Billy Kelly is the driving force behind WWK Unsigned, his radio show that has an eclectic playlist, a love of a boss tune and a champion of local music. We arranged to meet at a local hostelry to discuss how he started broadcasting, new ventures, the merits and brilliance of Pete Wylie and Deaf School, and his allegiance to The Beatles…
Liverpool Noise: What is your background in the local music scene and when did you start broadcasting and doing the brilliant shop sessions?
Billy Kelly: Well I was in bands in Liverpool from school Zeebra ,The Clique (both mod bands) also the Xcitment until the early 80s then I decided to move to London and went down the recording route.I chased the dream for a few years with little bits of success but nothing major. In 2008, myself and my son Will moved back to Liverpool. I’d always kept my hand in writing and recording stuff so I sent some stuff into Mersey Radio, who interviewed me and gave me my own show!! As this was all going on,Will did an BA and then an MA at Liverpool Media Academy film making and directing so we joined forces and started filming and recording some of the radio live lounges.We opened a retro shop and started doing the shop sessions in there which were picked up by Bay TV and Made In Liverpool TV and they started broadcasting them. They are sadly no more but we are planning a new show – Live From Jupiters – that will be more along the lines of Jools Hollands show with 3 acoustic artists and 1 band. So watch his space!
LN: Why do you think Liverpool and music go together so well?
BK: Well, Liverpool is a port so there has always been a diverse community; also the link to Ireland and their musical heritage. Certainly the working class element of “all around the piano for a sing song” is a contributory factor. And the link to all the other arts make it a unique, talented and vibrant city..
LN: How has the Merseyside music scene changed over the years?
BK: It’s always been a little up and down – but mostly up.The amount of talent out there has always amazed me and still does. The only thing I would like to see is artists getting their just rewards…But unfortunately the world seems to have devalued music in general, which is something that saddens me.
LN: Any advice for young bands / musicians starting out?
BK: Just enjoy it, and only be competitive with yourselves..Life’s too short to make enemies!
LN: With technology so accessible now, do you think the “big studios” like Parr Street are in trouble?
BK: Maybe in some ways, but there will probably always a place for em. The great thing about technology is that it has “levelled the playing field”!
LN: Favourite Merseyside band / artist who achieved commercial and critical acclaim?
BK: That’s hard to answer as there’s so many but one bloke who I’ve always loved is Pete Wylie… Great story teller and songwriter!
LN: Favourite Merseyside band / artist who you would have bet on “making it”, but didn’t?
BK: Again a really difficult one because there is so many. But one that should have been massive was Deaf School!
LN: How do you see the music scene in merseyside now?
BK: Lots of fantastic artists but not enough venues.And people should support them ,£5 for 4 or 5 great artists…a couple of quid for a CD…come on folks ‘use em or you’ll lose em’.
LN: What musicians are you listening to at the moment?
BK: Loads! I hear lots of great new artists through the show and I still love punk and new wave stuff. But Frank Sinatra’s boss as well!
LN: The Beatles or theRolling Stones?
BK: The Rolling who?
LN: Thanks Billy! What you drinking?
You can listen to Billy’s show on Mersey Radio, Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM WWK Signed & Unsigned with Billy Kelly.