INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA
Bill Hudson may not ring the bells for most readers out there. However, he has carved his talents and skills in several bands and gained the ultimate respect amongst the metal/rock musicians. The Brazilian guitarist wizard joined the U.D.O/Dirskscheinder and has been a guitarist for I Am Morbid, led by the former Morbid Angel vocalist. Besides those bands, he also belongs to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Therefore Metal-Rules.Com had to sit down with Bill Hudson to talk about his roles in different bands and how he feels about playing different metal types.
JOINING U.D.O. / DIRSKSCHNEIDER
Let’s start with the obvious question, how did you end up playing with Dirkschneider, or should we say U.D.O because it’s basically the same band?
As far as I know, so far, it’s the same band. We’re just going by the name Dirkschneider while we do this whole Accept thing. They started obviously with Kasperi before, but that’s what I understand so far. It is the same band: the same lineup and everyone.
Did they contact you, or did you make a motion about it?
It was a mixture of both. When Kasperi left, I heard from many people that I know that I should contact them. I’m really good friends with Bas Maas from Doro, and I know they’re close to Doro. So I asked Bas if he knew anybody because everybody was telling me to talk to them. The funny thing is Bas gave me Sven’s cellphone number, and I just texted Sven, “Hey, Are you guys looking for a guitarist?” And we didn’t talk very much. That didn’t go very far. Then there is a person that I worked with sometimes. Her name is Kendra. She worked with U.D.O. previously. She’s also a really good friend with Kasperi, and she made the actual contact. She put me in touch with their management. We discussed it a little bit, and I don’t know. After three days of talking, I was in Germany. They had concerns about the fact that I live in America, and I did too. It’s working out so far. It was a mix of things. A lot of people were telling them about me. A lot of people were telling me about them.
How is your Accept history? I mean, how familiar you are with the band’s past and music?
I grew up with the bands that copied Accept. Of course, I knew the classics. I’ve always known the classics, and I have METAL HEART, BALLS TO THE WALL, and RESTLESS AND WILD. I own those albums. But I was more of like Helloween fan or the Gamma Ray, maybe because of my age. I was born in ’83. So I heard the bands that wanted to be like them. It’s funny, because learning these songs. I got a lot of, oh. This is where Helloween got that from. Oh! This is where that band got this from. So with this set-list. With these songs that we were playing on this tour. I was familiar with most of them, but not all of them. They were songs that were new to me.
Did you ever see the band live with Udo on vocals?
No, no. But I saw U.D.O. in Brazil, back in like 2003. Because I’m born and raised in Brazil, and I didn’t move to America until 2005. They were together already. Accept never went to Brazil with Udo. They only went with Mark Tornillo recently. U.D.O. did back in 2003. I don’t know if it’s 2003 or four, but I saw them there
Have you seen Accept with Mark Tornillo?
Yes. I saw Accept. Where did I see Accept? I saw them in Europe somewhere, though. It was in… Was it Wacken? Maybe it was in Wacken even. I don’t remember?
As for the setlist – it’s only Accept songs, as we know, but did you have anything to say about it? I mean, were you able to pick up any/certain songs to be included on the set?
Yeah, yeah. Basically, my job was to step in where Kasperi left. We are doing the same songs, and I’m even playing the same parts that Kasperi did before. As for this tour, I don’t get very many solos because he didn’t either. So everything he played, I’m playing now. Basically stepping in and finishing this part of the tour, as if Kasperi never left.
How familiar are you with the U.D.O. songs, then?
I have STEELHAMMER. But no, I can’t say – now I am. Now being in the band previously, I wasn’t that familiar with those songs. Honestly, I used to see him because of Accept.
After these Dirkschneider tours are over and done, are there any plans to continue the band as U.D.O and put out some new material as well?
We’ve already written an album. Basically, my audition for the band wasn’t really an audition. But my audition was to come to Germany and write an album there, basically. We stayed in the studio a week and writing songs together as a band, which by the way, I had never done before, like sitting with the band, okay. “Here is this riff; you try that. Let’s try.” I’ve never done that kind of thing before. It was awesome. Yeah. There is an album where the album is almost done. Just Udo has to finish the vocals. I don’t know about the release date or anything like that. But yeah. I’ve already made some music.
And then you will have your own lead parts, “Laughs.”
Yeah. There we’re 50-50. Hopefully, the next tour too. I don’t know how this ended up like this.
Dirkscheider will play three gigs in Finland later this year. U.D.O. usually sells approx 300 tickets per show in Finland, whereas Dirkschneider shows sell much better. There’s a big difference, and I think that Udo has noticed that as well.
That’s cool. That’s what I keep hearing too. But I came in here. So, as far as I know, he’s all big like that.
However, you cannot continue doing that “nostalgia” tour forever. People come to see that once, or maybe twice, and then they want to hear something else.
Of course, but on the next tour, we’re going to have a different – It is still Accept, but a completely different set-list from this. Because he’s been doing the same one for a while, from what I understand. Then we have a whole different set for the next tour. We’ll see how that goes.
When will the next tour start?
September, October, maybe. It starts in Europe.
As you’re playing with several bands, how do you coordinate your schedule?
No, I don’t. It’s terrible. That thing with David Vincent and Dirkschneider was a problem because I got both offers simultaneously. And David Vincent and I had been friends since, I don’t know, for like 10 years. We’re really close, and that whole I Am Morbid thing really started with a Brazilian tour that was offered to David, and I’m from Brazil. So I was going to go with him, and from that, we ended up starting a band. But he started with that tour idea. We never said, “Hey. Let’s do a band”. It was just an offer, and then we were like, “Why don’t we do that?” I talked to Udo and David Vincent about the tour, probably the same week or maybe in a span of two weeks. Then I was like, I don’t know what to do. Actually, because of that, it took me a week or so to say yes to Dirkschneider. Which a lot of my friends were like, “You’re crazy. You got to go. You got to say yes”. I’m like, yeah. But I don’t want to be the guy double booking. I don’t want to be unprofessional, and I am already committed to these other tours. It was cool because David Vincent was cool enough to let me out of that tour to do this show. So I’ve done… basically, I would finish I Am Morbid show – Then fly to Germany, rehearse with these guys, do Rock Hard, and come back to the tour. It was pretty grueling. It was pretty grueling, like six weeks. I don’t plan on doing it again, either. If I’m booked, I’m booked. I’m never going to do this again.
WORKING WITH “I AM MORBID”
As you’re the official member of Dirkschneider and U.D.O, but you’re also the member of I Am Morbid. Is I Am Morbid actual band or more like a project?
I Am Morbid; it doesn’t have anything booked that I know of right now. But I think I Am Morbid; I can say that I’m an official member. But if the band wants to book the show and I’m not available. I’m not going to stop them from playing, and I told David that too. Because coming up here, I have a pretty busy schedule with Dirkschneider. I told David if you want to do shows, “Do them.” Like there are a few guitar players that I recommended for him that was a fill-in. But there are no dates right now. So I really don’t know what’s going on with that.
I Am Morbid is a kind of relief for many fans because they are afraid of – “What the hell David is doing now?”- when he is doing that country and other non-metal stuff.
It’s funny. Because personally, I really like his country stuff. Because it’s not a country, commercial country. It’s soft rock country. It’s like Johnny Cash. It’s cool. It’s not like Carrie Underwood or anything; it’s Johnny Cash. So I really like that, to begin with. But many fans in Russia were telling me that my friend didn’t want to come because he thought he was going to play country. So I was like, “When did he say he was going to play country?” I love that people ended up thinking that. I know that many Morbid Angel fans are also happy because we’re playing those songs. After all, Morbid Angel is not doing those songs anymore. They stopped playing the David Vincent material, and David was like,” That’s perfect. Because these are my songs.” It ended up working out. A lot of fans came up to us and said, “I’m also going to see Morbid Angel because they’re playing the other songs, Steve Tucker songs.” So I think it was good for everyone.
I remember that I read from somewhere that I Am Morbid would start working on the new music?
That’s true. I wrote two songs with David. Actually, David and I together have written many, many songs before this. This is like back where he left Morbid Angel. We wrote a lot of music that he wanted to be a new band, and it’s not Country. It’s not industrial. It’s very death metal. So we’re thinking about using those songs as an album. But I mean, there is nothing official. It’s just like; he said that in an interview, and people pick up on it. But we haven’t done any official work, other than these songs. But Ira and Tim haven’t done any work on that yet. If we’re going to do an album, we definitely want to do it with everyone.
One more thing about Am I Morbid. You said that you’re a fan of classic metal bands like Helloween. How do you adjust yourself to this kind of extreme metal thing like Morbid Angel?
I didn’t grow up with Death Metal. That’s for sure. That’s not something I grew up with. That’s not something that I was familiar with. But I figured out a way. To me, it is all music like my formation. My school formation is classical music. Everything is music. It’s just noted. It’s just like how many hits on the drum you have per bar? So like Helloween has been picking at a certain speed. Morbid Angel does the same thing, but faster. At the end of the day, there are these musical differences and aesthetic differences. But it’s just notes and rhythms, like everything else. With Morbid Angel, I had 10 days of rehearsal with the band, and David Vincent showed us every part. That guy knows every single part of his music, on bass, guitar, drums, everything. He knows every part of every instrument. So he would come out;” Okay. That part is kind of right, but not really. Try like this.” It was a lot of work, but he was impossible. Now, I feel that any death metal song that I hear. I’m always like, okay, that’s simple compared to Morbid Angel. It was different. Now, this was a lot easier. U.D.O. like… like all the U.D.O. materials, that is what I had been playing. So this was much more natural for me.
WESTFIELD MASSACRE AND WORKING WITH IRA BLACK
Another interesting band in your career is Westfield Massacre.
That is a band which I started with the singer. We started that band and wrote all the music on the first album. Then me and this drummer Tim Yeung left, and the singer was by himself. That whole thing happened like this, the band Westfield Massacre was me, Tim Yeung and Tommy Vext, the singer. Just the three of us and we did the album. We played a couple of shows. We found it like a line-up. We played a couple of shows, but it didn’t work out for us. So Tim and I left, and Tommy ended up hiring new people and Ira… and actually when Tommy asked me who I thought who should be. I’m like, in Los Angeles, Ira is the only guy that could do it. So he got Ira and another drummer, another bass player, and everything. Then we left. But now Tommy left also. So Ira has the band name and an album that he didn’t play on. But they’re a new band now. It’s a complicated story. Being a musician happens like that.
How is your relationship with Ira nowadays?
It’s cool. Ira is a great man. I love that guy. He’s one of my good friends, and Ira and I live in Los Angeles. Whenever there is a job for me to do that I can’t do, I get Ira in it. It’s funny. Because right now, he’s in a band. Right now, he owns a band, I guess, called Westfield Massacre.
Tommy is now helping out Five Finger Death Punch, replacing Ian Moody every then and now.
Yeah, yeah. He’s not in the band anymore. Tommy is out. So it’s just Ira right now.
You used Ira as a replacement member, but he sometimes needs replacement members to fill his Lizzy Borden spot. Did Lizzy ever ask you to fill in for Ira?
I talked to Lizzy Borden a few years ago. It never worked out. Ira was just stand-in. But I did talk to them a few days ago.
I think he’s kind of back in the band now.
From what I understand, Lizzy Borden is doing…
A new album now.
Yeah. But I don’t know if Ira is involved in that. I don’t think he’s in there. But I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for him.
SAVATAGE AND TRANSSIBERIAN ORCHESTRA
What about Trans-Siberian? What is your state with that band at the moment?
Right. That thing, I know nothing about the man. They don’t tell me anything. They call me when they need me. That’s the truth. It’s not just me, like everyone. Now with Paul’s death, I don’t even know what they’re thinking. I know they’re going to do a tour again. But last year I didn’t go. I did the 2015 tour. But last year, they brought Joel Hoekstra back. So this year, I stayed kind of as what they call a backup musician. So I rehearsed with the band. I knew the songs, and I was ready to go if they needed me. But they didn’t, last year. For this year, it’s kind of looking the same. But I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. If they call me, I’ll go. I love working with those guys. If they call me, I’ll go. But I don’t know, and I really don’t know what their plans are.
Two years ago, you were a part of the Trans Siberian Orchestra when they did the amazing Wacken spectacle. Tell me something about that unique show?
I was a crazy amount of rehearsing. When we moved to the Tampa Fairgrounds to do stage rehearsal, I remember a sheet between us. So, we couldn’t see the other band. By the time we hit the state, we were good. I think we all kicked ass, everyone, from every singer, every instrument. It was perfect. The funny thing is I don’t remember a lot of the show. I remember the preparation. I remember rehearsals. I remember being there, hanging out, or whatever. But I don’t remember playing the show. There is one thing I remember, which is like when the pyro came off the first time. One of the things did alight, and I got drenched in the fluid. I was like, fuck. I hope I don’t… this doesn’t set me on fire now, man. That’s literary the only thing I remember. But it was great. I got a lot of opportunities in my career after that. I got calls from a bunch of bands after that. It was good. It was terrific. It was crazy. That’s a show that I wish I saw from the audience. Because it must have been really cool. For us, it was just a regular show. For the people on the stage, it was like its just one stage. We did “Turns To Me” by Savatage with Russell Allen from Symphony X. But I couldn’t see him. I’m just hearing him in my ears. We had Jeff Scott Soto. We had Russell Allen. We had Zak Stevens. We had Nathan James. I think that’s it for the guy singers. It was pretty crazy. It’s crazy when your choir has Jeff Scott Soto and Russell Allen, and Nathan James. Yeah. Those were like the backing singers “Laughs.”
You also had that army of great-looking ladies at the stage as well. “Laughs.”
I don’t get into that, man. But it gets pretty hard to rehearse sometimes. It’s like, fuck. They’re totally co-workers. Like you can’t even look at it.
Apparently, it seems that Trans-Siberian Orchestra is going to tour in the fall. That tour would be some kind of tribute to the late Paul O’Neill.
Yeah. Maybe they are. But the last I heard is that they’re doing a tour, and the tour is sort of a tribute to him what I heard. But I haven’t been called about the tour. So I don’t know. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the first album. So that was a special year too. So we’ll see. They normally start calling around September, and then they’ll…
Maybe announcing the annual Christmas tour dates.
Joel Hoekstra is probably going to really busy with Whitesnake because they’re doing a new Whitesnake album, so maybe the phone will ring again?
Yeah. That’s what I would hope. It’s fucked up because Joel and I have been friends since before TSO. When I got the job, he actually helped me. They asked him for his opinion, and he said that I would be the guy. So I’m thankful to him. But last year’s rehearsals, it was awkward. He was like, dude. I’m your friend, and I’m sorry that this happened. Like we’re fighting for the same job. But it happens. It happens in the industry, and TSO is also like a character. They didn’t say, fuck you. We don’t need you anymore. Not at all. I was part of our communication and everything. So like I was still in the band, but I was not. I was basically getting paid to sit at home.
Only time will tell how things evolve but wouldn’t it be cool to have the Trans-Siberian playing someday in Brazil?
Oh, man! That would be awesome. It would be amazing, and a promoter was actually trying to bring it for my hometown’s anniversary. But it never worked. I don’t know why. But I don’t know how you possibly do that because they wouldn’t settle for any less productive than what they have.
Trans Siberian is mostly touring in the North American areas only. Do you see what might be the reason for that?
From what I understand, people care more about Savatage than Trans Siberian in Europe. So I always wondered why not do Savatage in Europe in the summer, TSO in winter in America. I don’t know, maybe one day they’ll do something like that.
I heard a rumor that something like that might happen the next summer?
I keep hearing that too. I heard that too. But I didn’t hear from anybody in the band. Everything I heard so far was here in Europe from people. But nobody has told me shit. Maybe?
One more thing about TSO, does Al Pitrelli run the Trans-Siberian nowadays when Paul is gone?
I hope so. I hope that’s the guy that takes over, but I don’t know. Obviously, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him about it. But he was the musical director of the band. He and Oliva together; they run the whole thing. Like I will go to each musician and be like, you’re playing is wrong, your playing is wrong. Then at the end, everybody rehearses just for Oliva. So yeah. I hope he takes over.
It’s funny how Pitrelli kind of grows into that role. Because I remember him from Alice Cooper band, back in ’89 and then he had a band Widowmaker with Dee Snider and then was shortly in Megadeth. He was just a regular player or a hired gun, but he’s done a great and successful career later.
Yeah. That’s how I am now.
So, you see that you will have a great career in business as well. It’s not an easy thing to do nowadays.
Yeah. But oddly enough, man. Because a lot of people do ask me, “Why don’t you stick to one band?” Why don’t you do…? Because I know Al. Because All is like my mentor, so to speak. Like he took me under his wing, and he started talking about me in interviews before I was either in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I learned from him. The guy went from Megadeth to Michael Bolton to Celine Deon. That’s a guy that plays anything. I was like, fuck. That’s what I wanted to do and always busy. If Al wasn’t so good, financially speaking with TSO, I’m sure he would be doing other things too.
Do you have plans to expand your musical career outside of metal?
I have plans. I don’t know if they will happen. Back in Brazil, I did… this is before I moved to America. I’ve done some pop albums with like Mainstream pop artists in Brazil. Then in America, I’ve done some writing with a pop singer. But I’ve never done anything outside of Rock and metal, that’s been like Mainstream or big or anything like that. I feel that my strengths are kind of in this genre. That’s why I get called for jobs. I would love to do all this stuff.
Gracias. If I can say in Portuguese.
Obrigado in Portuguese. Kiitos, kiitos you guys. Finland is one of my favorite countries.
DIRKSCHNEIDER PHOSTOS FROM TUSKA FESTIVAL