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 A Stimulating Way Of Life
By Shari Black Velvet

(An Interview with Billy Morrison -Taken From Black Velvet 14 - Nov 97

London based band STIMULATOR were formed in 1996 by the very commanding and charismatic frontman, Billy Morrison. Recruiting Terry, Jason and Barry into the camp, the quartet set about tattooing their name onto the skin of everyone in the rock world. Barry has since fled, but Stimulator are looking and sounding stronger than ever. In fact, Stimulator are exactly what their name suggests - arousing, exciting and very, very inspiring.

I decided to play games with Billy. Questions were written onto small pieces of paper and mixed up. Billy’s job was to pick one, answer the question, pick another and so on. Questions are in no particular order other than that in which Billy picked them...





Black Velvet : What’s your favourite Stimulator song?

Billy: Whatever song we’ve just written. When I wrote ‘Burn’ that was my favourite. Then we released ‘Strike #1’ and I thought that was brilliant. There’s a couple of songs; a song called ‘Rush’ and a song called ‘Modern Primitives’. ‘Modern Primitives’ at the moment. If you came to see us tomorrow, my favourite song would be ‘Modern Primitives’.

BV: How’s the music scene in London?

B: The music scene at the moment is really picking up. There’s a lot of bands that are trying to get deals. It’s very competitive but it’s very good for the music. Lots of bands influencing each other, lots of bands playing with each other. We play with a band called Realtv a lot and we support them and they support us. There’s another band called Gigantic who are going to be huge. The live music scene is cool, the music industry sucks as it always has. If you’re not The Prodigy, you’re not going to get signed.

BV: Seeing as, at the time of this interview, we’re in the midst of the festival season, which festival would you most like to play and why?

B: It depends what the bill is. I would have said the Phoenix last year, this year is absolutely dire, so this year it would’ve had to be Reading. Mainly so I could see Metallica from the side of the stage, rather than the front of the stage ‘cause they’re awesome.

BV: If you could pick your fantasy festival bill, who would you like to see?

B: Nine Inch Nails headlining... Soundgarden, White Zombie, Alice In Chains and Stimulator. And if it was including bands that have been deceased, I’d have a second stage and tent that would feature New York Dolls, the Heartbreakers, Hanoi Rocks with Iggy Pop headlining... excellent!

BV: How did you get together with Work Hard PR?*

B: A mutual friend. The first tape that we did, a mutual friend passed it on. Roland rang him back the next day saying "This band is excellent". We met Roland and he presented us with a contract which was basically that they like us one hell of a lot so they will work for us for nothing and we’ll pay them later, which was absolutely fantastic of them. And also I must say, and I’d like this quoted: Work Hard have done the best job ever, we’ve smashed their van up, we’ve cost them money, and they are still behind us. They’re absolutely amazing. Every review that we’ve had near enough has been 4/5, and that’s because they get the right journalists to see us.

BV: Why the gold tooth and piercings? Are you image conscious?

B: Of course! The gold tooth... I had some money lying around and couldn’t think what else to do with it so I spoke nicely to my dentist. I had it done about a year ago. The piercings I first got done fifteen years ago. Purely for image. I’m vain - actually, I don’t know if it’s vanity because I don’t look at myself in shop windows, but I like all kinds of body adornment. Things that manipulate your body and change your body. And I like scarification and tattoos and piercings.

BV: Outside of the band, what are your hobbies?

B: Sex, when I can get it! I like reading! I like going to the movies. I like motorbikes a lot. I like motorbike racing - road racing. I like watching dangerous sports.

BV: Why all the tattoos - don’t you think you’ll regret them when you are 80?

B: Never regret anything. A lot of people have mom and dad tattooed on their arm - I don’t have mom and dad tattooed on my arm. I have pieces of art. You might not like them, but they are art to me, art to the people that did them. It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of pain and a lot of money and I’m really proud of my tattoos, and even when I’m 80, if I live to that ripe old age, I will not be ashamed of them. Never. This is who I am. I get quite serious here. I’m not living on this planet to please other people and to worry about what other people think of me. I’m living my life and my life is tattoos and piercings and experience. And when I die, I will not be regretting, wishing I had or hadn’t done that. I will have experienced everything I’ve wanted to experience. I will have travelled, I’ll have gone through a lot of pain, a lot of pleasure and I’ll die a happy man. Thank you!

BV: Where did the name Stimulator come from?

B: Stimulator came from a friend of mine called Sleazy who was in a band called Throbbing Gristle, and was then in a band called Psychic TV, and is now in Coil. I was having dinner with him and his partner, and I was thinking of names like Rape... really obnoxious, disgusting words and he said "No, you can’t do that. You won’t go mainstream with a name like that." He said "You wanna call yourselves Stimulator" and that was it. It has sexual connotations which is what I wanted to portray with the band.

BV: What are the best and worst things about being in Stimulator?

B: The best thing about being in Stimulator is having a guy come up to you like he did last night and want to do nothing else but shake your hand and say that such and such a gig that he saw us at was the best gig he’s ever been to and we made his week. To clarify that, my vision of Stimulator and what we do as a band reached someone else who felt the same way. Just to have one person say to me "I really like what you do, it really means something", whatever that is to them, is just the best. It’s great to play in front of 2½ thousand people - which we’ve done, it’s great to have great reviews - but the letters we get - we get letters from people we’ve never met who say they’ve bought our single and love it. It’s brilliant. ...The worst thing about being in Stimulator is knowing that we’re good, knowing that we’re a bit special, that we don’t get f**ked up all the time, that we really believe in our music and the a***holes in the industry can’t see it.

BV: You did quite an extensive tour earlier in the year as well as already having supported big names such as Motorhead and Love/Hate. Tell me about all of that.

B: The tour was definitely a learning experience. Before we did it I had visions of grandiosity of never having to tour s**tholes. Our first gig was at LA2 supporting Love Hate. We started the year supporting Motorhead. Love Hate was just a break. I loved what they did early on, didn’t like their later albums, and the excitement of just our first gig being a proper gig and not down the local workman’s pub. We were just excited to be out there playing the songs that we’d been working on for a few months. With Motorhead, I think we acquitted ourselves really well. We were out of our league. I was nervous. I was f**king nervous. Basically because of the reputation that Lemmy’s fans have got. And they let us play our set. They didn’t throw anything. I’m not saying they were dancing in the aisles, but Lemmy said to me afterwards "If they didn’t like you, they would have thrown something and it would have hit you". So he said congratulations, well done... Lemmy’s a big fan. He’s gone around telling people that Stimulator are really good and I love him for that. I think now, nine months later, we could go back to the Astoria, if the industry would give us a chance, and blow the roof off it. Because now, doing that little tour that we were talking about, that was the learning experience which we should have done first, and then gone and played the Astoria. We came off that tour so tight, professional, together, could just command a stage whereas maybe early on we didn’t know how to command a stage. That is a craft in itself.

BV: What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?

B: Getting our video shown on MTV. The band is less than a year old and we have more press than most bands in their first two years. We have two singles in mainstream shops, toured properly, and we’ve supported some huge bands, but to have a video made by people that we didn’t pay - we just paid costs - everyone involved in the making of the video did it because they believed in Stimulator, including the Astoria Theatre who gave us the premises for nothing and the video company who made the video, UFO Films, and to see that all done for nothing, done on a shoestring, all the lighting operators, everyone, worked for nothing... to see that get on MTV is just... I believe wholeheartedly, not many bands get that, not within a year, and that’s what makes me believe, we might make mistakes, people might not like certain songs, but f**king hell, we must have something.

BV: Did you know you were going to be on MTV that week?

B: Yeah. We’d been promised for about six weeks, and the guy who programs Superock and Headbanger’s Ball, kept saying "yeah, it’s gonna be on, it’s gonna be on" and we’d get a call saying it was going to be on that week and I’d stay up and it wouldn’t be on, and eventually, I thought. This is b*****ks, they’re not gonna play it, and I let go of it, and lo and behold, it was on. It was like "f**king hell, they’ve shown our video!". I was really proud of what we’d done. Up until the point we made the video we didn’t have management, an agency, we didn’t have anything. We did that whole thing - two singles and a video with no help.

BV: Has anything embarrassing ever happened on stage, or have you had any disastrous gigs?

B: Yeah, we’ve had disastrous gigs - they usually turn out to be the best! We played a little place in Canterbury that didn’t have a stage, lights or PA, and the gig ended up being sold out capacity - which wasn’t a lot but there was a couple of hundred people in there, absolutely jammed, all going nuts, dragging me into the crowd; it was a great gig. I played at Birmingham Foundry and jumped off the stage and tried to jump back up again and missed the stage with a guitar round my neck, and just clattered to the floor that was quite embarrassing! I’ve split my trousers on stage - that was very embarrassing - in fact, that was at Motorhead. I had a suit on and I split my trousers!

BV: What does F.O.N.O. of F.O.N.O. Music, your own record label, stand for?

B: All answers on a postcard to: F.O.N.O. Music, P.O. Box 12587, London, SW3 5ZL. Anyone who gets it right wins a prize! Can’t tell anyone - band promise!

BV: Why did you do different versions of ‘A Way Of Life’, e.g. ‘Another Life’?

B: A couple of reasons. Part of what Stimulator does is that we like remixes. We like the idea of different versions of stuff. I like what Trent Reznor does. I like the fact that he puts out a CD and it has eight different versions of a song and each one’s different. We’ve done three versions of ‘A Way Of Life’ and released two of them. I don’t know whether it was the right song to do it with but we had ideas for a really slow version which we called ‘Another Life’ and it was more f**ked up and more... I dunno. There’ll be more to come from that. In the future we will re-record songs that we’ve done and do them differently. We write so many songs anyway, we work so hard song-writing that we couldn’t ever be accused of rehashing stuff to make money. The whole idea is like The Wildhearts thing - you get an A side and you get five B sides. It’s just different angles on the same song.

BV: What was the first rock band you got into, and have you ever been such a fan of a band that you’ve followed them on tour or bought magazines specifically for them?

B: Totally, totally. The first rock band was probably Gary Glitter when I was about nine. But the first time I started going on tour was Adam & The Ants. I was young, still at school, a teenager, maybe thirteen or something. I used to bunk off school and go up north and see Adam & The Ants. And there was a band called Flesh For Lulu. I ended up working for Flesh For Lulu. I went all over Europe. I’ve done that with a lot of bands. I’ve travelled to Europe to see David Bowie.

BV: Any bands before Stimulator?

B: None worth mentioning.

BV: What are your bad habits?

B: I don’t have any. I’m perfect! Um... my vices are... I smoke, my driving - f**king abysmal! Don’t know...

BV: Tell me about the other members of Stimulator and what do you each bring into the band?

B: You have Terry Warville, who plays guitar. You have Jason Bowld, he plays drums, and the bass player is now Shane Smith. Terry brings Sid Vicious in this band. He stakes out the corner of the stage which is his and you don’t enter it. He’s great. Really hard on stage, takes no s**t. He can play riffs like all good punks should be able to play. His guitar’s low slung. He brings attitude into the band. Jason is the world’s best drummer I am convinced, yet to be famous. He brings song-writing into the band. Me and him work well song-writing. His musical background is different to mine. He gets all the birds! All the women like Jason ‘cause he’s a babyface! Shane brings youth and excitement into the band. He’s a good bass player. He learnt 25 songs in 10 days and immediately became part of Stimulator. He’s totally committed to Stimulator. What do I bring into the band? Drive and determination... and my unending faith that there is something special about Stimulator. My drive and determination will get us where I want to go.

BV: Final question - what one thing about yourself would surprise readers?

B: I don’t drink.


Stimulator have since split up. Billy Morrison later went on to join The Cult and then brainwaved Camp Freddy. He's now a member of Billy Idol's band and Royal Machines.


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