THE LIVESAYS The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction (Livesays Music)
South Florida’s best rock band, The Livesays released a stunning-sounding studio album with all new tracks late in 2020. Music watchers following guitarist, vocalist and composer Billy Livesay over the course of his career will flip as the 2020 Livesays album, entitled The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction, is being called the band’s best album yet. With 13 killer rock tracks, clocking in at 57 minutes, and with most tracks filled with a non-stop stadium rock energy, The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction is an optimum disc featuring the current Livesays lineup of Billy Livesay, backed up by Victor “Cuqui” Berrios (organ, piano, vocals), Jorge Laplume (bass) and Tim Murphy (piano, vocals). Following the untimely passing of original Livesays drummer Eddie Zyne, the band took a hiatus—and then enlisted drummer Howard Goldberg, who has now taken over Eddie’s drum chair. Speaking about the recent changes in the band's lineup, Billy explains, “The majority of The Livesays' new album, “The Rhythm of Love and Dysfunction” was recorded in 2018 and was set to be released early in 2019. Originally it was called “The Rhythm of Love”. Tragically, on November 2nd, 2018, our drummer, Eddie Zyne, passed away from a heart attack. Eddie, who began his illustrious career as the drummer in Hall and Oates—was an original co-founding member and integral part of The Livesays. During the lockdown I wrote many new songs and, along with the combination of the virus, the depressing state of the union, hurricanes, fires and the protest we added 'dysfunction' to the title.” Ironically, it is sometimes said that great things can emerge in the aftermath of a tragedy, and in the case of Eddie Zyne's passing, the 2020 Livesays album is not only a superb rock album but also a tribute to Eddie, especially as his drumming is featured on a number of these new tracks. Even so, new Livesays drummer Howard Goldberg gives the album a solid beat and he more than adequately takes over Eddie’s drum seat. Giving The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction a few good spins, it's clear these new tracks here are quite impressive. Case in point is the album’s lead off track “There’s Something Coming Now”, which features a catchy beat packed with chilling, message-driven lyrics that puts a spin on the craziness that seems to have plagued, not only the U.S. but also the entire planet in 2020. The Livesays are well-known as one of South Florida’s great live bands, yet packed with so many dazzling new songs here, The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction further establishes the Livesays as a studio album force to be reckoned with. amazon / spotify
mwe3.com presents an interview with BILLY LIVESAY
mwe3: I know we don’t live in condensed areas like NYC or London yet how has 2020 been such a trying year for you from a musical standpoint? Were you expecting 2020 to be such a dysfunctional year? Is that why you call the new Livesays album The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction?
Billy Livesay: We were expecting 2020 to be a great year. We had plenty of shows and the notoriety of the band was growing. We weren’t expecting a dysfunctional year at all. When the virus kicked up, we canceled everything and played one streaming show for the CD release. The majority of The Livesays' new album “The Rhythm of Love and Dysfunction” was recorded in 2018 and was set to be released early in 2019. Originally it was called “The Rhythm of Love”. Tragically, on November 2nd, 2018, the band experienced unimaginable sorrow when our drummer, Eddie Zyne, passed away from a heart attack. Eddie, who began his illustrious career as the drummer in Hall and Oates, was an original co-founding member and integral part of The Livesays. During the lockdown I wrote many new songs and along with the combination of the virus, the depressing state of the union, hurricanes, fires and the protest we added “dysfunction” to the tile.
mwe3: “There’s Something Coming Now” is a very cool track to start The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction. Does the “rhythm of love” protect us against the “dysfunction” part? How did you write the track with the new Livesays drummer Howard Goldberg? I remember speaking with you about our current government dysfunction back in 2017. When did it really start to unravel? I guess for me it was in February 2017. My astrologer said we’ve all been to hell this year.
Billy Livesay: When the country went into lockdown, I was watching the news and reading the paper. The Black Lives Matter Movement was in full swing and I started playing around with chord changes and singing the ‘whoa whoa…’ part of the song. I had a couple of lines and started bouncing lyric ideas off Howard. I saw the world as abnormal and impaired functioning. For me the country started to unravel as soon as Trump took office…
mwe3: Speaking of great drummers, Eddie Zyne passed away in 2018, not long after I just briefly said hello to him at your home studio. How long did you work with Eddie and what do you think he would make of the Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction album? What are a couple favorite memories with Eddie and how and when did you first meet him?
Billy Livesay: I knew him before he joined Hall and Oates in the 1970’s. We knew each other from playing around in Miami. Eddie was always jovial. He was the reason I was able to join Tony Stevens from Foghat. Because of his connections with Rick Derringer’s agent, Eddie got the call to play drums and asked if they needed anyone else and they hired me.
I was in a band in the early 1990’s that opened for Rick Derringer and Eddie was the drummer. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years before this. He said, he was quitting Rick and would I want to start something and I said yes. I think he would have really liked this record. He was excited about it when it was originally going to be released. By the way, he does play on 6 of the songs.
mwe3: Eddie is missed but the new Livesays drummer Howard does a great job on the new tracks on Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction. How long have you known Howard and what does he bring to the Livesays sound of 2020?
Billy Livesay: Howard was aware of us and a huge fan of Eddie, but we really didn’t know him personally. We only knew of him as the drummer in a funk band called Rudy, with keyboardist Robbie Gennet. Howard contacted our booking agent Judy Blem about an audition. He was actually the only drummer we tried out. It felt natural. Howard brings a bit more syncopation to the band.
mwe3: Did you set out to make Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction a powerhouse kind of album, with no ballads? A good example is track 2 “When I Dream”. You take a sentimental lyric and turn it into a powerful rock number. It must be a common complaint in this music business, to feel like you missed your turn. Did you set out to prove yourself beyond a doubt on this new album? Is it better now than say in the 1980s when MTV kind of forced artists into a video mentality, say compared to the album mentality of the 1970s?
Billy Livesay: I didn’t set out to prove anything to anyone. Maybe on the next one I will plan to do that… (lol) Seriously, I just write how I feel in a particular moment and try to use what I've learned as far as song craft goes and make the best of what I have available to me. Videos are still very important, and yes we are in singles world again like in the 1950’s and early 60’s. I wouldn’t say it’s better now. Just different…
mwe3: That powerful rock energy persists with “Another Mile”. You say you wrote it for your wife. Do you consider yourself a lucky man to have a wife like Vicki as she’s stuck by you through the thick and thin of life?
Billy Livesay: That’s a loaded question.. (lol) and the answer is… Absolutely! We’ve known each other since high school…
mwe3: “Let It Flow” is an interesting song. I know several of my favorite artists that gave up on alcohol. Plus, you have a great guitar solo in that track. Have we as a nation invested too much money in the alcohol industry and I think that’s why an individual’s right to use cannabis is still being demonized by the alcohol industry and its lobbyists. What kind of statement does “Let It Flow” make?
Billy Livesay: That song was inspired by my best friend's father who was a hobo. A certified freight train hopping commuter. He and his hobo buddies would drink anything with alcohol in it. Strained sterno, Aqua Velva, anything… They would collect fruits and vegetables from the supermarket dumpsters and make their own brew when they didn’t have money to buy. We used to try and get them to smoke pot but it was against the law at the time and they wanted no part. So, they would get shit faced and beat each other up and break stuff. I thank my lucky stars that no one was murdered. At least I don't think they were. As far as a statement goes, there are those among us who have died from alcoholism and maybe someone will relate to the scenarios I sing about in the song and quit.
mwe3: The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction also features an excellent cover of “Woodstock”. I never understood the line about being “billion year-old carbon”. What do you think it means? Where do you think the “Woodstock” idea fits into the world of 2020? I really like the way the Livesays really “toughen up” the song. How did you approach the Livesays version of “Woodstock”?
Billy Livesay: A billion year-old carbon… It rhymes with part of the devil's bargain… (lol) To me it’s a metaphor for humans evolving. Rising up from fossils and the oceans. During the Black Lives Matter Protest, I felt a vibe and a nostalgia for the 1960’s civil rights and anti-war movement. For some reason the song struck me and I started playing a bluesy version on acoustic guitar and it just resonated and with the band it just fell together.
mwe3: No sooner had the slow dazzle of “Woodstock” ended then the title track “The Rhythm Of Love” kicks in. Is love uncontrollable? Like most tracks on The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction, it has a great beat and you say you wrote it as a dance track. Why is that? Maybe we all should look at love in a different light.
Billy Livesay: The idea of the song was to make love a mystical and mysterious entity out to ensnare me. Instead of bringing me down in a negative way, emotionally, it’s more like a take down or entrapment.
mwe3: Did you write “Better Than He Ever Was” about someone specific? I guess all this and with the prospect of mortality lingering. Legacy rules?
Billy Livesay: Perfect example is Bruce Springsteen. Tom Petty before he passed. But his passing was premature due to an OD. He was running on all cylinders. I do feel like The Livesays are better now than ever.
mwe3: “How Can I Be?” gets back to the torment of being in love. I know you always try to give the lonely-hearts club band members hope but I guess “How Can I Be?” takes the sentiment to a higher level? Did you write about someone specific or are you just looking at others who can’t get back on the “love boat” or are maybe just too scared to get back to love?
Billy Livesay: I think people need to be happy. If you are in a relationship with someone you love and who is supposed to love you, it should not be abusive. That kind of life is not worth living. Yes, I was inspired by someone’s relationship. There are too many good people who let themselves be abused just to be in a relationship and they are miserable. That’s not a life. Especially for women.
mwe3: The flamenco guitar strains of “That’s The Trouble With Love” follows the suit of “How Can I Be?” Is the character in this song more resilient than the person in “How Can I Be?” The Shadows wrote a great song about this kind of thought process in their song “A Better Man Than I”, albeit in a kind of British invasion style from 1967! I guess it’s a timeless theme?
Billy Livesay: The line: “A wounded warrior coming back for more, trying to get it right” says he’ll keep at it. So Yes, he’s definitely more resilient. He just got dumped. No abuse. This is a rewrite of a song I did with David Graham. He had the title.
mwe3: It’s amazing how timeless the message is in “Heart Of The Matter”. Tell us about your work in the Eagles tribute band and why you chose this song. You said this track fits the sentiment of The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction. Could you elaborate on how the song fits into the theme of the new album? Do you have a favorite Eagles or Don Henley track?
Billy Livesay: After Eddie passed and we were in limbo I was asked to join ‘The Long Run’, an Eagles Tribute and I really liked it. I have no favorites. After my agent saw a show where I sang “Heart Of The Matter” she suggested I record it and I did during the lockdown. It had a great vibe and because the message of breakup and reconciliation as friends fits The Rhythm Of Love portion of the album, we decided to add it on.
mwe3: Is “Better Than You” another song for your wife? You’re making all us guys jealous, kind like the way Lennon wrote all those tribute songs to Yoko Ono. I think John was always bragging, until his dying day, about how lucky he was to have her for a wife.
Billy Livesay: It’s funny. I basically took the history of how we got together and wrote a song about it. It’s actually another rewrite of a co-write I did with David Graham. He had the title.
mwe3: “Book Of Rules” kicks ass, in a good way. Are you saying the “Book Of Rules”, rules? Seems like the book of rules has been turned on its head these past twenty years. Seems like the ‘book of rules’ needs to be amended in the age of the internet. Does the book of rules keep getting updated? Some people have different rules.
Billy Livesay: I was eating in a restaurant and there were some individuals acting crazy and the line “A jester holding court is something that I ain’t” came to me. This song represents stories of individuals who live by their own life codes. Politicians, someone who commits suicide, a kid who shoots his teacher and a girl mapped with tattoos.
mwe3: “Can I Have What You Have?” is an electrifying way to end the album. I saw the video of the song which is excellent. You recorded the song in the Power Station studios in Pompano Beach? Tell us something about making the live in the studio video and working with filmmaker David Liz and can you contrast that video with “Heart Of The Matter”? “Can I Have What You Have?” really shines a light on the endless crime problems we’re plagued with. Have you ever written a song this topical before?
Billy Livesay: As far as topical, I don’t know. On my earlier releases there are songs about battered women, bi-polar disorder and racism. Working with David Liz was fun. I had already recorded “Can I Have What You Have?” with Eddie. When Howard joined the band, we reworked it and wanted to re-record it. We also talked about a video. I didn’t want Howard to have to “lip sync” his drum parts so we brought in David to film it as we recorded it. We had cameras on everyone as we played our parts. David shot the video of “I’m Coming Home” on the Hold On...Life Is Calling CD. “Heart Of The Matter” was shot on iPhones after the fact by me and the band.
mwe3: Have there been any new developments in your guitar arsenal and playing and what guitars are you featuring on the new album? There’s some great guitar work on The Rhythm Of Love And Dysfunction.
Billy Livesay: I played a 1956 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop reissue on almost all of the songs along with and old 1956 Gibson ES125. A newer Gibson Les Paul Standard on “Woodstock” and a Gibson J-100 acoustic on “That’s The Trouble With Love”. That’s the only guitar I used on that song. There are no electric guitars. I used a 1984 Schecter Tele opened tuned to E on “When I Dream”.
mwe3: I usually end interview with asking people what they have coming up in the future but I guess asking now might be counter-intuitive! Still, do you care to make any predictions or forecasts about 2021 or where you hope to be in this pivotal year? Same time, next year?
Billy: This year I think a few more videos along with some live streams. Of course, I hope to be back out performing in front of people in 2021. But who’s to say. Let's get 2020 over…
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