St. John’s guitar slinger Billy Jack has participated in the RPM Challenge a couple years in a row now and this year he returned for another round. Never one to repeat himself, Billy teamed up with European group The Two Regs to record the RPM album Across The Pond, via the internet. Last night I checked in with Billy to ask him about the project.
So your RPM album this year was a collaboration with UK group The Two Regs. How did you guys get connected with each other?
The Two Regs has two members, Trevor (from the UK) and David (from Germany) and I had done some collaborations via Alonetone.com with both since RPM2012. They had taken some tracks from my last RPM attempt and added vocals and lyrics. The comments we received from other Alonetone members was positive so we knew we had some chemistry.
Seeing as how you guys are on two opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, how did the whole writing and recording process go?
This collaboration was only with Trevor of the group The Two Regs. We discussed RPM in late January but never worked out details of how, when or if we’d work together. As I was getting my songs completed in week three, I emailed two songs and within 24 hours Trevor had them back across the pond. He already had his own RPM album just about done and said to keep sending the music. We followed the same method as we used in the past, I’d write the music and he added lyrics/vocals. I had my own song titles, sometimes Trevor would write lyrics based on the title or write something new and add his own. I wouldn’t say the album was an accident but we never started out with a goal to do an entire collaboration album, it just happened. I’m still amazed at Trevor’s ability to write and create melodies under normal circumstances but then turn out that many songs in a few days.
Were there any challenges posed by the distance factor?
No, not really. With RPM you have to live within the limits of what you can do with time and distance and let the music be. You end up creating music under pressure that you wouldn’t make otherwise. It makes you wonder, though, if we had more time and were able to sit in the same room to work a song from scratch would it be any different? Guess we’ll never know.
Across the Pond is great blend of gritty blues and classic guitar based rock. Were there any particular albums or artists that influenced you guys to take that approach?
No it wasn’t that thought out. Being an instrumentalist, each piece of music starts with a short riff and it builds from there, usually influenced by some band I am listening to at the time. Sometimes influences come across, other times people hear a liking to some musician or band that I have never played or followed. We have different styles of original music, my influences are the likes of Neil Young, Joe Bonamassa and Foo Fighters whereas Trevor has a wide range of music taste across all genres.
Will there be any further collaboration between you and Trevor in the future?
I can definitely see us working together again. I find it easy to come up with riffs and music, he finds it easy to come up with lyrics and vocals…it’s a good match.
Check out the international RPM collaboration, Across The Pond by Billy Jack and The Two Regs for yourself at the link below.