I Almost Started Pulling My Hair Out…….


But, I found it; it is the recorded audio from the 30-minute conversation I had with Brazilian American metal guitarist of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Thank God I quadruple checked my apps and finally found it as I was about to give up and bullshit my way through the article quoted on the safe side.

In case you are wondering; I have an app on my phone that I use for this column and after a long conversation, I can go back and transcribe at will what I want to include in the piece. It is very efficient and saves me from litigation ha ha. Anyway, this week we will be taking a peek inside the TSO and its history and one of it’s touring guitarists……………….Bill Hudson II.

Yes, my rockers, it is a stage name and I appreciate it as I will have no trouble spelling it. Anywho, I have to say this guy was really cool and very easy to interview and I appreciate it.

Starting off, Bill tells me that there are two versions of the TSO….the east coast one (where Bill toured with them in 2015) and the west coast version. He tells me that basically they play the same music but have different members and many of the members are very high profile. Some of the current and past members are a “who’s who” of metal. ” A lot of these guys are in big metal bands…you know we have Russell Allen of Symphony X, we have Jeff Scott Soto, we have Blas Alias of Slaughter, you know all the Savatage guys are in the band,” says Bill. In addition to these past or present members include Alex Skolnick (Testament), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), and at least another 30 high profile musicians including opera singers and currently Canadian Lisa Lavie, a singer from Quebec tours and sings with them.

So, who and what are Trans Siberian Orchestra? Well, this is what Bill told me. “….so basically the guy who writes all the music his name is Jon Oliva. He is also the main singer and songwriter in the 80’s metal band Savatage and the TSO is basically Savatage..it’s what they became.”

In respect to Bill and being a part of the TSO, he states that in 2014 he was approached to play in Jon’s solo band, Jon Oliva’s Pain. “now the main guitarist who really holds the position in the band (east coast)…his name is Joel Hoekstra and he’s currently in Whitesnake. In 2015 he got the call to join Whitesnake and so he missed all the TSO stuff…now the first show they needed me was when they headlined the WACKEN show (google Wacken people). It was the biggest show in their history as we used both stages (to play). The reason they called me for that was because of my proximity to Jon Oliva and by that time I already knew have the set. So basically it was the right time and the right place for me”

I also asked about the TSO music as at this point I’d heard of the band but really didn’t know much until stole some stuff of……I mean bought their music ha ha . Basically, quite a bit or almost all of it has a Christmas theme to it so I asked Bill to indulge me. In a nutshell, Bill agrees and tells me that the band is a Christmas tradition and has been going on for about 20 years; that is how it started. They have also recorded other stuff such as an album called Beethoven’s Last Night (the last 24 hours of B’s life) , it is generally a Christmas tradition.

I will jump in here and say that the other day I was chatting with my buddy Chandler and mentioned what I was up to and he interjected that about 10 years ago he bought his wife one of the TSO live DVD’s and they have a Christmas tradition of watching the show every Christmas eve…pretty cool eh Bill ?

I proceeded to inquire (without knowing) that to me the TSO vibe is like Yanni in my opinion where they have a huge following with 80- 100 000 seat venues sold out but you’d be hard pressed to find someone to admit that they own a Yanni CD. I couldn’t believe it when …” yeah, (laughter) I agree and we have one, actually I think there are currently two of Yanni’s singers in the band.”

At this point, Bill tells me that in regards to touring, he only really toured with them in 2015 but he remains in the family ; he works with them at times during rehearsals and is there kind of a back up in case somebody goes down but he does his other projects and you really never know when they will call you.

Some of Bills’ other work includes playing in Circle II Circle, Vital Remains, I Am Morbid, U.D.O. and Dirkshneider. I had to ask how it was working with original Accept frontman UDO and if the experience was. “um, yeah, that went sour pretty quick (laughter), I mean he got to talking too much in the press and yeah it wasn’t good….but I appreciate the experience which was good overall and I’m tight with the guys in the band still.”

We touched upon the fact that Mark Tornillo (who is the current Accept singer) is really good and how much I liked their new stuff. “well that goes to show you who was the real force behind the bands success” he said, as we both angled that Wolf Hoffman (Accept guitarist) was probably the real force as the band is still rocking…..seriously check out the last couple Accepts albums or my piece “Don’t Drink The Koolaid”

Bill did concur ” we were down in Mexico last year playing a festival with them on the same bill and I met Wolf and hung out with him and live….wow man they were killer…..they played the old shit, but man they really didn’t have to”

When it comes to influences, Bill lists Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Criss Oliva and Kiko Loureiro are among the top and Kiko was actually Bills’ first guitar teacher back in Brazil before the premier moved stateside.

Next up for Bill is …..well he said ” ah man this interview came up at a really bad time because….well it’s good but I can’t talk about it until the ink dries and it will….but oh man I wish I could tell you but within the next couple weeks I can give you an update…….but anyway, besides the news that is coming and man I have to tell you it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved with…..but anyway right now I have my band Northtale and it’s the first time I call the shots…..you know before I was a session guitar player and people came to see TSO or David Vincent or fucken UDO (laughter) , but Northtale is my baby right now until….I wish I could tell you what’s coming up but I’ll let you know soon (laughter).

Yeah, so I’m going to keep on this one and I will definitely update all you rockers on Bills’ new adventure; hey that sounds like a movie and I might pitch it to him as an album title. Bills’ New Adventure….starring Hudson II.

Anyway, back to Northtale, which Bill says is based out of Sweden as three members are from there. The music that he writes for this project/band is kinda of 90’s s power metal; Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Halloween kind of stuff with really melodic tones.

A few days ago Mr Hudson played a Randy Rhoads Remembered tribute during the NAMM show in California with fellow rockers Ron Thal (Bumblefoot–still waiting for the interview Ron), Brian Tichy, Roy Z. I couldn’t leave this out because as you know, I am a huge Rhoads fan.

Canadian acts The Order of Chaos and Striker are among his favourite Canadian metal bands and it was nice when Bill ………without and prodding (laughter) said………………..and I quote…..” I mean there is a lot of great metal in Canada….you know its funny dude, every tour NO MATTER WHAT tour it is …except TSO, but no matter what tour it is, the Canada shows are so much better than the US shows…when we’re in North America. I mean when we play New York City, it’s great but when we play Montreal it’s so much better; Canada is a very Metal place in my opinion…it reminds me of Europe you know. I think it was last year when we played Quebec with UDO and the vibe was so much like Paris. I have a funny storey about Canada, I think it was 2011 and I  played Kelowna with Firewind ..Gus G, Ozzy’s guitarist and it was a bowling alley and …..it was funny (laughter) because nobody under the age of 21 could get close to the stage, so we were up there and there were all these people way back there because they weren’t old enough to come near the stage…..it was funny and weird because it was one of those shows where you have a day off in between because it was so far from anywhere……but then you have Montreal, Toronto so it’s good. I have great memories of Canada for sure.

There you have it orchestra rockers; a show that is on my bucket list (hint hint Bill) the next time they hit Michigan or Ontario. You got my number Bill lol.


WhErE’s ThE PaRtY ????

**Soo Blasters Feb 6 @ 8pm

Aaron Pritchett

Only $35 Bones

**KiLLeR DwArFs

Sat Apr 27 @8pm

Tickets are almost Free

$24.50 CND or $21 US**



Rock On Amigos

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has travelled throughout Mexico and many South American countries. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie and around the globe. Ernest has interviewed many rock and roll musicians including, Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy.Dio.Whitesnake, Quiet Riot), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger). Adrian Vandenberg (Vandenberg, Whitesnake, Moonkings), Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, John Corabi (Motley Crue/Dead Daisies), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner) and many more. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humour that was moulded from shows like Seinfeld & The Simpsons. Ernest is a freelance writer.