“The idea for the album came from all the lighters I would throw underneath the couch when they ran out of fluid,” laughs William Mallory, on the genesis of his new album. “The thought came to me that I was growing a ‘Dead Lighter Cemetery’ under my couch. So when I cleaned and dusted I would just leave the lighters there. It’s kind of funny actually, but I really like how it developed into what is now the album cover.”
William has five independently released albums to his credit, after a sojourn as an Atlantic Records recording artist that included extensive work with The Cars’ Elliott Easton. Based in Montclair, NJ, he has continued to write and record, often with cohorts such as Tom Hammer of Cyndi Lauper’s band, renowned drummer Karl Lathan, and Lou Verrone, of the popular Jersey band Daddy Pop.
The new release, the aforementioned Dead Lighter Cemetery, is a montage of drum machine and techno beats, adorned with compositions and melodies. William has written over 500 songs in his musical odyssey, and credits his proclivity for the art to a calling. “I think you have to have a gift of hearing chord changes or melodic counterpoints that make musical sense,” he says. “I went to Berklee College of Music for a year back in ‘85 and learned a great deal about the craft of songwriting. There are 12 keys in music; most musicians today usually know one or two off hand that they play on the guitar. It limits the writer. That’s something I loved so much about The Beatles. [Producer] George Martin forced them to explore further with real orchestral instruments playing these really intricate counterpoint melodies. My love for music in itself drives me mostly, love too. Philosophical rampages in my head also lead me to a song. Inspiration comes from many places.”
His musical education also encompassed time spent with people such as producer John Rollo, as well as Elliott Easton. “I met Elliot when I was signed with Atlantic,” William recalls. “We worked on a project called Natasha’s Brother. It was a duo that the singer from Spender, Robert Matarazzo, and myself created as a tech pop group that was a little on the underground side of the spectrum during the ‘80s, like Depeche Mode or Tears For Fears. I played synthesizers, programmed sequencers and wrote the majority of material for the initial album that ended up never being released. The crazy part about that record is that we recorded seven or eight tracks that the public has never heard. And they were last minute changes brought upon the album, taking off the best tracks, because it was advised that we had to have a more mainstream pop sound. We took the alternative tracks off, and the album faded in just a few months. Someone over at Atlantic needs to go digging in their archives because there are some serious tracks that could make some noise.”
William’s initial introduction to music came from a Friday night prayer service his parents brought him to when he was in the second grade. Two musicians, Jim and Maryanne, would play guitar and sing beautiful melodies, and it struck a chord within him. He was then introduced to The Beatles by a friend’s brother, and they became a motivating force in his life. Soon he was playing with Jim and Maryanne in church, and also starting his own bands. The first was called Feedback, who started playing grammar school parties and dances, as well as backyard parties that turned into concerts where the whole neighborhood would turn up.
That group morphed into Spender, and it wasn’t long before they were playing places such as The Limelight and Nirvana in New York City. Michael Bolton even sat in with the group one night.
After the Atlantic Records experience, William took things into his own hands. “I kept recording independently and started releasing things digitally in ‘96,” he says. “I never gave up on the rewards that music can actually produce. It’s still just as beautiful to play a piece in the company of your own living room with only your ears for an audience. There is something in music beyond trying to achieve fame that is lost, and that is the simple need to sit down and play a song for the pure enjoyment of it, not to try and turn it into something that follows with ‘this is a hit.’”
There have been some wild experiences stemming from William’s musical endeavors, including a few not related to the actual music. “One of my favorite rock and roll experiences was out in Tempe, AZ,” he remembers. “My friend had called me and asked me come over—that the Dead Milkmen were hanging out with her in her living room drinking beers. We wound up having a few beers and decided to go pool hopping in the wee hours of the morning. I got naked, running around in the streets going from pool to pool singing ‘Bitchin’ Camaro’ as they cheered me on and chanted ‘naked man, naked man!’ We wound up spending the morning at an IHOP. But that was one hell of a night. That’s supposedly a secret with the band, but thought I’d tell the story from the horse’s mouth!”
As far as the future, William just plans on keeping the creative juices flowing. “I really never had a choice in it, and don’t think I ever will,” he muses. “I’ll always be writing; it’s what I do. The experience that I’ve been on has been as rewarding as anything else one can put a finger on. I feel blessed sometimes, and that keeps me guessing who’s upstairs.”
You can get more information about William and his latest release at williammallory.com.