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article imageBilly Morrison: Interview with a stalwart of the L.A. rock scene Special

By Adrian Peel     Oct 7, 2015 in Music
Aside from his "day job" as the rhythm guitarist in Billy Idol's band, this English-born musician is preparing to release his second solo album. He also does a bit of painting and a bit of acting on the side. Digital Journal meets him.
A resident of Los Angeles since 1996, Londoner Billy Morrison has been in a number of different bands over the years, including The Cult, Into a Circle and Stimulator, and more recently has been a member of Circus Diablo and supergroup Camp Freddy.
In 2008, the former addict released his first solo record Stimulator and got the gig with Billy Idol two years later. On the 23rd of this month, he will put out his second solo effort entitled God Shaped Hole, a 10-track CD featuring contributions from Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Navarro.
The singer/songwriter/guitarist/actor/artist spoke to me from Houston where he is on the road playing the final dates on the Billy Idol Kings & Queens of the Underground Tour (the last scheduled show is on October 9 at the Austin City Limits Festival).
"Well the concept of a God shaped hole is that we all have a hole inside of us that we try and fill with money, sex, property, prestige, power - that kind of stuff - and it never quite gets satisfied," he explains, "and that's because it's a spiritual shaped hole.
"Not necessarily God - I'm not religious - but it's the idea that we've all got something inside of ourselves that can only really be satisfied spiritually, and that came out of Ozzy's mouth. We were in South America writing the song that he sings on my album, 'Gods.'
"He wrote the chorus line, 'I've found myself another God shaped hole' and he looked at me and said, 'There's your album title.'"
Billy Morrison
Billy Morrison
Mike Gowen
Initially intended as an EP of covers, the record was eventually extended to include five covers and five originals. "I was bouncing around my house one morning listening to a couple of songs from band's that no one's ever heard of that I used to love when I was growing up," remembers Billy, "and they sounded just as good to me as they did 20 years ago.
"And the idea struck me: 'Wouldn't it be nice to re-record those songs and hopefully people will hear my version and check out the originals' because these are all bands that never quite got the recognition I think they deserved."
The five acts the artist pays tribute to are Boys Wonder, Flesh For Lulu, Wasted Youth, Senseless Things and Gary Numan And Tubeway Army. At what point did he decide to turn the EP into an LP?
"My partner in crime on this album is Billy Idol's drummer Erik Eldenius. Once we'd done five covers he said, 'Well why don't we write a few originals and call this a record?' and we did it - in the middle of a Billy Idol World Tour, which was a tall order."
The Album Cover
The Album Cover
Mike Gowen
Three of the five new songs were written by Billy and Erik, "Gods" by Billy and Ozzy, of course, and "Cinnamon Gin" by Billy, Erik and Steve Stevens, Idol's long-time lead guitarist. How does God Shaped Hole differ from its predecessor?
"Quite quite different. Stimulator was very aggressive... I was probably more angry when I made that record! This record is much more a celebration of what turns me on musically than the last one was.
"The last one was me digging deep into the darkness and getting it out. This one is just more about 'these are the bands that turned me on and these are the songs I write thanks to those bands.' Does that make sense?"
"In the originals, I think 'Ordinary Girl' stands out to me the most," says Billy, who also designed the album cover, considering his favourites among the 10 tracks, "because that was the last song we wrote and recorded and it was written and recorded in one day, lyrics included.
"Those lyrics are very poignant. I think everyone can relate to them... It's about waking up next to someone you don't want to wake up next to, and they came out really quickly.
"Out of the covers, I have to say 'Baby Hurricane' because, God rest his soul, we just lost the singer of that band, Flesh for Lulu, and they were so formative when I was coming up and following bands in England. Flesh for Lulu were my band."
Released on Billy's own King Mob Music label, God Shaped Hole will be available to buy or download from Friday October 23 and can be pre-ordered here.
For more information on rock veteran Billy Morrison, visit his official website.
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