Joseph Williams – 2006
By Kenneth Bremer
First of all congratulations with the new Vertigo release.
– With Vertigo it looks like you have a playground were you can get the more AOR Rock music side of you, and be creative with that. What is so special for you with this project, now the second album has been released.
These records have been about the singing! They have served as a platform to get in the studio and do some real rock screaming…Like the old days! That’s the part I enjoy the most about the Vertigo projects.
– How has it being working with Europeans on both Vertigo projects and do you feel that this can be an ongoing thing?
I don’t feel any difference working with Europeans versus Martians or Canadians. I get along with pretty much anybody. As for more Vertigo CDs? We will have to wait and see…..
– At both Vertigo albums you can hear the inspiration of the 80´s sound of AOR, there is a feeling of getting back to the roots of the sound. Is that a choice from your site or the producer’s ideas of the sound to this production.
The idea was entirely Frontiers Records. They wanted a Hard edge rock album with me SCREAMING like I use to do with TOTO. They offered up a choice of songs in that vein and Joey Carbone and me, picked the one’s we liked the best and there you have it!
– The Vertigo 2 is not the only album that you have out this year. In Japan the album “Two of Us” has been released. This album is a collection of classic songs. Did you choose the songs by yourself, and what were your criteria for that?
Two Of Us was always meant to be a bit of a treat. For me mainly! I wanted to do a record where I was singing down in my speaking range (the opposite of Vertigo) so we chose classic songs based on that idea! This Album was done quite some time ago. It was only released because of my appearance on TOTO’s Record “Falling In Between”!
– You have been working with the songwriter and producer Joey Carbone on several albums and song projects. How did this start?
Joey Carbone and I go back a long time! We first worked together on Star Search. We became great friends and ever since I left TOTO he has been in charge of my career as a singer. He acts as my personal manager and producer as well as being my best friend now for over 20 years!
– Many artists has been using you as vocalist on collection albums, soundtracks etc. I have noticed that you often do backing vocals together with Bill Champlin. In the 70´s & 80´s Richard Page & Steve George did many backings as a vocal duo because their voices matched perfectly. Is this the same thing with Bill and you when you are recording together?
Bill has such a great sound and I love to sing with him. Not only because we work well together but also because we make each other laugh so much. I don’t know if there is any special chemistry between him and me, but we do work well together. He is the best vocal arranger there is (in my opinion) and it is always a treat to bounce ideas off one another. When will we work together again? Hard to say! He is very busy touring with Chicago and I have my composing for Television happening….So we’ll see!
– You have always been in the group of singers that always are highlighted as one of the best in the west coast music world. In 1997 & 1998 you were a part of a group called “West Coast All Stars” with Bobby Kimball, Jason Scheff, Tommy Funderburk & Bill Champlin. How was it to be a part of this project, recording together with these friends?
It was great! Those projects were the idea of Joey Carbone. Bill and I did most of the vocal arrangements on the first one and then Jason really made the second one work! I had such a great time making those records although it was very hard work. I really got to know Bobby Kimball very well on those projects and we have been very good friends ever since. Bobby is my favorite singer of all time…..Hands Down! When he opens his mouth….The clouds part and your hair blows back!!!
– Have you any plans in the future to do another album with “West Coast All Stars”?
I hope so! I would do another one in a second if we were asked!
– Your first solo album came in 1982. This is today a masterpiece in many west coast music fans collection. The Japanese label Cool Sound reissued it in 2002, so many could get it on CD. Was it difficult for you to start a rock career, many probably knew you as the son of a famous film composer, but you had to have your own identity in the music business.
I have never cared about that. I am so proud of my Father and his work. Proud to be his son. Whatever difficulties I have had in my career have certainly not had much to do with Him. Nor have I ever needed to establish myself separately in the world of music…I just like to sing, perform write music. It’s all I know how to do!
– The next solo release came in 1996 titled “I Am Alive”, we all know that you had been busy over the years with many other projects, but it was great to see you back again, kick starting your solo career. What is behind the title of the album, especially considering that it was 14 years since the first album?
Well, the album title came directly from the song. And we also thought that after all that time it made sense as an album title. I wrote that song while on my last tour as TOTO’s singer. I played David Paich’s piano a lot during sound checks and that is where the original idea started. Jeff and Mike Porcaro would play it with me. So when the time came to record that song, I had to have them play with me….It was the last work I ever did with Jeff! Very Sad!
– You followed it up with the album “3” the year after. Did you have so many songs that were written earlier, or were you busy writing in that period?
A little of both!
– The west coast music community is growing´ and especially the internet has help keeping this music style alive. How do you see the future for the west coast music, and do you and your music colleagues in Los Angeles feel the big interest from Europe and Japan.
It’s funny! To us, there is no “west coast” sound. We just write and play our tunes. But what ever people want to call it is fine by me. As long as there is interest in this style, I will keep writing, singing and producing it until the day I drop dead!
– You have many fans in Europe and Japan and your music is well established there. Do you see any possibilities in the future to perform live both places, maybe with the Vertigo Project?
I would love to perform live. It’s a matter of time and money really! Some company like Frontiers in Italy or Hori Pro in Japan would have to back such a tour. If they could book enough shows and sell enough tickets, then I think it could happen. I’ll be ready when they are!
– Thanks for taking your time to make this interview. Good luck in the future.
Thank you for your interest and support. All my best wishes to you Kenneth and all the Fans who may read this!