The accompanying video is the newest offering from a six-chapter audio-visual storybook, created by Chicago artist John Airo, who has been involved with this project since the outset – creating videos, album covers and accompanying visuals for live performances.
This engaging off-kilter post-rock offering follows the cinematic debut single ‘Do’Oa’, a wonderful fusion of Tortoise and Dif Juz, and ‘Alan’s Song’ – the sound of fear, beauty and hubris. The sound of a beautifully crumbling grand distraction.
Surrounding the musings of multi-instrumentalist William P C Simmons V a.k.a. Rev. Billy Simmons, Evidence of a Struggle is an evolving group of artists and musicians whose sonic creations may lead you to the center of the darkness or just might unfurl the universe before you with lush, cinematic, beautiful, and sometimes chaotic compositions.
“There is so much attached to these songs, musically, visually and emotionally. I don’t think there’s an inch within The Glue Factory that hasn’t been touched by literal blood, sweat, or tears. I believe that Evidence of a Struggle is natural in creating all art,” says Rev. Billy.
“I’m reluctant to explain what these songs or animations “mean” The music and the art says different things to different people. The music says exactly what it needs to. I want to encourage the listener and the viewer to let these compositions speak to them as they spoke to me when I was writing and recording them or to John when he was painting or creating the animations. This objective tangible art we make becomes subjective the minute we release it to the world. Enjoy this, and try to hear what it has to say.”
Evidence of a Struggle began in 2020 during lockdowns. This ambitious effort sees Rev. Billy play every instrument – guitar, drums, piano, synth and violin – recorded and engineered from his home studio, The Glue Factory. With Covid restrictions lifted, he began working with Sanford Parker (Voivod, Russian Circles, Yob, Eyehategod, Wovenhand, Darkthrone, Youth Code, Pelican), who helped produce and record the final versions of the songs for this record, as well as mastering.
Shaped by a wealth of records inherited from his older sisters and their boyfriends, coupled with a childhood of playing piano and clarinet until his first guitar acquisition at 16, Rev. Billy was quick to start playing with touring bands. After honing his craft and gaining invaluable experience, he elected to study music performance and guitar at Wichita State University, coupled with two and three-dimensional arts and silversmithing.
Noticed for his unique style and songcrafting, various musicians and labels began to notice Rev. Billy’s talent, and he ultimately had to choose between university and music. Beginning with RCA recording artist Ké, Simmons also wrote songs and played guitar for other artists on major record labels like RCA, Touch and Go, BMG and Universal.
In 2023, Matt Walker (of1000faces, Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey, Garbage, Filter) became involved in this project, playing drums and helping with production with Matt’s brother Solomon Walker (Morrissey, Bryan Adams, Eastern Shadows, Year of the Rabbit) and Alan Berliant (Chris Connelly, Mavis Staples, Saint Asonia) also contributing bass.
Apart from music, Rev. Billy also owns Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop, known for high-quality haircuts, friendly, welcoming atmosphere and its inclusive, creative space. Hosting new artists’ work bimonthly, Chicago Reader declared this to be the city’s best gallery in 2019. A staple in the Chicago community, Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop is as strong a passion as his music.
As of May 18, ‘Bisquee’ is available via Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp, where the full ‘Evidence of a Struggle’ album (out June 9) can already be pre-ordered.
All music written by William P C Simmons V (aka Rev. Billy)
Performed by William P C Simmons V (aka Rev. Billy)
Produced by Sanford Parker
Loveless Publishing ASCAP
Video by John Airo
3. Alans Song
5. The Build
9. The First Fight
13. Keep It