Interview with Bill Stevenson: Blood Pumps
“Blood Pumps, the name, haha” Bill Stevenson explains to me while we are both sitting in Austin traffic. He’s just finished a practice session and late lunch at Ramen Tatsuya. I’m in between a music lesson and Book People. “Its about getting your blood pumping and adrenaline,” he said. “See, I thought of a bloody stiletto,” I shared. He said that he has heard all kinds of interpretations about his band name which came to him in much the same way that he writes songs: organically.
About his song-writing and album-naming process, Bill said he noodles around with words and lyrics until something jumps out. “I’ve thrown away way more ideas than I’ve completed,” he said. “I plug in the beat machine and am constantly jotting down notes and lyrics, and eventually things will start coming out. It’s a matter of constant idea collection and one way or another – songs come out.” A Gemini with a Cancer Moon and Scorpio rising, Bill’s song writing is about being steeped in thinking about and feeling the music.
“Our second EP (Too Many Kids) is particularly strong and I’m super stoked about it,” he said. Their first EP, America and Burgers is available to hear online through spotify and all the mainstream platforms. Bill said the song that is most representative of the feel of their band is probably “Long Gossip.” “It’s us in a nutshell,” he said, “that’s the calling card song that represents what we can do. It’s unique; Nobody’s doing those arrangements.”
Bill started playing with Black Joe Lewis, a mid level, national touring act with a cult following in his early twenties. The Blood Pumps is an offshoot of their first act and features Joe Lewis on guitar, Mike Brinley on second guitar, Jordan Cook on drums and Bill Stevenson on bass.
About his bass, Bill plays a 1973 Rickenbaker. “I use flat wound strings on it,” he said. “It’s a 4003 model. Actually a friend of the band from the Black Joe Lewis operation gave it to us. It’s a really rad, beautiful bass – I love playing that thing, it’s my pride and joy. I’ve definitely been all over the world with it and I love it.”
Bill was born in Dallas, and grew up there for the most part. After his parents divorce, he spent some time in Spain and England as a child to spend time with his father. Bill played a year of clarinet in fourth grade and switched over to the orchestra snare in middle school. In high school he played and fronted bands. “My brother Paul had a guitar and he was the first one to throw a bass in my hands and ask me to play bass,” said Bill. The brothers played Nirvana and Weezer songs. “I don’t think I appreciated the bass for what it was at the time.”
Bill moved to Austin after high school in 2004 and began playing the dirty sixth street with it’s racket. He saw Joe (Lewis) in the spring of 2006 and met him the following year at his residency at the Hole in the Wall. “A friend of mine would go down there with me to check him out,” Bill said. “We both loved him because he played raw, in the best way kind of way, the blues. When the Weary boys left on tour, Joe needed a backing band – and that’s when I started playing with him.”
Bill’s advice for bands starting out? “Don’t try to use a 1970s drum machine,” he says in all honesty. Bill also made note of the necessary evil of having music videos and albums out as a way to legitimize your band and give people a place to see your style. “It’s a different trip now,” he says about playing music in comparison to a few years ago.
Favorite place to eat in Austin: Kome