Despite an ominous message, the cover band Camp Freddy did perform in Charlotte Monday night, but early evening storms made things touch and go: “Contrary to what you may have heard the band is warmed up and ready to go and the distilled spirits are ready to flow. Doors at 9pm.” Ponchos were passed out at 6 p.m. “There were some major storms in the area and only part of the area is tented,” explained publicist Courtney Cohen. We caught up with guitarist Billy Morrison Monday morning to grill him about politics and his thoughts about performing at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Morrison, who also plays in Billy Idol‘s touring band, is a London native who lives in LA. Other members of his band include Dave Navarro (guitarist, Jane’s Addiction), Matt Sorum (drums, formerly with Guns N’ Roses), Donovan Leitch, Jr. (vocals, founding member of Nancy Boy), and Chris Chaney (bass, has performed with Jane’s Addiction, Alanis Morissette and Slash).
So you’re performing at both the Republican Convention and now Democratic Convention. How do you make that work and get away with not taking sides? “Yeah, the guys in the band are obviously individuals and we may have our own political beliefs. But we don’t sit around discussing politics. It’s better to stay neutral. We’re involved because the right to vote shouldn’t be wasted, so we are playing both conventions to say, it doesn’t matter what side you fall on as long as you don’t waste your right to vote. We’re just there to rock.”
Did you experience anything interesting in Tampa, how did you find the crowd? “I think we proved it doesn’t really matter whether you’re playing to a Republican or Democratic audience. Everyone was 14 once listening to Billy Idol or Jane’s Addiction. I’m hoping to see the same tonight. Music transcends what side of the fence you’re on.”
Which TV correspondents are your favorites? Do you have any? “Not really, I tend to change channel when the news comes on. I pay attention to issues rather than who is talking about it. Homelessness, healthcare, rather than watching Bill O’Reilly avidly. If I’m in the mood in the morning to see what is going on, which is rare, I will put on MSNBC.”
How were people you encountered in Tampa? “Incredibly nice. I think initially in Tampa we were viewed as an attraction, like let’s go see the tattooed rock and rollers. Everyone embraced it and treated us fantastically. We’ve had some fantastic meals on this coast. It’s like relief from what can be very heavy topics, heavy discussion, there’s a lot at stake. I’ve watched these people come to town, caucuses, debates. Someone’s got to do it, but everyone’s a human being.”
What did you think of Clint Eastwood’s speech? “I thought it was a little bizarre, but again, I’m not here to take sides or even pay much attention. I’m the guy in the hotel to make sure guests can make it from LA to Charlotte when there are no seats left. So unfortunately most of my last couple of weeks have been working. Quite frankly I get to play guitar tonight and go home tomorrow and relax.”