Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty Talks Penn’s Peak Performance, Music and Career Highlights
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly thirty years since hard rock giants Firehouse released their monstrous debut album. A self-titled opus, fueled by hits like “Don’t Treat Me Bad,” “All She Wrote,” and the ubiquitous “Love Of A Lifetime” (a song that’s still a wedding staple), which ushered in legions of fans worldwide and gave Firehouse the coveted Favorite Hard Rock New Artist award at the 1992 American Music Awards.
These days, the band continues to tour and celebrate its legacy. Often joining forces with fellow rock legends like Warrant, Winger and Bret Michaels for sold out shows where they not only perform their arsenal of hits, but also salute our military and first responders.
On Saturday, November 23, Firehouse will once again return to Northeast Pennsylvania for a show with Warrant at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA. Longtime fans of both bands will be able to enjoy an evening of hard rock as well as reminiscence about both bands early days and the glory of 1991’s “Blood, Sweat and Beers” tour.
Firehouse is: C.J. Snare (lead vocals/keyboards), Bill Leverty (guitars), Michael Foster (drums) and Allen McKenzie (bass).
I recently spoke with Leverty about the band’s upcoming performance at Penn’s Peak and more in this exclusive new interview.
What do you enjoy most about Penn’s Peak?
Bill Leverty: Penn’s Peak is such a great venue. It sounds amazing in there because of the acoustics, big stage, killer light show and the world-class PA system. The vibe is so full of energy, which comes straight from the fans. There’s something about Jim Thorpe, PA that makes people want to rock!
What can fans expect from the band’s upcoming performance?
BL: We’ve changed the set up a little bit this year and are playing songs we haven’t played in a while. It’s made everything fresh. We’ll also throw in a few surprises as well. Getting to play with Warrant again is always a great time. For anyone who saw us on the “Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour” with them back in 1991, this is your chance to come relieve those great, youthful days.
Firehouse has had quite a busy year of touring. How has this year been different from ones in the past?
BL: This year we’ve felt a huge resurgence of our genre. The audiences are bigger and there’s been a lot of enthusiasm. We’re also hitting upon multiple generations now. A lot of people are bringing their kids to shows. In some cases, we’ve even seen parents, their children and grandchildren. It’s such a cool feeling.
The band also performed as part of Bret Michaels’ “Hometown Heroes” Tour. What was that experience like?
BL: It’s always great to play with Bret because he’s an exceptional human being. What he did for our first responders, police, firefighters and our military was really something special. Getting to be a part of that tour and meeting a lot of those people was wonderful. There was so much positivity that made it such a great time.
Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Firehouse being signed and the release of the first album. What do you remember most about that whole time?
BL: I remember when we were trying to get a deal it was very difficult. We rode around in a van for the longest time; playing in bars, nightclubs and lounges as professional musicians. Then the A&R guy came and saw us perform in ’89 and we got signed and released our first album the following year. We always thought getting signed would be the end of all your problems. What we discovered was that getting signed meant we were just getting to the starting line. It was a combination of luck as well as the fans supporting us and our songs, calling radio stations and coming out to shows. It was a slow process but in the end it all worked out.
What was the band’s songwriting process in those years?
BL: It varied but a general rule was each of us had what we liked to call a “hook book” for lyrics and demo tapes. I’d usually come up with rhythms and riffs and show them my stuff. Then C.J. would show me his ideas and we’d start working on them together. Bouncing ideas back and forth until we had a finished song. It was a magical, creative time.
Warrant and Firehouse will perform at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA on Saturday, November 23. Showtime is 8 p.m.