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 www.billchamplin.com/shop.
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.
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.
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.
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
Describe what it's
like releasing new material in a time that is marked by a global
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
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
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
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
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, www.billchamplin.com.
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
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.