Shred Lords: Bill House of Conniption
Photo by Tracy J. Augur
A rising star in the Midwestern United States, Bill House is known for his wild performances and superior skills and technique with the guitar. Playing in thrash tribute band, Thrasher, and the award winning thrash-meets-NWBHM band, Conniption, Bill is one of the most recognizable musicians in the Midwest metal scene. But how did he get to the level that he is currently at and when did it all begin?
“I started back in high school. I got a guitar when I was probably about 14. It kind of sat around and then one day it
just kind of clicked when I was about 16,” says House, who used to keep his hobby a secret from his friends, save for a party here and there, for it was just a hobby at that point.
In the early days, Bill learned to play songs by Blink 182 and Red Hot Chili Peppers before graduating to the likes of Megadeth and Metallica. Bill looks back fondly to his first performance of ‘Master of Puppets’ on stage. And though he became an incredibly talented guitarist rather quickly, perhaps in a span of a year or two, Bill was unable to find like minded musicians until after high school when he joined Conniption.
Several years after joining Conniption, studying music at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and cutting two albums and one demo, Bill joined the prestigious club of award winning guitarists. Having taken home two “best hard rock/heavy metal” with Conniption and one “guitarist of the year” awards from the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards, Bill hasn’t let accomplishments go to his head and was happy to share the key to his victories.
“It’s all about practice. I mean, someone can tell you they’ve been playing guitar for forty years, but it doesn’t mean they’ve been practicing everyday for forty years,” says House, who at one point dedicated eight hours per day to his craft. Today, he spends about three to four due to other commitments. As for his “guitarist of the year” award, Bill is humbled by the experience. “I’m more than honored to have something like that. I was a little shocked actually. I don’t think I’m THAT good.”
Though he doesn’t think of himself as the best guitarist in the state of Wisconsin, Bill has earned himself legions of fans and has likely inspired many young guitarists As such, Bill talked about the guitarists that inspired him in kind.
“I think the most inspiring to me and the reason why I picked up guitar was Hendrix, and I’ll say that all the time. The way he manipulated the instrument changed the world,” says House of his guitar hero, Jimi Hendrix. As well, he cites Dimebag Darrell Abbott (Pantera), Steve Vai, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) – Dimebag and Mustaine being his top two.
His influences certainly show in his stage attire, gear, and his sound. Bill is often seen wearing a jean vest marked with thrash patches and brandishing a Dimebag signature guitar. As for his sound, Bill blends blue, thrash, and groove metal, but is unwilling to be pigeonholed.
“I never thought about it, it just kind of comes out. I don’t really go for a certain thing, you know. One riff might inspire an entire song. Lead-wise I try to express emotion and approach it the way a vocalist would,” says House. “I like playing fast when I can. I like the low strings, you know, the slow building stuff. I actually learned a lot from John Petrucci. I bought his rock discipline book a while back and it taught me a lot about slowing stuff down. ”
Of course, the influence of Dimebag Darrell and Mustaine can be heard clearly in House’s music, for his solos are distinctively bluesy like Mustaine, but also contain a lot of squealing harmonics and outrageous flare like the late Pantera shred lord. As for where Hendix fits into the mix, House is very well known for paying his hero tribute by playing his guitar with his teeth and behind his head.
Well known for his work with Thrasher and Conniption, Bill has become a hot commodity in recent years with many bands asking him to fill in on guitar in times of peril, which Bill always does.
“That’s what it’s all about. You gotta get out. You gotta pay your dues and play shows. You can’t keep being that guy in the basement,” says House in regards to his undying willingness to jump in and help a band in need.
Since hitting the scene, House has temporarily joined the ranks of The Heroes Lie, the Lords of Trident (as Sir Bill of House), and the Motley Brue. Though he says learning the music of former Lords of the Trident guitarist and good friend, Eliot ‘Killius Maximus’ Killian was difficult, he found the most difficulty in something many might find strange.
“Learning that Motley Crue stuff was weird. I’m more of a thrash guy and that stuff is more rock’n’roll. It’s real teeter-totter,” says House in regards to the learning experience that was Motley Brue, while filling in for guitarist, Peter Braun. “It’s different when you’re learning cover tunes and learning the music of a band from here. Everyone has heard those cover tunes, but not everyone has heard the local guys.”
Speaking of the local guys, Bill has a great deal respect for his scene and every band and artist that populates it. He specifically admires guitarists like Brock Betz (Brock Betz Band), Eliot Killian (Ex-The Lords of Trident), Akira ‘Asian Metal’ Shimada and Brian ‘Baron Taurean Helleshaar’ Koenig (The Lords of the Trident), Steve Schmidt (Towering Abomination), and Blackie Bishop (Black Saints).
An obviously talented musician, Bill always comes out on top when faced with a musical challenge, thus giving more reason to why he has won awards for his work. As such, Bill is carrying on with his musical career as a member of both Conniption and Thrasher. The former of which is about to release their third full length album entitled ‘Relentless Tides,’ which was recorded at Cherry Pit Studios in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. As well as supporting the album, Bill is giving teaching some attention and plans to eventually launch Billhouse.com, which will focus on guitar instruction. Unfortunately, the project has been slowed by the new Conniption album and playing shows. Regardless, Bill hopes to get the site up and running soon, so that he can share his gift through teaching lessons for an affordable price. In the meantime, Bill can be seen quite frequently at the Metal Grill in Cudahy, as well as many other venues in the Milwaukee area, as a musician and a fan. If you get the chance to see him perform, don’t be afraid to stop him and say hi. Bill is always happy to meet his fans.