Simple and sincere

Metal dude listens to soul, writes sad country songs

A quiet moment at the bar with Kirk Williams’ alter-ego Lish Bills.

A quiet moment at the bar with Kirk Williams’ alter-ego Lish Bills.

Photo By ken smith

Lish Bills will perform at his CD-release party Saturday, Oct. 27, 8 p.m., at 1078 Gallery. Pat Hull, Birdy Fielder and Casing the Promisedland open.

1078 Gallery
820 Broadway

In late 2010, settling back home after screaming and wailing around the nation on tour with Armed for Apocalypse, local metal guru Kirk Williams apparently felt compelled to find a quieter artistic outlet.

“I’d been listening to a lot of old soul, and when I got back from tour I was thinking about how I’d like to play some shows around like that,” Williams said, “just do some Otis Redding covers and stuff.”

With a pocketful of Redding and William Bell songs and a few tunes he “might’ve had laying around for a while,” Williams started gigging around town alone under the moniker Lish Bills. He tapped some old country to blend with his newfound soul muse, and more songs came along with a growing following that dug Williams’clear but deeply resonant voice and more mild-mannered alter ego. Though he said AFA is still going strong (and currently searching for a label to release a new album), he has settled comfortably into his double life and Lish Bills is here to stay, and will release a five-song EP at Origami Lounge on Oct. 27.

“I try to go for simple and sincere,” he said of writing as Lish Bills. “I try not to try too hard when I write, try not to force it and just let it happen, gradually and naturally.

“Since I usually play in metal bands, this is kind of like writing from a different perspective,” Williams said. “It’s less blown up and mythical and melodramatic than I might go for in heavier music. This can be more humorous, or sad, or sentimental. I can do things I haven’t really been able to do before.”

That said, he also noted there are similarities: “I think that even in metal you want to be sincere, even if you’re shrouding things in metaphor, it still needs to have that sincere energy. Both those types of music are a lot about honesty. In metal, you might just be trying to writing honestly about some of your more messed up, darker tendencies.”

Not to say that Lish Bills is all sunshine and snowflakes. The EP’s title track is a down-tempo song about the lovelorn, rambling life. In “The Booze” he refrains “We’re living the dream and drinking our lives away,” before crooning “The boooooooze is killing me…” And those might be the cheeriest of the bunch.

Three of the five tracks are Williams alone with a guitar, recorded by local engineer and Surrogate frontman Chris Keene one March morning while both recovered from a festive Lish Bills/Surrogate show the night before. They captured some magic in doing so; to both men’s credit, you can practically hear the hangover.

Though the songs on the EP are just Williams, he will be playing some songs with a full band (Casey Schmidt, drums; Adrian Hammons, bass; Keene, second guitar) at the CD-release show.

Williams played with Schmidt and Hammons in Red Giant and said of all three, “They’re people I love to play music and hang out with.”

He also intends to record a Lish Bills full-length with backup in the near future, though in the meantime he’s mostly going it alone.

“The whole appeal initially was not having to rely on anyone else, to be able to do it on my own. I can play shows without having to ask anybody, just jump in the car and go play wherever. But it’s definitely satisfying to hear everything with more instruments, so I’m sure it will happen again, but I don’t know to what capacity.”