DECEMBER 27, 2020

ROCKWiRED NOTES: BiLL CHAMPLiN is over and now everyone is back to worrying about the stimulus package that has found itself in limbo. 2020 has been a battlefield year marked by a global pandemic, civil unrest, Karens, an ugly Presidential Election and death. The only thing that can be agreed upon is that this catastrophic year needs to come to an end and the end of this week, we're all going to get our wish. Singer songwriter and former CHICAGO front man BILL CHAMPLIN is especially excited for all that the promise of a new year holds. On January 1, 2021 CHAMPLIN will be ringing in the New Year with the release of his new single REASON TO BELIEVE from his forthcoming album LIVIN' FOR LOVE soon to be released digitally through IMAGEN RECORDS. Physical CDs will soon be available through CHAMPLIN's website LIVIN' FOR LOVE will mark CHAMPLIN's first solo album in ten years. As society is in the midst of a pandemic, the release of CHAMPLIN's latest solo offering comes at an exciting time indeed. However, CHAMPLIN's musical career is one that has been marked by a series of exciting highs as both a singer and a songwriter.

CHAMPLIN began his career in Marin County, California when his band SONS OF CHAMPLIN released their debut single on VERVE RECORDS which led to the band cutting their debut double album LOOSEN UP NATURALLY in 1968 with ten albums to follow in the next ten years. SONS OF CHAMPLIN may not have been a household name but CHAMPLIN received tons of notices from higher ups in the music industry. By the time he went solo in 1978 he was working with famed producer DAVID FOSTER for his first two solo albums. It's unclear to me what the reception to those two albums was but one of the songs written for his debut album SINGLE, AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE, became a hit for EARTH WIND AND FIRE. CHAMPLIN's tunesmithing attracted such company as JAY GRAYDON and STEVE LUKATHER. The triumvirate teamed up for the song TURN YOUR LOVE AROUND which went on to become a number one smash for GEORGE BENSON. The songwriting trio would go on to pen FRIENDS IN LOVE for DIONNE WARWICK and JOHNNY MATHIS.

Outside of songwriting, CHAMPLIN proved himself to be an ace session man and vocalist working with the likes of ELTON JOHN, DONNA SUMMER and KENNY ROGERS but it wasn't long before the band CHICAGO came calling. CHAMPLIN joined the band in 1981. His backing vocals can be heard on the band's 1985 hit HARD HABIT TO BREAK but CHAMPLIN truly stepped into the light as a front man during the band's post-PETER CETERA era with the songs I DON'T WANNA LIVE WITHOUT YOUR LOVE and LOOK AWAY – a DIANNE WARREN penned power ballad that sounds as if its songwriter had a band like HEART in mind to deliver on its histrionics. Regardless, CHICAGO took the song all the way to number one on the BILLBOARD HOT 100. CHAMPLIN's tenure with CHICAGO would last 28 years all while releasing solo albums that saw more action internationally. It's difficult to see how an album like LIVIN' FOR LOVE is going to fair in these shaky times but one can't deny that is an album with heart as expansive as its musical reach.

ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with BILL CHAMPLIN over the phone about his forthcoming album and single. Here is how the interview went.

When this very difficult year is over, you are going to be releasing the single REASON TO BELIEVE from your forthcoming album LIVIN' FOR LOVE. I couldn't think of a better release date than New Years Day.
It'll be the New Years hangover single!

Describe what it's like releasing new material in a time that is marked by a global pandemic.
You know, I would never have thought about putting an album together if it weren't for the fact that we're all locked in because of COVID-19 and I can't go out and do live shows. Before all of this happened I was able to go out and do shows and that was what kept me busy. Because of COVID I had some time to play around with this PRO-TOOLS set up that I have at home, but if a plane flies over us forget about it.

Did the material for this album appear all at once when you decided to make and album or were the songs the result of an accumulation of material over the years?
For the past few years I had been writing songs just for the sake of writing so I had material that was ready to go for an album and while everyone including myself was looking for toilet paper I started getting my first album of new songs in 10 years ready. Some of the songs come from a band that I had two years ago called WUNDERGROUND which featured me, GARY FALCONE on guitars and my wife TAMARA on vocals and both of them were invaluable in putting this album together.

Just looking at the liner notes for the album, the cast of musicians is quite intimidating for an album that is a homespun endeavor.
It's quite a cast of musicians on this little album. This album was a chance for me to do things differently, especially with recording vocals. This time I went ahead and recording the background vocals first before recording the lead vocals. Doing it that way just made it feel right.

Why was REASON TO BELIEVE earmarked as the single for this album?
The single is going to be coming out on New Years Day and it's a song that I'm really proud of. I think the song is probably five years old and it is just now getting ready to see the light and I was pleased to be working with BRUCE GAITSCH and have him handling the programming and the co-production. It was also great to be working with VINNIE COLAIUTA on drums and GEORGE HAWKINS on bass. After ten years of not having an album this whole process of putting an album out there feels exciting.

The legendary music producer DAVID FOSTER was the man behind the recording console of your first solo albums. I can only imagine that some thing had rubbed off in what I assume was the self-production of this record.
DAVID FOSTER is really in a class all by his own and I tried to use a lot of what I learned from him on this record. In all of the years that I worked with him n my solo albums and with CHICAGO, I always watched how he worked. The man was always creative. He always knew how to go for that moment. I did a lot of the production on this album but I had the pleasure of working with some great people on this album.

Would you like to talk about them?
My friend GREG MATTHIESON is pretty much the co producer on this album. Remember that SHEENA EASTON song STRUT? He was produced that track. I've got two of his songs on this album and one song that I co-wrote with him and we got that one done by sending audio files back and forth online. Another producer and songwriter I worked with was ANDREAS CARLSSON. He's a great songwriter and producer who has worked with MAX MARTIN, and for shows like X-FACTOR and SWEDISH POP IDOL.

The lineup is impressive and it's cool that I was able to happen even with a pandemic heating up.
Despite the pandemic, I was able to round up some great people on this album. Like I said before I wanted to approach the recording of this album differently than I did before and the songs this time are really deep songs. One song in particular is REASON TO BELIEVE which was all about my cancer diagnosis a few years back and how my wife TAMARA got me through it. I swear, she kept me going through all of it and it was a hard time. On the Monday that I was diagnosed with this aggressive form of cancer, my oldest son passed away from esophageal cancer on Tuesday. Another song that's really deep is ANOTHER LIE which is all about truth and gratitude. I feel that this record is a real artist's records.

So with your previous solo releases did you not feel like an artist?
I did but not quite. It was a completely different vibe. My last solo album was back in 2008 and A lot has happened to me since then and I'm a different guy now. That last album was called NO PLACE LEFT TO FALL and it was a good album but this album was a completely different experience and I just want to get as many people to listen to it as I possibly can. In the past all of my previous albums were released internationally and they always sold modestly.

And what is the roll out plan for the album?
For this album I'll be working with IMAGEN RECORDS which is a label headed up by BOB WINEGARD and the distribution is going to be handled by WARNER MUSIC GROUP (WMG). IMAGEN wants to handle the digital end of things. I was more interested in a physical release but BOB isn't. So while IMAGEN handles the digital end, I'm going to be selling the physical CD through my own website, I'm very excited about the physical CD and the artwork that we've chosen for the over. It is this beautiful painting done by an artist named VLADIMIR KUSH called SYMPHONY FOR THE SUN. When we saw the painting we fell in love with it and purchased it fifteen years ago.

It sounds like the LP is where it's at for you.
Making albums is what I do. I've tried doing other things but I'm just not any good at it (laughs). With all of the technology that you have now, I really love sequencing an album which feels like an art form in itself. Could you imagine an album like SGT. PEPPER'S LONELYHEART'S CLUB BAND being sequenced any other way? Getting an album to flow int the right way is important.

What other songs on the album have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
Well you've got a song like ANOTHER LIE which is deeply personal to me because it is about my eldest son who passed away a few years ago and you can definitely hear the DAVID FOSTER influence on that one. That is definitely a stand out for me. It was also a very difficult song to write. About 99% of of the time I really struggled with that song. Another song that has me excited is ESPECIALLY ME because it's such a funky track. It's always wonderful to work with a percussionist like LENNY CASTRO who has played with just about everyone in the business. MARC RUSSO of the DOOBIE BROTHERS played all of the horns on that track. THE TRUTH HAS BEGUN is another song where MARC RUSSO really takes charge. He's just an amazing player. TOO GOOD FOR TOO LONG is a song that ANDREAS CARLSSON helped produce and it's a very modern sounding song. There is a lot of great stuff on this album.

What's the big idea behind this album. What would you like for people to come away with after they hear it?
Basically I would like for people to know that the album is a full package of really good music. It's got great lyrics and and the music is right on the money and I hope that the album touches people.

FOR MORE iNFORMATiON GO TO: Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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