Interview with Billy McCarthy of D'Molls; November 2005

The first time I ever listened to D'Molls self titled album, I remember thinking that they had a truly distinctive bluesy glam sound, with songs like Dressed to Thrill, D'Stroll and the amazingly crafted ballad Hi 'N' Lo. It was hard not to appreciate D'Molls from the first listen, they had some amazingly catchy guitar hooks, intertwined with key changes and great vocals. I managed to track down drummer Billy McCarthy (aka Billy Dior), well it wasn't too difficult actually as you'll see from what follows, he's still a busy guy with a number of ventures on the go.

Q1. Billy, for the benefit of all Glitzine readers, can you give us some insight as to how you started off in the music business and how you eventually hooked up with the rest of D'Molls?

A1. I left home from Chicago when I was twenty-one because I was called to play drums in a great power pop band based in California, called Kid Rocker. We had legendary producer Eddie Kramer and heavyweight manager Bill Aucoin (Kiss and Billy Idol) at the helm. Kid Rocker couldn't fail, but did. I then formed a band with CC Deville, called Screamin' Mimi's. Desi, who would lead sing in D'Molls was once Kid Rocker's lead guitarist, as was Ronnie Younkin's during his brief break-up with Kix. CC really wanted the Kid Rocker gig but our lead singer wouldn't give in, so CC and I formed Screamin' Mimi's. Mimi's tanked and I returned to Chicago where I hooked up with Desi who had turned to lead singing and was just piecing together D'Molls

Q2. You arrived fairly early when the glam scene was just staring out in LA, in fact I heard you ended up shacking up with some of Motley Crue. Can you give us an idea of the other bands D'Molls played and hung out with at that time and an idea of the number of shows you played as a band?

A2. In 1981-82, Kid Rocker lived at 1040 North Clark with Tommy, Nicky, and Vince from Motley Crue living a floor below us. At that time there were bands like Candy featuring Gilby Clarke, Black N' Blue, Wasp, (who no one knew or cared about) Ruff Cutt, and Great White who Kid Rocker shared the bill with often on the local scene. There really wasn't an electrifying scene on Sunset as there was when D'Molls arrived in 1986. Then, Jett Boy, LA Guns, GNR and Faster Pussycat beat us to the punch and arrived on the Strip before us, but we caught up quite quickly beginning with our first show in LA, which was a sell-out at The Roxy Theatre.

Q3. Is it true that at one point there were two people who went under the name of SS Priest in different incarnations of the band?

A3. Yeah, Scotty (the only and original SS Priest) was under contract with Diamond Rexx and screwed us at the last minute so we got a fill-in for him, and told the guy, "guess what your new name is now?" It's all in my next book, "Beat Me 'til I'm Famous." I anticipate a few heads will roll when this one hits stores-that's for certain.

Q4. You're first album will always be the one that I think most fans would cite as their favourite, well it's certainly mine. In terms of the third release, Beyond D'Valley of D'Molls, this was a mixture of some new stuff, different versions of previously released material and some live numbers. Was this ever intended to be the official third D'Molls release?

A4. Thank you, but no it wasn't and still isn't an official D'Molls release It's nothing more than garbage and is illegally licensed. I've gotten reports of people who couldn't get their money back from CD's missing inside the jackets. DON'T BUY IT. You want to talk about a great album? Talk about Warped, D'Molls second album. I'll put it up against any album in the '80's, including Aerosmith.

Q5. Unfortunately after three albums, D'Molls spilt. Were there musical differences in the band that caused the split or was it just time to call it a day and move on to other projects?

A5. I've talked to Lizzy and Scotty (SS) in D'Molls a whole lot of times over why we split and it's really quite simple, in fact, something we all figured out within an hour after announcing the game was over. Someone on our team wasn't a team player, which was our biggest detriment from day one. Now who could that someone be?

Q6. At this stage, what happened to all the members of the band?

A6. Scotty went back to Diamond Rexx, Lizzy went to law school, and I stayed in music producing soundtracks and hosting my own radio show in Los Angeles. Desi I believe is still a carpenter. A very good one I might add.

Q7. I see that you continue to follow an artistic route with your career and are now a published author. Can you tell us a little about how and why you made the move from musician to author?

A7. I've always wanted to write books since I was younger, so now I'm blessed with the opportunity. However book people are completely wild! They drink latte's and check for typos. All I can say is thank God I did all my drugs when I was in rock and roll.

Q8. Your first book is called "The Devil of Shakespeare". Without giving away too much can you set the pretext for what the book is about?

A8. It's fiction, a thriller, and it's about a number of things in our society today. The premise is a small town kid, who becomes the world's greatest actor, and there's murder, blood, sex, sin, and deceit, but I like to think it's much deeper in the head than just that. I think everyone should give this book a read, even if your bored with fiction, because I'm sure you'll see a tiny piece of you somewhere in "The Devil of Shakespeare."

Q9. One unique thing that accompanied this book was a CD which features Jani Lane, Chip Z'Nuff, Ron Flynt from 20/20, and James Young from Styx. Why did you decide to release the CD and how does it tie in with the book itself?

A9. I like being original and I was fortunate to get these great guys to jump onboard and lend me a hand. If you listen to the lyrical content and mood of the song, it's the perfect teaser into the book, or vice versa. This is the first book in literary history to include a song to the novel, written by the author.

Q10. I mentioned the time when you first moved to LA and hung out with the likes of Motley Crue. I know you are working on a book about the scene at that time which I'm sure many of us will look forward to reading but can you give us an insight as to some of the stories that you are likely to reveal?

A10. It's a very comical, but yet a little tragic in a way, but I also think it's well balanced and a very entertaining read. If you liked "Spinal Tap" the movie, you'll love this book, and it's 100% true! You're going to get the story of my journey from Chicago to LA, and the many interesting accounts on a slew of familiar musicians, actors, managers, record executives, Playmates, and just regular people, the dream-seekers, who tragically got caught up in the moment of LA only to be let down when they least expected it and their body bag was already zipped up. It's not a memoir-it's narrative non-fiction. Six Degrees of Seperation, is all in the new book. It freaks me out sometimes when I'm writing it and I thank God, I'm still alive. The books at least sixteen months from being released. I promise though I'll give you one of the first dibs when that time comes.

Q11. I know you still keep in touch with Scotty from D'Molls and Diamond Rexx and you have been working together on some stuff. Is it likely we will see this developing into a band with perhaps the prospect of some shows or who knows, a release?

A11. I think so. I'm really enjoying working with Scotty, Nasty Habits, keyboardist, Gordie Laurencell and bassist Basil Cooper who once played in Daisy Chain. I think people will be surprised when we finally step out and they here the thunder. We're going for a record deal, and I'm very optimistic.

Q12. What's next for you in terms of goals that you would like to achieve as a musician, author or something completely different?

A12. Beside continuing with my books and playing music, I'm aggressively pursuing a career in radio again because I miss it, and I was very successful in it. I believe I have some worthwhile opinions on our world and would love the opportunity to share with many others. You know my first rough draft of "The Devil…" was in 1999, and in the book in 2012, Hilary Clinton is President, and Howard Stern is long divorced. I'd say that's pretty accurate intuition. I'm very curious on what the average person is thinking. Fuck celebrities they're phoney for the most part. And speaking of phoney's, can you believe Motley Crue is charging their fans big $$ to shake hands with them backstage? Greedy people make me irritable.

Q13. Do you still keep in touch with the other two members of D'Molls?

A13. SS, Lizzy, and I chat at least three times a month. I even keep in close contact with my ex-manager who still manages Stephen Stills, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young going on his thirtieth year! We all talk often than not.

Q14. I have to ask this Billy, but for all the fans out there who maybe live in hope of a D'Molls reunion - is it ever likely to be a reality?

A14. I don't know, we had so much tension, and yet when we the hit stage, we loved each other and hit it harder than anyone. Maybe when my next book comes out it will have a positive effect on some people in our former circle. I'd like to, but if it did, it would be a handful of gigs at the most, before we'd hit the alley and get scrapping again.

Billy, it's always a huge honour for me to talk with someone whose music has had a personal impact on me so on behalf of Glitzine readers, can I just say a huge 'thank you' for taking the time to talk to people who also share a love of your music.

It's been fun, and I thank you Grant and your Glitzine readers for taking the time. Good luck to you.

For further information on Billy McCarthy and his work to date, check out www.billymccarthy.com and sign up on the E-newsletter for regular updates.

Interviewed by Grant W.

Visit Billy McCarthy's Website