Hold On... Life Is Calling
(Echo XS Records)


With NYC and Los Angeles still the central hot spots for the American rock music scene, being a working musician in South Florida can be challenging. Even so, Florida-based guitarist / songwriter Billy Livesay rises to the occasion with Hold On… Life Is Calling, his 2016 album with the Miami-based band The Livesays. Billy cut his teeth working with Springsteen’s sax man, the late Clarence Clemons as well as touring with Tone Stevens of Foghat and Savoy Brown, and as this CD proves, The Livesays really pull out the stops with the action-packed sound of Hold On… Life Is Calling. As a singer-songwriter, lead guitarist and front man, Billy takes the pop-rock music art form to unexpected heights with the Livesays’ 2016 album release. Speaking about this 2016 rock classic, Billly tells, “As the group The Livesays, this is our fourth album. The first, Little Bit Of Hurt was a bit more bluesy/country-rock. There was a different line-up of musicians that influenced the direction at that time. Hold On… Life Is Calling is an evolution of 2011’s Rose Colored Glasses and 2014’s Faith, Hope And Love. I don’t consider it the best because I love the last 2 albums. Again, it’s just a musical evolution.” The music on Hold On… Life Is Calling spans the range of human emotions, from lost and unrequited love to parental loss and socially satirical diatribes about the chaos of life in the 21st century. Showcasing Billy's Springsteen-influenced songs, all tastefully backed up by the rock-steady band sound of Victor “Cuqui” Berrios (keys, vocals), Jorge Laplume (bass) and Eddie Zyne (drums), Hold On… Life Is Calling is an action-packed, hook-heavy album of memorable pop-rock classics by South Florida’s best rock group, The Livesays. presents an interview with
Billy Livesay of The Livesays

: Tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now and what you like best about it.

Billy Livesay: I was born in Washington D.C. but I’ve lived in South Florida my entire life. I’ve lived off and on in other places while on the road and I guess I just gravitate to South Florida because of family and familiarity.

mwe3: How many albums have you released so far and how does Hold On… Life Is Calling differ from your other albums? Is this your best album yet?

Billy Livesay: As the group The Livesays, this is our 4th album. The first, Little Bit Of Hurt was a bit more bluesy/country-rock. There was a different line-up of musicians that influenced the direction at that time. Hold On… Life Is Calling is an evolution of 2011’s Rose Colored Glasses and 2014’s Faith, Hope and Love. I don’t consider it the best because I love the last 2 albums. Again, it’s just a musical evolution.

mwe3: Tell us about the album title and tell us about the band you recorded the album with.

Billy Livesay: All 3 of these albums were recorded with the same line up with organ and piano being dominant instruments. With Hold On… Life Is Calling, The Livesays lost piano man Tim Murphy, half way through the writing process so I started leaning more on my guitar in the musical palette. Drummer Eddie Zyne, has been with me from the beginning. He gave the band its moniker. Bass player Jorge Laplume has been with me off and on from the beginning and Hammond organ player, Victor “Cuqui” Berrios, has been here since 2010. The title reflects the song content about growing up and dealing with life’s pluses and negatives, whether it’s about personal relationships or dealing with worldly events.

mwe3: Tell us what guitars you’re using on Hold On… Life Is Calling. Are you a gear head and do you collect guitars? Do you prefer vintage gear over the new stuff constantly coming out and do you keep up with it all? What other instruments do you play and what instruments do you write your music on?

Billy Livesay: I used a 1956 Gibson Les Paul with P-90’s, a 2001 Les Paul Standard, a Gibson J-100 acoustic and an 80’s Schecter Pete Townshend Tele for open tuning. I used the open tuning on “Turn It Around”. No, I’m not a gear head. I like vintage guitars and amps. Live, I can’t be messing with pedals because I have to sing so I pretty much just turn it on and go. I use a wah-wah and a Z-vex analog overdrive pedal along with a Boss SD 1 distortion pedal which I use sparingly on some solos. I use a Boss delay and tremolo pedal that stay on all the time. For recording I pretty much keep it the same. Live I use a couple of old Ampeg Gemini 1’s from the 1960’s. For recording, I’ll use those plus an Orange Rockerverb 2 for basic rhythm tracks along with acoustic guitar. I write on acoustic guitar only, and play a tiny bit of piano.

mwe3: Tell us about living as a working musician in Florida. The Northeast and the West coast are still considered the centers of the music world, at least in the U.S. so I was interested in knowing about being a living and working musician in South Florida and your impressions of the music scene in South Florida. Do you bring your music to other states or countries?

Billy Livesay: South Florida is a strange beast. There is no “original music scene” to speak of although there are some excellent original bands trying to make their mark. It is cover band central here although we do get by playing our own material. I do a few solo singer/songwriter shows sometimes. I played at The Hard Rock Cafe in Florence, Italy solo. The Livesays do travel some but not enough to our liking. I traveled a lot when I played with Clarence Clemons and Eddie is a former member of Hall and Oates, as well as Rick Derringer, so we have both done a lot of touring. Eddie also did The Monkees world tour in the late 1980’s and we both tour with original Foghat and Savoy Brown member Tony Stevens, in the band Slow Ride.

mwe3: The new Livesays CD Hold On… Life Is Calling starts off with a track called “I’m Coming Home”. Is the song about finding salvation through love? It sounds like you, and maybe everyone else, have been put through the ringer.

Billy Livesay: That song is about coming home from war... “soldier in a wasteland devil at my throat”. And yes our men and women in uniform have been put through the ringer. Hold On… Life Is Calling is just that. It’s a wild ride and many of us crash and burn.

mwe3: Tell us about writing “Angels Of The New Millennium” with Louis Lawent. Is the song political? You speak about soldiers dying in Gettysburg. Is the song about discord in America today?

Billy Livesay: There is a new kind of soldier in the world today who is willing to do anything to make his point no matter how destructive. Whether it’s ISIS or our own who torture to get information.

mwe3: “Pop Star” is a perfect segue from “Angels”. Prophets shilling for Armageddon and militias carrying guns but all you want is to be a pop star. Is the song tongue and cheek but maybe it’s not autobiographical after all?

Billy Livesay: You hit it on the head ! (lol), Yes very tongue in cheek.

mwe3: Does “No Promises” date back to 1996? Tell us about writing the song with David Petratos. Is the song about lost love? This must be one of your most powerful songs. No matter what you got, it may not last…

Billy Livesay: Again… life promises nothing . We take what it gives us and there is nothing that holds us emotionally in place when we think we are secure and those securities are taken away.

mwe3: Did you write “Call On Me” for a friend of yours? It’s such a powerful song. Good to know you’ve got a friend. Is that a new song that you wrote with John Bradley? Tell us how you collaborate with John and your other co-writers. Do you like writing words more than hooks or melodies when you co-write and do you feel sometimes it’s better to collaborate than write a song alone? What do you look for in a co-writer?

Billy Livesay: “Call On Me” is about raising our children. It’s dedicated to people with kids. God bless you ! (lol) With co-writers they usually send me something and on my own time I might run with a line or two. I have to connect with a lyric. It has to spark an idea. I don’t write face to face with anyone. I really don’t look for anything other than the co-writer not minding if I change what they’ve given me. I have to make it fit vocally and feel comfortable with what I’m saying. I write both lyrics and music on all the songs.

mwe3: “I’ve Heard The Truth Before” was co-written with David Graham. Is this a political song? Are we often played by politicians who lie as easy as regular people tell the truth? I see the song was written in 2005, which was a horrible year for so many.

Billy Livesay: Exactly. Politically I try to touch all the political candidate bases. It’s gone through very little revision.

mwe3: Track seven on Hold On… Life Is Calling is called “I’d Change Everything”, which is sure to be a favorite. Why did you choose it for the album since it was written in 1996? The hook / chorus is classic. It’s amazing how many people live in remorse “Tell me what’s wrong with being human”, is a great line. Does the song take you back to the golden year of 1996 or…?

Billy Livesay: Again exactly and no it doesn’t take me back. The older songs on this record were already in the can and I totally forgot about them. We were just listening to older songs and I think those were pointed out as being viable. I just forgot about them. I have a few like that for the next record.

mwe3: You have a lot of songs from 1996 on Hold On… Life Is Calling. Tell us about “This Side Of Town”, another song co-written with David Graham. Is that as close to the blues as you get? The song has a great touch and lyrics that cut to the bone.

Billy Livesay: This one we were playing live and it cooked so we just decided to recut it. It’s the first song I ever placed in a TV show. An Aaron Spelling made for TV movie “Death Of A Cheerleader”.

mwe3: Is “Libertine” a new song written about the opposite sex? Did you write it about someone or did you get the idea from seeing someone. I like the way the chord changes modulate and the guitar solo is excellent.

Billy Livesay: The song is about women I’ve known - the ones who march to the beat of their own drummer, (lol). Johnny Depp inspired this one. He was in a film called “Libertine”. I just flipped it.

mwe3: “Why You Wanna ‘Keep On Loving Me” is one of your great songs. Is that another “love is a crazy scene” kind of song? It’s a great question to ask. Another new song?

Billy Livesay: Yes very new. It’s about a guy who has been in love with a woman who lives alone and after years of seeing each other he can’t get over the fact that he is just a booty call.

mwe3: Did you write “Pick Yourself Up” about yourself or some younger person? It’s a psychological rock song with a deep message? Is your way out of despair to write a song about it?

Billy Livesay: This one is a bit autobiographical. Yes, some make it some don’t.

mwe3: Was “It’s What I Have To Do” written for your mom? I see the pics of her and you on the lyrics page of the CD booklet. It’s something we all go through, it’s kind of an initiation to the universe.

Billy Livesay: Yes this is about my mom. She passed August 18, 2015. We never know what it feels like until it happens to us. I guess that is obvious but we don’t really and least I never did realize how others felt when they lost a relative like a parent... especially when you are close.

mwe3: The CD closes with “Turn It Around” which features the key album title lines “Hold On… Life Is Calling”. Is that as close to a title track as there is on the CD? It’s good to end the album with an upbeat message of being able to “turn it around”.

Billy Livesay: “Turn It Around” is about being burned by a friend. So, that line sums it all up in the end. Life, death, love, war, children, heartache, politics and all the in between. “Hold On… Life Is Calling”

mwe3: So now that you’ve made Hold On… Life Is Calling what other plans do you have for this year going into next? Are you always writing new music and do you have some other sonic destinations to reach next?

Billy Livesay: I’m already into the next one!


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