Banner image for Metal Digest - Advertise With Us

A chat with Bill Hudson (…and where to stay if you are going to Prog Power)

Guitarist Bill Hudson is what you call prolific; I mean really prolific. Since arriving in the United States from Brazil, he has been part of several amazing music outfits. These include Cellador, Doro, Udo Dirkschneider. Trans-Siberian Orchestra plus, many more. Like I said, prolific.

 Currently, he leads NorthTale, a multi-national Power Metal quintet that is truly exceptional. Their second album, ‘Eternal Flame’ will be released on Nov, 12th 2020 on Nuclear Blast.

We got the chance to talk with him via Skype. After small talk about Mondays, neither of us being “video ready,” (good thing this was just an audio call), and the nature of online magazines, we had a nice chat. He is a super cool guy and a helluva musician. Hopefully, I can shake his hand in Atlanta.

Bill Hudson: Hey Craig.

Metal Digest: Hey Bill. How are you, man?

BH: I’m good.

MD: So I know we have limited time, so I wanna be respectful of that (yours and other people’s too.) We appreciate your taking some time to talk with us. First thing first, congratulations on the new album. ‘Eternal Flame’ comes out soon, on the 12th, right?

BH: Thank you. Yeah, November 12th.

MD: This is where I tell people to brag a bit. We’re glad to give folks a platform and promote music. So, tell us about the new album and what we can all expect.

BH: To those who are familiar with the band and have heard the first album, this will be a different experience, but somewhat familiar. I consider it to be a big step up in evolution from what we did on our first album. I am very proud of it. I personally couldn’t be any happier. Any time you finish any body of work, you say, “this could have been better or…” but on this album, I really can’t. This album is exactly what I wanted to do. It’s a very honest album, very true to what I believe in. I’m very happy with it and hope everybody else will like it too.

MD: Wow. Cool. That is great! Like you said, usually, people aren’t quite satisfied, but to walk away completely satisfied, that’s a rarity I would guess.

BH: That’s a first for me in my life. I can’t even play a gig that (that was completely satisfying), much less an album. I can’t even listen to the first album anymore because there were so many things I wanted to change.

MD: Well, that’s the nature of being an artist. You always want to do just a little better or a little more. I hear ya. You wanna be happy with things, but not quite satisfied.

BH: Exactly. Still have something to strive for.

MD: It’s just the nature of who are, otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. So, I heard the first album, but I’ve only heard the new album once, but you’re right. It is quite different.

BH: To me, it is worlds better. If you get the chance, listen to it a second time.

MD: Oh, I intend to. To anyone who has heard the first one, you’ll be blown away by the new album. Tons of different layers and nuances. I’m diggin’. I’ve already shared the first album with friends. Glad to promote you guys.

BH: Thank you so much. And for the right reasons.

MD: Absolutely. So, two singles out so far, “Midnight Bells” just came out a couple of days ago, and “Only Human” has been out a little while. How has the reception been so far?

BH: Oh man, it’s been awesome! It confirms my feelings about the album. Having a new singer, especially when the original singer has his own fanbase and all that. I was afraid the fans wouldn’t accept a new singer, but the numbers don’t lie. “Only Human” is our most-watched video of everything. “Only Human” has beaten all of that. “Midnight Bells” has already beaten most other things (we’ve released.) The fans have definitely been accepting. “Only Human” was meant to sound like a song that could have been on the first album. But “Midnight Bells” is a complete departure.

MD: I could see that. They are totally different songs.

BH: “Only Human” was kind of the first experiment, to see how fans would react to us going heavier.

MD: Gotcha…I was gonna ask about the new singer. Pronounce his name for me because I will totally mess it up.

BH: It’s “Guilherme Hirose” But we just call him “Gee” because that’s easier. (a hard G…as in “guitar)

MD: Gotcha. Yeah, single syllables, keep it simple.

BH: Exactly. I’m the only other person in the band who is from Brazil, so nobody else can really pronounce it.

MD: I was thinking he was from Portugal (apparently remembering incorrectly).

BH: No, we are both from Brazil.

MD: I see. Well, welcome to the country, a bit late perhaps. Whenever I meet someone from another country, I welcome them, even if they have been here a while, like yourself.

BH: Thank you much. This country has been really good to me. America is certainly a welcoming country. Here, you can be a foreigner and achieve things. America is the land of free; it really is, man.

MD: That’s cool man. Great to hear that, from your perspective. When you hear it from someone actually experiencing it, it means a lot. So, Gee. How did he find his way into the band? Was he already here as well?

BH: No. He actually still lives in Brazil and as far as I know, he has no plans to leave. Basically, when we parted ways with Christian, our first singer, I did a worldwide search. Dude, I talked to about forty people. And I talked to the really big singers that you would expect. I had a specific type of voice in mind, which is just the voice that Gee has. Nobody quite had that. Some of these singers are amazing. I only talked to singers I respect. There was this clean quality of vocals that a lot of them did not have. And Gee did. He wrote me when I was already done auditioning people. I had a producer, I had half of the album, not even thinking about this (vocals) anymore. So, he writes me saying, even if he has a 0.01% chance, I wanna be in the band. I wanna try. And that reminded me…when I moved to America in 2005, I was actually gonna join a band on Metal Blade called Cellador. And the same thing kinda happened. They told me they already had someone. But I was a little cocky. I said, “Hey man unless you have Steve Vai, I’m a better choice for your band.” And they gave me a chance and I ended up in the band. So, I was like, I’m gonna give this guy a chance. And dude, on his first audition for the song “Shape Your Reality” …the first couple of lines, I was like, “that’s the guy.” And I don’t what the fuck I’m gonna do ‘cause he was in Brazil. And that’s another issue, ‘cause being from Brazil, I know how much of a pain in the ass it is to move to this country. And we’re already spread out. The bass player is in Sweden, the keyboard player is in Missouri, which may as well be another country, from where I am (Orlando).

MD: That’s pretty common nowadays. People in different states and countries. Unless you can drive wherever in an hour or two…if there are planes involved, then it may as well be another country.

BH: Yeah, when Gee came in, I was like, “are we gonna add another problem?” But he was the guy. I don’t know if you heard “Land of Mystic Rites,” but it has a lot of traditional Brazilian music and I could only do that with a singer like him, who is from Brazil and is familiar with the culture and all that.

MD:  Makes total sense. If you have a certain sound in your head, with all the intangibles…when you hear it, you know it’s right and you’re done. I get it.

BH: It’s proven to be an amazing choice because the fans like him. Even fans of our previous singer like him. It really works.

MD: The song “Nature’s Revenge,” it’s like 11 plus minutes. That one I like a lot. You guys gonna be playing that one live?

BH: “Nature’s Revenge” was written to be like a little play, not like a real play or an opera, but it’s structured like one.  It’s my song about the pandemic. Everything is there for a reason. There’s the repetitive part, which I call “The Quarantine.” Mary Zimmer sings guest vocals. She plays Mother Earth. I always wanted to write a super long song. Always been a fan of that. My attempts always just resulted in stuff that just really really really boring and repetitive. I wanted to write a song that made sense, that people wanted to listen to. It’s got a deep meaning. Everyone wrote a song about the pandemic. I was trying to avoid (themes) like lock-down or vaccines. I wanted to avoid those subjects.

MD: Gotcha. Address things, but take a different angle, a more personal angle too.

BH: I wanted to bring all the elements we had throughout the album into that song. It’s very Power Metal, but it also gets super heavy and there’s piano and there’s orchestra. It’s a representation of the rest of the album.

MD: Just like a play, like you said, with different acts and individual songs and all that. I think you’re safe calling it a play, myself.   So, the instrumental, “Ivy.” I thought it was gonna be an intro but turned into its own thing. I can see that being the intro to a show.

BH: Well, there are a few things about that. I’m gonna correct you. Not because you mispronounced it, but because the name is pronounced wrong. Even though it likes like “Ivy,” it’s pronounced “eevy.” But there’s a reason for that. It’s my mom’s dog’s name. And she happened to pass away during the recording of the album. So that was my tribute to her. That’s what that track is.

MD: Awwww I’m sorry.…that’s beautiful.

BH: It’s spelled like that so of course everybody’s is gonna say “Ivy.” But the idea was…think of the end credits of a movie. It would be a good intro, but that’s the thing, man. A lot of Power Metal bands are expected to have orchestral big intros. Everybody expects that. I was like, “fuck that.” “Ivy” should be an outro. I wanna start with a short song, like “Only Human.” It’s the same thing with the first album; we had an outro, but not an intro. In the case of “Ivy,” I wrote some of the melodies and orchestration, but the bulk of the arrangements, the feel of the song, all of it was done by our orchestrator Bruno, an outside orchestrator I hired initially only for a few songs, but then when I heard his work, I was “dude, you’re fantastic. I need to give you a song.” I told him about the tribute. I told him to listen to every song on the album and write something based on every chorus. So, you hear the melodies from pretty much every song in there (“Ivy.”) And of course, it’s gonna be our outro during the live shows.

MD:   That’s cool. As I said, I only got to listen to it once, but a lot is going on, a lot of moving parts to this album.

BH: This is an album that back in the 80s, they would have made us (produce it) in two parts, like Use Your Illusion 1&2. There’s a lot of different things I put into it. This is why the first three or four songs are all very different. So, if people stick around to listen to rest, great, but if not, at least they hear all these elements right off the bat.

MD: Yeah, that makes total sense…So you guys were gonna be opening for Unleash the Archers, (on their European tour) but that got the red light. (due to Covid)

BH: Got canceled. Yeah, that would have been our first European tour, aside from a European festival and two in Japan.

MD: You could tell on their post, that they were just floored.

BH: You know, man, it sucked for us, but it sucked way more for them. I’m not even that mad. Look at what those guys had to deal with.

MD: That’s a good point. They were the last show I saw, back in March 2020, but shows are happening again….

BH: Dude, yeah, I am leaving tonight for Europe to play with Doro. So, it’s happening.

MD: I know! I’m still a little leery; I’ll be honest. Some places are still limited capacity and all that.

BH: We’re playing 4 shows in the UK, opening for Michael Schenker., then seven shows (headlining) in Germany. Those are like two different tours, not really an international tour. I’ve got fourteen interviews today, then flying out tonight.

MD: Man, that’s crazy… You mentioned Cellador. They’re based in Denver, where I’m at.

BH: Yeah. They were originally based in Nebraska. The only person out there is Chris, the founder. He is for Cellador, like me with NorthTale.

MD: Right. I looked them up and found this picture of you…this young kid haha…

BH: Dude, that’s the beginning of my career. I moved to America, then the next month we were recording and in six months, we were on our first tour. And I was a “big rock star.” We did a tour with Bullet For My Valentine and didn’t realize people weren’t there to see us.  I’m playing all these big shows…I’m a rock star! Had a lot to learn between those days and now…

MD: Haha of course…it’s a journey…So you’re playing ESP exclusively? I thought I saw a Fender in the “making of the album” video.

BH: Yeah, exclusively since 2012…great partnership …it’s not a Fender; it’s an ESP that looks like a Fender. It’s an LTD SN 1000. It looks like a wide Strat, the closest thing I can play to a Fender. I’ve taken that guitar everywhere, man. With Udo Dirkschneider and with Doro. It’s a very reliable guitar and easy to set up.

MD: So when you get back with the dates with Doro, any plans for any shows in the States? What are you doing for promotion?

BH: We’re doing a bunch of interviews and videos. And after the Unleash the Archers tour fell through, we got an offer (negotiating now) for another European tour, with a different band. A smaller thing, but still pretty cool. We have Prog Power USA on June 2nd, 2022.  Playing with Stratovarius, Jeff Scott Soto, and Pain of Salvation.

MD: That’s in Atlanta, right? I’ve always wanted to go that. Not exactly nearby for me…

BH: You should. I wanna tell you, man. I say this publicly…Prog Power is one of my favorite festivals. I’ve played Waken, Graspop…Prog Power is a small festival, but it has the most amazing crowd, very loyal, great sound, great crew. I’ve played there six times; this time will be with my own band. I can’t wait. If you can make it, you should go.

MD: You’re talking me into it.

BH:  Lemme know if you go; we’ll hang out. You should stay at the Artmore, the hotel down the street from the venue, where all the bands stay. It’s the party hotel.  

MD: I might just take you up on that.

BH: (addressing MD readers) if you’re (reading) this and you’re going to Prog Power, I can’t wait to see you.  We will be coming to Denver at some point. We’re with Continental Touring. Hopefully, they’ll hook us up with something.

MD: That show I can definitely make. And maybe Atlanta too, who knows?

BH: That would be awesome to hang out.

MD: Finally, I know we’re pressed for time. The G3 (with Satriani, Vai, etc)…who would pick for a Power Metal version of that?

BH: That’s kinda tricky because, in Power Metal, the best players are not necessarily the best songwriters and vice versa. I would be pick composers, Kai Hansen, Timo Tolkki and, although he didn’t play guitar, Andre Matos was one of my favorite composers.…and maybe Michael Weikath, the other guitarist for Helloween. Again, those guys inspire me more for composition. The G3 tour was focused more on technique and those guys are more focused on composition.

MD: I gotcha. Well, there’s no wrong answer really so…gonna let you go. Gotta respectful of other people’s time.

BH: Thank you so much, my friend. Thank you for the opportunity. If you do make it to Prog Power, let me know. I would love to meet up and all that.

MD: That would be awesome. Ok…Take care


William Hirose | vocals

Bill Hudson | guitar

Mikael Planefeldt | bass

Patrick Johansson | drums

Jimmy Pitts | keyboard

Come on in!

Metal Digest is an online music magazine specializing in rock and metal. It is aimed at the mobile market, who can get their fix whilst on the go. Whether you walk, drive, fly, sail or teleport make sure you do it with Metal Digest, bitesize heavy metal rock and metal news, reviews and interviews for when you’re on the go.

More Stories
Deserted Fear – ‘Doomsday’