You may not have ever heard of Bill Dent, but if you’ve worked with him, you’ll never forget him. Bill is truly one of the more talented people I’ve ever had the chance to work with. I’ve been around a lot of amazing guitarists, and can attest that not only is he a great guitarist, he is a great musician – something many guitarists sadly lack. He has such a great sensibility about his playing, covering a wide range of styles with ease. He doesn’t settle for “what everyone else is doing”, and isn’t afraid to boldly try new things and push the envelope. When many artists do that, they often end up getting critical acclaim at the expense of offending the masses, but in Bill’s case – he always seems to find just the right balance for each song and project. As a result of this, Bill is an exceptional collaborator – bringing out the best in any song he touches, and any artist he works with. He makes an ordinary chord progression become extraordinary, and a mundane melody become memorable.
Bill has exceptional ears, and meticulous attention to detail that benefit him not only as a writer, arranger, and guitarist, but in his studio work as well. From mixing decisions to nailing the right sound, his ears are trustworthy. As both a guitarist and an engineer, he knows how to squeeze every last drop of tone out of an amp and guitar. With Bill, I’ve found that it is well worth the investment in time to let him take his time tweaking settings carefully – you will always be rewarded with an amazing sound, rather than just settling for good.
Bill has done session work for a number of artists, including myself. His work was nothing short of amazing, and helped push my own material to a better place. I’ve also had the pleasure of collaborating with Bill on a number of songs, from very simple to very ambitious. I’ve never been disappointed. Hopefully, some of the many collaborations we’ve worked on together will someday be given a proper audience!
Bill’s talents spill over beyond just the making of music – he has also made a good living tweaking guitars and amps, developing his own products (check out www.reactortone.com) and teaching guitar lessons.
I took a few minutes to interview Bill so that I could properly introduce him to you. You can find some of his music at www.reverbnation.com/billdent
You seem to have a wide range of styles evident in your music – what are your biggest influences and how would you describe “your sound” to someone?
A: My sound comes from a collection of life’s experiences. It continues to evolve. When I was young it was Rock and R&B/Funk. I would say Rock, R&B, Blues and Jazz come most naturally. I love learning and working with practically any style. If it has a good guitar sound I like it! Some influences include The Police, Led Zeppelin, old Van Halen, Steve Lukather, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, James Brown, Seal, Phil Collins, Bob Marley, David Howell Evans, Sibelius, Beethoven, Schubert and many others in some form. I like creating music on the guitar but I also enjoy making the guitar enhance and not detract from the music around it. I try to keep my perspective on the production as a whole, unless of course I’m just writing for pure self-indulgence.
What other instruments do you play?
A: I play guitar plus bass guitar. I dabbled for a while with cello and violin, and while I enjoyed it, I decided to keep a more singular focus on the guitar as time is short and I want to be as good at it as I can be.
Do you collaborate with other musicians? What about doing session work?
A: I think the funnest part about music is working with other musicians, but with life being busy and schedules packed I find myself working alone a lot of the time. I just moved 2000 miles last year but am starting to make some great new connections. I’ve been picking up quite a bit of session work lately. Yes, I am available!
Do you only write instrumental music or do you venture into lyrics?
A: I write instrumental music myself and write music to others’ lyrics. I have collaborated on lyrics as well.
What past project or song are you most proud of?
A: That’s a hard question. Each one is different and represents one mile stone or another in some way. I work hard to be equally as proud of everything I do.
Are there any personal projects you are currently working on?
A: I’m gearing up to work on some new songs to complete a “jazz” themed album and will need some musicians, particularly drums and keys, perhaps even some vocals. I’m open to a lot of ideas.
What projects/collaborations would you most enjoy?
A: Right now my focus is on networking with new musicians and enjoying the discovery of what develops in the process. The one I would most enjoy working on is the one I don’t know about yet.
In addition to your talents as a musician and studio engineer, you have a great deal of technical expertise and knowledge with audio electronics – tell us a little about that.
A: My love for music and electric guitar in particular has always gone hand in hand with my OCD nature to understand how everything works! My fascination with music and acoustics coupled with my fascination with electronics naturally work together. I’m always studying and experimenting with those relationships. If I need my guitar or amp to do something it doesn’t I modify it so it does. I was blessed and enjoyed a fruitful business my last 5 years in Georgia doing just that as well as repairing all types of pro-audio gear and teaching guitar. The only caveat is that I’m a helpless perfectionist. If it’s not right it bugs me.
Has being LDS impacted your writing or your career in any way?
A: My writing comes from who I am and I am LDS. So yes, it has impacted it for sure. I write using what I feel as a human being with the values and hopes that I hold dear. I very much enjoy and have a lot in common with my colleagues of other faiths in Georgia as well as those that are LDS. I think some people are stifled by this. We worry so much that people of other faiths don’t understand us. On the flipside I think we can do more to understand them, as our brothers, and music reaches out regardless of dogma. It’s a great relationship builder. I look at the song “I Can Only Imagine,” and how many people of how many faiths it touches, and further realize that we are not all so different as we may fear.
I give my whole-hearted recommendation to Bill. On top of his talents, he’s an honest and humble person. If you are looking for a session guitarist, songwriting collaborator, or guitar electronics whiz, he’s your man. Bill will be featured on at least 2 tracks on my upcoming album. You can hear samples of his work on my blog www.recordingpro.blogspot.com or at www.reverbnation.com/mattmylroie Check out the guitar solo on my song “Blues Man”, which is his latest contribution to my work.