Surrounding the musings of multi-instrumentalist William P C Simmons V a.k.a. Rev. Billy Simmons, Evidence of a Struggle creates lush, cinematic, beautiful and sometimes chaotic compositions.
Launched 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. Once Covid restrictions were lifted, renowned sound engineer Sanford Parker (Voivod, Russian Circles, Yob, Eyehategod, Wovenhand, Darkthrone, Youth Code, Pelican) helped produce, record and master the final versions of these songs.
The album is complemented by a multi-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. To date, these include the cinematic single ‘Do’Oa’ (a wonderful fusion of Tortoise and Dif Juz), ‘Alan’s Song’ (the sound of fear, beauty and hubris), ‘Bisquee’ with its engaging off-kilter post-rock, and the album’s high-octane ‘Sal-E’.
“Bassakards is a song about longing and loss. There are so many counterpoints within this song, both sonically, visually, and emotionally. They are all parallel, similar, contrary, and oblique. Listen, look, let the sound speak its truth to you, let the animation challenge what you think about the story the sound is telling, and let the visuals challenge your beliefs. Let it move you to move forward, not bassakards,” says Rev Billy.
With a backstory involving collaborations with RCA recording artist Ké and various artists on major labels like RCA, Touch and Go, BMG and Universal, it is no surprise that Evidence of a Struggle would evolve. 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) on bass.
Apart from music, Rev. Billy also owns Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop, also known as an inclusive, creative space, hosting new artists’ work bimonthly and declared by Chicago Reader as the city’s best gallery in 2019. Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop is as strong a passion as his music.
The ‘Evidence of a Struggle’ album is out now and is available via Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.
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