Billy Hopeless - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 05 July 2015 04:00

Billy Hopeless should be a household name in punked-up rock and roll and should be touring the world at his leisure, playing to sold out houses night after night after night. Anyone with an interest in great music should at least own one of his previous records, either as a Black Halo or his ill-fated Bonitos and if you don't know who he is then here's your chance to jump on board as he's only gone and recorded one half of a split with the mighty Hip Priests which is soon to be released.  


Along with a handful of bands in the post-grunge wasteland Billy & the Black Halos and D Generation should have been huge and I don't say that lightly; they were that good a band. We made contact with Hopeless to find out what's the current state of play and what can we expect in the immediate future - here is what he had to say.....




You've recorded a split single with one of our favourite bands here at Uber Rock, The Hip Priests, so you're in good company - no, make that great company. Tell me how that came about...


Bill who runs Little T&A records has been a very supportive fan and ally to the early Black Halos days. He put out a glow in the dark 45 of my last band, The Bonitos that was split with long time comrades Electric Frankenstein so when it came to putting out my first solo single he was a shoe-in. We wuz talking about band ta split it with and he introduced me to the Hip Priests who are killer and fans of the Halos as well. Bill says this is one of the most punkest songs I've done in ages and possibly ever and considering his history with me he's more than qualified to be able to claim that. It's ten inches of double-edged back alley Rock and Roll and it's going straight fer the groin!


As a solo artist will you have a stable band or will you pick one up as and when needed?


Billy Hopeless stable, Hahahaha! Now see like for each song I'm recording with different casts of scoundrels an' scallywags from my rogues gallery and live I'm going to do the same. I've got a lot of friends, fans and allies out there and I just wanna have a blast rocking and rolling with 'em all. On my first single I've got Ken Goony Flemming (S.N.F.U, The Unwanted), Adam Payne (Bad Beats, Bishops Green, Feltchers, Bonitos), Dave Troutman (Crystal Pistol, Bonitos) and, of course, Mr. Rich Jones (Loyalties, Black Halos, Michael Monroe, Ginger Wildheart) as my gang. I'm already gathering the crew for my next single which is, in my opinion, an anthem that's as strong as 'Some Things Never Fall' and 'Three Sheets to the Wind'.




How many new songs have you written and recorded and what and when can we expect a new album by yourself?


I've written shitloads and I'm writing constantly but I'm cherry picking the ones I love the most and feel are undeniable. Like Blue Öyster Cult said, there aren't no time to play B-sides, especially now that thanks to technology we all have even shorter attention spans and are looking for a instant fix from a big hit.


Some of us expected big things from the Bonitos and there were a couple of 7" including the split with the Jolts before the band split - why do you think that band shone so briefly? Was there much material written and recorded?


Like with the last Halos line-up and another ship I built in between the Halos' first break up and the next generation called The Widows, the Bonitos ended up a constant fight amongst the crew over the helm. It was going around in circles and thus as Captain I said fuck this and once again sank my own ship. I dig some of the songs and we put out three seven inches, played some killer shows including the Las Vegas shakedown but never quite reached its potential. Now I'm captain of my own destiny and I'm not going to let any mutineers tell me how ta rock the boat!




Going a bit further back in time was I correct in thinking, or was it wishful thinking, that you and Rich Jones mooted the idea of a few shows as the Black Halos? Obviously around Europe the Halos are held in high regard by many people and the band managed to put out some fantastic records.


I'd really love a Halos reunion to happen as much as anyone as I'm a true fan of the music and band let alone missing and feeling unresolved with my brudder in crime, Rich, but it's truly been fucked from the start. It seemed like it was finally going to happen with Europe and the thought of celebrating my birthday and Halloween by playing my beloved Spain had me so stoked. Unfortunately every time it's been attempted something or some one has aborted the party. Luckily when I decided to record my first solo song and was asking who would stand by me Rich Jones jumped in and recorded some killer guitar. I'm really honoured  and stoked as he's still one of my all time fave guitarists who, let's face it, doesn't have to for cred right now, and one thing I know about him is that if he didn't like the song he'd say something like "fook, I'd really love to, man, but I'm just too busy, it sucks."




What's the state of play in Canada with regards to underground punk rock is there a healthy scene? I know there is a lot of very good power pop/ Buzzcocks kinda music coming from there and some of the bands are venturing over to Europe at the moment.  Would a European tour be something of a possibility for you?


Canada's very much like when the Halos started, as I believe is much of the world. There's a lot of mediocre bands and mainstream cocksuckers but there's still some old gold rush pioneers striking a vein as well; gems that shine in the shitpile. A bunch of longtime war buddies of mine have a killer band called Bishops Green and they've finally hit the bulls eye and getting world wide recognition - check 'em out. Plus, Hey! I'm back with Rabid Ronin, Rock 'n' Roll and the war ain't over yet, kids!


What do you think are the advantages of going solo rather than announcing the split with the Priests as a new band? 


The advantages are that my songs are getting heard again and that when I do what I do I can't be criticised, shoved aside or denied  by those who ain't doing anything for all I'm doing. The disadvantages are that if it sucks I can't blame anyone but myself.


Do you still have the same fire inside as when you recorded and played with the Halos?


Yes, otherwise I'd have surrendered to being a has-been and put my head between my legs after they tried to cut my balls off. Though sometimes it's tough to relight a fire after every time you get one started someone smothers it, douses it or blows out yer match. But if yah let 'em win then nothing's cooking so I say if they think they can burn, well, let 'em fuel my fire!  


What would Billy Hopeless in 2015 advise a young Billy Hopeless who was starting out with the Halos?


If anything I'd tell myself what I'm doing now and that's believe in yourself, there's others who do and don't let those who don't make you forget that!


[Bonitos live photos by Sandra Nieuwenhuijsen]