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Billy Tibbals: "I Always Wanted to Be a Part of a Real Rock 'n' Roll Scene. I Used to Daydream About it and Plot How to Make it Happen."

On his sophomore EP, Nightlife Stories, the London born, Los Angeles-based rocker Billy Tibbals offers another shot of teen glam power pop with eccentric falsetto hooks and dramatic stomps in the vein of The Quick, Pezband, The Mumps, and Sparks. Produced by Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson, the new EP builds upon last year's debut EP and Curation Records single, capturing the spirit of a once-again-burgeoning LA rock scene and crate digging glamour. Ahead of the EP's release in April, I caught up with Tibbals through email all about venturing into the sessions of Nightlife Stories, the goal of capturing his band's punchier live sound on the record, and navigating the current Sunset Strip rock scene.

Hi Billy! First tell me what you've been up to lately? What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?


Billy Tibbals: Hello! I've been spending my days recording on my new 16 track tape machine, walking around Hollywood, reading a confederacy of dunces such a great read! Listening to Harpo, Roy Wood, Momus, Lynsey De Paul, Uni Boys, The Beatles! Watching lots of movies some recent favorites are Children of Paradise, Lions Love And Lies, and Agatha. Still working at the Record Parlour part time.

 

How exactly did you get involved with the current Sunset Strip scene that includes Uni Boys, Dagger Polyester, The Provos, Semi Trucks and more. Also who are your favorite local bands to see live? 


I always wanted to be a part of a real rock 'n' roll scene. I used to daydream about it and plot how to make it happen with my high school buddies. There's definitely some likeminded kids around, all those you mentioned for sure! The scene is still bubbling up though there need to be more shows happening all the time. More fabulous parties, more gatherings. I'm working on it! My friend Ben has a new group called the Private Eye. Just saw them live the other day and they were fab! 


Do you think there is a resurgence with young people being interested in rock 'n' roll again? I'm 26 but I noticed a lot more younger people at gigs I was at last year including yours, The Lemon Twigs, Vintage Crop, and even the few New Math reunion shows. 


I think there are definitely a lot of young people that wanna hear rock 'n' roll music. There are kids that want something more exciting than top 40 radio or whatever there always has been and always will be those kids. There's just not enough bands to supply that demand I think. Not enough good ones I barely hear anything new coming out that I really dig. A lot of kids who are into the rock 'n' roll music are listening to some of the worst groups to have ever existed, groups putting stuff out right now. I feel like if they can get into that sort of dreadful, soul crushing noise they should dig the good stuff too. 

I see you have a new permanent live lineup with bassist Michael Cipolletti and drummer Artie Fitch from Uni Boys joining guitarist Tristan Dean. How has it been playing shows with this lineup and what's the musical chemistry like? I saw this lineup of the band opened for Brower last July!


It's great playing with the Uni Boys because they're all my best mates! Aside from that we share the same musical sensibilities and influences so it's always easy to get my ideas across to them. The shows with Brower were a blast! They're fantastic!

 

Your new EP Nightlife Stories builds upon 2022's "Onwards and Upwards" b/w "Lucy" single and last year's debut EP Stay Teenage. How exactly did this collection of songs come together when working along producer Chris Robinson. I know he produced last year's debut EP too so how did he match your vision for this one? 


Chris and I were very much on the same page when it came to Nightlife Stories. I wanted to put together something more aggressive and wild and he was totally with that. Stay Teenage was all about my high school days, I started writing it while I was still in school. The new record reflects where I'm at right now! It's a collage of crazy characters and tall tales. Nightlife Stories!


I see that Reza Matin of Uni Boys and Lemon Twigs helped with the arrangements of the tracks. What has that partnership been like since going back to him helping you record the debut single in your parents garage


We've definitely come a long way since recording that first single! It wasn't even that long ago really but it certainly feels like it. A lots happened! Reza and I share so much of the same taste in music and are such good friends it's so fast and easy when it comes to us arranging parts and recording. Above all it's always so much fun! 

Did you draw from any specific inspirations when writing the new EP? 


As always, I think there's just a real hodgepodge of influences. It can be a little hard for me to pin everything down sometimes. I do like to hear what people think my songs sound like but I hope that it sounds different and original too. I'm constantly searching for and devouring music and all that comes out when I'm writing my songs. I never really consciously try to sound exactly like something else. It's just rock and roll music! 

 

Which song from the record means the most to you (and why)?


I wrote the chords and lyrics for "The World Revolves" very quickly. It was pretty much all fully fleshed out in one day. I think sometimes the most heartfelt songs come about that way. That song definitely very clearly sums up what I'm about. The balance between the confusion and fear we feel everyday and the need to forget about all that for a while and have a blast. It's a real party anthem! We all need to have as much fun as we possibly can while we're here. 

 

I'd say out of the six songs here my favorite is "Dream Away," which is a reflective, burn-everything teen-glam ennui that's in the style of The Quick and T. Rex. How did this track come together? 


"Dream Away" started with the melody and the lyric of the first verse. The rest of the song kind of flowed along from there with a little help from a bottle of my favorite rose and a few cigarettes. I think it's the best song I've written so far. 

I also really like how the opening cut "Burn Out" came together. I read that it was your strange attempt at writing a Kiss song. What can you say about the making of this one?


That whole song came out of a jam with Rez in the garage. We were having a laugh chatting about those sort of over the top arena rock choruses of the late '70s I wanted to write something like that. The song kind of wrote itself out of that jam with Reza on the drums and myself playing my guitar. It’s the only time I've ever written a song that way. I wrote the lyrics for it later that week. 

 

I love the cover art Elliott Weaver designed for the new EP! What was your vision for it?


I had this whole other idea for the album cover that I put together with Elliot before we even recorded the record. A couple months ago we we're playing a show at this venue in Oceanside and Elliot stopped by to check out the set. The picture that ended up being the album cover was taken right before I went on stage to perform. I think the candid shot really matches the feel of the EP. Elliot is one of the most talented artists working today, I'm so happy we've got to work together as much as we have! 

 

Aside from the new EP, what else is on the horizon for you? 

 

I'm working on an album in the garage, producing a single for the Uni Boys, and playing live as much as possible. We have a tour with The Black Crows coming up in April that I'm really looking forward to! We're playing the Greek Theater in LA which is a big one! It's gonna be insane! 


Nightlife Stories is out April 26th on Silver Arrow Records.


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