Bill Gilonis (born 1958) is an English guitarist and composer. He co-founded the gritty experimental rock group The Work in 1980 with Tim Hodgkinson. The group was active intermittently until 1993, recording four albums and touring extensively, including in Russia, Japan, Finland, Yugoslavia and Switzerland.
He has been living in Zurich since 1993 where he has mixed and/or produced CDs by Swiss bands such as No Secrets in the Family, The Jellyfish Kiss and Lödig. His most recent recordings have been Zürich-Bamberg (Ad Hoc, 2008), a CD of electroacoustic compositions (together with Canadian composer Chantale Laplante), and Calvary Greetings by the Anglo-Dutch-American band Stepmother (with Lukas Simonis, Jeroen Visser and Dave Kerman) - a reunion of an 80s band that never existed (but should have): twangy guitars, nifty keyboards, zany drumming, vocal histrionics à la The Rutles (well, sort of), lop-sided rhythms, regurgitated spam lyrics.
In 2009, together with Alex Julyan, he published Lost in Translation, on Lost & Found Publishing. This book is about twenty second - hand objects that became the subject of an unusual experiment. Its authors decided to use the geographical distance between them to ask the question: “What happens when the processes of observation and drawing which are usually concurrent, are undertaken by two people living different places?”. A process was devised whereby the selection of each object was made through a chance operation. The object was translated into a description in one country, and the description translated into drawing in another.
What do you remember about your first approach to music?
Working fast; instant composing; messing with equipment – wobbling the tape, putting mics in the wrong place; unlearning; working with non-musicians (like myself), etc. Playing live I used to equate energy with passion, so I’d thrash the guitar until my fingers bled and would sometimes break several strings at the same time. Now I’m older, wiser and less fun to look at on stage – but that’s OK because I’m almost never on a stage.
Soundperformance "Musik Rundum" at Kunst(Zeug)Haus, Rapperswil (CH) 2011,
Luigi Archetti (guit), Georgette Maag (guit & vocals), Bill Gilonis (guit), Mario Marchisella (guit & electronics)
What’s the relevance of technique in music?
If technique is a tool that facilitates the music, it’s fine. If it resembles what male birds of paradise do to attract a mate, then it stinks.
Why do you need music? Can we live without music?
I’d be OK without music I think. It would be a readjustment. Other stuff would become apparent or more important.
Depict the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.
I would like to find a way of accurately amplifying the sound of an unplugged electric guitar.
What are the challenges and benefits of today’s digital music scene?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. All that time spent lost in the details – ‘correcting’ timing, tuning and barely audible glitches – could have been spent creating something great. ‘Use your defects, then you’re going to be a star’, as Edith Piaf said.
How do you feel listening to your own music?
Annoyed and proud.
Which is the main pleasure of the strings? What are their main limitation?
The voice is the most direct and personal vehicle for musical expression I think, but a guitar’s strings make the instrument very tangible and offer a lot of scope for manipulation. Strings can be plucked, strummed, rubbed, vibrated, struck, bent – and broken – individually or in combination. And whereas a clarinet or keyboard (arguably) has to be playing with fingers only, a guitar can be played with a plectrum, toothbrush, chopstick, electric razor, EBow, cheese grater, or teeth. Or anything else. The main limitations of a guitar string? It cannot be overly abused or tuned above a certain pitch without breaking.
Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?
No, but discovering the Soft Machine, Captain Beefheart, Henry Cow, This Heat and The Homosexuals made me go out and buy a nasty Kay guitar.
Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.
‘I’m going to booglarize you’ or ‘Click clack’ by Captain Beefheart.
Trixa Arnold drums, Ilja Komarov bass, accordion, Bill Gilonis guitar, organ, Tito Pueblo guitar, voice, Simon Dellsperger trumpet, Grizel Kitching voice
What do you enjoy most in an art work?
What qualities do you most empathize with in a musician?
Honesty, humility, generosity and a lack of preconceptions.
What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?
Tim Hodgkinson taught me that if a piece of equipment is not working, you should take the back off it, poke around inside and try to figure out how to fix it.
Stepmother, (Lukas Simonis, Bill Gilonis, Jeroen Visser and Dave Kerman)
What is the most recent musical experience that has attracted your attention?
Tom Waits’ ‘Chicago’ (2011), Phil Minton solo performance (2015), and old but new to my ears Sibylle Baier’s ‘Remember the day’.
I Do-I Do-I Don’t-I Don’t
7" EP 1980 Woof 001 Woof Records (UK)
The Work: Mick Hobbs, Bill Gilonis, Tim Hodgkinson, Rick Wilson
I Hate America
7" 1981 Woof 002 Woof Records/AYAA (France)
Live im AJZ
Cass. 1981 Edition Unbeirrt (Switzerland)
Live in Ampermoching
(10.11.81) Cass. 1981 Eine Stille Tanten Produktion (Berlin-Muenchen)
LP 1982 Woof 003 Woof records + licensed to No Man’s Land (Germany) & Recommended Records (Japan)
CD 1991 Megaphone (USA)
CD 2006 Ad Hoc 15 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
LP 2014 029 / 006 Megaphone/Knock’em Dead Records (USA)
The Worst of Everywhere
Cass. 1983 Woof 005 Woof Records
CD. 1992, Woof Records, UK)
Live in Japan
LP 1982 Recommended Records (Japan)
CD 2005 Ad Hoc 13 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
LP/CD 1990-1 Woof 012 Woof Records/AYAA/In Poly Sons*
CD 2006 Ad Hoc 14 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
See CD 1992 Woof 15 Woof Records/Megaphone + licensed to Discmedi- Nova Era (Spain)*
CD 2010 Ad Hoc 35 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
The 4th World
CD 2010 Ad Hoc 36 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
THE LOWEST NOTE
The Lowest Note - Catherine Jauniaux, Stefan Karo, Andre Mergan, Bill Gilonis, Andy Bole
The Lowest Note on the Organ
7" 1983 Woof 006 Woof Records
7" 1984 Woof 008 Woof Records
NEWS FROM BABEL
Lindsay Cooper, Chris Cutler, Zeena Parkins, Dagmar Krause, Robert Wyatt & others
LP/CD 1985 ReR Megacorp (UK)
News From Babel Box
CD 2006 ReR NfBox ReR Megacorp (UK)
BING SELFISH & THE IDEALS
Meet Bing Selfish & The Ideals
LP 1990 Out of Depression (Switzerland)
Binging it All Back Home
CD 1994 Out 27 Out of Depression
The Legendary Conway Hall Concert (and Other Live Gems)
CD El Frenzy
THE HAT SHOES
Catherine Jauniaux, Tom Cora, Charles Hayward, Amos & others
LP/CD 1992 RecDec 41 RecRec (Switzerland)§
CD 2008 Ad Hoc 23 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
CD 2002 RecDec 76 RecRec§
THE MINERS OF BANAL
Trixa Arnold, Ilja Komarov & Tito Pueblo
The Miners of Banal
CD 1999 AX99 Slag productions (UK)
BILL GILONIS / CHANTALE LAPLANTE
CD 2008 Ad Hoc 24 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
Lukas Simonis, Jeroen Visser & David Kerman
CD 2014 032/kdr09 Megaphone / Knock’em Dead Records (USA)
LP 2015 032/kdr09 Megaphone / Knock’em Dead Records (USA)
THE LOWEST NOTE + THE WORK + GILONIS/HODGKINSON
WOOF 7 inches (Woof Records EP/single collection)
CD 2004 Ad Hoc 23 Ad Hoc Records (USA)
Amos and Crew
Cass. 1982 £2 It’s War Boy’s
LP 2015 WEX 011LP War extension
T. Hodgkinson / C. Jauniaux
LP 1983 Woof 007 Woof Records
CD 2004 Ad Hoc 02 Ad Hoc Records
Cutler / Cooper / Wyatt / Hodgkinson
The Last Nightingale
12" 1984 Recommended Records
LP 1986 Left Leg/Bole Music
CD 2004 Ad Hoc 05 Ad Hoc Records
Up Murphy Street
LP 1986 No label §
CD 2008 El Frenzy §
LP 1985 AYAA
CD/LP 2014 Kdr002/Kdr002CD Knock’em Dead Records
Yes yes no no yes no yes
LP 1988 AYAA
CD 1992 ReRHCD2 ReR Megacorp
Each in Our Own Thoughts
CD 1994 Woof 16 Woof Records/Megaphone
CD 2000 SEDCD027 Sedimental
Rarities 1 & 2
CD 2015 ReR LCD2/3 ReR Megacorp
- Contraries News from Babel 7" 1984 Recommended
- Old Rotten ‘at Robert Wyatt LP/CD 1985 Rough Trade
- Mid-Eighties Robert Wyatt (tracks from Old Rotten ‘at) CD 1993 Gramavision
- Music for Other Occasions L.Cooper LP/CD 1985 Sync Pulse
- Up Murphy St. Murphy Federation LP 1985 Noise Method
- Splutter Tim Hodgkinson LP 1985 Woof Records
- Full Steam into the Brainstorm The Shrubs 12" 1986 Zron
- Conviction Ut LP/CD 1986 Blast First
- Munich & Elsewhere (remastered) Faust CD 1986 Recommended Records
- The Moondance Thatcher on Acid 12" 1986 All The Madmen
- Curdled Thatcher on Acid LP 1987 All The Madmen
- The Moondance + Curdled CD 1997 Broken Rekids
- Downtime Peter Blegvad LP/CD 1989 ReR Megacorp
- Three Suite Piece Lussier, Derome, Cutler + Tom Cora CD 1989? ReR Megacorp
- Vanishing Point The E.C. Nudes CD 1994 ReR Megacorp
- Der Unsichtbare Mann Ralph Ellison: gelesen von Udo Samel CD 1995 Ammann Verlag
- Just Woke Up Peter Blegvad CD 1995 ReR Megacorp
- Lödig Lödig CD 1999 Make Up / RecRec
- Too Stupid for Business too Ugly for Love (Jellyfish Kiss) 7"/LP/CD 1992 Boy/RecRec.
- Kleinzeit (No Secrets in the Family) CD 1992 RecRec.
With Wings Pressed Back 1980 The Work’s contribution to Morgan Fisher’s Miniatures (LP / CD)
2014 Megaphone 027 / Knock’em Dead 005 (LP)
Anxious & One Swallow 1982 The Work’s contribution to the Masse Mensch sampler (LP/CD)
2014 Megaphone 029 / Knock’em Dead 006 (7”)
Houdini 1982 The Work’s contribution to the Recommended Sampler (LP) 2008 (CD)
999 (Nein Nein Nein) 1984 The Lowest Note on the Organ’s contribution to Voices, Notes and Noise (Review Records) (LP)
Education 1984 Cooper/Cutler. Lindsay Cooper (piano, alto & soprano saxes) / Chris Cutler (drums) / Bill Gilonis (guitar, bass) / Sally Potter (vocals) / Connie Bauer (trombone). Recorded at Cold Storage Studio, April 1984, by Bill Gilonis. Appeared on LP ‘ReR Quarterly Vol.1 no.1’. Never reissued on CD.
Naiwabi 1985 Lowest Note’s contribution to Re Records Quarterly LP (0101)
Märzfeber 1985 Engineered Conrad Bauer’s contribution to Re Records Quarterly LP, April 1984, (0102)
Sprung from Traps 1986 Engineered Roger Turner’s contribution to Re Records Quarterly LP (0103)
The Murder Of The Poet Michael Smith By Three Men In Kingston, Jamaica 1986 Engineered Adrian Mitchell’s contribution (via phone, 5.8.86) to Re Records Quarterly LP (0104)
All Thumbs 1987 BG/Mick Hobbs contribution to ReR Quarterly Vol 2. (LP/CD)
Spit 1992 BG/ & Tito Pueblo contribution to Passed Normal 5 (CD)
Scream Circle 1992 The Work’s contribution to Hardis Brut (CD)
Battre des Paupiers 1994 The Hat Shoes contribution to RecRec sampler: Step to Another World Music (CD)
Government of Love 2000 Bing Selfish track on the LMC: the First 25 Years compilation (CD)
Le Chapelier 2003 The Hat Shoes contribution to Unknown Public, issue 14 (CD)
Existential Angst 2005 Composer credit on Bing Selfish’s Calling All Dionysians (CD)
168k 2007 Engineered track 4 (Soda Wars) of Dial’s 3rd release (CD)
WOZ (article) 2000 Article on Catherine Jauniaux for Die Wochenzeitung (Zurich).
Lost in Translation (book)
2009 Art project documentation: Alex Julyan and Bill Gilonis.
Lost & Found Publishing, London
Image Pairs (book) 2012 Collection of found images presented in pairs.