will shine in the world. When I sit down to write a song, It usually comes from something going on in or around my life. I will never stop learning how to write or what to write about.

“Radio Nights” debuted an Elton John-Bernie Taupin-Davey Johnstone composition: “Crimes Of Passion”, an outtake from the Elton’s 1986 “Leather Jacket” sessions. That’s a great song, but from the ex tense Elton’s catalog, why you chose this obscure song, precisely? And do you know the story behind this song and the why they didn’t release it at that time?

I didn't choose the song, it was brought to me by Davey Johnstone. He came to the studio with me to hear what I was doing, we were also working on other songs together that were left over from Warpipes, songs that were never finished. Then Davey heard what I was recording with Public Domain and said, I have a song for you, I have a song I co-wrote with Elton and Bernie that you should record. He called Bernie and Elton and they agreed to let me record it, Bernie faxed over the lyrics and Davey help with the production. I really think Crimes Of Passion is an amazing song and couldn't believe EJ never released it. I was told it was to personal of a song for him at the time so he never wanted to send it out into the world. I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to record it.

For sure!! Have you been an Elton fan before? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music, in that case?

I have always been a fan of Elton's. When I was in middle school I was in Drama class and had to do a short live skit. So my live skit was to dress up like Elton and perform Bennie and the Jets. I used a table for my piano and had these huge glasses on and had another guy do a light show for me. I put on Elton's GBYBR record and lip sync to the song. It brought the house down, everyone went nuts with the performance. That's when I knew that this is what I need to do for the rest of my life. Who would of thought all those years later, I would be on stage singing Bennie and the Jets with Elton John. Dreams do come true.

Yes!! And could you tell us please, how you got involved with Elton and how you ended up recording and touring with him? Also, how do you value that experience from a personal point of view?

I first met Elton in 1991 at a dinner party I got invited to in New York when I was on a promotion tour with Davey and Nigel for the Warpipes CD. There were so many celebrities there, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Yoko Ono.... I was sitting at the bar with Stephen Stills and Eric Clapton, when Nigel Olsson came up and said, Elton wants to meet you. I was then brought into a private room to be introduced to him before all his friends came in to see him. He was so amazing and thoughtful. He told me how much he loved my singing and thought the Warpipes CD was fantastic. It was very surreal to hear him talk about something I was doing, he's Elton John one of the best artist in the history of music. Then he said he would love to do something with me someday, I told him, I would love to work with him and to sing behind him would be an honor. So in 1994 I got my first chance to do that. I was invited to perform with him at the Oscars, I helped sing the backgrounds on Can You Feel The Love Tonight. I brought my friend Bruce Watson with me. Elton won the Oscar and then we went to his Oscar party with him, what a night that was. The next year I got asked to do a live show with Elton and Rod Stewart, so I went down to the venue and went right into rehearsal with Rod Stewart, I learned 6 of his songs and did the show that night. I think the Elton camp was seeing how I worked and how fast I picked things up. Davey and I had always been very close friends and spent a lot of time together when he wasn't touring with EJ so I'm sure that had some influence on me finding my way to the band. In 1997 I was in New York working on a new project, when I got a call from my wife saying, Davey was looking for me and wanted to know if I wanted to join the EJ band and do a world tour with them. How could I say no to that (ha ha ha ). So when I got back to LA, we started mapping things out. They were also looking for a new percussionist, I had worked with John Mahon and he was friends with Bob Birch. When it all started to come together, John and I would get together twice a week at my house to learn every Elton John song we could. We then flew to Nice France, went into rehearsals with Elton and prepared for one show in Germany, to see how it would work. That single show was the beginning of all things to come.

Really Davey Johnstone’s Warpipes played “sex, drugs and the environment” material, Bill?

Ha ha, the story behind that was when I was introduced to Davey by another vocalist I had only know by name, David Joyce. David called to tell me that Davey Johnstone wanted to put a new band together and was looking for a front man. He asked if he could give Davey my phone number to see if I was interested. I got that call from Davey 10 minutes later. As we chatted a bit, I ask him what was this band all about, what kind of style were you looking to create. Davey said sex, drugs and the environment is what this band will be about. He really made me laugh, and from that moment on we went to Guy Babylons studio to work on the project. I think we decided 2 days a week we would work, so Tuesdays and Thursday's became our Warpipes days. It was at first Davey, Guy and myself, then Bob and Nigel came on board. We really had a blast making that CD. There were a lot of stories about those days.

What is Elton like on a personal level?

When he has to be Elton, he is. When he's just laying low and not having to be anything but himself, he the most down to earth, funny guy I have ever met. I really enjoyed our talks and all his stories about different things that had happened along the way of his carrier. He's very generous and a huge sports fan, Soccer, Tennis and Baseball are his favorites. Last year I went to see him and Billy in Phoenix Arizona. It was his Birthday and I had some friends with me who played professional baseball for the San Fransisco Giants. He was getting ready to go on stage, but took the time to hang out and meet my friends. He knows so much about the game that my Friends were amazed. Seeing him really made me miss all the fun I had being in his world.

Wow!!! You have toured with Elton between 1997 and 2000, on The Big Picture Tour, and on the “One Night Only” festival show. Any experience playing live with Elton you could share with us, Bill?

Every night was an experience, but there was one night I remember very well. We were in Berlin and Billy Joel and lost his voice so had to cancel the tour. We decided to carry on so that night we changed the venue to this outdoor natural theater that was somewhere in the Black Forrest where Hitler had some sort of camp. It was cold and raining very hard. When we hit the stage, the wind was blowing the rain sideways at us and we were getting soaked to the bone. But we kept on playing and the crowd stayed and rocked the rain with us. But right in the middle of the storm was this really nice looking couple, that were dressed up in a tux and nice gown. They were slow dancing in each others arm the whole night, soak and wet and staring into each other eyes. It was like a movie to watch them. I was so focused on them i forgot how cold I was.

Oh, what’s Spaghetti Bolognese "a la Davey Johnstone"? Someone told me that Charlie Morgan and you are fans of this food.

Davey and I both love to cook, when we were in Australia, I believe it was in Brisbane, we got to stay in this hotel that was more like an apartment with Kitchens, a laundry room and a nice living room. We were so excited to have a place like home, so we went to the store and went shopping. Davey decided he was going to do the cooking, so me and Charlie went to his gaff and chowed down. Spaghetti Bolognese, green salad, garlic bread and a good bottle of red wine.

Bill Trudel has a wonderful voice, one of those soft and high vocal styles, but he isn't afraid to let it go and really power into some other tunes. More than this, he’s taking time to teach new inspiring vocalist with his technique. Not only in Los Angeles area, also he has a blogsite with an open forum to ask questions for bloggers interested in. In your words, you’re “not like other voice teachers that will sit at a piano and run scales with you, I want to show how to center yourself, relax and let the voice within come out. This is what I like to call your house”. Which is your method and why at home?

In singing you have to have confidence in what you are doing, without it then your voice will never work for you. When I'm working with a young vocalist I show them a few things to warm up there voice, then teach them where there safe house is. The center of your voice inside should never have fear. So if you create this space inside yourself where nothing can scare you, hurt you or take your voice away from you, then you will have the confidence to do any thing you want. In a way it's like meditation for your voice. Most great vocalist are inside themselves when performing, You know how to take the energy from the audience watching you and control it, so you don't get rattled if anything goes wrong with the sound. I had Charlie on my right and John M on my left and Davey and JJ in front of me every single night. It was very loud and most singers would have problems, but I just stayed inside so it didn't matter if I couldn't hear my monitor. I would focus on Elton and find my voice.

Eltonites, Bill Trudel’s been doing so much in such a sort amount of time: being part of a collective of creative artists who have roots in mainstream music culture, in a company called Groove Addicts, composing and singin’ songs for commercials, films, and everything; he has worked with great artist such as Billy Joel, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Motley Crue, Sting. Between 2001-2004 owned Billy Trudel Music to help young artists. You give so much to music. What does music give you?

Music has giving me the place to create to express and to give something back. I have worked very hard to be able to do that. Even if things are tough, I still look at what I have done and feel very blessed. All my friends I have met and loved. What a great thing to do, when something that starts with a thought becomes something you write on a piece of paper, then becomes a song that you can share with someone.

You also co-own an all original and exclusive ringtone/tattoo wallpaper site that’s really pretty cool. That’s on Why the reason of these project? Which is the process of producing ringtones? What comes first: the song or selecting the genre?

I got involved with ringtones because it was a new challenge to try to write a song in 30 seconds or less that had to have a funny story about answering your phone. Then to think of how many different Genres we had to create so we can please everyone out there. This was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but really was a lot of fun to take it on. Smaktones has sold over 80,000 ringtones with no marketing, just word of mouth. If i had the resorces to market this it would be very successful.

And you could find Bill Trudel as an expert author on the website Do you continue publishing the articles?

Only when I need to, I like to write sometimes, but now I'm in the studio 6 days a week writing songs and producing new artist for film and television.

Apart from music, which are your interests?

I love nature, exploring, I love animals and seem to have a connection with them. I'm always finding a hurt squirrel or opossum, bird or what ever. For some reason know how to take care of them, heal them so I can send them back into the world.
I also love to travel.

What would you like the future to have in store for you?

To just be able to keep writing and singing. To see all my projects succeed, to watch my son and daughter find there dreams. To just find comfort in a very uncomfortable time.

Oh, finally, could you tell me your five favorite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, where I tried to find the best of Elton’s songs ever?

Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Bennie, Rocket Man, Empty Garden

Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to the eltonites?

You are the greatest fans any artist could have. I really enjoyed meeting a lot of you out there on the road. I miss you all.

Thanks very much for sharin' your time with us, Bill. I am really thankful. Without doubt, we miss you from the band. You've been so kindly with us, so before you go, I would love to invite you to hear some words of dear friends, about you:

Stuart Mathis, musician: "Billy is a gifted singer but most of all he's a great human being and a pied piper for the world. I will follow him anywhere".

Raquel Aurilia, singer: "Billy has been an amazing "mentor" and friend since the day I met him in the studio. His "ear" for music is truly amazing and I love having him with me in the studio when I record and love doing shows with him. We have been working together for the last 5 yrs and co-wrote 7 of the 10 songs on my last cd, "Holding on to Love" We are still writing together today :) He is so talented and continues to work hard every day writing and singing sharing his talent with others. He has an amazing voice and I hope everyone has a chance to know his music and hear his beautiful voice!!!! He's awesome! From his days singing with Elton John to now, Billy continues to shine!!"

Thank you very much Stuart, thank you very much Raquel. We really love Bill Trudel, he's one of greatest persons I've ever met!! I wish you all the best, Billy!!!

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